Vermentino and Smoked Trout Pairing

Tablas Creek 2017 Vermentino and Smoked trout pasta

I was doing research on the wines of Corsica and this got me craving Vermentino. I just happened to have a bottle of Tablas Creek’s 2017 Vermentino handy to open.

So…dinner. What to pair?

A friend of mine had been fishing recently and made smoked trout. I was the lucky recipient of two of these trout!

So a little research for recipes and I found a theme to riff on.

I settled on a smoked trout pasta. This was super easy to whip up, cooking the pasta took the most time. Here’s my list to gather if you want to recreate this (which you should…it was delicious)

Smoked Trout and arugula pasta

Ingredients

  • Pasta (we simply used spaghetti, which gave it great texture)
  • Smoked trout (deboned and chunked)
  • Olive oil
  • Arugula
  • Dill
  • 1 lemon zested
  • 1 small zuchinni thinly sliced
  • shredded parmesan cheese
  • creme fraiche
  • salt & pepper

To Do

  • Boil the pasta and drain
  • cook zuchinni in a pan with a little olive oil, salt and pepper
  • add the trout to the zuchinni to warm
  • Toss with the pasta
  • Add the Arugula, Dill, lemon zest, and shredded parmesan cheese
  • Mix in creme fraiche to the desired creaminess level
  • plate and top with some more of the fresh dill
  • (you can add a splash of lemon juice if you like, to your particular taste)
  • Et Voila!

Caprese…sort of

I thought a Caprese salad would go nicely with this also, so I did a riff on that. Michael doesn’t like tomatoes, so I picked up a peach and an avocado to add between the slices of fresh mozerella and instead of basil, I used the arugula.

In France, especially the Southern Rhône, Vermentino is often known as “Rolle”. This wine has always been a favorite of mine. It is bright and fresh with citrus, mineral, wet stone and lemon zest. It has what I think of as a “Fresca” note (that soda from my childhood). Put your nose in a glass of this wine and close your eyes. Can you hear the ocean? This wine sits at a moderate 13% abv.

Tablas Creek 2017 Vermentino

This is the fifteeth bottling of Vermentino from Tablas Creek Vineyard. It is the variety that made me first fall in love with Tablas Creek. The vineyard, located in the Adelaida District AVA of Paso Robles, is one of my favorites. It sits at 13.% alc and they made 1560 cases of this nectar.

The pairings

Okay…just heaven. The salty, slightly smoky pasta, with the lemon zest and spicy arugula, plus the brightness of the dill played perfectly with this wine. I was not sure if I was venturing too far afield with the peach in the caprese, but those stone fruit notes that are a little on the tart side came out in the wine with this pairing.

Options

You could make this pasta dish with smoked salmon also. Then the wine would be different…I would think a richer rosé would work well. Of course you can sub out the arugula for all sorts of greens…baby chard sounds good and again would go nice with a rose. Mix it up, have fun.

This dish as we made it would also go nicely with a Chenin Blanc or a white Rhône blend.

Let us know in the comments, how this works for you and what variations you went with!

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New Year Spaghetatta di Mezzanotte

I had some anchovies sitting around and was looking for a pasta recipe for a solo New Years Eve Dinner (Michael is working).  I stumbled upon a recipe for Spaghettata di Mezzanotte or Midnight spaghetti.  What could be more perfect for New Years Eve.

This simple pasta is meant to be a late night meal for revellers, (perfect for Vegas!).  The idea is that you have been out for a great evening and don’t want the evening or the company to end.  You head home and throw together a simple pasta to fill the growling tummies and keep the conversation rolling.

I did a wheat spaghetti with garlic, anchovies, capers, crushed tomatoes, parsley, pecorino and lemon zest and paired it with an Asti Spumante.  It only seemed appropriate to pair with an Italian sparkler.

Spaghetatta di Mezzanotte – Midnight Spaghetti

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It’s pretty simple, start by slicing up some bread in 3/4 to 1 inch slices and toast them in the oven for 20 minutes or so at 350 degrees.  When they come out, rub them with garlic, drizzle with olive oil, peccorino, salt and pepper.  One or two of these you will crush to crumbs to sprinkle on top, the rest are for on the side.

Get your water going for the pasta, since that will need to boil and then the pasta will take about 10 minutes to get to al dente.

Pour some olive oil in a pan and add thinly sliced garlic and chili flakes.  Let these soften for around 2 minutes then toss in a can (or two) of anchovies, including the oil.  Stir these around until they break up, about 3 minutes.  Now add some capers and cook a few minutes, then crushed tomatoes and cook for 4 or 5.  Drain the pasta and reserve a cup or so of the water, toss the pasta and water in with the tomatoes and let it meld for a bit over medium heat.  Finish with some pecorino, rough cut parsley and lemon zest.  Sprinkle with the crumbs and set a couple of the bruschetta on the side.  Pop a bottle of Asti and tuck in!

Spaghetatta Mezzonotte and Asti

Spaghetatta Mezzonotte and Asti

The Wine

The Asti I had was Gaetano d’Aquino Asti Spumante Dolce NV.  It was great with the saltiness & richness of the pasta, cutting through with a slight acid and great fizz.  I did notice once my pasta was gone that the Spumante kept seeming sweeter and sweeter.

Asti Spumante comes from the Piedmont area of Italy and is made from Moscato Bianco, the muscat grape which has a tendency to be a little sweeter, but still has good acid for pairing with food.

