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Capping off the Old Year with Cappelletti in Brodo + G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe 2016 #ItalianFWT

Welcome to the first of the Italian Food Wine Travel events of 2021. I can't tell you how happy I am to see 2020 in our rear view mirror. This month, the group's founder, Jen of Vino Travels, is hosting and she has us looking at Favorite Italian Reds to Start off 2021. You can read her invitation: here.

All of these posts will be live by Saturday, January 2nd when we gather for a live Twitter chat. If you are reading this early enough, feel free to join the conversation. Follow the hashtag #ItalianFWT and be sure to add that to anything you tweet so we can see it. In the meantime, here's the January 2021 line-up for the #ItalianFWT bloggers...

In the Glass

As for me, I knew that I wanted to feature a Barolo as it's one of my favorite Italian reds. But it is usually on the more pricey end of the spectrum, so I typically save it for special occasions. In this case, we poured this for one of our many end of 2020 celebratory dinners. 

On one of our afternoon hikes, my boys decided that we need to do all of the good luck new year's traditions and foods because...yeah...2020. There are many, many different traditions from all around the world but the reasoning behind their lucky foods are oddly similar. Here are some of the overlapping auspicious attributes: food that’s round (the shape of coins), food that's yellow or orange (the color of gold), food that's green (the color of spring leaves and paper money), fish (symbol of bounty), pork (prosperity and an animal that roots forward), legumes (coin-like seeds that expand like wealth) and cakes (sweetness is richness). But I'll get to the dish and the reason it's part of our fortuitous feasting series in a moment. First, the wine and the region...

I opened up a bottle of the G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe 2016. Since the late 19th century, the Vajra family has farmed Bricco delle Viole, the highest cru in Comune di Barolo. Aldo Vajra took over the estate in 1968, turning a new page such as acquiring the first organic certification in the region just three years later. He also pioneered the renaissance of Freisa, a long neglected grape.

Today, the Vajra family continues trail-blazing by focusing on the influence of soil and climate change. And they are leading the path in the rediscovery of Chiaretto di Nebbiolo and two limited-production wines: 'N.S. della Neve' is a champagne-method Rosé Nature) and 'Claré JC' is a partial whole-cluster fermentation of pure Nebbiolo. What innovative passion.  

The 2016 Albe has everything I love about Barolo: it's fragrant and succulent. Aromas of rose petals and cherry blossoms on the nose followed by herbaceous notes and hints of spice. On the palate the wine is bright and balanced with suppleness that makes this food friendly.

In the Bowl

In the Emilia-Romagna region, tortellini or cappelletti are often eaten on New Year's in a rich, meaty broth. One of the several Italian names for the new year, Capodanno, means the "head of the year." Cappelletti means "little hats," so perhaps that's why it's an appropriate dish to "cap off" the old year and begin the new one.

Thankfully, my helpful Kitchen Elves did all the hard work. Phew.

makes approximately 3 dozen cappelletti

  • 200 grams semolina flour
  • 125 grams flour plus more for kneading
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 pound ground sausage (I used the Sicilian sausage from Pig Wizard)
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese (I used mozzarella)
  • 8 cups beef stock
  • cheese for grating (I used ricotta salata)


Place all of the dough ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk together until the egg yolks are completely incorporated. Then turn the dough out on a clean, floured workspace.

Knead the dough until it is smooth an elastic. Add more flour as needed so that it doesn't stick to the countertop or your hands. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, press into a disc, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. In the meantime, make the filling.

Brown the sausage in a skillet until cooked through. Then add in the cheese and mix to combine. Set aside until ready to assemble.

Roll the dough to a thinness of 5 of 6 on the pasta machine. 

Cut out circles and spray with lightly with water. 

Place a small portion - maybe 1 teaspoon if your circle is 3" in diameter - of the filling in the center of the circle. Bring the edges of the circle together to form a semi-circle.

Working around the edge, press out any extra air and create a seal around the filling. Bring the two pointed edges together, wrapping them around your finger. Press them firmly together. Gently shape the cappelletti  however you wish; I pull the rounded lip away from the center. 

Place the finished cappelletti  on a floured parchment-lined cookie sheet until ready to cook.

To cook, pour your beef stock in a large pot and bring to a boil. Gently drop the cappelletti into the broth and cook until they float, approximately 3 to 4 minutes.

Ladle three or four into a bowl and top with broth. Serve immediately. Let diners grate cheese over the top.

That's a wrap for the January 2021 #ItalianFWT group. I'll be hosting next month as we look at Italian wines to go with long braises or stews. Perfect for those chilly winter evening. Stay tuned...


  1. Those boys are cooking fools! Nebbiolo is definitely my second favorite. It’s hard to pick one, right?!

  2. This sounds so delicious. The dish looks so simple, but the cappelletti are definitely a project! I love that they suggested this, knowing they would have to make all the cappelletti. I can almost taste these (hmm...wonder how they would be filled with wild boar?)

    1. They are. But they are so much better than store-bought! I will have to try them with wild boar. Great idea.

  3. Didn't realize tortellini / Cappelletti are eaten on New Year's in ER. Heck I definitely want to cap off 2020 and move forward! Bravo for your wine pick, I adore Vajra. Last fall I ordered wines from them including the Fresia and Claré JC... the later is actually a tribute to Vajra and his two good friends, one being Darrell Cori in Sacramento. Have you ever shopped at Corti Bros in Sac?

    1. I have heard of Corti Bros, but don't think I've ever shopped there. When the world opens back up and we head to Sac, I'll have to stop there.

  4. What an ambitious feast! But you've trained those boys well and it looks like they really pitched in. A good Barolo sounds perfect for welcoming the new year.


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