Ricette Classiche: Fritedda

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Fritedda

The change of season is always something seasonal cooks look forward to.  At Bellavitae, we would welcome spring with fresh asparagus, peas, fava beans, artichokes, and morels.

In springtime, we should celebrate freshness, whether fruits and vegetables and served cooked or raw.  A perfect illustration of this is the classic Sicilian dish fretedda (also called fritella – in Greece it’s koukia me anginares, in Rome it’s la vignarola and fresh peas are added).  It’s a much-loved Mediterranean stew that is made at the end of the artichoke season and beginning of the fava bean season.

Best of Sicily magazine writer Roberta Gangi provides her recipe here.  Clifford A. Wright offers his here.  Nancy Harmon Jenkins’ Greek version is here.  Note that while these recipes differ significantly, I would label them each authentic (my views on authenticity of classic recipes will be saved for another post when I have time for such a rant).

Reader Gida Ingrassia recently commented on my May 2010 post In Season: Asparagus and Fava Beans:

“I am looking for a recipe to make Sicilian “fritedda” with fava beans, asparagus, onions, peas and artichokes. Do you use regular artichokes and pare them down or are artichoke hearts necessary? Please advise.”

Well, I suppose I have already answered the question in the introduction!  To understand this dish you need to understand its purpose:  It is served in the Mediterranean when the artichoke and fava bean seasons cross.  It celebrates spring freshness.  So use fresh!

Gangi, Wright, and Jenkins give you specific instructions on how to cook the artichokes.  Buy the youngest available, boil the hearts and tender leaves until partially forgiving but not yet quite soft enough to eat.  Then add the other ingredients for further cooking.

Pianogrillo

Pianogrillo Farm Olive Oil

Here are some tips for success:

  • Make this dish as soon as fava beans come into season.  Nancy Harmon Jenkins wrote recently in The Wall Street Journal:  “It’s true that favas left to mature on their stalks too long will have a leathery skin that must be removed. Like peas, favas should be harvested and consumed when they are young.”
  • Don’t listen to the food snobs who insist you peel the beans after they’ve been shucked.  Again from Jenkins:  “How tiresome—and unnecessary. That’s not how it’s done in Italy. Or in Greece, Spain, Lebanon, Great Britain or anywhere else the beans are a spring staple. Only in France do they call for peeling the beans. Go figure.”
  • Use only the freshest ingredients.  Avoid dried favas, bottled artichoke hearts, or canned peas (in a pinch, I may use frozen peas).
  • Use Sicilian olive oil!  This tip will transform the dish from very good to phenomenal!  My favorite Sicilian olive oil is Pianogrillo Farm Extra Virgin Olive Oil available from Gustiamo or Amazon.

Thanks for the question, Gida.  Let us know how it turns out.

 

Related:

 

Further Reading:

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Huffington Post: Taos Ski Valley Should be on Your Bucket List

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PETER PTSCHELINZEW/GETTY IMAGES

PETER PTSCHELINZEW/GETTY IMAGES

So says Food Editor Allison Spiegel, on Monday’s Huffington Post post entitled “Bucket List Places You Need To See In The Next Decade“.

“The world will look very different in the next decade than it does today. For travelers, this means the time to explore is now. . .  Before our world’s landscape changes even more, here are the destinations that should go straight to the top of your bucket list in the next decade.”

Besides Taos Ski Valley, she recommends:

  • The Philippines
  • Macedonia
  • Elqui Valley, Chile
  • Great Barrier Reef
  • Malawi
  • Bolivia
  • Maldives
  • Mongolia
  • Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem, Thailand

Plus this:

“Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico is so much more than just a ski mountain. Rugged and remote, Taos is famous for its breathtaking scenery and the “legendary light” that has inspired artists like Georgia O’Keeffe. Taos has always had a sort of mystique about it. In 2013, billionaire Louis Bacon bought the mountain from its founders the Blake family, promising this lovably weathered mountain would get a “much-needed shot in the arm,” as The New York Times put it. This year, a chair lift opened to Kachina Peak, which had previously only been accessible by a hike. Thirty-five acres of new tree skiing opened, too, and the village’s ski lodge also got an upgrade. Ski Taos in the next 10 years to take advantage of these new developments, and also to experience the unique charm of the place while it lasts.”

Read the whole thing.

 

 

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Josh Ozersky has Died

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He was 47.  I began reading Josh’s writing when we opened Bellavitae.

In this photo released by the Yale University Press shows Josh Ozersky author of "The Hamburger".  (AP Photo/Yale University Press)

In this photo released by the Yale University Press shows Josh Ozersky author of “The Hamburger”. (AP Photo/Yale University Press)

Here’s what The Wall Street Journal reported today:

“Joshua Ozersky, who wrote prolifically on the subjects of dining and drinking for The Wall Street Journal and many other publications, was found dead in Chicago on Monday.  Mr. Ozersky was in Chicago to attend the annual chef and restaurant awards ceremony presented by the James Beard Foundation. He was a member of that organization’s advisory board as a well as a nominee and winner, in previous years, of its media awards.”

