Cheese Tuesday at L'Espalier - Italian Vacation
Last night I had a wonderful dinner at L'Espalier with some good friends. The theme of the night was Italian Vacation, so all of the wines were from Italy and the courses were Italian dishes.
Our first course was confit Cape Ann tuna with fresh bean salad, aioli, and crispy shallots. It was paired with 2015 Valenti "Poesia", a rosé from Etna. I thought the dish tasted like a tuna fish sandwich!
Fruits de mer with tagliatelle and heirloom tomato broth was up next, paired with 2013 I Pentri "Flora" from Falanghina Beneventano. It was a great pairing, bringing out the best of both the soup and the wine.
Our third course was roasted Giannone Farms chicken with eggplant risotto and onion jus, paired with 2013 Pelissero, a Nebbiolo from Langhe. I thought at first that the wine might overpower the chicken, but the heaviness of the eggplant risotto was able to completely stand up to the Nebbiolo.
The Grand Fromage cheese plate finished up the evening. I was feeling fairly stuffed at this point, but I can't say no to cheese on Cheese Tuesday, so of course I tried everything! Along with the cheese plate was our final wine for the evening, 2014 Maschio dei Cavalieri, a Prosecco Superiore from Valdobbiadene.
We continued the Italian Vacation theme through the cheese plate, beginning with Pecorino di Pienza Fresco, a sheep's milk cheese from Fratelli Putzulu in Monefollonico, Tuscany. This was good, but I greatly preferred the Robiola 3 latti, a cheese made of a mix of cow, goat, and sheep's milk by Luigi Guffanti in Piedmont. Louis Risoli, the ever-brilliant Fromager, served fresh berries with the Robiola, and it was everything I could have wanted in a cheese plate.
Bufaletto, a cheese made of a mix of cow and water buffalo milks, from Defendi in Lombardy was up next, followed by Camembert dell'Alta Langa. This was my second favorite cheese of the night, and it was another mix of three milks: cow, sheep, and goat; mixed to perfection by Luigi Guffanti in Piedmont. Then it was on to Caprotto, from Casa Madaia on the Amalfi Coast of Campania.
We finished the night with a few flavor-added cheeses. Moliterno al tartufo, a sheep's milk cheese made with truffle in Sardinia, was up first, and Erbornato Sancarlone Caffe, a cow's milk cheese with coffee from Luigi Guffanti in Piedmont, finished off the plate. Then we sang the "Italian Cheese Song" to the tune of "Supercallafragilisticexpialladoceous".