Monday, April 9, 2012

#269 - Lidia's Fava Bean & Ricotta Salata Strozzapreti With '09 Girard Sancerre Rouge

It's just pasta.  Except when it's not.

Because when you eat like Lidia Bastianich, you eat well and we're amassing a nice little catalogue of meals and pairings based on Lidia's recipes.

She makes "simple food, poor food," food that chefs love to talk about with the same pretentious pitch, cadence and emphasis, and you roll your eyes because it always seems like it comes right out of a manual mandatorily issued to every chef looking to bloviate endlessly about why he or she is so awesome.  It's the chapter that follows the chronicling of the mystical nature of Chef Passion and how you can taste their Passion.  Two chapters later tells us that local, sustainable and organic is the only way to eat and live, like they're the first ones to discover such a thing.

Lidia doesn't do that.  She just says, "This is good food.  Eat it.  Because it's good."  She doesn't need to sound like a 21 year-old college student who just got out of a Art History 1959-1964 seminar with a desire to convince the world that they somehow had something to do with Art History 1959-1964.

Food:  Fava Bean & Ricotta Salata Strozzapreti

Based on this recipe from Lidia's Italy, substituting strozzapreti for cavatelli.  Shucking four pounds of fava can be an arduous task.  Toss on a movie you don't have to pay attention to (in this case, Bridesmaids), put the bowls on the coffee table and shuck away.

Mrs. Ney substituted strozzapreti because the doughiness of strozzapreti is so doughily delicious.  The end result fell into the same realm of any pasta dish that elevates above the idea of simply having 'pasta.'  You eat it and it's like you're having pasta for the very first time and you curse under your breath with an admiration for Italian food for the 12,000 time.  Italians just get so much right.

Doughy strozzapreti with an onion-garlic-olive oil-ness that clings to it deliciously.  Favas that green up the bowl and drive the meal but never get loud.  Ricotta salata that lends a fresh, sheepy, salty, milky goodness.  Fava beans and ricotta salata's like a comedy duo pumping on all cylinders.

Fantastic stuff.  Substantial with a balance.  Delicate but with guts.  Tasted like a meal made for the spring with a nod to the thawing winter.

Pairing it was a mild stumper.  We didn't want falanghina.  Thought about cab franc. Settled on a Sancerre pinot noir.

Wine:  2009 Domaine Girard La Garenne Sancerre Rouge ($15 - WDC)

Light as all get-out with dirty strawberries and chives with a pretty acid and mineral core.  Tasted like a cold-weather wine from a very cold year.  By itself, fine enough, but this wine was defined by how it rounded out with the food.  The acid shot to attention, the texture milked up into a strawberry milk with smoky herbs and the length expanded to a place of proper and delicious with beautiful segues.

Sorta great stuff in its superlative lightness and cleaner funk.  Barely would have known it was a pinot noir since we haven't had many Sancerre reds.  And the pairing worked quite well, with a fondness growing for it even more the day after.

Pairing:  92  The success came in the matchup with the ricotta salata

The fava beans weren't the pairing driver.  It was in the sheepy saltiness of the ricotta salata. It turned the wine into a textural wonder with delicate flavors firing everywhere.

Thought about a cab franc but I suspect the ones we have on hand would have tried to steer the ship more than this food wanted.  The food needed a wine that sat back and offered an interesting comment when called upon and this wine gave that at just the right level.


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