He was the founding editor of New York Magazine’s food blog Grub Street, a columnist for Time, an editor-at-large for Esquire and a frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal.  The New York Times yesterday called him “one of the most forceful food writers in New York.”

The Wall Street Journal continues:  “Mr. Ozersky was particularly vocal and passionate on the subject of meat. Under the pseudonym Mr. Cutlets, he authored “Meat Me In Manhattan: A Carnivore’s Guide to New York” in 2003.  In his 2008 book “The Hamburger: A History,” he argued that his subject ‘isn’t just a sandwich; it is a social nexus.'”

 

Related:

New York magazine:  Platt Remembers Ozersky: A True Grub Street Intellectual

The New York Times:  Joshua Ozersky, Prolific Food Writer, Is Dead at 47

 

 

 

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The Biggest Thing Happening in Skiing This Year

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Tower

High above Kachina Peak (click to enlarge)

The Kachina Peak Lift, right here in Taos Ski Valley.

The new lift will expand the mountain’s advanced and expert lift-serviced terrain by 50 percent.  The five-minute ride will whisk skiers up some 1,100 feet on a triple-seated fixed grip lift to New Mexico’s second-highest peak to an altitude of 12,450 feet.

The lift is being manufactured and installed by Salt Lake City-based Skytrac.  A majority of the concrete was poured in April, and the crew was back last week to install the poles.  I’ve gotten to know some of the guys when they come in Café Naranja to eat breakfast or buy beer.

It’s tough work in tough terrain, but they seem to take it all in stride. Check out the video to see just how tough:

 

Here’s a report from Albuquerque television station KOAT that aired back in May:

 

 

The new lift is on schedule to be operational when ski season starts on Thanksgiving.

 

NewKachinaLift

 

Are you ready?

 

Tower 3

Helicopter

Tower 2

 

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The Best Breakfast Burrito in New Mexico?

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New Mexico magazine wants to know.  The publication has named the state-wide finalists and is asking readers to vote for their favorite.

Café Naranja has been named one of the finalists.  You can vote for your favorite by clicking here.

Breakfast Burrito at Café Naranja

Breakfast Burrito at Café Naranja

To celebrate the breakfast burrito’s success and its New Mexico heritage, the magazine has created the “New Mexico True Breakfast Burrito Byway.”

You can vote for as many as 10 of your favorites each day of the voting period.  You can submit only one ballot each day.

Cafe NaranjaThe finalists are listed in alphabetical order.  Once you’ve made your ten or fewer choices be sure to scroll to the bottom of the list and hit the “Submit” button.

And remember you can submit a new ballot every day! Voting ends at 11:45pm this Sunday, May 18.

Cast your vote each day by clicking here.

 

 

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Wine Dinner One Week from Tonight

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Profile07-Silhouette08We’ve already started preparing the five-course wine dinner that will take place next Thursday, January 30th.

I spoke with René Schlatter, President and CEO of Merryvale Vineyards, today to finalize details.

The wines have arrived, and our entire staff is excited to provide our guests a memorable experience of great wine and food.

A radio spot about the event is currently running on KTAO radio; you can listen to it here:

 

For details on this fabulous event, click here.  See you Thursday.

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Merryvale-entrance

 

 

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Merryvale Vineyards Returns to The Blonde Bear Tavern

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Merryvale

We are pleased that The Blonde Bear Tavern will be participating once again in this year’s 28th Annual Taos Winter Wine Festival and celebrating the return of René Schlatter from Merryvale Vineyards, one of Napa Valley’s most prestigious wineries.  René and I will be hosting a special wine dinner to guide guests through six of Merryvale’s most notable wines.  We have carefully developed the menu to highlight these wines in a way that will engage the palate of both wine connoisseurs and novice wine lovers alike.  Last year’s dinner proved to be simply magical; we’re working to ensure this year’s will be as well.

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THE WINERY

Merryvale VineyardsThe first winery built in Napa Valley following the repeal of Prohibition, Merryvale is located in the heart of America’s premier wine region.  The winery’s focus is on crafting elegant, complex wines in the finest European style, yet reflecting the exuberant fruit from the Napa Valley and Sonoma appellations.

Merryvale’s white wines are whole-cluster-pressed to yield the clearest juice, and then fermented with native yeasts in French oak barrels.  The reds are made using traditional European methods and also aged in French oak barrels; they are then bottled unfiltered, which contributes to the rich, round flavors and supple textures.

