This week's Wine Night was a fun exploration of Italian flavors and culture, which turns out to be not to terribly dissimilar to Southern cuisine!  

We kicked off the night with a classic Caprese Salad, using local cherry tomatoes & basil with imported baby mozzarella. The first time Phillip & I experienced a Caprese salad was in a little out-of-the-way Italian restaurant in Germany of all places.   What a fresh, bright combination of tastes!  We paired the clean flavors of the caprese with a Fruili region Pinot Grigio by Jermann.  Our diners found the Pinot to be easy-drinking with a velvet fruitiness, and a smooth, bright finish. 

The next course had an exotic name, but anyone who has ever had cheese grits & shrimp here in the South will find very familiar flavors in our Asiago Polenta with Seared Sea Scallops!   Polenta is basically a yellow corn version of grits, the ubiquitous starch of the south.   For Southerners, this is a very approachable entree, and we've found that Polenta is as versatile as Grits, showing up in everything from a sweet porridge for breakfast to naturally gluten-free polenta "fries."  For our wine night, we served a very simple creamy, cheesy polenta  as a base for these pretty seared sea scallops, and the peppery arugula pesto that Jessica whipped up right as we were plating this dish.  We paired this with another Veneto region wine, this time the Soave by Pieropan.  Our diners really liked the clean, bright, and fruity flavors & balanced acidity. 

Wine nights are always our favorite nights of the month! It's a time for our kitchen to stretch their skills & creativity, and also to explore different cultures and techniques.  For the nerdy, foodie cooks that we have here, that's a special treat!   If you want to be included on the next one, be sure to join our mailing list! <--- Right here!

Staying with classic tomato flavors for the next course, we moved to a very traditional tomato-basil risotto with grilled Italian sausage.  This course is the closest we came to the "spaghetti & meatballs" flavors that many Americans assign to Italian dining.  (Not that there's anything wrong with that!) This course came with what turned out to be the favorite wine of the night, Candoni's  Elviana Red Wine from the Veneto region.  It probably helps that beautiful wine maven, Elviana herself, graces the bottle in a fantastic graphic design moment.   Our diners found this wine to be exceedingly tasty, with big round flavors, and enough body (ahem) to work with the bold flavors of the fresh tomato risotto & sausage. 

Our final course was a special recommendation from one of our Wine Night regulars, who said that a good Tiramisu is one of her favorite flavors in the world!  So, Jess got to work, hand-whipping up some mascarpone, and baking up her own version of Square ladyfingers!  The results were truly some of the prettiest little desserts we've ever had in  this building!  
We wanted to find a great, elegant chianti to pair with these beauties.  After trying several other chiantis, we didn't find anything we liked better than our house chianti, Chianti Classico by Castello di Querceto.  We found this bottle to be soft & delicate with nice subtle coffee flavors that teamed up beautifully with our house made tiramisu squares!