Mozzarella & Ham in Carrozza
This is a classic Roman dish that is somewhere between flattened mozzarella sticks and a grilled cheese sandwich. Actually it reminds me very much of one of my favorite combinations, grilled cheese and tomato soup, but in this case, the soup is tomato sauce. I always associate that classic combo with one of my favorite after-work hangouts, the Blind Tiger Ale House, here in NYC. They have a ton of great beers from around the world. Since this is an Italian dish, I would recommend trying to find an Italian beer. Italy actually has the most vibrant craft beer scene in the entire world, after the U.S. Some of these beers can be hard to find and sometimes a little pricey, but you'll be greatly rewarded for searching them out. One of my favorites is the Del Borgo Re Ale; it is a spicy malt and slightly hoppy beer. It is robust and showcases the Italian zeal for creating unique craft beers based on classic styles.
Joe Campanale's Perfect Pairings
May 17, 2013
Mozzarella & Ham in Carrozza
May 16, 2013
Stuffed Eggplant and Chicken Parm with Tomato-Basil Sauce
It’s an Italian-American feast with stuffed eggplant and chicken parm! These are great classic dishes that offer a ton of flavor and home-style goodness. For me, this stuff is total comfort food. With a dish like this and good friends and family, you can elevate a humble wine to a great experience. That being said, this is not the dish to open up your best bottle of wine, but something that is simple and delicious. I would try a Chianti, but not from the heart of the area, but from the Chianti Classico district, where the wines can get full and rich. Get one from one of the other subregions, like Chianti Colli Fiorentini, Chianti Colli Senesi or just straight up Chianti DOCG. One of my favorite, more simple Chiantis, is the Farnatella Chianti Colli Senesi 2010. It is under $15 and made by a great producer, Felsina. It offers a lot of what the more expensive producers do, but in a more straightforward and approachable package.
May 14, 2013
Buttermilk Fried Chickenwiches
Nothing is better than fried chicken and champagne…nothing! It is my favorite pairing. There is something about the way that the bubbles enhance the chicken flavor and clean up the grease on your palate that make it the best pairing ever. However, since we're doing sandwiches I'd like to pair a champagne-style wine, (one that it made with the second fermentation in the bottle) but one from a less fancy place than Champagne: Cava. Try the Raventos "De Nit" Cava. For under $20, you get all that great bisquity and yeasty complexity with the bright acidity and minerality of champagne at half the price.
May 09, 2013
Spring Chicken and Vegetable Soup
In the spring, the first vegetables to come out are all green, like the peas, favas, asparagus and green onions. This soup makes good use of the bounty of the season. A traditional pairing would be the bright green flavors of Sauvignon Blanc. However, I'd stay away from the intense grassy character of New Zealand SB and I think you can find better value than Sancerre (even though I do like a good Sancerre!). Let’s go off the beaten path here and try a Sauvignon Blanc from Friuli like Giampaolo Venica's or a Loire Valley, or one that is close by to Sancerre, like the Domaine de Villargeau-Coteaux du Giennois – it has all the crisp, mineral character of Sauvignon Blanc, but with a much lower price.
May 02, 2013
This seems like a perfect brunch-time dish and my favorite brunch cocktail is the mimosa. But I don't want just a standard orange juice and cheap Prosecco mimosa. I like to make them more personal and unique. I was hanging out with some chef friends from Texas and Chef Tim Love was telling me about how he loves to drink grapefruit juice with tequila and it’s a common drink in Texas. At the time I was putting together our cocktail program at L'Artusi, we were just opening for brunch service and I thought, wow, it would be great if we did a mimosa based on this Texan drink. So I came up with the Texas Mimosa. It is a little stronger and bolder than your normal mimosa and not quite as sweet, but it is delicious.
The Texas Mimosa
1.5 ounces blanco tequila
2 ounces fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
3 ounces citrus bitters (optional)
Dry sparkling wine
Add the first 3 ingredients to a cocktail glass. Top with sparkling wine and give a light stir. Garnish with a grapefruit peel.
