Wed 2 Jun 2010
Last night we made the Orecchiette with Cauliflower, Anchovies and Fried Croutons from the May 2010 issue of Bon Appetit. The recipe is included in an article about the cuisine and wine of Puglia, the Achilles heel and actual heel of the Italian boot. Simplicity is the byword in that rugged region, and not much could be simpler than this dish. The most complicated part is dicing bread to make croutons and cutting a few zucchini into 1/3-inch cubes. The cauliflower is trimmed, cut into 1-inch florets and roasted in a 425-degree oven. There are garlic, anchovies, Italian parsley, Parmesan and Romano cheeses, and basically the whole thing comes together at the last minute before you add the cute, al dente orecchiette, “little ears.” This is a terrific pasta that needs no side dishes because your vegetables are already there! You could have a salad, of course.
I wanted something crisp and beguiling for the wine, and not anything overbearing or flamboyant — not the triteness of the brash New Zealand style — so I opened a bottle of the Gainey Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2008, from California’s Santa Ynez Valley, and got exactly what I wanted. Made from grapes derived from Gainey’s Home Vineyard, the wine is a blend of 75 percent sauvignon blanc and 25 percent semillon. It’s made completely in stainless steel, so its vivid freshness and vibrancy make themselves known immediately, yet beyond that aspect, the wine is a model of restraint, a tissue of nods and nuances. Aromas of pears, watermelon and grapefruit are highlighted by notes of thyme and tarragon and a bit of grass; the semillon makes itself known by hints of leafy fig and lemongrass. The wine is crisp and lithe, but not angular, and it layers flavors of roasted lemon and pear with spice, lavender and a resonant limestone quality that sweeps a tinge of grapefruit sass into the finish. The complete effect is of balance and integration, of each element permeating and permeated by the other elements, plus, the whole thing is damned delightful. The winemaker is Jon Engelskirger. Production was 1,450 cases. Excellent. About $15, a Raving Great Value.
A sample for review.