This month Susannah of Avvinare asked the Italian Food Wine Travel bloggers to come together to focus on the Vermentino grape. You can read her invitation: here.
The #ItalianFWT Posts
- Gwen from Wine Predator shares You Need To Know Vermentino: Paired with Carbonara.
- Lauren from The Swirling Dervish writes Vegetarian Plates and Pigato from A.A.Durin: Perfect for Your Summer Table.
- Jill from L’Occasion adds Vermentino from Maremma, Land of The Butteri Tuscan Cowboys.
- Jane from Always Ravenous pens Which Vermentino to Pair With Shrimp & Fresh Herb Pilaf?
- Lynn from Savor the Harvest contributes One Italian Island White Wine You Must Try.
- Katarina from Grapevine Adventures dishes on Vermentino by Antonella Corda – An Expression of Sardinia Terroir.
- David from Cooking Chat gives us Salmon with Lemon Olive Relish and a Vermentino.
- Jennifer from Vino Travels reflects on Vermentino of Toscana with Aia Vecchia.
- Nicole from Somm's Table brings Piero Mancini Vermentino and Salmon Two Ways.
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Cam is posting From Sardegna to the Land Down Under: Vermentino + Pizza alle Vongole.
- Wendy from A Day In The Life on The Farm gives us A Successful Search for Vermentino.
- And our hostess, Susannah at Avvinare, is all about Vermentino in its Varied Styles from Liguria to Sardegna.
I have several fond memories of Sardegna (Sardinia) from when I spent my birthday weekend there over two decades ago. I was living and working in Rome and was determined to spend my 24th birthday doing something memorable. I asked all of the other au pairs to come with me and only Kristin took me up on it. We were lacking in money, but made up for it with our sense of adventure.
|Kristin de Pizzol at Golfo Aranci, May 1997|
|Costa Smeralda, Sardegna, May 1997|
Forgive the image quality; I'm shooting a photo of a slide backlit against my computer screen. One of these days, I'll get my act together to scan these into digital format!
And, for my 24th birthday dinner, we walked into town, picked up fresh strawberries, some sheep's milk cheese, crusty bread, and a bottle of red wine. Back then, I wasn't very knowledgeable about wine. I liken it to the scene in Only You when the two girls are settling in to a table in Trastevere for dinner.
Vino? asked the waiter.
Rosso o bianco?
I wasn't quite that bad, but I certainly didn't pay attention to the grapes used and I wasn't particularly open-minded about white wines. I was a red wine drinker and that was it.
Fast forward twenty years or so and I was excited to have an excuse to uncork some white wine from that beautiful island. I actually tracked down two bottles of Vermentino from Sardinia, one from Australia, and one from Lodi, California.
Vermentino is a light-skinned wine grape that is primarily found in Italian wine. Widely planted in Sardinia as Vermentino, it appears in Liguria under the name Pigato and in Piedmont under the name Favorita. It is also being cultivated in increasing amounts in the Languedoc-Roussillon area of France.
The most well-known wine made from Vermentino is probably the DOCG Vermentino di Gallura - and Vermentino di Gallura Superiore - which is produced in the northern part of Sardinia. The grape is said to have been cultivated in this part of Gallura under the name Arratelau since the 1300s.
For this dinner, I opened up the Poderi Parpinello Ala Blanca 2016 from Sardinia and the Yalumba Y Series Vermentino 2014 from Australia. I decided to save the one from Lodi to compare with the second bottle from Sardinia that I have. Stay tuned for more on that.
Yalumba Y Series Vermentino 2014. The only thing I am going to say is that there's clearly a difference in palate here. I - no joke! - stuck my nose in the glass and didn't even want to try it. The word that came to mind was 'skunky.' I did end up taking two tiny sips on my husband's urging. And I really would have thought that there was something wrong with the wine except for the fact that Jake actually preferred it to the other. Go figure.
And for the less adventurous, I did offer more traditional pizzas - pesto with tomatoes and red sauce with meat. But I was pleasantly surprised that most of the clam pizza was gone at the end of dinner.
Basic Dough makes 1 pizza
- 3 C flour
- 1/2 t active dry yeast
- 1 t salt
- 2 T olive oil
- 1-1/2 C warm water
- 1/4 fresh herbs, fine chopped (I used parsley, basil, thyme, and oregano)
- 1 C tomato sauce (my basic homemade tomato sauce)
- 1/2 C white wine
- 1 can minced clams with liquid
- fresh herbs, fine chopped (I used parsley, basil, thyme, and oregano)
- freshly ground salt, to taste
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 C shredded cheese (I used a combination of mozzarella, provolone, Monterey Jack, and parmesan)
- 1 dozen clams, scrubbed (I used littlenecks)
Mix all of the dough ingredients together in a large bowl. The texture will be a wet, sticky dough. Cover and let ferment for as long as you can - between six and twelve hours. At the end of that, use the dough as you would use any pizza dough.
Clam Sauce and Topping
Place tomato sauce, white wine, and minced clams with liquid in a skillet. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce is sufficiently thickened. Fold in the herbs and season to taste with salt and pepper. Nestle the littleneck clams in the sauce. Cover and steam until all of the clams open, approximately 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the clams - in the shells - from the sauce and set aside
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Press or roll your dough out on a baking stone or a parchment paper or silicone mat-lined sheet. Spread clam sauce over the dough, reserving about 1/2 C. Sprinkle with 1-1/2 C cheese. Nestle clams, in the shell, into the cheese layer. Spoon the remaining sauce over the clams and top with the rest of the cheese.
Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve hot.
Next month, we explore Soave with Li Valentine of The Wining Hour. Can't wait for that. Stay tuned. As you can see my pizza alle vongole was a hit...that Vermentino from Australia, not so much!