Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Very Italian Sunday

Sunday is a day for relaxing and watching football; but last Sunday was a little different. I started my day on Mulberry Street at The Festival of San Gennaro in Little Italy. The festival is a week or so long, but the bulk of festival happens on the weekend. The streets are mobbed and its hard to walk; but its an experience. Vendors sell traditional Italian fare while some new restaurants offered more gourmet street food. Among those newcomers were The Breslin, Rubirosa, Stellina, Mulberry Project, Byggyz, L'Artusi, Frankie Spuntino's, and Parm. Although the more traditional food like sausage and peppers were good, the newcomers shined with their updated street fare including "frito pie", ribs, and short rib sliders. An italian festival wouldn't be complete without some zeppolis, but its OK because I walked home to burn off all the calories I ate. (ha, not even close)

Later in the evening, I manage to eat more Italian food as I brought my sister out to Maialino. Here, we had the chef's cook for us while our server (shout out to Corey G) paired some wines with every course. Our first course was a crostini smeared with ricotta topped with a black mission fig dressed in chestnut honey paired with the Donnas rose--a fruit forward rose from the Valle d' Aosta. Friutta Romana, a mixture of lamb sweetbreads, brains, and artichokes came next along with an octopus and potato salad. Corey brought out the Viamelia, a dry-hopped lager to pair with this course. Our next course was a pasta course consisting of the pici ala norcia, agnolotti, and garganeli--a dangerously delicious trio of house-made pastas. Lugum, a mixture of 70% Merlot and 30% Cab Sauvignon was paired with our pastas at my surprise. I thought the blend would be too heavy, but I thought they complemented the pastas quite well. The spigola, whole seabass, was next. This dish is awesome not only because of its flavor, but because they make a presentation out of it. Right before you are ready to enjoy your fish course, a staff member brings out the fish which is carried on a silver platter. Chef likes to present the fish so the guest can learn a little bit about the cooking process. The fish is salted baked after being stuffed with lemons and herbs allowing the fish to capture ridiculous flavor. The fish is served with sauteed mushrooms and a simple salad of bitter greens dressed in lemon and olive oil. This course was paired with the Cornalin, another wine from the Valle d' Aosta. This wine is a great choice for guest who want to drink red wine with their fish. The last savory course was lamb two ways. Chef prepared the Scottadito dish (lamb chops) and added lamb ribs. The lamb was paired with the Rosso di Montalcino, one of my favorite wines on the list.

For dessert we had the chocolate tort, fig tart, panna cotta, and an assortment of sorbets. We had three different dessert wines to pass around with the dessert selection. Aleatico is a medium body, red dessert wine that is full of flavor. This is a good substitute for those looking for a port. The dried cherry and tobacco flavors are divine with the chocolate tort. Vin Santo from Tuscany plays its part in dessert giving us a white dessert wine bursting with flavors of almond, vanilla, and honey. The third dessert wine was probably the most interesting although it wasn't the table favorite. The Barolo Chinato seemed like a hybrid of an amaro meets dessert wines. When drinking the Barolo Chinato you get a lot of herbaciousness found in digestifs such as amaro. I thought it was a solid wine although very different.

Overall, it was a fantastic day of eating and drinking with family and friends. I might have gained 10 lbs, but it was all worth it. Keep L.I.V.I.N.

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