May 01, 2013
Sliced Steak Tacos with Bloody Maria Salsa
Gabe Thompson is the Executive Chef of all my restaurants as well as my business partner. He's from Texas and loves Michelada cocktails. He's been talking about them lately, so it made me think of this drink to go with Rachael's steak tacos. The best part about this drink is that it is customizable; if there are some ingredients you don't like, leave them out. If you want to spice it up with some jalapeños, soy sauce, cilantro, whatever, then go for it!
2 juiced limes plus 1 lime wedge
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 light Mexican beers such a Negro Especial or Dos Equis XX
2 teaspoons of your favorite hot sauce
2 teaspoons of Worcestershire
Fresh pepper to taste
1) Using the lime, make a rim around the mouth of two glasses.
2) In a shallow plate, add kosher salt and paprika. Stir with a fork to combine.
3) Take the glasses and rim in the salt/paprika mixture.
4) Add Ice to the glasses.
5) In a cocktail shaker, add beer, hot sauce, Worcestershire, lime juice and stir well. Strain into glasses
6) Garnish with fresh pepper and lime wedges.
April 25, 2013
I love Pasta Carbonara! It is my favorite dish. Such a good wine dish, as well. What you want here is a simple red wine with great acidity. Try Barbera from Piedmont. Right now, I'm loving the Scarpetta Barbera made by Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan McPherson from Frasca restaurant. It is the perfect combination of a classic Barbera wine with great refreshing acidity and the earthy complexity that comes from a good place to grow grapes. That earthiness complements the pancetta in the dish as well, since Italian bacon tends to be earthier and less smoky than the American stuff.
April 23, 2013
Baked Chicken with Herb-and-Cheese Breadcrumbs
When I hear herb cheese, I go for Sauvignon Blanc. One of my favorite classic pairings is a good grassy goat’s milk chévre and Sancerre. The chalkiness and herbaceousness of the cheese is reflected in the wine and this dish reminds me of that pairing. I've had some tasty Sauvignon Blanc lately and not just from the places you might think of, like New Zealand (very grassy and grapefruity) and Sancerre (light and mineral). I'd try something that has a bit more weight to it, but is still fresh and crisp like the Wrath Sauvignon Blanc "Ex Anima." I am generally not a fan of California Sauvignon Blanc and find most of them to be too ripe and lack complexity, but this one is just great. It is from Monterey, California and has a low, 13.2% alcohol, which means it is fresh, crisp and most importantly, balanced. Also at under $20 it is very good value.
April 18, 2013
Egg Tagliatelle with Zucchini and Mint Pesto
I just returned from Portugal and fell in love with a lot of the wines there. One of my favorite easy-drinking, great value wines has always been Vinho Verde. It comes from way up north where the climate is cool and there is a lot of influence from the Atlantic Ocean, so the wines are light, fresh and very crisp. There still are a bunch of lightly sweet yet slightly sparkly Vinho Verde, (which can be tasty if done well) but more producers are doing a higher quality, dry, fresh, still-style. And the best part is there really isn't any over $15 at the top end. One that I really loved from my trip, which is available here, is from the Casa de Mouraz, is the Vinho Verde "Biotite" 2011. They are one of the only organic producers in the region, the wine is truly delicious and at about $14 it's good for the Earth, the food and your wallet!
April 16, 2013
Texas Stewed Pork
Something about the words "Texas stewed" just makes me want to drink a beer! A beer would be a great choice with this and if you go with a beer, it would have to be an American Brown Ale to complement all of those flavors. In a brown ale, the malt (the base grain of beer) is roasted to a milk-chocolate brown color before the beer is made, as opposed to a light roast for pale beers and a super dark roast for stouts. This gives it a roasty note and a lot of depth of flavor. I'd try out the Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale. It's a full-bodied, bold and flavorful beer with so many flavors that complement the pork like cocoa, toasted nuts and caramel – it’s just delicious!
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