Thursday, June 18, 2015

Cold Pasta & Red Wine

Peppe & Novelia

"Life is too short, and I'm Italian. I'd much rather eat pasta and drink wine than be a size 0."  ~Sophia Bush

"Chris," my friend and sorella (sister), Novelia, whispered to me when we arrived in Sulmona, "after you all settle in, you'll all come to our apartment for dinner. Is that okay?"   Was that okay?  Novelia is a great cook, and for her to invite us to her apartment was an honor. 

 "Can I help you with anything?" I asked her. She shook her head.

"Bring your camera," she continued. "It is a surprise."  I had no idea what to expect, but you have to know Novelia to know that whatever the surprise was, it was going to be good.

The cold pasta and red wine table
A little after 6:00 we arrived at the apartment and found the table set up as in the photo above.  On it were a bowl of cold pasta, bottles of red wine, a plate of sausages, bread, and more.

Novelia announces that she's made cold pasta for me.

"This is to honor Chris and coldpastaandredwine," my dear friend announced.  I was so touched I almost cried.  It meant so much that she and Peppe would put on a dinner for us using the blog as a theme. Who, I thought, would have ever suspected this?  I don't want to get all maudlin about this,  but I cannot express my appreciation enough for the lovely meal.   I am always overwhelmed by the kindness of the Italian people.

Perhaps you want to know what kind of cold pasta she prepared? What kind of wine we had?  what else?  Well, allow me to tell you.

Peppe serves the red wine.

Peppe started by pouring us each a glass of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, one of the most widely  Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) wines exported.  (DOC labeling is quality and origin assurance for the buyer.)  Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is a soft, dry red wine made from Montepulciano grapes.  Joe Bastianich, Mario Batali's partner and a wine expert, says that Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is highly aromatic, has earthy notes, tastes of blackberries, and has an inky-purple color.  There is a rosé version of the wine (Cerasuola), and even it is a bit darker than the normal rosés.

Of all the red wines, this is my favorite. 

Best wine!
 "Do you have cold pasta at home?" Novelia asked the group after we sat down. 

"We have pasta salad," Kathy replied and told Novelia how she makes hers.

"We eat cold pasta in the summer since it's lighter," Novelia continued, and Peppe served us the pasta dish that contained ghiottole (spiral pasta), carrots, peccorino cheese, peas (I think), and tuna dressed with olive oil.  The flavors blended together perfectly.

I had not thought about it for a long time, but my mother and grandmother used to make pasta dishes using tuna quite often, especially during Lent.  They, however, used the tuna instead of meat in their red sauces.  I much preferred Novelia's use of tuna with pasta.  (Sorry, Mom & Grams!)

Cold pasta
 Let me let you in on a small secret that only the five people in the group knew: I used to eat tuna fish all the time, but when I was pregnant with Jason, I got violently sick on it, turkey, and shrimp (at separate times).  It took me a few years to be able to eat turkey again and probably more than five to eat shrimp.  Until Novelia's dinner, I had not eaten tuna fish in more than 36 years.  I tried once about 20 years ago when Mike's mother made tuna salad sandwiches, but I could not eat it.

After we finished the pasta, we enjoyed sausages which Novelia cooks in much the same way my mother did.  She first cooks them in a frying pan that has water in it.  Once they're cooked and most of the fat is gone, she rinses them, skins them, and browns them in the same pan.  She adds no oil at all.  Because my mother cooked sausage in much the same way, that's how I do it, too.  I leave the skin on, however.

I want to note that the sausage of the Abruzzo region is nicely spiced without a heavy garlic or peppery flavor.  If you live in Youngstown, Ohio, you probably know Anzevino's Market and their sausage.  I think there's another place there (Russo's, maybe?) that makes a similar sausage, too.


 We ended the night with a tiramisu which was the best I've ever had. I had eaten most of it before I remembered to take the photo. 

By the way, I just need to comment on Sophia Bush's quote about eating pasta, drinking wine, and not being a size 0.  Have you seen that woman?  Google her if you haven't.  If she's more than a size 2, then I need to see Omar the Tent Maker for my clothes from now on.

No comments:

Post a Comment