Monday, December 5, 2016

Pasta Dal Cuore Wine Dinner + New Years

Full disclosure: I attended this dinner free of charge at Pasta Dal Cuore's invitation, but with the understanding that any review I posted would be honest and unbiased. All opinions are my own and are an honest reflection of my experience. 

Earlier this fall, Pasta Dal Cuore and Cool Vines collaborated on Autumn in Northern Italy, a five course dinner featuring regional Northern Italian recipes paired with Italian wines. It was a wonderful night, complete with an excellent menu and some truly delicious wines. For the diners and organizers alike, there was a sense of excitement and anticipation that paid off so well, Pasta Dal Cuore has already planned their next event (hint: midnight and drinks are involved! More details below).

It felt like the theme of the night was elegant simplicity. As guests came in, they were started off with a light prosecco, a nice touch. As each course was presented, we'd hear a couple of notes about the dishes and the wine and what went into them from Elena, owner of Pasta Dal Cuore and Amy Ezrin from Massanois Merchants who worked with Cool Vines to select the wines. There wasn't a wine I didn't like and it was a great way to learn about and experience some I might not otherwise try. While there were a couple of moments of off-timing as wine got poured and dishes were served, overall, the evening flowed very well and the portions were perfectly sized - not just bites of everything so everyone's still hungry but made with an awareness that five courses can be a lot to get through.

1st Course
Due Crostini paired with Bruna Grimaldi Langhe Arenis
The crostini, a chicken liver pate with green apple and a Gorgonzola Dolce D.O.P. with fig, were a perfect starter. Each piece was two bites, just enough to taste the rich flavor without being overindulgent. I can be a little iffy on Gorgonzola so was delighted by how light and mild it was - creamy, slightly funky, and brightened up by the sweet fig. It was a very well-thought-out pairing. 

2nd Course
Pumpkin Tortelli in a brown butter sage sauce paired with Nals Magreid Schiava
It's hard to find a bad brown butter sauce, but there aren't many that are noteworthy - this one was. With a hint of sage,  it was an excellent savory contrast to the sweetness of the pumpkin for a warming but still light autumnal dish. The tortelli were almost melt in your mouth tender and there were quite a few people reaching for a piece of bread to soak up the remnants of the sauce. 

3rd Course
Tortellini in Brodo paired with Luigi Nervi Gattinara
These adorable little knotted pockets of meat-stuffed tortellini were all handmade over the course of three days and served in a traditional capon (young chicken) broth. Although the broth verged on slightly too salty towards the end, it helped sharpen and intensify the rich meaty flavor that was a wonderful surprise upon biting into the delicate tortellini. It was a rustic, charming dish rooted in tradition that felt special to have. 

4th Course
Orata in Parchment paired with Villa Sparina Gavi di Gavi
The orata was the dish that really drove home the feel of all these courses which is the very wonderful balance between a bright and richly flavorful dish that engages all of your tastebuds but doesn't overwhelm them. Wrapped in parchment and steamed in a simple tomato sauce with vegetables, the fish was beautifully flaky and full of the tomato and vegetable flavors it was cooked with. 

5th Course
Almond Cake with Vin Santo Gelato paired with Livio Sassi Spumante Rose
Instead of serving a straight dessert wine to finish off the meal, it was put in ice cream form and served with a Mantovese almond cake which was like a sweetened biscuit, creating a beautiful and just slightly sweet ending to the meal, circling back to that initial feel of elegant and balanced simplicity.

Altogether, it was one of the better multi-course experiences I've had with a memorable menu and great wines that felt like a real taste of Northern Italy.

For their next event, join Pasta Dal Cuore in collaboration with Pet Shop Wine Bar for a very special New Years Eve. Celebrate by eating and drinking well with a delicious and thoughtfully prepared menu and wine pairing.

The dinner will be five courses and those attending will have their choice of a seafood-focused or vegetarian menu including specialty menu items like lobster and chanterelles, paired with all-natural, organic wines from Pet Shop Wine Bar.

There will be two seatings, the first from 5-7pm and the second from 8:30-10:30pm, with all guests invited back to Pet Shop for an afterparty with a complimentary Prosecco toast at midnight. 

Tickets are being sold through Jersey Girls Food Tours for $100/person which includes all food, wine, tax, and gratuity. Tickets are limited, so make sure to buy yours early and Happy New Year!

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