when you spell restaurant right on the first try
Cheers: to making a tradition out of wedding dress shopping!
Whether you do things once a month or once a year, a tradition is an experience that makes the people involved feel a sense of belonging and incredibly special. Recently, a tight knit group of friends and family traveled with me to New York City with one purpose in mind, to find me the perfect wedding dress. To make the most of our time, we booked breakfast and dinner reservations at many of the new hot spots, wanting to try out different celebrity chefs and fancy cuisines. The 65-degree weather in the dead of winter, close friends from around the globe, and the celebration of love and marriage made for ample reasons to stay out of our hotel. However, to our surprise, we found ourselves amongst the most laughter and contentment sitting around the hotel lobby indulging in each other’s company and vending machine munchies.
Upon my return to Chicago, we attended La Cena Di Riso with two of our favorite partners in crime, Steve Green and Angela Woodward.This five-course wine and dinner event hosted by Quartino explored the versatility of Italian rice and was accompanied by wines of the Piemonte and Veneto regions of Italy. This event featured Chef Joe Coletta and Check, Please! Chicago’s host Catherine De Orio and Mama Mia was this spectacular! The décor, ambiance, and hospitality were exactly what I needed to warm me up and get me settled in after a non-stop NYC weekend.
For this week’s #Foodiechats #perfectpairings we chose a 2010 Dolcetto D’ Alba GALLUCCIO which is one of seven Dolcetto wines produced in Italy’s north-western Piedmont region. Although there are times when you think you want nothing more than a full-bodied red, or a night out on the town in your hottest stilettos, these lighter category wines were spot on for the night’s event. Just like the light-hearted night in NYC when we collected our drumstick and fruit snack wrappers, the Dolcetto had little acid, not much tannin and was light in body, making it incredibly easy to drink. It was ripe, balanced and not overpowering, making it a perfect table wine and an everyday drinker. The evening’s wine may not have been a benchmark Bordeaux or Rhone but was a great representation of why a magnificent dinner at one of NYC’s newest and chicest restaurants should not cloud the ability to appreciate a good ole hot dog from Gray’s Papaya!
Like it’s sibling wines, the 2010 Dolcetta has characteristically mild tannins and juicy fruit characters. The wine’s characteristics made it an excellent match with tonight’s menu consisting of a few of my favorites, Fried Arborio Riso Balls filled with Mozzarella, Baked Eggplant Rolls filled with Arborio Riso, and the Arborio Riso Soup with Pumpkin. We aren’t quite sure if Chef Joe’s dishes revolved around the wine or the wine revolved around his magical preparations, but Chef Joe made it a magnificent culinary experience. After the Acquerello Pudding with Dried Fruit Compote, we literally wanted to curl up and daydream by a fireplace.
The La Cena Di Riso event at Quartino was a flawless reminder of the value placed in everyday traditions and rituals, much like the New York City experience I hope to recreate. As much as I love funky, obscure moments of life, I appreciate the moments that are so utterly classic and timeless. We ended the evening saluting to recognizing our personal growth to see the beauty in everyday traditions and rituals. Thank you Quartino and Chef Joe for staying true to your roots and bringing us back to the way things ought to be!
Wine Notes: “According to Levi Dalton, a sommelier between restaurants and the host of the podcast, “I’ll Drink to That”) “Dolcettos are like the off-cut of meat that the butcher takes home for himself,” Levi said, adding that it was his go-to wine at home because of its versatility.
Photo Credit: Jackelyn and Taki
Restaurant Credit: Quartino Chicago
by @JackelynGauci @DukeofYolk
Have you ever questioned what element in your life provides you with the fuel you need to stay motivated and fulfilled? We toyed with this idea ourselves; analyzing small monotonous things we do on a daily basis to the larger more extravagant things like how we choose to plan (or not plan) a vacation. What we discovered was that little Miss ‘fly by the seat of her pants’ says her biggest thrill comes from the unplanned, unknown things that happen while Mister ‘planned, consistent, organized and on time’ says there is nothing more fulfilling than sticking to a plan of attack.
For this week’s #Foodiechats #perfectpairings we chose a 2011 Orin Swift The Prisoner (92 WS) from Napa. This is a proprietary blend of 51% Zinfandel with a balance of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Petite Sirah. The soft integrated tannins allow the wine to be approachable now and provide a nice pleasant finish. Let’s just say that the uncorking of the bottle goes down as a landmark moment for 2013… “Justin’s Move Day!” Not only did we welcome a new family member to Chicago we also had a surprise visit from “Big Daddy” that same night. We were grateful beyond measure to all be together and there seemed to be no better place to celebrate than our neighborhood favorite Café Bionda in the South Loop. When you visit their website, you’ll hear Frank Sinatra serenade you, classic Chicago style!
Most people would suggest pairing a lemon, citrus flavor with a light, crisp chardonnay but we were never ones to follow suit, especially if one myth said so! We paired the 2011 The Prisoner with two of our personal Café Bionda favorites, the Rigatoni Alla Vodka with crumbled Italian sausage, and the Boneless Crispy Brick Chicken. With aromas of black pepper, berries and mocha and flavors of wild berry, fresh sage and licorice the wine brings excellent structure and great complexity. Turns out the red wine actually enhanced the basil flavors in the tomato vodka cream sauce and the lemon and garlic in the chicken. Smooth barely describes the way this wine glides across your palate with these two dishes. It was perfection from the first pour to the last drops so when choosing red or white wine, go with what you like because again, no myth said not too!
Being that we were at our neighborhood favorite and the staff has always been so pleasant and informative, we felt comfortable asking all the questions we may be too afraid to ask anywhere else, for example clarification on what the wine consumer should really be looking for when presented with their bottle. When the sommelier presents you the bottle, check the producer, the varietal, and the vintage to make sure you are receiving the correct one. Also make sure there are no signs of damage or improper storage. Thank you Café Bionda for demystifying one aspect of wine presentation!
To continue on from the excitement of Big Daddy’s mysterious arrival, tonight’s conversations seemed to revolve around moments of mystery. Mystery adds spice and a sense of adventure, and most importantly it keeps us interested. We’ve both come to an agreement that maybe you don’t need to stray into unknown territories all the time but keeping mystery alive in every aspect of life brings the thrill of believing something amazing will happen when you least expect it. (Marriage is a compromise, so props to us for starting early!) Our conclusion, because of mystery, wine is sexier than beer, Scotch or Rum, period!
Wine Notes: From the winemaker, ”this wine has a creamy vanilla canvas, toffee and blue berry notes are scrawled over the mid-palate while the flavors shift toward sweet pomegranate and deep red fruits flavors,” okay I agree!
Wine Notes: From Jackelyn & Taki, “there are few wines that we consider to be as crowd pleasing as The Prisoner and it’s drinkable until 2019 so we highly recommend gifting this to someone you know.”
Authored by: Jackelyn Gauci and Taki Kastanis
Photo Credit: Jackelyn and Taki
Photo Credit: Café Bionda Website
On Monday at 8 p.m. ET, #Foodiechats found out who’s who in the social foodie community!
Big shout out to Bull & Bear for hosting us!
Question one showed us who can take some AMAZING food photos!
The Dessert Course made me CRAVE chocolate cake!
Question six showed us who loves to give love in social!
Found out that St. Louis have a supportive foodie scene!
Question 7 asked what restaurant would you love to run their media and why!
Lots of Chicago love!
Great 129th Episode of #Foodiechats!