A Toast to the Bounty of Summer

This time of year, we’re especially inspired in the kitchen; our local markets are bursting with the season’s freshest fruits and vegetables, and it seems that nothing more than a light touch is needed to turn such exquisite raw materials into a healthy local feast.

This is the same philosophy that guides the winemaking principles of Barone Pizzini; an appreciation for the bounty of the land and a respect for the raw ingredients that has inspired the company to lead the way in organic production of Franciacorta, as well as biodynamic production of Pievalta in Le Marche.

Not surprising, then, that many of the restaurants around the country that include Barone Pizzini in their wine programs also espouse this dedication to local sourcing and appreciation for highlighting the flavors of each changing season. Great news for those of us who are committed to sustainable dining, but less inspired in the kitchen!

ABC Kitchen, New York City

The New York restaurant scene has embraced the “local” food trend in a big way – but ABC Kitchen takes this commitment to a new level. In addition to Chef Jean-Georges’ focus on organic seasonal produce, meat, fish and dairy are sourced locally and sustainably whenever possible; herbs and microgreens are grown on a rooftop garden; and beverages – from wine to coffee and tea – are organic and fair-trade. Even the dining room includes recycled or reclaimed materials – we’ll toast to that!

Coppa, Boston

coppa veg
Seasonal fare at Coppa, Boston

Not traditionally viewed as a foodie haven, Boston is making a name for itself as a culinary destination in its own right, thanks in part to a rising generation of outstanding chefs, including Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette of Coppa in Boston’s South End. Pair your Franciacorta with a seasonally updated menu of pizza, pasta, outstanding charcuterie and fresh produce sourced from “local friends.”

Market 17, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Proving that the country’s biggest cities do not have a monopoly on locavore dining, Chef Lauren Shields at Market 17 has made Fort Lauderdale a regional leader in sustainable dining. The native Floridian is convinced that consumer education is the key to encouraging more people to make responsible food choices. Owners Kirsta and Aaron Grauberger – a brother and sister team of sommeliers – are pleased to share their dedication to sourcing in an extensive beverage program, with plenty of biodynamic and organic options, including Barone Pizzini Rosé.  

Pizza + Wine, a Match Made in Heaven

While beer is the traditional beverage accompaniment to a great slice, beverage directors around the country are calling that logic into question, and unleashing their enthusiasm for the unlimited possibilities for wine and pizza pairings.

After all, beer and pizza is like washing down bread with…more bread?

Last month, Wine Spectator published this roundup of 9 pizza restaurants around the US with outstanding wine lists. It came as no surprise that Marta, Danny Meyer’s stylish foray into thin crust, made the cut; as Wine Spectator tells us, “the 250-selection list, with strengths in …Italy, featur[es] many options in the $50-and-under range.”

We asked Courtney Schiessl, sommelier at Marta, located in the Redbury Hotel in Manhattan, what she thinks makes pizza and wine a match made in heaven.

“Pizza with wine is a no-brainer; think of wine as an expansion of the already-broad range of toppings that can adorn a pizza, just in liquid form. How will the wine “topping” compliment and contrast the pie topping? A meat-lovers pizza is an entirely different dish than a white pizza with fresh veggies, and therefore could be paired with an entirely different wine, turning make-your-own-pizza night into an adventure.”Pizza 2

Franciacorta is particularly well-suited to pizza; its vibrant acidity adds a clean contrast to rich toppings like cured meat and cheese, and its zesty minerality pair well with sautéed vegetables, onions and garlic.

“At Marta, our favorite pairing with pizza is sparkling wine,” agrees Schiessl. “Pizza is meant to be casual and fun, and what’s more fun and delicious than bubbly? Sparkling wine is also incredibly versatile and food-friendly, due to its fresh, clean fruit flavors and bright acidity. Franciacorta comes from a warmer climate…so the wines tend to be more richly fruity. This makes Franciacorta perfect for pizzas with heartier toppings like sausage, guanciale, gooey cheeses, or even pineapple. Plus, the best part of an impromptu pizza and Franciacorta party: no wine opener required!”

So whether your next pizza night involves your perfected homemade crust with sautéed veggies, or your favorite take-out sausage pie, make the flavors shine with a bottle of Barone Pizzini Franciacorta.

Extraordinary dinner @CaracolHou (best restaurant in Houston?) TY @SeanForLBW

We just had to share these photos from our extraordinary dinner a few weeks ago at Caracol in Houston, a new restaurant by award-winning chef Hugo Ortega that features “coastal” cooking from Mexico.

Leading Houston sommelier Sean Beck, the restaurant’s wine director, ordered for us and didn’t miss a beat.

tlacoyo

Sean told us that the tlacoyo has quickly become one of the restaurant’s signature dishes. It’s a fried masa (corn meal) pancake stuffed with chickpeas.

blue crab soup

The Chilpachole de Jaiba: blue crab soup, masa dumplings, puya chile. The blue crabs are cooked whole in the soup and their shells are tender and rich in flavor. Another stunning dish.

octopus salad

Coctel de Pulpo Almendrado: Spanish octopus, almond, caper, green olive.

gulf snapper texas

Whole roast Gulf of Mexico red snapper…

Caracol is one of those restaurants that surprises and thrills you at every turn and the cooking is as wholesome as it is authentic.

I can’t recommend it highly enough. It may very well be the best restaurant in Texas right now.

Jeremy Parzen
blog master

Caracol
2200 Post Oak Blvd #160
Houston, TX 77056
(713) 622-9996
Google map

Organic pizza to pair with biodynamic wine

organic pizza pizzeria italy

Above: Le Basi is a company that produces 100% certified organic “zero kilometer” prepared pizza and focaccia doughs.

Tomorrow (Wednesday, March 20), from 4-8 p.m., Pievalta will be pouring its Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi at the organic food store Bìos in the town of Monsano (province of Ancona).

The Bìos store (no website) is located at Via Sant’Ubaldo 67.

The wines will be paired with pizzas that have been prepared with dough produced by Le Basi, a company that specializes in 100% certified organic “zero kilometer” prepared pizza and focaccia doughs. (Click here for the Facebook post with event details.)

The idea behind “zero kilometer” food products is that they are crafted using ingredients sourced as locally as possible. In the case of Le Basi, the wheat used to produce the doughs is harvested in the town of Camerino (province of Macerata) where the certified organic bakery is located.

The doughs can be purchased for home pizza-making and the company also has two pizzerias where they serve pizza by the slice made with their doughs, in Jesi and Osimo (both in the province of Ancona).

After all, what’s the sense of drinking a biodynamically farmed wine if you’re going to pair it with a pizza made with commercially and chemically farmed wheat?