Posts Tagged ‘Nero d’Avola’

Bountiful Sicily! 2008 Lamura Rosso di Sicilia

In Drinking, Nero d'Avola, Special Offers on January 10, 2011 at 7:43 pm

The French like to uphold the standard that “a wine should taste like the place it’s from” as one of the ultimate descriptors of quality.  But with the French varieties of Cabernet, try Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc now so ubiquitous perhaps it is time that that they take a look south, to the Mezzogiorno of Southern Italy, to truly understand their own ideals.

There are 2,000 indigenous grape varieties in Italy, each one making its own unique and tasty wine.  And each of these grapes has been matched to a specific place and soil, imbued with the local history.  Terrior indeed, beyond what even the French could imagine. 

But for many, Italian wines remain a mystery – the complexity of the peninsula not being worth the effort.  And that is a shame, because here are wines of unique deliciousness, and not without their own tasty quirks.  

Nero d’Avola is one such grape, arguably producing a noble wine perfectly matched with its Sicilian roots yet languishing in obscurity.  And Lamura’s Rosso di Sicilia, made exclusively with Nero d’Avola, is a vital wine, one that tastes like the place it is from.

Lamura is cheap co-operative wine.  But cheapness shouldn’t be confused with low-quality.  Sicily just hasn’t quite come into age of mass industrial wine production.  Small groups of farmers making communal wines are how things are done. 

Lamura’s Rosso reflects Sicily’s warm Mediterranean climate and volcanic soils.  Deeply colored with pronounced notes of chocolate and wild plum it will transplant you to Sicily and warm your body up a couple of degrees.  No, it isn’t heady and alcoholic, but it is big.  Like a stubborn, yet charming Sicilian immigrant that won’t let go of the home-country, Lamura’s got gutsy Italian fruit character.  It’s completely organic fruit, the tastes centered around dark coco, sun dried raisins, and a charming high note of orange zest.   This wine isn’t afraid to show it’s Sicilian roots.

Lamura’s Rosso di Sicilia is great Italian table wine – uncomplicated and heartfelt, from a place and a culture, and all the more delicious for it.  

2008 Lamura Rosso di Sicilia (Nero d’Avola)

Suggested List Price:  $10.99

Sale Price:  $6.99

A Sicilian feast in three easy courses to chase away the mid-Wisconsin winter blues!

Turnips and Carrots with Apricots:

Sicilian Hen with Orange, Raisins & Oil Cured Olives

“Salad” of Squash and Farro, with Dandelion Greens

We will be tasting this wine on Friday and Saturday!

All orders must be secured with a name, credit card number, and phone number.  All orders will be available at the time of purchase. 

When the wine is ordered your credit card will be charged.  The wine will be held in climate controlled conditions until you are ready to pick it up, free of charge.  Offer is good while supplies last.

Roasted Turnips and Carrots with Apricots

In Carrots, Eating, Turnip on January 10, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Serving a big platter of vegetables as the first course is a bit unconventional but very exciting!  Waking up your guests to the fact that you aren’t going to serve them yet another gut busting antipasto platter of meat and cheese, viagra it brightens the meal, gets everyone a healthy serving of veggies, and makes attendees come alive to your savoir faire. 

I like serving this on a monumentally sized platter – the dish is gorgeous, with its kaleidoscope of white turnips and orange carrots brilliantly offset by the slightest bit of chives (a French affectation, I know, but I was trained at a French school).  Sometimes I serve it at the table, but other times I serve it straightaway, right with the Prosecco and overture.

This dish is meant to highlight the classic sweet and salty interplay that runs through so much Sicilian cooking.  I do like to keep the vegetables in season however, and at this time of year in Wisconsin that means root vegetables.  Presently, we have beautiful small tangy bitter turnips available at most grocery stores.  The smaller, the sweeter, and the prettier.  The bitter tang is not to be feared – it gives a third element for our tongue to delight in and pulls the dish harmoniously together.  

The recipe looks long but it really is quite simple and has lots of free time for enjoying the wine!

Wine pairing

The wine pairing is not without challenges, the dish being boldly flavored across many elements.  Wines that are sweet, sweeter than the apricots work quite well.  It doesn’t really matter what the grape is, as long as the wine is sweeter.  But most people won’t drink sweet wine with their dinner. 

Which leads nicely to Viognier.  Viognier is so low in acidity and so high in its aromatics that it often works very well with dishes that are mildly sweet or give the impression of being sweet. 

But Viognier is a white wine, and freezing winter nights need fleshy reds to keep the body temperature up.  The boldly flavored Nero d’Avola, from Sicily, is an exquisite pairing.  Nero d’Avola’s taste gravitates between raisins and orange zest, two flavors that marry perfectly into this dish.  And the bigger the wine, the better.  Lamura makes a tasty, table friendly restrained version; Gulfi’s wines are of power, and worth seeking out.   


