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Risotto ai Tre Funghi, Rosticciana al Forno, + Fontanafredda Silver Label Barbaresco 2015 #ItalianFWT

This month, the Italian Food Wine Travel bloggers continues in their exploration of three big Bs of Italy. In October, Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm kicked us off with a focus on Brunello when I offered Riso Venere Nero + La Palazzetta Brunello di Montalcino 2016

This month has us looking at Barbaresco with Robin of Crushed Grape Chronicles; and the year will wrap with Barolo with Li of The Wining Hour. The November #ItalianFWT topic is Barberesco. Read Robin's invitation.

If you are reading this early enough, feel free to jump in our Twitter chat on Saturday, November 6th at 8am Pacific. Follow the hashtag #ItalianFWT and be sure to add that to anything you tweet so we can see it. Here's the line-up of the articles about Barberesco...

Let's start with this: Barbaresco is a location, not a grape variety. Like Barolo, Barbaresco is made from the Nebbiolo grape. I found this map from WineFolly helpful...

Barbaresco hails from the Piedmont region in an area of the Langhe immediately to the east of Alba and specifically in the comunes of Barbaresco, Treiso and Neive plus that area of the frazione San Rocco Seno d'Elvio which was once part of the comune of Barbaresco and now belongs to the comune of Alba. Barbaresco was granted Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) status in 1966 and, then, Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita status a decade and a half later.

Fontanafredda Silver Label Barbaresco 2015
I was able to get my hands on a bottle from Fontanafredda which is an estate in the heart of the Langhe region in Piedmont. I love the estate's history. Fontantafredda began after Italy's unification when the first king, Vittorio Emanuele II, purchased the estate in 1858. Vittorio Emanuele II began producing wine from native varities such as Dolcetto, Barbera, and Nebbiolo. And in 1878 his son, Count Mirafiori Fontanafredda released their first Nebbiolo labeled as Barolo.

The current owners are Oscar Farinetti and Luca Baffigo Filangieri who founded the EATALY concepts in Italy, Japan, and New York. Their team includes winemaker Danilo Drocco and viticulturist Alberto Grasso who are both have eyes on responsibility and sustainability. All of the estate vineyards operate to achieve a zero chemical program by using only natural methods of fertilization and pest-control while the estate also runs as a refuge for a variety of local flora and fauna.

My first word to describe this single varietal - 100% Nebbiolo - would be 'restrained.' On the nose, its aromas are lightly floral with hints of vanilla and violets. Its palate is also soft and lingering with hints of red fruit, spice, and wet clay. Where some Nebbiolo wines launch me into full Winter mode with long-simmered stews, this one felt more like a wine meant for the transition between Summer and Fall. It was still full and velvety, but seemed to straddle the line as a wine that could still be sipped at an al fresco dinner.

By the time dinner was finished, we had lost our daylight, so we ended up eating inside. But these two dishes are some of my favorites as the weather turns cooler: risotto and roasted ribs.

Risotto ai Tre Funghi

I love making risotto with whatever I have on hand and whatever is seasonal. In fact, I just make risotto for almost 20 at a cooking demonstration and tasting; that one was made with puréed Speckled Hound winter squash and cubes of Blue Ballet winter squash. For this one, the earthiness of the wine made me think of mushrooms. I used three kinds: dried lobster and morel mushrooms and some fresh shiitakes.

Ingredients makes 8 servings
  • 1 cup dried mushrooms (I used lobster and morel mushrooms)
  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms (I used shiitake mushrooms), sliced
  • boiling water
  • 1 cup peeled and diced white onion
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • splash of olive oil (I used the smoked olive oil from The Quail & Olive)
  • 3 cups arborio rice
  • 8 cups liquid (I used a mixture of vegetable stock and chicken stock)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used a mixture of parsley and thyme)
  • 4 ounces mascarpone cream
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • freshly ground salt, to taste
  • Also needed: parmigiano reggiano for serving


Place dried mushrooms on a bowl and pour boiling water over the top. Keep them submerged with a plate or other weight. Let stand until the water is completely cooled. Strain out the mushrooms and reserve the soaking liquid. Add the soaking liquid to a saucepan along with the stock and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and keep it on a burner adjacent to your risotto pan.

Melt butter in olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Stir in the onions drained mushrooms. Cook until the onions are translucent and beginning to caramelize. 

Stir in the arborio rice and toast for 5 to 6 minutes. Add in the fresh mushrooms. Then ladle by ladle, add in the stock until it's absorbed. Keep stirring. Repeat until the rice is cooked. If you need more liquid, just add more; if you don't use all of the stock, that's okay, too. 

Stir in the mascarpone cream and fresh herbs. Let stand for five minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon risotto into individual serving bowls and serve immediately. Let diners grate parmigiano reggiano over the top.

Rosticciana al Forno

This is my favorite way to make ribs and it's flexible so I can use whatever spices in the rub that match the wine I'm pairing. In this case, I loved the hint of star anise in the wine and went with a Chinese Five-Spice blend (my recipe here).

  • 1 rack of pork baby back ribs
  • Also needed: foil, baking sheet, barbecue sauce

Spice Rub
  • 1 cup organic dark brown sugar 
  • 3 Tablespoons Chinese Five-Spice 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


The night before, or first thing in the morning, prepare the rub. Combine all ingredients, and mix thoroughly until well blended. Coat the ribs. With your hands, pat the rub onto both sides of the ribs, going heavier on the meaty side. Refrigerate for as many hours as you can; I ended up leaving them for 8 hours.

Right before you want to cook them, preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven heats, take the ribs out of the refrigerator to warm up.

To roast, wrap the ribs in aluminum foil and place them - meat side up - on a sheet pan and put them in the preheated oven.  Set the timer for 4 hours. The longer you cook them, the more tender they will be.

Gently unwrap the ribs and paint them with a thin coat of barbecue sauce. Return them to the oven - raise the temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit - for 10 minutes or so. The sauce will begin to char.

Remove the ribs from the oven, place them on a cutting board, and chop them into individual servings (the meat should almost be falling off the bone at this point, so this will be easy).  

Serve with more barbecue sauce and loads of napkins because eating ribs is a messy endeavor. Enjoy!

That's a wrap on the #ItalianFWT exploration of Barbaresco. We'll be back with posts about Barolo next month. Stay tuned!


  1. Risotto and Ribs?! Yes, please. I actually made some mushroom risotto last night (Cremini mushrooms), but I recently had some from a restaurant and wondered what made it so creamy. Then I saw the mascarpone in your recipe! Looks like a delicious pairing!

  2. I love that this wine paired so well with such diverse flavors as ribs and risotto! I love the elegance of Barbaresco and found it just paired so wonderfully.
    I love the idea of adding the mascarpone to the risotto! I will need to try this recipe!

  3. Oh those ribs! My mouth was watering looking at them! I've never been brave enough to try making risotto, not to mention the fact that my husband doesn't like it anyway! I was also able to tour the Fontanafredda winery. It's a very big estate!

  4. I feel the exact same way about risotto and mushroom is always a favorite. The ribs seem perfect to give it a meaty boost that would pair beautifully with the Fontanafredda!

  5. Great hearing about another producer working towards zero chemicals, bravo to Fontanafredda. And to your menu! Everytime I think of risotto mushrooms come to the top of the list. But now serving it with ribs? That's fantastic!


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