Rome Food & Wine Festival 2013

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After two successful years in Milan, this years’ annual Food & Wine Festival was hosted in our very own Rome.  The exact location was the third floor of Eataly, home of all things Italian and every foodie’s heaven! For the occasion, 50 of Italy’s best wine producers, from the northernmost South Tyrol all the way down to Sicily’s Pantelleria, were chosen to represent their labels, joined by 20 great Italian and International chefs.  From May 17th to May 19th, the guest chefs took turns to demonstrate and serve their dishes, while the wine producers stood by, helping the guests make the best food and wine pairings, and really offering us foodies the best of both worlds!

The day began in the best of ways, as we were handed our free entry “Press Passes”.  All thanks go to our beloved blog! Press passes safely secured around our wrists, and hands tightly wrapped around our wine glasses, we walked straight for the most important room.

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Just kidding.

Now, I admit I’m somewhat of a fence sitter when it comes to wine.  That’s what I call Rosé drinkers.   I’m definitely more of a fruity cocktail person, but I do appreciate a good wine for a special occasion.  With the exception of sweet reds like my all time favorite Fragolino (made from concord grapes), I find red wine a tad too strong, and white wine a bit too dry.   This is a massive generalization, but I’ll spare you the endless wine monologue and continue with what happened next.

Our first stop was in Campania, tasting the wines of Podere San Giovanni run by the Severino family.  After an interesting explanation, off we went, me with my pleasant and fruity 2012 Galluccio Rosato with its pink cherry color, and Marta with her warm, fruity and ruby red Galluccio Rosso.

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Watching the chefs and sous-chefs prep for their demonstrations while munching on chunks of Parmiggiano Reggiano, straight off the wheel.

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Finally time for the cookery demonstrations. First up, Christina Bowerman of Hostaria Glass in Trastevere, with her Polletto Borgogna – Burgundy-style spring chicken (a modern rendition of the roman dish, pollo con i peperoni).   Chicken roulade with a bell pepper brunoise and red bell pepper foam, sprinkled with dehydrated parsley and an olive oil powder, topped with a viola petal and served with pan seared bok choy.

Recommended wine pairing: Rosso di Montalcino

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Next we had Christian and Manuel Costardi’s Carbonara rice (chefs and owners of Cinzia Restaurant in Vercelli, Italy).   The risotto was served in a personalized Campbell soup can, and layered starting with a 60-degree beaten egg yolk, followed by crunchy bacon, classic parmesan risotto, more egg yolk, a very smooth pecorino cream, some more bacon and freshly ground black pepper.   The flavors melt together making it taste like a genuine carbonara.

Recommended wine pairing: Pinot Nero

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Last, we tasted Alice Delcourt’s (chef at Erba Brusca in Milan) spring cous cous with charred onions, goat’s cheese, pistachios and mint.  The dish was topped with fresh spring vegetables such as shaved raddish, zucchini flowers, peas and pickled beets.

Recommended wine pairing: a sparkling Valdobbiaene Prosecco Brut

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To finish off this elegant lunch, we headed straight for the dessert table.  But before that, we thought we’d make a quick stop for a dessert wine.  We chose the South Tyrol (Alto Adige) Ritterhof stand.  The wine was a very particular one.  To adjust our palate, we were first introduced to their 2011 Crescendo Gewurtraminer DOC (white wine).  You could immediately pick up the smell and flavor of flowers and rose.  We were told that it is particularly suitable for aperitivos or with Asian inspired dishes.  We then tasted the wine we had been waiting for all afternoon.  The Goldmuskateller is a passito (dessert) wine, different from others because the grapes are dried on the vine and left to mold, in order to produce this intense gold colored raisin wine.  This extremely sweet wine pairs beautifully with a bitter dark chocolate dessert.

Speaking of dessert, there was an entire table dedicated to Luca Montersino desserts.  Overwhelmed by the number of different choices, we narrowed ours down to:  ricotta and pear cake, strawberry mousse and yogurt cake, baked pastry cream and fruit jelly tart and a ginger, yogurt and raspberry jelly dessert cup.

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Food & Wine limit reached.

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