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Posts Tagged ‘pasta’

A ragú based around Tony’s sausage from his market down the street comprised of onions, parsnips, green peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, a bit of beef broth, dash of pasta water, oregano, and bay leaf.  Served along with the house-made tagliolini that is obviously comprised of flour and eggs, and I add a dash of salt and olive oil.  Oregano and pecorino to top.

Wine: G.D. Vajra Langhe Nebbiolo 2015

IMG_8975Notes:  Now that I live in Boston, I’m taking advantage of the major cultural staple of being able to walk into some market owned by an elderly Italian person and wish that they were your grandparent.  For me, Tony’s Market, appropriately owned by a guy named Tony who is between 80 and 150 years old and is still making the sausages, is just down the street.  Anyway, I wanted nothing more than to cook and drink some wine after being up since 3:30am that morning for a major system update for work and this really hit the spot.  A comfort meal at it’s finest with a beautiful wine to boot.  I originally planned to add a little heat in the form of red pepper flakes and either some clove or nutmeg, but I was on a severe lack of sleep so those accidentally got left out.  Next time…

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More food porn.

 

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Recently, NPR ran a story about the Danish concept of Hygge (“hue-gah”).  Admittedly, I didn’t actually hear the story, but was told about it be someone who only wishes to be described as “The best person in the world” and “Incredibly sexy”, but nonetheless, it sparked both of our interests and some thorough Google research and execution of the concept soon followed.  A quick definition of the word would be as difficult to do as defining Terroir for the wine world, but at its heart Hygge is a warm emotional connection to a moment.  “Cozy” seems to come up a lot when describing it.  However, the best found definition was found here.  The current theory is that Hygge is responsible, or at least a large part of why the Danes are so happy according to people who measure that sort of thing.  Naturally, those of us in Minnesota have been taken with the concept since Hygge is particularly an effective draw during our winter months.  In other words, we view it as a way to stave off the impending madness that comes from the winter doldrums.

Some examples of Hyggelig (“hue-gah-lee”) things:

  • Savoring a warm meal with someone while being basked in the candlelight.
  • Curling up on the couch with your cup of morning coffee and reading a book.
  • Enjoying the conversation of friends on a cold winter’s eve.
  • Hearing your soft footsteps running on a trail in the snow.

Basically, Hygge, is what this blog is all about for those of us who are imbued with the world of wine. Interestingly enough, the other dovetail of Hygge and this blog (which I assume is the American national past time) is that it’s all about mental framing and priming.  When an idea is framed, it is put in a certain context.  This is like setting the boundaries of a debate topic, or when the media presents a story in a certain light; in a way, how you think about something is restricted by the parameters set forth.  Priming on the other hand is presenting bits of information ahead of time that influence the direction your thought process goes down in the future.  If you’re paranoid, you’d probably call this being brainwashed.

You will like this wine.  Shhh, don't talk, just drink.

You will like this wine. Shhh, don’t talk, just drink.

Framing and priming are an integral part of the wine and food experience.  We have expectations [framing] as to what a wine will taste like and if it meets or exceeds that expectation we will have a positive experience.  If we just recently took a whiff of a particular herb and we notice an herbal smell in a wine, we are more likely to label that wine aroma with the herb we originally took a whiff of [priming].  This is why wine descriptors, although fun and sometimes poetic, are mostly bullshit, but I will have more to say about that in a future post.  I have often been asked how I create wonderful experiences revolving around wine and food and to take away some of the shroud of mystery, it’s mostly that I am able to frame and prime people’s mental state in the way that I want for the experience I give them.  Yes, I have a certain level of cooking ability and a knack for judging what wines various people will like with a meal, but if I just set a dish down with a glass of wine down and said “Here’s your dinner. Eat it alone.”  the Hyggelig-ness (I just created that) of the situation would drop dramatically.  So I put the lights down a little lower, set the music to match the mood (always have music), light some candles, point out aspects of the food and wine that I think go together well, and lo and behold; suddenly we’re having a good time.

Let’s take that clambake I did back in the summer as an example.  If you tried to recreate that yourself, you could have gotten the exact same food and the exact same wine, but it could have really sucked as an experience for you if you ate it in a hurry in between doing errands or with a dog constantly barking at you, or perhaps you were just in a bad mood.  You really have to linger in the experience to the point where it become intimate.  Notice I didn’t say grand, opulent, or even fancy. Just intimate.  Connected.

Anyway, tonight I will be creating some Hygge with a dish of pasta, chorizo, and chickpeas and most likely a darkly fruity red wine (Pro secret: you can generally enjoy any wine with any food as long as you like them both and make slight adjustments if necessary).  I will wear my most Hygge heavy shawl sweater.  The atmosphere will be set with a fire in the fireplace, some ambient candle light, the lights from the Christmas tree, and some music turned down low as the snow falls outside.  Conversation will be enjoyable, and most importantly, the experience will be lingered over.

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Hygge prep

As the Cranberries once asked: “Do you have to, do you have to, do you have to let in linger?” To that I say Yes, Cranberries, yes you have to let it linger.  Therefore, I hope all of you, especially those of us in the wintry north and the shortest days, find some Hygge this winter.

Mega-Hygge candle

Mega-Hygge candle

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Rating: 4/5

Lasagna layered with homemade pasta noodles, sauce composed of browned ground turkey in tomatoes, onion, garlic, yellow pepper, basil, rosemary, caraway seeds, and salt/pepper, fresh spinach leaves and a cheese blend of ricotta, asiago and parmesan.

Wine: Tenuta Sant’Antonio “Mont Garbi” Ripasso

Notes:

Valpolicella is generally known for two types of wine.  One is their standard blend of Corvina Veronese, Rondinella and Molinara which is a lighter, aromatic wine and generally flies under the radar of enthusiasts.  The other is Amarone, which is made from the same grapes, but the grapes are dried ahead of time and then fermented into a rich and dry wine.  Amarone is the popular kid out of Valpolicella and its price tag generally reflects this.  However, at some point, a very enterprising wine maker decided to take the leftovers from Amarone and blend them with some of the standard blend to create a middle of the road wine which turned out to be pretty good.  They called it Ripasso and it officially got recognized in December 2009 with a DOCG status (which means they could put the word “Ripasso” on a bottle and it would mean something).

Anyway, this paired nicely with the lighter lasagna.  The wine delivers all sorts of red fruits upfront, but has enough structure and spice in the end to make it play wonderfully with the ricotta cheese and the caraway.  Simply Italian.  Enough said.

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Rating: 5/5

Hand ground pesto over browned turkey sausage, leeks and fresno pepper all on some homemade pasta.

Wine: Cottanera Barbazzale Bianco (Inzolia) 2008

Notes:

OK, OK…I might be slightly biased since this was the first time I’ve made pasta from scratch and it turned out to be fantastic.  I made them a bit thick because I’ve been craving a thick pasta noodle for at least a year and you can’t buy them in stores and it’s certainly rare to find in a restaurant as well.  The pesto, made with a mortar and pestle was also fantastic.  I’ve been  using walnuts instead of pine nuts and more spinach than basil recently.  Try it.  You’ll love it.

The wine was made from a grape known as Inzolia in Sicily (Ansonica in Tuscany and numerous names in other places).  It carries a bit of nuttiness in addition to being a crisp, dry white which went wonderfully with the pesto.  The finish was expansive. Always a plus.

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