Risotto, Running and REM

Wake me up because I’m tired of dreaming. It’s Week 9 of the stay-at-home order, although some of you may have started quarantine either later or earlier than me. I typically never recall my dreams, but for the past few weeks, I’ve been able to vividly retell what took place during REM before I’ve had my morning espresso. Some nights I’m being screamed at by someone because I forgot my mask, or I’m lost in a supermarket, or living back in Canada (I’ll get to that next week.)

Lockdown Dreams

I wondered if I was the only one who was having weird dreams, so after doing some searching, I discovered that scientists have documented why and how the coronavirus is affecting our dreams. There’s even a website called Lockdown Dreams and you can share your experiences with others. I’m sure that’s therapeutic for some people, but frankly, I’m tired of remembering. Why would I want to read about other people’s life-like nightmares?

Running

I began running around five years ago, but really started taking it more seriously and working on a mind-body regimen about a year ago. Where getting in a car to go basically nowhere hardly gives me pleasure, running now gives me a sense of freedom and purpose to weekends with nowhere to go. Running is my superpower. What’s yours?

Vineyard in Piemonte © Shutterstock

Daydreams Are Different

For a week I daydreamed about making Risotto with Sausage, drinking Barbaresco (see below,) and most importantly, taking a virtual trip to Italy. Thanks to Wine by the Bay in Miami, a Saturday tour of Pier Paolo Grasso’s Azienda Vitivinicola Pier (located in Treiso, Piemonte) gave me a chance to forget those stressful trips to the supermarket and an inbox filled with work requests mixed with a barrage of breaking news headlines.

The Zoom event was perfectly orchestrated by Wine by the Bay’s owner, Stefano Campanini. After signing up, a small group of “travelers” received a bottle of Barbaresco and video link to a pre-recorded demo by Sara, Pier Paolo Grasso’s wife who explained step-by-step how to prepare the dish. While we had lunch in our kitchens, the Grasso’s enjoyed dinner overlooking their vineyard! The video tour was divided into three parts starting with a 360° look of the estate; followed by the cellars; and concluding with the bottling and packaging areas. In between, we chatted, ate lunch and drank the wine pensively, but filled with excitement because we could hear insights from the winemaker himself!

Possibly it was the 14% ABV, but by glass number two, I felt like I was sitting in the same room with everyone. Imagine, guests from Washington, Texas, Florida, Quebec, and Piemonte enjoying this great experience together!

Azienda Pier by Pier Paolo Grasso – Barbaresco Riserva Piccola Emma 2007 © Lisa Morales

The Wine: Azienda Pier by Pier Paolo Grasso – Barbaresco Riserva Piccola Emma 2007

The Nebbiolo grapes used for this Riserva come from La Fenice vineyards. After vinification in steel, Piccola Emma 2007 was matured for ten years in 50hl oak barrels. Bottling took place in December 2018.

The wine sports a charming garnet color, a rich and elegant olfactory emerges, initially dominated by notes of red currant and morello cherry jams which, in a short time, reveal hints of dried violet and undergrowth as well as a slight blood tinge; a vertical balsamic vein runs through the bouquet giving it an intriguing olfactory three-dimensionality.

Note: I didn’t write this description. You can read the full review here and run it through Google translator if you don’t speak Italian. You can find some more history of the winery and a nice photo of Pier Paolo and Sara here.

Risotto with Sausage Ingredients © Lisa Morales

Risotto Recipe

If you hadn’t read this far, you would have missed out on the best part, or maybe the second best part, or equal parts. Alright, the wine and recipe tie for first place!

While it was not the first time that I’ve made risotto, it was the first time that I’ve made it with a newly opened bottle of Riserva red wine. Trust me, those tears shed from losing a half cup of Pier Paolo’s Barbaresco to this dish will quickly dry up when you taste your perfect pairing!

  • 1 c arborio rice
  • 4 – 6 cups of hot chicken stock
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tsp of Thyme
  • ¾ c of chopped Baby Portobello mushrooms
  • Olive Oil
  • 1/2 c of Piccola Emma (or quality red wine)
  • 4 sausages each cut into thirds (I simmered the sausage in a bit of water until almost cooked and had acquired a little bit of color.)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 c of grated Parmesan cheese (save some for topping the dish or shred some more and reserve until the end)
  • 1 tbsp chopped Parsley

Using a wooden spoon, gently sauté the onions in olive oil and a dash of salt until translucent.

Add the mushrooms and Thyme and stir until soft adding more olive oil if needed.

Stir in the Arborio rice and coat with oil and lightly toast.

Add the wine, stir and simmer until it evaporates.

Add the first 3 or 4 ladles of stock until the rice is just covered with broth. Let the rice gently simmer, stirring frequently.

