Carlo and I recently got married, which in part explains why we haven’t been blogging. In true Valdesolo family fashion, one wedding simply wasn’t enough. “Excess, always” seems to be the family motto, so we’ve both been busy planning our two other wedding celebrations. The second celebration was last weekend at the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, MA. It was catered by Niche Catour, the catering arm of our favorite Boston fine dining restaurant No. 9 Park Street, and they did such an amazing job that we decided to blog about it. Luckily a good friend with foresight took pictures of every course so we can paste them here. The only missing items are the hors d’oeuvres, which is regrettable, but I will list them here, pictureless. We had a tomato bar (untimely considering the salmonella mishap, but we swear they were all local, organic and without any sort of poison). The tomato bar included a tomato tarte tatin, a clear cold tomato consume with basil oil, and a mini-BLT. And then we had passed hors d’oeurves, which were, if I remember correctly, prosciutto with minted melon, crispy prawns with summer herb relish, and gnochettini with chicken liver, parsley, nutmeg. All incredible even though I had to wolf them down before all the guests arrived. The main dishes were equally incredible, and it would take too long to describe in detail each one, but here are the photos:
The first course was Fresh Ricotta with local baby arugula, extra virgin olive oil and lemon. We paired it with an unfiltered Friulano white wine called Skerk Malvasia Del Carso (2005). I had never had unfiltered wine before and was a little concerned about the cloudiness, but it was very delicious, citrusy and a little sharp, which connected it to the lemon in the dish.
The second first course was Roasted Stuffed “Fairy Tale” Eggplant with Sultanas, Pine Nuts, and Anchovy Vinaigrette, and some cheese sprinkled on top. Also delicious (I’ll be using that adjective a lot) paired with the Maculan Vespaiolo 2007. So delicious, in fact, that at least three separate people inadvertently ate the stems of the eggplant and reported no decrement in satisfaction. Vespaiolo is a grape unique to the northern part of the Veneto, the region of Italy from where Carlo’s father comes. The dinner was intended to be a reflection of Northern Italy, which is why most of the wines came from there.
Next was the creamy risotto with Woodbury littleneck clams, pepperoncini, and parsley coulis served with the Pighin Bianco Risano Villa Agricola 2007. Carlo’s uncle is the head oenologist at the Pighin winery in Friuli, which produced the wines we had during hors d’oeurves and much of the wine we drink at home.
Onto the fourth course – a Sea Bream Acqua Pazza with white beans, olivada, celery salad. Are you getting full yet? This course was the most unnecessary to me, but another person at our table said it was the best pairing of the night, with the Movia Ribolla Gialla 2005, the only wine we had to purchase in the US. We had tried to import it from Italy, but it actually got confiscated at customs because it’s a Slovenian wine and apparently we asserted we only had Italian wines, though I believe the grapes are grown in Italy (vines don’t stop at borders apparently, despite their labels). But it’s commonly available in the US so we were able to get it here, phew (and we hope the workers at customs enjoyed the two cases they relieved us of).
This dish made me cry. It was a crescenza ravioletti with brown butter and rosemary. So simple, so rich, so delicious. Crescenza is a Northern Italian cow’s milk cheese that tastes like a cross between a tart hard cheese and butter. The reaction was mixed…some people said they needed to eat 6 more immediately and some people stared at their plate and said they felt guilty. It’s so so good and went so so well with the light(er) red wine it came with, Pighin Rosso Riserva Villa Agricola 2003.
Onto the meat. Course Six was grilled lamb chops with fava puree, preserved lemon, and parmigiano reggiano. The men really got into this one. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it too, but maybe not enough cream and butter to make me crazy. We paired it with Michele Chiarlo Cerequio Barolo 2004.
The final savory course was a braised wild board with creamy mascarpone polenta served with a big rich Amarone (Zenato Amarone Classico Della Valpolicella 2003). I think this was most commonly listed as a favorite (people couldn’t handle the power and elegance of the crescenza). I was surprised people were still functional at this point, let alone capable of tasting food, but there were a few people in the room still sitting upright and they all seemed to love this one.
For the digestivo we had a lemon sorbet with one of Carlo’s uncle’s (the Pighin guy) newest creations, the Malvasia Istriana Dolce, a blend of picolit and some other grapes. Picolit is typically associated with dessert wines, and this could certainly pass as a dessert wine, but I would describe it as a foie gras wine, potentially the most pretentious thing I’ve ever typed. It’s sweet, but it would have balanced just as well with foie gras and cherries as it did with the lemon sorbet (no wait, THAT was the most pretentious thing I’ve ever typed).
And the finale was a Mocha Napoleon made with hazelnut biscotti and strawberries on the side. I didn’t actually eat my dessert…let’s just say I was easily distracted at this point in the evening and I just missed it somehow. But I did have it during our tasting meal and can attest to its deliciousness. It was rich enough to bookend the meal we just had but not so heavy that people couldn’t eat it, myself not included. We served it with a 2006 Maculan Madoro, a red dessert wine that I don’t remember but I was told was very tasty.
So that’s how Carlo and I show our love for one another–by eating to excess! It was a great night though and I will forever be in debt to and in awe of the talent in the kitchen, who put together a flawless memorable meal.