I remember the very first time I had that "a-ha" moment with a food and wine pairing. They are not easy to come by. Of course, finding good wine pairings with a dish is not the challenging part, it is finding that elusive pairing in which you just have to pause for a moment and say "oh my!", "wow" and "A-ha!" When you do have one, you remember it all so clearly. And just this past week, while on a wine trip to the Nahe and Mosel regions of Germany, I had one of those incredible "a-ha" moments during a dinner with winemaker Ernest Loosen of Dr. Loosen wines. That is why it is the Please The Palate pick of the week.
My week was spent exploring the amazing, delicious riesling grape in all of its manifestations - dry, off dry, sweet, sweeter and sweetest. And Ernie Loosen is one of the iconic winemakers of the Mosel, the oldest wine growing region in Germany. And we were lucky to be invited to his home for a tasting and dinner.
Food and wine pairing is like a good marriage. It is about balance, harmony and complimenting each other, although it is never perfect. At Primo Italia in Torrance, husband and wife team Lou and Grace Giovannetti share their passion for Italian food and wine offering monthly wine pairing dinners in one of their private rooms.
Opened in 2016, Primo Italia is a collaboration and partnership. Lou is the restaurateur and Grace is the sommelier. They have created a restaurant that is warm and inviting and in a way, an invitation into their home. From their Campania and Sicilian roots, Primo Italia is an homage to Grace's Italian family heritage with family photos that line the walls. And their wine dinners are an opportunity to share their passion for food and wine.
Their most recent wine dinner was with Tenuta San Guido, as estate located in Maremma, a coastal region in Tuscany. Tenuta San Guido is the estate that produces the iconic Super-Tuscan Sassicaia, as well as other wines.
I love basil. I love the aroma of fresh basil on a margarita pizza, on top of a caprese salad, in a pesto sauce or in a Thai dish. But never did I realize how many types of basil exist, more than forty varieties! Leave it to Maude, who picked basil as the featured ingredient for the July tasting menu.
Holy basil, cinnamon basil, lettuce basil, sweet basil, lemon basil, Lesbos basil, opal basil, African blue basil and more, each has its own appearance and aroma. And we were in for a treat with the Maude July menu!
Two of us sat down for dinner and as we waited for our dining companions, wine director Kevin Caravelli poured us a small glass of Domaine Julie Benau Picpoul de Pinet “Cuvée Libero” 2015 from Languedoc France. What is really cool about this crisp mineral-driven wine is that is it aged in barrels underwater. The delicate fresh wine was a perfect start to a meal that would also be fresh and delicate.