A few nights ago, Chef Cesare Casella and Chef Emilio Barbieri cooked together at Chef Casella’s latest restaurant Il Ristorante in the Upper East Side. (This special one-night dinner is $110 per person.) Chef Barbieri is the executive chef of the 1* Michelin restaurant Strada Facendo in Modena, Italy. His style of cooking is taking flavors and scents of his childhood in Reggio Emilia and make it contemporary.
This special collaboration occurred primarily for Mondo Lambrusco, an annual event to promote Lambrusco wines (a young bubbly, red wine made in the Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy, and Italian provinces of Modena, Parma, Reggio nell’Emilia, and Mantua). This wine used to be popular in the U.S. in the 1970s but fell off from popularity as decades rolled on. I learned from this dinner that this wine is sublime with many Italian dishes from appetizers, pastas, even dessert.
We were greeted with a plateful of gnocco fritto, a delicate, rectangular pieces of fried dough that was served with a plate of delicious prosciutto that Chef Casella is well known for in New York City. This was paired with an unusual white Lambrusco (or Lambrusco Bianco) by Lini. We were informed that this wine was pressed with the grapes’ skins, filtered and aged about 3-4 months, yielding to a crisp, bubbly, refreshing white.
The next course of Omaggio al Parmigiano Reggiano (an homage to Parmigiano Reggiano) which consisted of fresh cheese curds and crispy Parmigiano Reggiano crisps. Is a cheese focused course that has a Parmigiano Reggiano muffin that’s barely sweet so it worked well with the melted fresh cheese curds and crispy shreds of Parmigiano Reggiano. The pairing of Lambrusco Reggiano, Concerto, Medici Ermete (2012) was pleasantly dry and fruity at the same time soft, fresh and lively.
The pasta course of Passatelli Asciutti, house made passatelli pasta, Modena style ragu, and parsley jus was the highlight of the evening. This northern Italian pasta was chewy, rustic and delicious. I adored the not too hearty ragu and the parsley purée added some brightness to the whole dish. The pairing of a rosy, unfiltered (the yeast is still inside the bottle) Lambrusco di Sorbara from Cantina della Volta (2011) was fantastic. It’s fruity, not too acidic and balanced.
The Maialino croccante a crispy pork loin with dark plum compote, and white almond potato purée. The pork loin are the crispy nuggets that has a touch of sweet-tartness from the compote and the thin slice of potato and rolls of white almond potato purée looked whimsical and tasted pretty good. The Lambrusco di Modena, Cantina della Volta 2009 was very fresh on the nose with a clear hint of wild berries. Dry and very complex but it drinks very well. It leaves a pleasant fruity flavor in the mouth.
For dessert, we had the zabaglione semifreddo, caramel sauce, and caramel crisp paired with a very quaffable Lambrusco Rosato, Pas Rose’, La Battagliola 2012. The semifreddo was delicious, creamy and not too sweet.
This dinner opened my eyes to the versatility of Lambruscos and how this (mostly) red bubbly wine is great for any meal and occasion.
To view more photos of this meal, please view the slideshow below (or CLICK HERE for my photo set):
Mondo Lambrusco dinner at Salumeria Rosi: Il Ristorante
Mondo Lambrusco’s website