Repeat this step a few more times until the rice is “al dente.” When you run your spoon down the bottom of the pot, the rice will separate and you see a clear line.

Remove from heat and stir in first the butter until it is melted and combined, followed by the Parmesan cheese.

Cover for a 5-10 minutes before serving.

Note: Since I had prepared this ahead of time because I had a work commitment before the trip, I left the rice warming over another pot filled with some steamy, hot water. If your rice dries up, you can add a splash of broth (or cream) to make it creamier.

Risotto with Sausage © Lisa Morales

The End Is A Beginning

This pandemic has thwarted our sense of purpose and to work without the reward of time off or a vacation is extremely hard. However, dreams help us prepare for adversity. So when you wake up, keep remembering that where the bad dream ends, there’s still a day filled with possibilities, plus a daydream or two to keep us going — This too shall pass.

“I have had dreams, and I’ve had nightmares. I overcame the nightmares because of my dreams.” – Jonas Salk

@AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

Note: Dr. Jonas Salk first tested his vaccine against the polio virus in 1952 before announcing to the world in 1955 that a viable vaccine against the feared virus was now a reality.  Albert Sabin followed Dr. Salk a few short years later by licensing an oral version of the polio vaccine in 1962.

Resource: Talking about your dreams may be a good idea if you are feeling anxious. Read more here.

You too can take a trip with Wine by the Bay! Visit www.winebtb.com/events.

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Food and Wine

Whether it’s what I call my “Kitchen Lab” experiments or opportunities to attend wine tastings and seminars, or travel adventures, here are some highlights.

Follow the details on my Instagram stories @AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape.

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Margaux paired with a long "To Do List." #MyArtEscape 📝 I'm just loving this wine: Baron de Brane Margaux 2015 @chateau_branecantenac from @winebythebay . 👉🏻Keep reading… • 🔻 Sometimes I try too hard. I plan out my meals like I plan out life. It’s just a bit too rigid. Two weekend meals came and went and neither one worked with this wine. So, I gave up. 🤷🏻‍♀️ After working 5 hours on Sunday without a break, I decided to go back to this wine and enjoy it by itself. 🍷 • 🔻 A glass of wine and some wine reading became the perfect pairing. The need to shorten the never ending "To Do List" dissipated. • 🔻 I delved into the Château Brane-Cantenac website, first testing my long lost French and then switching to English. • 🔻 Henri Lurton is the composer of what he describes, “Une vraie valse de fruits rouges, arrivés à parfaites maturité. La robe est grenat, intense et profonde.” — A waltz of red fruits at perfect maturity. A garnet dress, intense and profound. • 🔻 Ah those words…they’re the swirl of a dance in 3/4 time! 🍷 🔻 “Since 1992, Henri Lurton has continued the journey that his father and ancestors began. Although a proponent of innovation and new technology, Henri is careful never to lose sight of the traditional values that remain an inherent part of Brane’s identity. Above all, he is proud of the unique terroir, and recognises the need to treat the soil, vines and grapes with immense respect as he carefully steers Brane’s future course.” • 🔻 🍇Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc • 🔻 ❓DYK: In 2015 Henri Lurton started Bodegas Lurton @henrilurton in Ensenada, Mexico? I'm curious. 🤔 • 🔻 #winewednesday #IFWTWA @ifwtwa1

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Lunch with Chiara Soldati, owner of La Scolca winery in Piemonte, Italy.

2011 Antonelli Montefalco Sagrantino (Umbria, Italy)

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A wine not for the “faint of heart.” #MyArtEscape 🍷❤️ Keep reading…👇🏻 • 🔻 I’m a red wine girl and love a wine that I can sink my teeth into. The Montefalco Sagrantino 2011 by @antonellisanmarco is just that and rates high on my #Yummy list. I paired it with Braised Beef Ragu (👉🏻swipe), but to me, it screams for Standing Rib Roast and Parmesan Rosemary Potatoes. It’s definitely a big or holiday dinner wine and I’ll just have to get me another bottle (ahem @winebythebay) & get back into my Kitchen Lab.• 🔻 🍇100% Sagrantino: Considered as Italy’s most tannic grape. AKA Sagrantino di Montefalco before 2009, is a style of Italian wine made in and around the commune of Montefalco in the Province of Perugia, Umbria. • 🔻 ⛪️ Fun Fact: it’s believed that the origin of the word “Sagrantino” is “sagrestia” or “sacristy” in English. Yes, they might have been serving up Montefalco Sagrantino at Mass and with that 14.5% ABV…happy parishioner! • 🔻 📝Notes: Intense ruby red in colour. To the nose rich and powerful, ethereal and very complex. Typically characterised by notes of fruit and aromatic herbs, featuring citrus, cherry, wild berry, mint and oregano. On the palate this wine is very structured, with firm and integrated tannins. A wine that is best expressed with a long bottle ageing. [ ✏️by Antonelli San Marco 📷by Me]

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It’s All Greek to Me: Greco, Genetics, Gratitude

Just when I thought I knew something about grapes, I realized that I was wrong. I’ll be forever a wine newbie, but I’m happy about that. Today, I’ll tell you why.

