Fresh Fettuccine and Wild Mushrooms … Perfect with Barbera d’Asti

Pairing: Homemade Fettuccine al Funghi Paired with a 2016 Michele Chiario Barbera d’Asti Superiore Nizza Cipressi 

Food:  OMG!! There are some meals (food and wine together) that transcend even our highest expectations. This dish is one that falls in with that august company.

We are very fortunate indeed to live in a region where several different edible wild mushrooms grow in convenient, accessible places to us. Woodlands with mature oak and spruce growth, old apple orchards, open verge, even our lawn. Years ago we participated in a number of mushroom identification workshops led by very experienced mycologists. Even though we have several years of mushroom gathering under our belts, we still exercise caution when we’re out on a mushroom hunt, double checking for the telltale signs of familiar safe mushrooms, as well as signs identifying unsafe (aka, poisonous) ones. As the saying goes, “There are old mushroom hunters … there are bold mushroom hunters … but … there are no old, bold mushroom hunters.”

King Boletes and Bicolor Boletes are among our favorites and are the focus of this dish. Boletes are sliced, sautéed in butter, then add a little heavy cream and mascarpone cheese with some of the pasta cooking water. Stir in the cooked pasta with the mushrooms and sauce. Interestingly, the addition of cream in the recipe tells us it’s from northern Italy. Because of that, fresh pasta is better than dry pasta. And, the accompanying Barbera wine is also from northern Italy. What synergy!

Note:  The fresh pasta is just a simple combination of a cup each of all-purpose flour and semolina mixed with an egg and kneaded. The resulting dough is then cranked through a pasta machine, or cut by hand. Place in boiling, salted water. Fresh pasta cooks much faster than dried pasta.

Pasta and Cepes

Wine:  Barbera d’Asti is a subregion of the famed Piedmont wine region of northwestern Italy. Records show that Barbera, native to the Piedmont area, goes back to at least the early 1600’s. It boasts a world-wide popularity  among wine drinkers and pairs beautifully with many classic Italian dishes, most notably, perhaps, pizza. Barbera d’Asti, not surprisingly, comes from the extensive acreage planted in the hills surrounding the town of Asti. It’s sister wine (so to speak), Barbera d’Alba, hails from the vineyards near Alba, to the northeast of Asti. The Nizza Cipressi area creates its own unique territorial identity within Barbera d’Asti.

Barbera d'Asti

Tasting Notes: A deep, deep maroon color. Almost black. Aromas of blackberry and blueberry with hints of sweet caramel, brown sugar and vanilla. The palate builds on the themes of blackberry, blueberry, caramel, and vanilla. Velvety and lush with slightly dusty, but perfectly soft tannins. Coats every corner of your mouth as the finish goes on and on. A nice mature wine, but with the youthful qualities of fresh berries. The stars aligned in this absolutely perfect pairing with the wild mushroom pasta.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Pasta and Wild Mushrooms: Pinot Noir (Oregon), Pomerol (Bordeaux, France), Barolo (Italy), Rioja (Spain)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Barbera d’Asti:  Pizza, Pasta with Tomato Sauce, Grilled Chicken, Lamb, and Pork, Mushroom Risotto

More About Asti:  Asti

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Leftover Pheasant … with a Shiraz from Western Australia

Pairing:  Pheasant and Wild Mushrooms paired with 2011 Frankland Estate Rocky Gully Shiraz

Food:  It’s nearing the dining time. Well … time to dive into the freezer to see what delectable leftovers we can uncover. Ah … some leftover roast pheasant (doesn’t everyone have that buried in their freezer?) and a bag of assorted wild mushrooms gathered late last summer  (chanterelles, fairy ring mushrooms, meadow mushrooms). Yum … surely there is something to be done with such special ingredients. Sauté the thawed, partially cooked mushrooms in some butter, add a little red wine (the wine we are drinking, of course) and brown stock/ sauce/ gravy. Cook down until the desired consistency. Warm the boneless pieces of the pheasant in the sauce, season with salt and pepper, and pour it all over some noodles. Perfect!  Wine?  Hmmm …

Leftover Pheasant over Noodles

Wine:  When we think of Shiraz, our thoughts frequently go to Australia … often to the Barossa Valley region of South Australia. But … not today. We’re going to travel further west on that beautiful continent, about a thousand miles, to the appropriately named Western Australia. Those clever Aussies! Clever indeed to grow their beloved Shiraz grapes in a wine region known more for Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling. The Frankland Estate winery is located near the Frankland River about 50 miles inland from the ocean, giving a Mediterranean-type climate to the area. The making of their Rocky Gully Shiraz follows the principles born in the Northern Rhone region of France, where winemakers add a teeny bit (about 5%) of white Viognier wine to the red Syrah (what they call Shiraz) to make their renowned Hermitage wine. So, Rocky Gully tastes a lot like Hermitage, but way less inexpensive (about $15).

Rocky Gully Shuraz

Tasting Notes:  You’re standing by the stove making a black currant/ black cherry jam. The kitchen takes on the aromas of the cooking  jam. That’s the nose of this deep, dark reddish-purple wine. Dip a spoon into the cooling jam and taste it. That black currant and black cherry jam is the dominant flavor you get on the palate … along with a touch of pepper. What a nice warm sensation you get in your mouth as you sip this wine. And what a nice lingering finish … delicious!

Other Food that Pairs Well with This Shiraz:  Venison, Duck, Mushrooms, Grilled Sausage, Barbecue Ribs

Other Wine that Pairs Well with Pheasant: Red Bordeaux (Saint-Émilion), Red Burgundy, Pinot Noir (Oregon), Chardonnay (big and oaky from California), Barolo

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