5                                              small turnips, peeled, quartered (smaller will be sweeter)

10                                            small carrots, peeled, sliced in half

3 tbs.                                       very fresh olive oil

3 branches                               rosemary

2                                              shallots, finely diced

1 cup                                       white wine

6 (half a package)                    dried apricots, cut into julienne

1 tbs.                                       apricot preserves

2 cloves                                   garlic

To taste                                   salt

To taste                                   black pepper

To taste                                   thinly chopped chives


1.  Place the turnips and carrots in the middle of a substantial sheet of tin foil.  Toss with the 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place the rosemary on top.  Fold over the tin foil and seal together.  Roast the package in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.

2.  While the vegetables are roasting heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a small sauce pot.  Add the garlic and shallots a sweat for a minute.  Add the dried apricots and wine.  Turn the heat up and reduce the wine to a glaze.  Remove from heat a stir in the apricot preserves.   

3.  Remove the vegetables from the oven and turn out into a large bowl allowing any juices to flow with them.  Remove the rosemary and discard.  Fold the apricot mixture into the vegetables.  Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

4.  Carefully (the vegetables will be very soft) turn the vegetables out onto a large serving platter in a single layer.  Garnish with chives and serve!

Sicilian Hen with Orange, Raisins and Olives

In Chicken, Eating on January 10, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Ok, click the title is a misnomer. 

When I was a professional cook I used to cook many different game birds – quail, Cornish hen, Poussin; you name it, I cooked it.  But frankly, while all those birds make menus look fancier most don’t taste any better than your plain-old, locally raised, Wisconsin chicken.  And to go further, the smaller sized “restaurant” birds are just damn annoying to eat – too many bones for too little meat!

That being said, this recipe can take you to two different places – a very upscale, individually plated, gorgeous looking chicken dish.  Or it can be a more rustic, homey, family style plated chicken dish.  Your choice – same flavors, just for different occasions. 

I am not a big fan of mixing salty and sweet foods together and that is exactly what this recipe does.  However, I must say, this recipe converts me.  It is utterly delicious – the earthy saline of the oil-cured olives mixing with the roasted, chicken infused raisins; the cooked oranges adding a tart sweetness to the salty chicken, and all of it infused with the wine of Sicily – Nero d’Avola.  It is an experience not to be missed!

This is another one of those recipes that looks difficult because it has a bunch of components but it is actually very simple – really, all you are doing is roasting a chicken!

Wine pairing

Nero d’Avola has a raisin character with a high note of orange zest that perfectly melds into the flavors with the dish.  So much so that you won’t notice how much wine you are actually drinking until the bottle is gone!


1                                              Chicken, whole

3                                              Oranges, two cut in half, then quartered; one left whole

½ cup                                      raisins

½ cup                                      oil cured olives

1 branch                                  rosemary, leaves pulled from the stem

2 tbs.                                       olive oil

½ tbs.                                      sherry vinegar

To taste                                   salt

To taste                                   black pepper


1.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  

2.  Remove any innards remaining in the chicken.  Place the olives, cut oranges, raisins and rosemary in a bowl.  Season with salt and pepper (this will allow the salt and pepper to season the inside of the bird).  Stuff the chicken with the mixture.  Truss if you wish.     

3.  On a trusty roasting pan place the chicken breast side down in the oven.  Roast until the skin on the legs is golden brown, approximately 15 minutes. 

4.  Begin making the vinaigrette.  Squeeze the remaining orange into a small bowl.  Add the olive oil and sherry vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper and mix.  Taste, an adjust seasoning as needing – sherry vinegar is quite potent so this recipe calls for a small amount.  Raise the amount until all the flavors of the dish are perky and bright. 

5.  Turn the oven down to 400 degrees and rotate chicken to breast side up.  Continue cooking until skin on breasts is golden brown, approximately 30 minutes more.    

6.  Remove chicken from the oven, but leave oven on.  Let rest on top of the stove for 10 minutes. 

7.  Your goal is juicy, moist, fully cooked chicken.  But because of bird-size and oven temperature variances it is difficult to totally nail down the cooking times.  So instead of guessing let’s check if that bird is fully cooked. 

The first way to check is to stick a thermometer into the meatiest part of the bird’s thigh.  If after resting for 10 minutes you are at 165 degrees, the birds done.  I personally will go quite a bit lower in temperature – 142 is fine for me – but that is not what the health department recommends. 

The second way to check, and my favorite way, is to slice down the side of a breast, near the diaphragm.  Look deep inside the bird.  If the meat is white, it’s done.  If it is pink, just stick the bird back in the oven for five more minutes (remember, we left the oven on).  Re-check as necessary.   

Remember two things: practice makes perfect and never apologize for anything that comes from your kitchen!  

Now, for the plating. 