I’m now working on Chapter 4 of the SWE textbook, I’ve begun reading another textbook that focuses on Italian grapes, plus any other wine literature that captures my attention.  I’ve discovered that the root (pardon the pun) of my growing interest in wine is vested in viticulture (or wine growing.) However, the more I read, the more I’m stumped. Pardon the second pun.

Image by Couleur from Pixabay

G is for…

Grapes: Did you ever wonder why wine comes from grapes and not apples or cherries? For one reason, no other fruit has so many varieties that are grown commercially. And, within the varieties, grapes develop different characteristics based on factors such as soil, climate and the way they are cultivated and harvested aka “viticulture.” Then, you have to examine all of the factors involved with fermentation, aging etc. There are so many variables in the evolution of that little bundle of juice!

Image by Marissa Todd from Pixabay

Gargantuan: In Italy, there are 590 indigenous grapes for wine and more than one million vineyards. Yes, just in Italy. You can get the global picture here. It’s gargantuan.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Genetics: As you dive into the sea of wine knowledge, you may find yourself like me drowning in terminology: clone, hybrid, grafting, mutation, cross, etc. Now, the wine scholars may not appreciate my oversimplification of wine, but when it comes to genetics, I’ve broken it down to three major branches of understanding:

(a) Science: If a wine grower wants to attempt to keep producing a successful wine-making grape, reproduction can’t be left to the “birds and the bees.” Among other factors, he/she may rely on cloning or what I like to think of as the single parent, vine child. Read more about clones here.

(b) History: I’ll get more into today’s wine shortly, but genetic studies of grape varieties have disrupted some popular assumptions. For example, Italian grapes thought to have originated in Greece may in fact, not have. It could have been a marketing tactic during a time when Greek wine was thought of as superior to Roman wine. I’m not making this up. Jancis Robinson, one of the world’s most respected wine critics and journalists has presented this DNA focused argument found here.

(3) Research: Climate change and an ongoing need to manage diseases with the least amount of chemicals possible, depends upon grape genetics research while avoiding GMOs. In March, Wine Spectator wrote that the federal government is allocating 68.9 million to build a grape-genetics research lab.

Photo Credit: Author

The Wine: Fonzone, Greco di Tufo 2017

Now here’s when things get really interesting (or confusing.) Greco is a grape variety or type and Greco di Tufo is the name of the denomination in Campania. There’s a bunch of other grapes (not another pun?) that sound like Greco, but are not related, genetically speaking. Straying from the letter ‘g,’ Malavia di Lipari is apparently the exact same as Greco Bianco that’s not related to the Greco. Greco Bianco is a grape.  Greco di Bianco a denomination. And neither has anything to do with today’s wine. Got it?

The Greco grape of Greco di Tufo, is the oldest grape variety of the province of Avellino in the Campania region of southern Italy. If you ignore the Jancis Robinson article referenced above, Google’s highest ranking articles say that it was imported from the Greek region of Thessaly by the Pelasgian peoples.

FACT: Foreigner didn’t sing it first! A fresco at Pompeii that traces back to the 1st century B.C. has an inscription that says: “You are truly cold, Bytis, made of ice, if last night not even Greco wine could warm you up.”

When learning about a new wine, here’s the part I love the most: how the technical data paints a sensorial picture.

The Fonzone Greco di Tufo is made of 100% Greco from Santa Paolina and harvested in early October. SOIL: sandy clay with veins sulphurous underlying; ALTITUDE: 500 m above sea level; EXPOSURE: south-west; YEAR OF PLANTATION: 1994; PLANTING DENSITY: 2600 stumps per hectare; VINE TRAINING SYSTEM: espalier; PRUNING: Guyot

A brief understanding connects your glass to its territory. Do some more research and you’ll find out how all of these conditions affect the final product.

Image by Janos Perian from Pixabay

Since we’re playing with the letter ‘g,’ I’ll go briefly into the term “Guyot.” Vines as you know when left to their own devices will run amuck. High quality grape production is the direct result of proper pruning. Guyot also called cane pruning, is named after Dr Jules Guyot, a 19th century French scientist. Simply put, all old growth is cut back to leave either one cane (single Guyot) or two (double Guyot.) Canes are shoots that have reached about one year. This process is labor intensive and can only been done by hand. This technique is used by some of the world’s most prestigious wine growing regions. Read more about pruning techniques here.

