This month we invited Chef Anthony Cerrato, owner of the popular Fiore’s Restarant in Asheville, N.C. and Jayson Landers, his wine steward, to be our guests for this column. Chef Cerrato is a grduate of the Asheville-Buncombe County Culinary School. Mr. Landers developed his outstanding wine skills during more than a decade of first-hand experience. Chef Cerrato closed his restaurant on a recent lazy Sunday afternoon and invited us over for a taste of several of his favorite Italian wines paired with a three-course Tuscan meal.

Q. What are we eating today?
Cerrato: A typical Tuscan meal, combining the ordinary with the sophisticated. We’ll begin with a panzenilla, then we’ll follow with bistecca fiorentina and finally we’ll finish with a homemade tiramisu — an old family recipe.

Q. Can you explain the dishes to our readers?
Cerrato: Panzenilla is a peasant dish: sliced bread soaked in extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice over a green salad with tomatoes, roasted peppers, basil and bits of pecorino cheese and then doused with a balsamic vinagarette dressing. The bistecca fiorentina is a bone-in ribeye accompanied by a mixture of grilled and fried vegetables for texture and taste, white and black eggplant, chocolate and red peppers, portobello mushrooms, green onions and roasted garlic topped with gongonzolla cheese in a balsamic reduction. The tiramisu consists of lady finger cookies brushed with espresso and layered with mascarpone whipped with egg whites and Marsala wine and a touch of rum.

Q. What wines are you serving today?
Cerrato: Tuscan wines, the perfect compliment for this meal. With the panzenilla, we’ll drink a 2006 Gaeirhof Pinot Grigio Trentino, fruity and floral, in a sharp contrast with the rough texture and vinagarette taste of the panzenilla. It has a straw-yellow color with greenish highlights and a touch of acidity in the finish. With the bistecca, we’ll sample a 2001 Salice Salentino Rosso Riserva Taurino from the Puglia region. This wine is dry, well-balanced and full-bodied, with a slight bitterness toward the end — ideal for this dish. It has an intense ruby color with a touch of wood on the nose and a strong flavor of berries and oranges. The 2001 vintage was awarded a bonrze medal by Starwine in 2006 and given 90 points by Wine Enthusiast in 2007. With the tiramisu, the Moscato Giallo Trentino brings out its full flavor. It is golden yellow with bright green highlights and an elegant bouquet with the characteristic, unique aromas of Moscato. it is sweet and well-balanced with a strong aroma of jasmine in the end.

Q. These pairings are remarkable. How expensive are these wines?
Cerrato: You can find these wines at your local store for $12 to $15, which makes them an outstanding value.
Until our next column, enjoy your travels with Aeropostal and your wines everywhere.

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David Pereda