Sat 18 Jul 2009
Last night was one of those occasions when LL says, “Let’s not go to the grocery store. We’ll find what we need at home.” She’s good at this.
So: little sausage meatballs made by squeezing thumb-sized portions of sausage from the skin, well-browned in a skillet. Garlic and very ripe cherry tomatoes, fresh thyme and rosemary simmered in about half a cup of tomato broth left over from last Saturday, when I marinated tomatoes, green onions and basil in olive oil for the pizza (I always save the “tomato broth” from after the tomatoes drain), all this slowly stewed, as the tomatoes almost disintegrate and gain intensity. Then — simplicity itself — the warm pasta in the bowls, the meatballs, the sauce, some leaves of basil and Parmesan shavings. The result: One of the best pasta dishes I have ever tasted, bountifully flavorful and concentrated, bursting with freshness but also with the savoriness of a sauce long-cooked. Wow!
For wine, I opened the Campo San Vito Valpolicella 2004, Classico Superiore Ripasso, a wine that also conveyed a sense of intensity and concentration. Ripasso is a method in which certain Valpolicella wines are “refermented,” in the March after harvest, on the lees of Amarone wines; the process lends these wines added richness and depth. The color here is almost motor-oil black, with a glowing blue/purple rim; the bouquet is minty and meaty, bursting with cassis, Damson plums, smoke, licorice and lavender and a whole boxful of dried spices. Yes, this is so exotic that it’s close to pornographic, but the wine is not too easy, on the one hand, or overbearing, on the other, because it possesses the acid and tannic structure, as well as two years in oak, to express its purposeful nature and rigorous underpinnings. Flavors of black currant and plum, with a touch of mulberry, are permeated by spice, potpourri and granite, as if all ground together in a mortar; the finish, increasingly austere, gathers more dust and minerals. Quite an experience and really good with our dinner. Limited availability in the Northeast. Excellent. About $25.
Imported by Domenico Selections, New York.