So finish your late night dinner and end the evening finishing off that bottle of Asti!

Cheers!

Beets Chard and Wine?

Beets, Chard and Peaches

I love farmers markets and I have a habit of overindulging when I go.  So my crisper ends up over flowing and then sadly rotting on the bottom.  This week I was determined to us the beautiful golden beets that I had purchased, but alas I left them in the crisper long enough for the beet greens to not look so appetizing.  So….rather than buying new beets for the greens for the recipe I wanted to make I picked up some fresh swiss chard.  If you have ever looked at beet greens they are very similar to chard, same family and similar flavor.  So I had my substitution and I was off to make one of my favorite recipes for pasta with roasted beets, beet greens and pine nuts.

I based last nights recipe on one from http://www.theitaliandishblog.com Then I needed to find a wine pairing!  I searched a little more online and found a recipe with a similar flavor profile on http://www.grouprecipes.com.  The recipe didn’t include pasta but was for roasted beets and beet greens with a balsamic vinegar.  It suggested pairing with a Zin or a Shiraz and there was a comment saying that the pairing was perfect.
I needed to pick up pine nuts and pancetta to finish the dish and run to the wine store.  It is sad to say that I don’t have a small family run wine store close by where I live.  There is a fantastic one on the other side of town, but that would have taken 45 minutes to get there.  So…I head to the giant wine store close by.  I love the selection mostly.  Often the more obscure varieties can’t be found there, but there is one wine guy that always has great advice for me.  The trouble I find with going there (or anywhere) to pick up wine is that in trying to be all crunchy granola I take my wine bag with me.  Well my wine bag holds 4 bottles and I feel the need to fill it.  I picked up 2 roses because it is summer and it’s hot in Vegas!  And then I search through the Syrah’s.  I love a smoky syrah.  If it has a little meat on the nose, all the better (yes I know that is bret!).  I settle on a Syrah from Chile, a 2009 Ona Anakena. I also pick up French Syrah-Mouvedre blend This is a 2010 Luc Pirlet Reserve.  Now back to get cooking!

Here is my adapted version of the ingredients

3 medium size golden beets

olive oil

1/4 cup of pine nuts (or more)

2 ounces of pancetta (You can be kind to the piggies and leave this out and go vegetarian. I admit to feeling guilty.)

1 med red onion (I actually had 3 very small ones from the garden)

2 cloves of minced garlic

2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar (I used balsamic)

4 ounces of pasta (I had great big macaroni from a local pasta shop! Shout out to Marc http://www.parmabychefmarc.com/ !)

1 small bunch of beet greens (or in my case swiss chard)

sea salt, ground pepper

fresh grated parmesan cheese (that wasn’t in the recipe, but….)

Roasted Golden beet with olive oil in aluminum foil

I had roasted my beets earlier in the day.  Take each beet, trim the greens off and the end of the root.  Wash and scrub them then rub them with olive oil and wrap each in aluminum foil.  Pop them into a 375 degree oven for 45 min to an hour.  If you have really big beets it could take them up to 1 1/2 hrs.  Take one out and open it and see if a knife will easily go in.  If so, they are ready.  To keep them warm I kept them on the stove while I cooked the rest of the meal.

Next you toast your pine nuts in a small frying pan over med heat stirring until they are lightly toasted.  I cheated and bought mine pre toasted at Trader Joe’s.

Chopped Swiss Chard leaves and stems

Next chop the beet greens or chard about 1 inch sections.  Keep the stems separate from the greens.

About now you would want to start the pasta water.

Now get a large skillet and toss in the pancetta.  Cook it until it is crispy then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Leave the grease!  Lower the heat to medium add a little olive oil and toss in the chopped onion.  After a few minutes add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.  Add the red wine or balsamic vinegar and cook another 2 minutes.  This will thicken the vinegar and give it that rich flavor.

Red onions garlic and balsamic in pancetta fat and olive oil

Now toss in your beet stems (just the stems) and 1/4 cup of water.  Cover and cook 10 minutes.

Chard & Crispy Pancetta

Add the greens and pancetta and cook another 10.  When you add the greens, it’s also time to add the pasta to the pasta water.

At this point with 10 minutes to wait I decided to peel

Peeling roasted beets

my beets.  I peeled them by hand.  The skins slid right off.  And…my beets were golden so my hands didn’t turn pink.  If you are using red beets, you might want gloves.  If the skins don’t slide off used a knife.  Then cut the beets in quarters or eighth’s and rewrap in the aluminum foil to keep them warm.

After the 10 minutes add 1/2 the pine nuts (I admit, I added the entire 1/4 cup, cause I like pine nuts). This is where you season to taste with salt and pepper.  To taste…means taste it!  Pancetta is salty so you will already be seasoned and you don’t want to over do it.

Add the pasta, mix and add parmesan cheese

Remove the pasta from the pasta water with a strainer and add to the pan with the sauce.  Add 1/4 cup of the pasta water to incorporate the sauce.  Then I grated parmesan cheese on top and mixed, and grated some more and mixed, and one last time for good measure.

Plate it on a large dish, pasta in the center, beets around the edge.  Sprinkle the beets with sea salt (I used pink himalayan salt) and top the pasta with a little more grated parmesan and some more pine nuts.  Voila!

The pairings were perfect.  The earthiness of the beets and greens works nicely with the syrah.  I preferred the Syrah Mouvedre blend because of it’s smoothness.  There was no heat from alcohol (it was at 13.5 %) and was really velvety and layered.