Dinner with friends. That’s how Giovanni Lamberti, photographer and sommelier described it as he invited me to dinner last week. One of the little dinners that he throws about twice a month in which he invites friends to hang out and talk about food and wine. Well, Giovanni’s friends include Chef Francesco Parrella of A Taverna Do Re and Francesco Martusciello, CEO and winemaker for Grotta Del Sole. And it was at Parella’s restaurant that his latest little get together took place. He designed a menu to pair with four wines from Grotta Del Sole.
As we ate our starter; a crunchy bruschetta with guanciale, Martusciello presented his family’s winery. A story that I’ve heard before, but never tire of listening to. Especially when he talks about Asprinio…Asprinio D’Aversa. Images of past harvests played on the wide screen TV as Francesco talked about this grape, grown in vineyards with vines measuring up to 20 m high. Vines that hug poplar trees. Vines that produce this acidic grape which they use for three wines. While sipping a glass of Asprinio D’Aversa Spumante Metedo Martinotti, Francesco continued with a mini-lesson on sparkling wine. He explained the wine making process, the differences between Metedo Martinotti and Metedo Classico. Once again, a lesson familiar to me. One I have had on several occasions up close in personal by Francesco in his winery. But this time felt different.
In the meantime, Parrella and his staff continued with wonders from the kitchen. Appetizers included a lightly fried mozzarella with an anchovy and basil pesto and a baccala (cod) tartar on an olive pesto.
Then time to move onto another version of Asprinio D’Aversa. Asprinio D’Aversa D.O.C. a dry white wine with a hint of lemon in the aroma. Paired with a generous serving of pasta with potatoes and provola cheese with a creamy sauce made with Provolone del Monaco DOP drizzled on top.
Then along came the heavy hitters, so to speak. Parrella presented his second course; home range chickens that had been slow roasted and stuffed with fave beans, pancetta from Tramonti, and porcini mushrooms. Then the chef’s surprise, and one of my favorites …pasta lardiato. For these two dishes, Martusciello shared his third version of Asprinio; Asprinio D’Aversa Spumante Metedo Classico.
Dessert was also a treat; tiramisu with pistachio nuts. This time we moved to the Vesuvius area for our wine. Vesuvio Lacryma Christi Spumante Dolce. A sweet sparkling wine that paired perfectly with Parrella’s creation.
And that is when it hit me. That the difference in this tasting as compared to my other tastings with Grotta Del Sole was the wine and food pairings. The chef’s challenge to present a menu to go hand in hand with the wines. The discussions between forkfuls of appetizers, pastas, chicken, and desserts. Questions, answers, more questions, and more answers between courses. By the end of the evening, I believe that each of us went away with a clearer understanding of sparkling wines, a respect for the farmers who cultivate this amazing Asprinio grape (one in danger of extinction), and a full and satisfied stomach.
I’m looking forward to the next ‘little get together’…
Grotta Del Sole
80010 Quarto (Na)
A Taverna Do Re
Via Support Fondo di Seperazione 2