Tue 20 Mar 2012
Last night I prepared Jamie Oliver’s Risotto with Fennel, Ricotta and Dried Red Chili (pictured here) from his book Jamie’s Italy (Hyperion, $34.95). A little prepping is involved, mainly slicing the fennel and some garlic thinly and crushing fennel seeds; these you sweat in a covered pan over low heat so they turn soft. Make the risotto as usual — yes, that requires standing and stirring, but you can use those minutes as an opportunity for meditation — add the fennel mixture and so on, and serve with crumbled ricotta (or, as here, grated ricotta salata), crushed red chili flakes and fennel fronds. It’s a terrific dish for Spring, with bright, savory flavors and a lush texture that’s not too rich.
For wine, I opened, with a deft twist of the wrist. a bottle of the Domaine Perraud Vieilles Vignes Mäcon-Villages 2010, a lovely and eloquent expression of the chardonnay grape, made all in stainless steel; no oak needed here! The wine hails from the Mäconnais region, south of Burgundy proper. Aromas of pineapple and grapefruit are highlighted by notes of jasmine, quince and ginger with just a smidgeon of apple skin. Citrus flavors, again, leaning toward pineapple and grapefruit (with a hint of peach), are bolstered by the vivacity of crystalline acidity and a burgeoning tide of limestone and shale-like minerality, while the wine’s texture offers attractive talc-like softness; it’s that combination of inextricable effects — the tautness of sinewy acidity with the moderate ripe juiciness of texture — that gives such wines their liveliness and appeal. 13 percent alcohol. Drink through the end of 2012. Very Good+. I paid $21 but the average national price is about $16.
Imported by North Berkeley Wine, Berkeley, Cal.