Fri 2 Oct 2009
A perfect dish for seasonal transition, that is from Summer into Fall, is this recipe from the September Gourmet magazine. It touches five essential food groups — chicken, figs, garlic, bacon and thyme — for a combination that’s savory, hearty and flavorful, with a touch of woodsy sweetness. The recipe calls for Cornish game hens, but the examples we see in stores here look like small mutant chickens, not the petite birds of yore, so we used chicken thighs, which we had on hand. The dish did not suffer in the slightest. In keeping with our new philosophy — two small meals a day –LL and I each ate one thigh (and one piece of bacon), along with mashed potatoes and green beans, leaving some for lunch this weekend.
For wine, I opened the Campo Santa Lena Valpolicella Classico 2007, from Villa Monteleone, located in the town of Gargagnago, in the central-western reaches of the Valpolicella Classico region. Valpolicella Classico, in the Veneto, like Chianti Classico in Tuscany, is a delimited vineyard zone, not a style of wine. Theoretically, wines from Valpolicella Classico, closer to Lake Garda and at a higher elevation, will be better than “regular” Valpolicella because of the more salubrious geography and micro-climate. Indeed, as the vineyards of Valpolicella spread easterly toward the city of Verona and flatter land, the more lackluster or at least merely drinkable the wines tend to be.
Campo Santa Lena Valpolicella Classico 2007 is a blend of the typical grapes of the region: Corvina and rondinella with some croatina and molinara. Made all in stainless steel, the wine is a medium ruby color with inviolable violet at the center. The bouquet offers black currants, dusty plums, a whiff of black pepper and dried herbs. In the mouth, Campo Santa Lena ’07 is robust and earthy, but not heavy; in fact, it carries itself with point and polish, invigorated by lithe acidity. Flavors of black cherries and plums are permeated by chewy, slightly brushy tannins and back-notes of tar and bitter chocolate. A rewarding drink with our roasted chicken, figs and thyme with bacon and garlic chips, it would be equally suitable with a variety of hearty autumnal fare, especially game-birds. Very Good+. About $20.
Imported by Domenico Selections, New York, whose wines are now available not only in the Northeast but in North Carolina and Texas.