I really liked the Fonzone, Greco di Tufo. To me, it was like biting into a luscious piece of pineapple, although the wine is not sweet. Its golden hue is like a perfect summer day.

Photo Credit: Author

The Dish: Scallops in a White Wine Sauce

I wanted to make steamed clams in wine, but couldn’t find fresh clams. I felt the recipe needed to be as simple as possible:

Photo Credit: Author

Sear the scallops in olive oil and then add ½ cup of wine (I used the Greco di Tufo);

Photo Credit: Author

Remove the scallops and make the sauce from 1 ½ cups of wine, 1 tbsp of lemon juice and minced garlic; reduce the liquid by half and them add 1 tbsp of butter and chopped parsley.

Image by annca from Pixabay

G is for Gratitude

When it comes to wine, there’s an infinite amount of information out there shared through wine critics, journalists, scientists and the ever so popular, Instagram influencer. While I respect all of these positions (except maybe the latter), my study goal is not to become one of them.

I’m not interested in ratings or tasting notes other than guides to help me associate and classify my knowledge. Take some time to read an argument on this point written by my wine hero, Eric Asimov.

I am grateful for the ability to learn and totally comfortable in my place as student rather than expert. I can make mistakes and that’s okay, rely on just good judgment or instincts and process facts, but not be absorbed by them. Or, I can say that wine is yummy and leave it there.

It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child. ~ Pablo Picasso

Until next time, swirl your glass with gratitude. A story from the earth will rise to your nose. It’s there to discover: forever a wine newbie.

NOTE: If you can’t make it to Calabria, you can find the Fonzone Greco di Tufo at Wine by the Bay.

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If you’re looking for me, I’ll be in Sicily: Tasca Conti d’Almerita Lunch

“First you must like the wine. Then, look at the back and then look forward,” says Corrado Maurigi, Brand Manager for Tenuta Regaleali, with whom I had the great fortune of sharing a wine tasting lunch.

Whether on my personal journey to discover art or now wine, Corrado’s statement embodies how I feel about learning. Our first response must be visceral. Forget about the market or what the critics say. Do you like it, hate it or love it? Then, investigate.

Corrado’s presentation was a journey to Sicily. As we tasted and learned some facts and history about each wine, preconceived (American) stereotypes of this region marred by The Godfather and bad wine samples offered at the supermarket, melted away. Stories about the land, people and culture tickled our cerebrum and palate.

Continue reading “If you’re looking for me, I’ll be in Sicily: Tasca Conti d’Almerita Lunch”

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Highlights of the MASI Amarone Dinner at Wynwood Oven

On Tuesday, January 16th, Wynwood Oven in collaboration with Wine by the Bay, held its first wine pairing dinner of the New Year: a wine pairing dinner featuring a five-course menu alongside a tasting of the single vineyards from Masi Amarone.

Mauro Maugliani, Italian Brand Specialist, Southeast United States, Kobrand Corporation guided guests through an epicurean adventure with personal insights to the history and craftsmanship of each wine presented including:

Mauro Maugliani, Italian Brand Specialist, Southeast United States, Kobrand Corporation introduced guests to the single vineyards from Masi Amarone. Courtesy Photo | Allegory PR

  • Masianco Pinot Grigio e Verduzzo delle Venezie
  • Amarone Costasera
  • Riserva di Costasera Amarone della Valpolicella Classico​
  • Amarone Serego Alighieri Vaio Single Vineyard
  • Serego Alighieri Vaio Armaron Amarone della
  • Mazzano Amarone della Valpolicella Classico

Amarone wines produced by MASI Agricola.
Courtesy Photo | Allegory PR

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Tradition and Innovation: The Masi Amarone Dinner at Wynwood Oven

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Lisa Morales, allegorypr@gmail.com

Miami, FL…January 9, 2018…Wynwood Oven in collaboration with Wine by the Bay, is pleased to announce its first wine pairing dinner of the New Year. True to its motto, “Unconventional, Italian Heritage,” Wynwood Oven presents a unique menu alongside a tasting of the single vineyards from Masi Amarone.

The dinner will take place on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 from 7:00  to 10:00 p.m. at Wynwood Oven, 2085 NW 2nd Avenue, Suite 105, Miami, FL 33127. An advance ticket purchase of $115.00 per person is required by calling (305) 573-5155 or visiting www.winebtb.com/events. Seating is limited.

Continue reading “Tradition and Innovation: The Masi Amarone Dinner at Wynwood Oven”

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