In 1991, European businessman Jack Schlatter became a partner in Merryvale Vineyards.  A native of Switzerland, Jack’s lifelong love of wine drew him to the Napa Valley.  Within five years, Jack and his family became the sole proprietors of Merryvale Vineyards, expanding vineyard holdings to 75 acres and constructing the Starmont Winery in 2006.

“Napa Valley’s diversity of soils and microclimates allows us to grow Chardonnay and Pinot Noir just a few miles from Cabernet. There’s no other place in the world like it.” says Jack.

Jack has dedicated himself to making sure the winery remained true to its founding vision of crafting fine wines that capture the essence of Napa Valley’s noble vineyards. One of his earliest decisions was to allocate all of the winery’s resources to uncompromised grape quality and winemaking. Dramatic improvements were made in equipment, facilities, wine grape sources and personnel.

“I’ve always said that quality is Merryvale’s life insurance,” he says. As Jack is now looking forward to more free time with his wife, Lilo, their son René is now responsible for the winery’s day-to-day operations.

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RENÉ SCHLATTER

René upholds his family’s integrity in his broad role as president. Working his way up the Merryvale ladder the old-fashioned way, he has held progressively more responsible positions since 1995.  Also born in Switzerland (near Geneva), René grew up an expert skier and all things snow.  He has lived in the U.S. since 1987 and played Division 1 tennis at Trinity University and earned his MBA from the American Graduate School of International Management in Arizona.  He lives in St. Helena with his wife, Laurence, their three young daughters and two friendly dogs.

Jack and Rene Schlatter

René and Jack Schlatter

That Laurence’s family has owned a winery in Switzerland for five generations provides a special sense of tradition. “It’s very rewarding to continue this family heritage at Merryvale,” says Jack.

Together, Jack and René have developed long term partnerships with some of the best wine grape growers in the Napa Valley, as well as making the careful assessment to acquire three estate vineyards:

  • 70-acre Saint Helena Estate Vineyard on a ridge top high above St. Helena ideal for the Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot to which it is planted
  • 55-acre Stanly Ranch Estate Vineyard on the historic Stanly Ranch in Carneros ideal for the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah grown there
  • Juliana Vineyard in Pope Valley, planted to Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

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In 2006, Merryvale completed construction on a second winery in the Napa Valley’s Carneros region. This state-of-the-art facility, called Starmont after the Merryvale wines of the same label, is “green” with 100% of winery process water being recycled and 54% of the winery operations powered by solar energy. The Schlatters are committed to protecting and preserving the Napa Valley for future generations using sustainable practices. Both wineries and estate vineyards have been Napa Green Certified.

Merryvale produces ultra-premium Napa Valley wines available throughout the US, Europe and Asia. The winery has earned numerous awards and continues to gain critical acclaim for its outstanding wines and hospitality.

merryvale cask room
Merryvale’s historic Cask Room is often cited as Napa Valley’s most enchanting setting for special events. Two stories of century-old 2,000 gallon casks line the stone walls and create an unforgettable ambiance.

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THE WINES

Starmont Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 2012

This wine is sourced from several distinct growing regions within the Napa Valley, including Oak Knoll, and Rutherford, each contributing a different expression of the varietal. The wine is fermented in a combination of neutral French oak (60% of the blend; only 2% new) and stainless steel tanks (40%). The intent is to preserve and enhance the varietal nuances and texture complexity.

Tasting Notes:  Full and lush mouthfeel with refreshing acidity providing for a wonderfully long finish that ends with clean minerality of wet slate, and bright kumquat rind.

MerryvaleSignatureWinesMerryvale Carneros Chardonnay , 2011

Sourced from the Stanly Ranch Estate Vineyard and Hyde Vineyard in Carneros, the fruit for this Chardonnay is carefully sorted, whole cluster pressed and barrel fermented using 100% native yeast. The wine spent 11 months in French oak barrels on the lees.

Tasting Notes:  Displays expressive aromas of pear, papaya, citrus, nectarine, pineapple, toasty oak and spice. The wine is medium weight with a round fleshy texture and a crisp sweet finish.

Merryvale Carneros Pinot Noir, 2010

Sourced from vineyards throughout the Carneros appellation, including Merryvale’s Estate Vineyard on the Stanly Ranch, this wine is a blend of favorite Pinot Noir clones including: Dijon 114, 115, 667, 777, and 823, along with Pommard and Swan. The Dijon clones bring good color, bright focused fruit, and concentration. The Pommard and Swan clones bring nuanced complexity, along with minerality and great texture.  The grapes were handpicked and carefully sorted. The wine was aged for twelve months in French oak and bottled unfined and unfiltered.

Tasting Notes:  Soft, yet bright entry, round and pleasantly balanced on the mid-palate, medium weight. Finishes with delicate length.

