Food, Wine & Friends Page 267 BAGNA CAUDA
The Bagna Calda/Bagna Cauda pots were ready on a Friday evening in November.
Monica Ugarte was fresh-off-the-plane from her 2014 Harvest in Piemonte at the
Oddero winery in La Morra and everyone else needed the health-inducing benefits
of an evening filled with garlic and wine!
Monica was early to the party and she brought a ten year old
bottle of Oddero Barolo, so we thought opening it and allowing it to breath a
bit would be useful.
Ralph and Kareasa showed up and brought a really thoughtful
Ralph is a big Oakland fan, rooting for the A's and Raiders.
Kareasa says he doesn't know beans about football, much like his Raiders, so
they brought a can of Hormel Chili (beans). And he's been cheesed off
every Sunday of this year's NFL season, as Oakland is winless.
Once Ellen arrived, we opened a chilled bottle of Bellavista's Gran Cuvee
We all hoisted a glass and toasted to the new crop of garlic.
The bubbles were nice, but if good Champagne is your reference point, this wine
doesn't hit the mark for finesse or complexity.
In the kitchen we got busy and plated the little antipasti dishes...
We opened a couple of really good white wines from Italy...one from Piemonte and
one from Lombardia's Valtellina region.
And the antipasti circled the table...
The 2011 GD Vajra Langhe Riesling (from the Barolo area) was showing
magnificently! It's been in the bottle long enough to start developing
those marvelous secondary and tertiary fragrances we like in aged German and
Australian Rieslings. This is still young, but it's a pleasure to see the
depth of this wine, as so often we taste it when it's freshly-bottled.
The 2013 Nino Negri "Ca' Brione" is a wonderfully peachy dry white
made of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Incrocio Manzoni (a cross, we think, of
Riesling & Pinot Bianco) and a small percentage of Nebbiolo, vinified as a
white wine. The first three varieties are hand-harvested but then left for
nearly three weeks to "dry" a bit before pressing.
The wine does get a bit of time in French oak and the results are
exceptional. In the 2013, we think the Sauvignon sings the loudest, but
it's a mighty harmonious blend.
Luke Skywalker guards the bottle of Elio Grasso's delightful Barbera d'Alba.
Mrs. Skywalker, Princess Connie, is amused...
Mauro Veglio's 2013 Barbera tasted like a 2013 Barbera: Young!
But it's vinified for immediate consumption and was a berryish red with wood not
playing much of a role. It's a good "Spaghetti Red" and the
acidity here was nicely contrasting with the olive oil-based "bagna."
Elio Grasso's Barbera, meanwhile, is made with the idea of showing a bit of
wood. It's matured in a hefty percentage of new French oak (50%) and the
wine shows a touch of the vanillin from the wood. It's a more supple,
rounded red and was generally preferred by the group.
We brought the Bagna Cauda pots to the table...one for
everyone and then inserted some lit tea-candles below (in Piemonte I recall them
using just one, but in the microwave world of California, we use two).
And then we brought out the numerous platters of goodies to bathe in the hot
Jerusalem Artichokes on the right...
Golden beets are pre-cooked and we included some tiny roasted potatoes seasoned
with a bit of rosemary.
Fennel is one of the mainstays of a good Bagna. So are cardoons, but these
were not available in our local markets at this time.
Our California Bagna includes a couple of very non-traditional
Thinly sliced Filet Mignon, for one.
...and prawns for another.
And we had a big "peasant" round of bread to dip into the bagna and
scoop up some of the 'sediment,' a mix of garlic, anchovies and more garlic.
And the plates kept circling the table!
The Bruno Rocca Barbera d'Asti was another mildly-oaked red...nice red fruit
notes and a touch of a cedary tone...
After all of that "bathing," some folks still had a
bit of room for a plate of pasta...
The 2004 Oddero Barolo from the Vigna Rionda site in Serralunga was excellent.
The wine is still young, of course, but shows a really nice note of
anise/licorice on the finish.
We paired it with a plate of pasta with a variety of "funghi."
Monica was "transported" back to Piemonte thanks to this.
Luke Skywalker claimed the pasta took him to Tattooine.
I am not sure what that means, however.
We asked Monica to pick up her favorite wine of the night...
Connie took care of dessert, poaching some pears in red wine.
Strauss Vanilla Ice Cream and some crushed Amaretti cookies...
After dessert we presented Kareasa and Ralph with a little gift...
A little photo book of snapshots I took at their wedding 5 weeks previous...
And at this stage, it was past the witching hour, so we called
it a night...the first load of dishes was in the washer and the entire building
smelled of garlic.
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