It is a rare occasion when I get to spend time with just my parents and sister. No spouses or kids, just our original Zachary foursome. We joke that the only time this happens is for funerals, so when we are able to spend some quality time together for a happy occasion, we cherish it. As it happens, we had such a gathering in Charlotte earlier this month. My father had won a wine tasting in a silent auction at the International House gala. The prize had been donated by Sara Guterbock of the Mutual Wine Distributing Company.
A tour of southern Italian wines was to be the theme of the evening, so without hesitation, I immediately wanted to figure out what we were going to eat on this epic journey through southern Italy. Since my own travels had not taken me to the tip of the Italian boot, I had to do a bit of research before deciding on a menu. I knew that seafood was a must and was pleased to discover that sardines and anchovies were popular choices in the region. Sadly, no one else shared my enthusiasm for these fishy delicacies, so I opted for the ever popular shrimp instead. Of course, I did sneak some anchovies into the pasta dish for kicks and giggles, as you will see in the recipe below. Another interesting discovery about Sicilian food was that instead of using cheese as a garnish for seafood pasta, they instead opt for crushed toasted almonds and/or toasted bread crumbs. To round out the buffet table, the guests contributed an assortment of Italian cured meats and cheeses, arancini, caponata, olives, grissini, and canoli for dessert.
The wine tasting consisted of two whites and six reds. Sara led us on a magical journey through Basilicata, Calabria, Puglia, Sicilia, Sardegna, and Campania. The history of the various wineries, grapes and geographical regions was fascinating and I was once again bombarded with the enormity and complexity of the wine world. My favorite white of the evening was the Alovini 2012 Greco from Basilicata and if I had to pick a favorite red, I would go with the Cantale 2012 Primitivo from Puglia.
Of course the best wines are those that are shared with friends, and this evening was filled with them both. In the future, when I make my Sicilian inspired shrimp pasta, I will fondly remember my virtual tour to southern Italy and the people, food and wine that made this an evening to be passionate about.