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Food & Wine Festival
Food & Wine Pairings
Alfredo di Roma Ristorante
October 8, 2006
Roasted Breast of Duck over Mescal Greens served with Raspberry Vinaigrette
Wine: Banfi Centine Rose
Veal Scaloppini di Vitello al Setti Colli Romani
Wine: Banfi Centine Rosso
Gianduia Chocolate Mascarpone Semifreddo
with Orange Caramel Sauce
Wine: Banfi Rosa Regale
Guests for the Alfredo's Food & Wine Pairings were welcomed by restaurant manager Richard Eyer and, after a few opening remarks about the history of L'Originale Alfredo's di Roma, were led into a private dining area off the main dining room.
Once guests were seated, Mr. Eyer again welcomed the guests and introduced Robyn H. Albert, a national account manager from Banfi Wines. Ms. Albert gave a brief overview of the Banfi corporate structure and highlighted some of the wines the company produces. She then proceeded to explain a bit about each of the three wines we were to taste, touching on their individual characteristics and what we should expect when we taste them.
Both Ms. Albert and Mr. Eyer said Rosé wines are making a comeback in the U.S. especially in the warmer regions of the country and during the hot months. The Centine (pronounced Chen-tin-ay) Rosé is made from the exact same grapes, in the exact same percentages as the Centine Rosso (red); 60% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon). The difference is that the Rosé is not left in contact with the skins and seeds for very long, thus producing only a bit of color and not the deep ruby of a red wine.
Our first course was roasted duck breast sliced very thinly and served alongside a small arugula salad, both topped with raspberry vinaigrette. This was paired with the bright, refreshing and surprisingly dry Centine Rosé.
The second course was veal scaloppini topped with prosciutto, roasted red peppers and mozzarella along with green beans and roasted potatoes. The heavier veal dish paired well with the Centine Rosso.
The dessert course was a chocolate mascarpone semifreddo (semi-frozen) with orange caramel sauce. This was paired with a very light, low alcohol content (7%) wine called Rosa Regale. Although it paired very well with the chocolate dessert, this particular wine was a bit too sweet for my personal taste. Although this is not a sparkling wine, it seemed to have a bit of a "champagne fizz" to it, making it very light and refreshing.
Although not as informative as some other Food & Wine Festival events regarding the actual growing and processing of the grapes into the specific wines we tried, the event was interesting and enjoyable and, unlike some tastings," both the wine portions and the food portions were generous.
For $40, this particular event was an absolute bargain.
This was my first Food and Wine Special Event. I usually spend my time enjoying the food booths around World Showcase, an Eat to the Beat Concert and occasionally will venture into a free wine seminar. Well, I do enjoy a glass of wine every now and then so when Deb Wills asked me if I would be interested in attending a Wine Pairing at Alfredo's last weekend, I jumped at the chance. I really had no idea what to expect and not knowing much past the basics -- like white wine goes with fish -- I was a bit nervous. The pairing took place in a private room off the main dining room of Alfredo's. The tables were beautifully set and ready for about 36 guests. Richard, the manager of the restaurant, was our host and first introduced us to several of our servers. He suggested that if any of us were planning a trip to Italy that we should feel free to speak to the waitstaff and they would share their favorite spots in the area where they come from, which included Verona, Rome and Milan.
The wines we would be sampling were from the Banfi Winery. Dan Laughner, a representative of Castello Banfi, the Montalcino, Italy-based winery did a fantastic job of explaining the different wines and answering any and all questions from the group. As luck would have it, I sat with some very friendly, helpful and knowledgeable AllEarsNet.com readers -- Debbie O'Neil, as well as Todd and Jill Johnson, who were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary at the World. Thanks to my newfound friends, I would have had a great time no matter what was about to be served. Let me just say I am your basic meat and potato girl so I was bit leery about what was to come.
Our first course was a surprise to me; it was Roasted Sliced Breast of Duck over Greens with Raspberry Vinaigrette. The duck meat was slightly pink. Hmmm... I have never eaten duck, but I was game. (Get it?) Apparently, I need to get out of the drive-thru lane into some higher quality eating establishments because I loved the duck. Served with a new wine from Banfi, Centine Rose, a "Super Tuscan" blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Before I tasted the wine, I had a brief flashback to drinking Mateus in the late '70s. This new 2005 release was a dry light-bodied wine and not at all what I expected. The Centine Rose is available in New York and will be available in Florida in the next 30 days. It will be going nationwide in late spring at about $12 retail. It will come with a state-of-the-art screw-cap closure to preserve freshness. The label features a pink-hued pen and ink drawing of the actual Centine farmhouse on the Banfi estate, named for its many stone arches, or Centine, in Italian. I will add this wine to my shopping list once it arrives in Florida.
Next up was the main course, and it was a winner. Medallions of veal topped with grilled red peppers, prosciutto and mozzarella cheese. I was expecting a sample size portion, but to my delight this was a full entree. Served with tender roasted potatoes and greens beans, it was paired with Centine Rosso, which had an intense, ruby red color. Although it was the same combination of the wines as the Rose we had with our salad, because of the way it was briefly aged in oak barrels, it had a totally different color and taste. Dan Laughner from Banfi took the time to go into detail on how both the first and second wines has same blends of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot but each had a unique taste and color and the reasons why.
And finally, our dessert course, which was a semi-frozen chocolate concoction that was made with Gianduia chocolate, mascarpone cheese, crushed toasted almonds, heavy cream and a few other goodies. It was then topped with a dollop of mascarpone cheese and just for good measure, a piece of chocolate. And if that wasn't enough, the plate had Orange Caramel Sauce for a final touch. Yummy. The wine pairing was a 2004 Rosa Regale, described by Banfi as a having a ruby red color with a lively rose froth. The taste is soft and elegant with a touch of strawberry, raspberry and almond. My new friend Jill Johnson suggested I try the wine and then try the chocolate to see howthe taste of the wine changed. The sweetness seemed to disappear after I tasted the chocolate. Very interesting and all new to me.
The pairing lasted one hour and 15 minutes and was worth the $40 price of admission. Alfredo's was not a restaurant that was high on my list to give a try, but that has all changed now. I already have lunch reservations for my next trip to the Food and Wine Festival later this month. What a wonderful learning and dining experience. And a great adventure!