Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Get Fresh: With Slow Food RVA

A few months ago the Anderson Gallery asked me to help put together one of their summer Happy Hour events around the theme of Slow Food. Last Wednesday evening a great crowd gathered to celebrate the taste of summer, connect with area growers, and learn about sustainability, biodiversity, and Richmond’s food community— all while sampling locally-produced, seasonal foods. The line-up included:

• a performance by Richmond’s Gourd Trio
 • PizzaTonight on-site selling from their mobile wood-fired pizza oven 
• biodynamic and organic wine tasting with Williams Corner 
• tutored salumi tastings by Olli Salumeria  
• a tasting of Sagitarrio olive oil from Tuscany
•  raw goat and Cow milk tasting
•  Manakintowne Growers with Padrone peppers and radicchio slaw

Ashley Kistler and Traci Horne Garland

Pete Markham cooking up some Padron peppers
Me(Sporting the Slow Food Snail) and Kathryn Henry Choisser

The Gourd Trio

Pizza Tonight
Ross from Olli Salumeria

Jo Pendergraph from Manikantowne

I'll bring you your dinner

A few months ago, my friend Charlie Knight and I donated a dinner to St Thomas' Auction and last weekend we made good on our donation. Some lovely folks bought the dinner and as the day grew closer we planned our menu and wine pairings and consulted with our hosts.  I wanted to do as much cooking in advance so the evening wouldn't be as stressful.

Our hosts were fellow Northsiders and we started the evening on their Wilmington Ave patio with a little bubbly, a clean Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs 07

Appetizers included a Zucchini Carpaccio with homemade ricotta cheese and light lemon olive oil dressing.  

as well as Prosciutto rolls- a simple dish that combines arugula, gorgonzola cheese and pine nuts wrapped in prosciutto.

The two apps presented a bit of a challenge for wine pairings. The carpaccio is more delicate in flavor while the prosciutto rolls combine tangy cheese and spicy greens with the cured meat.  Charlie chose a white and red to complement the apps: 

Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc 09,  Stellenbosch, South Africa

Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc is  made of 100% Chenin Blanc from 30-year-old vines, the wine was harvested by hand, fermented cool in stainless steel tanks and bottled early to show the freshest fruit flavors of the varietal.

Fratelli Allessandria Pelaverga di Verduno 10
This is a fairly obscure wine from the Piedmont area of Italy; its  color looks  a bit like a Beaujolais, but its much more solid and sturdy wine, a great pairing for the prosciutto and other strong flavors.

The next course was a cold cucumber soup, I call it a White Gazpacho. It's mainly cucumbers (from my garden) and sour cream, with some garlic and onions.  I served it over a mixture of chopped tomatoes, parsley, and scallions. It screams summer.  Charlie paired it with a Dr Bergweiler Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett 09.  A Riesling from this northern Germany Mosel region, this wine is lighter and less sweet than many Reislings, and has smoky caramel undertones.

The main course was a stuffed pork loin from a tried and true Paul Prudhomme recipe that I have made several times. It's stuffed with a spicy mixture of sauteed green peppers, celery, and onions, and cooked for several hours at 275 before a final blast at the end in  425 degree oven.  As side dishes I prepared simple sauteed green beans with garlic and a potato gratin layered with a sage Vidalia onion puree.

Charlie picked two reds that held up well to the spicy pork loin.  An 09 Bramare Malbec Lujan de Cuyo  hails from the Mendoza region in Argentina. It has a dark violet color and fruit-filled nose with lots of tannin in the finish.   An 07 Rudi Schultz Syrah from South Africa was a treat. As I can't remember the wine specifically and can't put my hand on my notes, I will leave you with the winemaker's hyperbolic notes, This stunning Syrah boasts beautiful aromas of blackberry, black cherry, raspberry, and pepper that follow through on the lengthy palate. Well-integrated tannins and seductive hints of mocha, earth and spice add to the complexity of this eponymous bottling from Thelema winemaker Rudi Schultz."

Dessert was late, and well received. A chocolate tart incorporated  tea biscuits and was well paired with homemade coffee ice cream.