Sat 8 Mar 2008
It snowed like mad yesterday in Memphis, an occurrence that’s no novelty for those of you living in northern latitudes, but a rare event in the Mid-South. Already the drifts are melting, so I went out this morning and took some pictures to share. Here’s an image of the front of our house. You can see that the snow has weighed down the branches of the maple tree that stands at the beginning of the driveway.
Anyway, it was a pleasure to be slightly snow-bound for a night and have dinner at home — and by the way, I’m no longer reviewing restaurants for my newspaper; see “Goodbye to All That Dining” at the “Whining & Dining” blog — and turn on the lights on the back of the house so we could watch the snow flurry down as we ate.
I whisked up a vinaigrette and made a salad of spinach, radicchio and endive, and LL made risotto, which I will describe. She very slowly cooked two pieces of pancetta to get a little fat, took the pancetta out of the pan and then browned a diced shallot. She added a little olive oil to the pan and cooked arborio rice to that translucent stage and then put in half a cup of white wine and when that was absorbed began adding the chicken broth and stirring the rice. In a few minutes she dropped in some diced green onions, more chicken broth — you know the routine with risotto — and at the end added a handful of grated Parmesan cheese and about a tablespoon of butter.
The whole process took about 25 minutes, and the risotto was fabulous.
To drink with the risotto, I took a bottle that had been in the refrigerator for six months or so. St. Pauls Exclusiv Weissburgunder Plotzner 2005, from Sudtirol Alto Adige, was sent to me with two other bottles of wine from Italy’s northeast region by a marketing firm in New York, but for the life of me I can’t remember what that company is, nor can I find any printed matter I may have received with the wines. No importer is listed on the label, whose text is in Italian and German. A Google search on the wine brought up only five hits, all in foreign languages. One of those, however, provided a link to St Pauls informative website. St. Pauls Kellerie/Cantina was founded in the town of Eppan, southwest of Bolzano, in 1907. It’s a cooperative that makes a full range of red, white and sparkling wines from grapes typical of the region.
The wine we tried was terrific and a great match with the risotto. Weissburgunder, while it might look like a synonym for chardonnay (“white Burgundian”), is a name used for pinot blanc (or pinot bianco) in Germany and Austria. Think that a pinot blanc from 2005 would be losing its freshness and luster? Not this one. Sporting a radiant straw-gold color, this wine was incredibly clean and fresh, spicy and minerally, snappy with crisp acid and slightly earthy. Notes of white pepper, peach and pear enlivened lemon and roasted lemon fruit, the whole package vibrant with the delightful tension between bone-dryness and juicy flavors. I rate it Excellent, and I wish I could tell you a price, but I haven’t a notion. The pinot blanc grapes for this wine come from vineyards at 600 meters above sea level, or 1,968 feet. If you visit St Pauls website, you’ll see how steep and picturesque and beautiful the area is.
Of course we ate the pancetta for dessert.