Cabernet Napa Valley Sauvignon, 2008

This Napa Cabernet received choice lots from the Estate Vineyard located in the hills high above St. Helena, as well as fruit from other top Napa vineyards, including Stagecoach and Sugarloaf. The fruit was hand-picked and triple sorted before undergoing extended maceration and a long, cool fermentation for increased flavor, color and aroma. The wine was aged for 18 months in 70% new French oak, including 20% of the wine coming from larger 500 liter (132 gallon) puncheons. The wine only racked twice and was bottled unfined and unfiltered.

Tasting Notes:  Dark red/purple in color with lifted aromas of cassis, blackberry, violets and cedar interwoven with vanilla and toasty oak. The wine is plush and round in the mouth with resolved tannins and great intensity.

Merryvale’s Signature Bordeaux Blend, “Profile”, 2010

Merryvale grapesProfile is Merryvale’s flagship red Bordeaux blend showcasing the very best fruit from each vintage. Most of the Cabernet Sauvignon and all of the Petit Verdot are sourced from the St. Helena Estate Vineyard, planted fifteen years ago.  The favorite lots of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc are chosen for their concentration, depth of flavor and fine tannin structure to produce a wine that is rich, elegant and opulent. After extended skin contact, native malolactic fermentation in barrel and periodic lees stirring, the wine undergoes extensive tasting and blending until the final version of Profile is complete. The wine was aged the 2009 Profile for 21 months in 100% new French Oak barrels, and an additional year in bottle before release.

Tasting Notes:  Shows powerful aromas of cassis, blackberry, raspberry liqueur, licorice, sweet vanilla bean, complex oak and baking spices, including cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom. Upon entry on the palate, this wine displays a generous, mouth-coating texture, with very fine tannins and exceptional length.

“Antigua” Napa Valley, NV

This dessert wine is 100% Muscat De Frontignan from vintages 1970 to 1983, 1992 to 1994.  It is fortified with fine pot-still brandy, aged in French oak barrels and tanks with 11 years average aging.

Tasting Notes:  Golden/amber in color from its long aging in French oak, the wine is a complex combination of nuts and orange-peel aromas. Thick and rich in the mouth, the nuts and orange-peel theme continues from the entry through the long finish, highlighted by the many subtleties from the fine brandy and time in the barrel.

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THE DINNER

Hors d’Œuvre

Aged Parmigiano-Reggiano DOP drizzled with 10-year old Acetaia Leonardi Balsamic Vinegar
Pecorino Toscano Stagionato DOP with Maria Grammatico’s Quince Paste
Colavolpe Montagnoli Baked Figs wrapped in crispy Pancetta

“Starmont” by Merryvale Sauvignon Blanc

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First Course

Medallions of Lobster Poached in Butter with Creamy Lobster Broth

Merryvale Carneros Chardonnay, 2011

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BBT-bearLogo2Pasta

Mushroom and Veal Agnolotti with Butter and Sage

Merryvale Carneros Pinot Noir, 2010

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Main Course

Four Daughters Land & Cattle Chateaubriand with Simple Red Wine Sauce
Tasting of Potatoes with Black Truffles
Braised Fennel

Merryvale Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008

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Dessert

Soufflé au Chocolat with Champagne Sauce

Merryvale’s Signature Bordeaux Blend,  “Profile”, 2012

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Post-Prandial

Merryvale “Antigua”, NV

 

28th ANNUAL TAOS WINTER WINE FESTIVAL

 

405572_258486427550234_226024317463112_676125_971963906_nThis year the Taos Winter Wine Festival will again provide wine enthusiasts many venues to pursue their passion. There are several seminars and dinners scheduled, along with two major tastings:

The Reserve Tasting will be held at the elegant El Monte Sagrado Resort, with many of Taos’ best restaurants serving signature appetizers alongside tastes of reserve wine from owners and winemakers from 36 participating wineries.  This Opening Night Reserve Tasting also features a silent auction of wine to benefit a local non-profit organization.

393613_258487774216766_226024317463112_676147_508633957_nThe Grand Tasting will be held right here in Taos Ski Valley, and will feature more than 155 different wines — and tastes from a dozen of Taos and Taos Ski Valley’s finest restaurants, including The Blonde Bear Tavern.

For more information and tickets, visit the Taos Winter Wine Festival website.  Please stop by our booth to say hello — and after the event, why not come to The Blonde Bear Tavern for dinner and a little more wine?

 

 

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The Merryvale Vineyards Wine Dinner
Thursday, January 30, 2014
6:30 pm
$95 per person plus tax and gratuity

The Blonde Bear Tavern
106 Sutton Place
Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico
575.737.6900 ext. 6996

Reservations required

 

 Winter Wine Festival

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