8.  If plating individually, I highly recommend you also make the recipe for spaghetti squash and faro “salad” that accompanies this dish in its orginal email.  If you have made this recipe, add a small mound of the “salad” to the center of each plate.  Spoon some of the vinaigrette around the mound.  It will break, but that is part of its charm.  Carve off the breasts and legs from the chicken.  Using a large spoon dig out two quartered oranges, 10 raisins, and five olive cured olives from the chicken’s cavity.  These are now soaked with chicken fat.  Don’t resist – eat one, they are wonderful.  In your own carefree yet artsy way place the oranges, olives and raisins on each serving dish.  Slice the breast and leg meat and neatly stack on the “salad”.  Zest a little bit or orange across the top of the chicken and serve!

9.  For large, family style plating you don’t need to worry about the “salad”.  Carve up the chicken as you normally would, leaving the major body parts whole.  Place on a large pre-heated platter.  Garnish with all of the stuffing – the quartered oranges, olives and raisins.  Admire your beautiful work.  Lightly drizzle the vinaigrette over the top and zest an orange across all.  Serve!

“Salad” of Spaghetti Squash, Farro and Dandelion Greens

In Eating, Spaghetti Squash on January 10, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Farro, see is a delightfully full bodied grain from Southern Italy.  When cooked it has an almost malty sweetness as well as a bit of a crunch.  It makes wonderfully hearty and earthy dishes like this one!  But because of farro’s nature this dish can be prepare in two different ways.    

 First, drugs as a wonderful winter salad this dish is one of those soul-satisfying, cure homey, family delights that make your body feel content and resplendent – despite its mixture of unusual grains and greens. 

Second, as a separate dish it is a vegetarian’s dream – fresh in the winter, hearty, rich, and succulent with enough stomach coating ingredients to fill up even the most unrepentant carnivore. 

The choice is completely yours with this dish.  Bring on more greens; the dish becomes a grain salad. Lower the greens and the dish becomes a tasty replacement for carrots and potatoes!    

Wine pairing

I made this dish to specifically complement Nero d’Avola. But if you’re not feeling all the Sicilian and boldly flavored red bordering on sweet and spicy fruit tones, Shiraz or Zinfandel would do the trick, too.


This version will result in a hearty sized dish.  To make a “salad”, proceed through the recipe as directed until the end.  Then lower the mixture of farro and spaghetti squash while raising the quantity of dandelion greens.

1                                              Spaghetti squash

5                                              “Sicilian” olives, pits removed, juice reserved

¼ cup                                      raisins

5 leaves                                   sage

6 tbs.                                       olive oil

½ cup                                      farro

2 cups                                      stock

½                                             onion, finely chopped

2 cloves                                   garlic

1 bunch                                   dandelion greens, stems chopped, leaves reserved

1 tbs.                                       sherry vinegar

2 tbs.                                       Italian parsley

To taste                                   salt

To taste                                   black pepper 


1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  

2.  Slice the Spaghetti squash in half.  Remove the seeds and fibrous material surrounding them.  Place cut side up on a sheet pan.  Season with salt and pepper.  Brush with olive oil.  Place the cut olives, raisins, sage, and reserved olive “juice” inside the cut squash.  Place in oven and roast until done, about 30 minutes.          

3.  In a sauce pan heat 2 tbs. of the olive oil.  Sweat the olive oil, garlic, and stems from the dandelion greens.  Add the farro and the stock bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook until the farro is tender.  Season with salt and pepper.  If the faro isn’t done and the stock is all gone add more.  If the farro is done and there is still too much liquid strain off the liquid.  

4.  Wash and dry the dandelion greens.  Toss with the remaining olive oil, sherry vinegar and salt and pepper.   

Now, for combining all three elements.  This is when you determine if you want a salad or a vegetable / grain dish.

For the salad:

5.  Remove the Spaghetti squash from the oven.  Drain off any excess liquid but reserve all the “stuffing”.  Spaghetti squash is so named because when you take a fork to the flesh it shreds into “spaghetti”.  Shred the squash with a fork.  Toss with the components of the stuffing, taste and re-season if necessary.  Allow to cool to room temperature.  

6.  Allow the faro to cool to room temperature.

7.  Toss about a 1/3 of the farro mixture and a 1/3 of the spaghetti squash mixture into the entire bunch of the dandelion greens.  The greens should remain stiff and bright and make up the body of the dish.  Gently twist together on a serving dish, piling the salad as high as you can.  Sprinkle with whole Italian parsley leaves.  Serve!

For a vegetable / grain dish.

8.  Remove the Spaghetti squash from the oven.  Drain off any excess liquid but reserve all the “stuffing”.  Shred the squash with a fork.  Toss with the components of the stuffing, taste and re-season if necessary.  Do not allow to cool to room temperature.  

9.  Cut the dandelion greens in half.  Chop the Italian parsley fine.  

10.  Toss the hot farro dish with the hot spaghetti squash dish and all of the dandelion greens.  The greens will slightly wilt which is just fine.  Toss with the parsley and serve!