Monsterville Horton IV, CWE is to whom I credit my wine snobbery. Before Monsterville, I was quite content to pop to the shop for a $5 bottle of Barefoot Pinot Grigio and begin my weekend drinking this frightful juice with a fervor that can only match a man staggering through the desert for a week, parched and seeking his oasis.
Yes ladies and gentlemen, that was me. A baby, an amateur, an ignoramus. Well, that all changed the moment Monsterville entered my life with his intoxicating wine and cheese pairing class. Honestly did I ever have much of a chance? Two of my favorite things – wine and cheese – how could I not succumb to his tempting ways? And with Monsterville being a Certified Wine Expert (CWE and one of only 140 in the entire WORLD), he knew the song to sing that would melt my heart.
And so began my love affair with good, and I mean certifiably good, wine. My bank account does not thank me, but my body does.
We had the pleasure of attending his Italian class last night focusing on the Tuscany region. Um. Yum.
Take a peek at this dazzling menu:
Italian wine and food – Tuscany
Barone Fini Pinot Grigio
Traditional bruschetta w/ tomatoes, Wine Cup Farms basil & aged balsamic
Paired with: 2008 Le Rote Vernaccia di San Gimignano
2006 Frescobaldi Nipozzano Chianti Rufina Riserva
Pappardelle w/ duck ragu
Paired with: 2007 Ambra Carmginana “Santa Cristina”
2006 Palazzino Chianti Classico “Grosso Sanese”
2005 Terrabianca Campaccio
Bistecca Fiorentina w/ arugula, piave, balsamic vinegar & extra virgin olive oil
Paired with: 2004 Sesti Brunello di Montalcino
2004 Argiano Brunello di Montalcino
Mascarpone cheesecake w/ strawberry sauce
Paired with: Moscato from Spain (don’t have label info)
Chef: Jennifer Hill
Salivating? Yeah, we were too when we could smell the aromas wafting through the kitchen and teasing our noses.
The bruschetta – oh em gee – never have I had bruschetta like this. Buttery, crunchy bread that was perfectly crispy on the outside and fluffy inside. Topped with tangy tomatoes and delicate Piave flakes, I had a hard time breathing between bites. Plus, the peppery basil was just picked that morning from the farm! Love.
A little note about olive oil: did you know, that unlike wine, olive oil is best when it’s young? Harvest season is post wine stomping time, usually Nov – Jan. The one we tried last night was Novello (Italian for “new”) 2009-10 – straight from Tuscany!
The duck ragu is a traditional Tuscan dish. Long, flat pasta wrapping its starchy arms around shredded roasted duck, all sitting in a light and airy sauce that is weightless yet dense at the same time. Such a lovely savory dish. Add some fried sage and pow! That’s right – fried fresh sage leaves right on top. Who came up with that? Genius. Top with buttery Asiago and duck cracklins. You read that right. All made in house.
The bistecca fiorentina is a classic Italian dish – and made my mind and my stomach happy since the beef was all-natural and free of hormones and antibiotics. The meat is tender and flavorful enough to stand on its own – it was only accompanied by EVOO, salt and pepper, and a drizzle of 10 year balsamic vinegar. Heaven. I’d like to tell you I was a lady and practiced self control by only eating half (isn’t that the rule?) but I couldn’t resist – I devoured. Every. Last. Bit. And then I licked my plate. When no one was looking!!! I’m not an animal.
Mascarpone cheesecake – never been a fan of mascarpone. UNTIL last night. I think the chef was actually putting crack in the food. That is the only way to explain why the two of us ate like unruly beasts. Creamy, soft, sweet but not too sweet and married perfectly with the Moscato. Happy campers right here.
Chef Jennifer Hill is a magic maker. Her food is brilliant. Get some.
So this makes four classes that I’ve done:
Wine and Cheese Pairings
German and Austrian Wines (ß b/c of this class I now like Rieslings! Thanks M!)
Some wine descriptions last night that I found quite humorous:
black currant (what IS that?)
silky and sensual
like a big breasted woman
Yes, these were all statements from last night. Who DOESN’T want to drink sex bomb wine???? That term was used in reference to the Brunello, and when it was said, I nodded knowingly. It just fits.
I’ve come so far from my Barefoot and Kendall Jackson days. And thank goodness. Cause life’s too short to drink bad juice.
Trivia question: does anyone know what a Super Tuscan wine is?
Catch more of Monsterville at MonsterGourmet, his new catering company specializing in corporate lunches with an emphasis on organics and locally grown ingredients. Not only does this resonate deeply within my soul, but his food choices are anything but ordinary. Things like a mango, avocado and cilantro salad, seafood and meat platters, hummus, veggie sandwiches and organic agave soft drinks make my heart flutter. Ah-mazing folks.
European summer tour posts to resume shortly 🙂