Monday, July 27, 2009

My version of the French culinary master's take on an Italian dish, with an Italian red and a French white

'Italienne Macaroni' From the Escoffier cookbook:

"Cook the macaroni in boiling water; completely drain it; put it into a saucepan, and toss it over the fire to dry. Season it with salt, pepper and nutmeg; combine it wth five oz. of grated Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses, in equal quantities, and two oz. of butter, cut into small pieces, per lb. of macaroni. Saute well to combine, and serve in a timbale."

This is about as simple a recipe as one could hope for from Auguste Escoffier. Which was perfect a few nights ago, when I was looking for a quick mac and cheese recipe to try. That having been said, I had gruyere but lacked parmesan, so I substitued cheddar cheese. I also had a head of collard greens I needed to use, so I chopped that up and sauteed it in olive oil. Then I combined it with the cheese coated macaroni, put into a round cazuela, grated a little extra cheese on top and put underneath the broiler for several minutes. I did not serve in a timbale.

The results were quite delicious if I say so myself. My girlfriend agreed.

As for the wine, I had a delicious bottle of 2007 Grange Tiphaine Montlouis Sec - a dry, rich chenin with tell-tale quince chenin flavors, as well as intense citrus oils, ripe acids, and a bit of a fat, ripe fruited style which really worked quite well with the richness of the pasta. Less successful: a 2007 Ruggeri Corsini Barbera d'Alba. On its own, the wine showed really sweet red pitted fruit flavors, foursquare, new oak. Doesn't sound like a good pairing, right? Well I suspected this would be the case, so I happily drank chenin throughout dinner. Next time I'll need to try gamay, poulsard, or maybe Les Cretes Tourrette if I want to keep things Italienne.

In fairness to the Corsini, it has opened up considerably in the past two days. I'm drinking it now, and though it's oakier, fatter, and less cutting than I would prefer my wines to be these days, the acidity is showing more prominently than on Friday night. There are slight floral and mineral components, and I guess that I don't mind the wine; otherwise I'd cork it up and wait another 2 days.

Hope it's a great week for everyone out there in food and wine land.