Regional Italian Food And Wine Pairings – Calabria Dishes And White Wine

Calabria forms the toe of the Italian boot. This region is located in the southwest corner of Italy, and boasts some 500 miles of coastline on the Gulf of Taranto and Ionian and Tyrrhenian Seas. Its total population is about 2 million. The countryside is mountainous, and prone to earthquakes. Over the centuries the peasants learned how to extract the maximum from the poor soil. The Tropea red onions are as good as they get. Some people eat them raw. Can anybody out there suggest a wine pairing for raw onions?

An excellent starter or side vegetable dish is Carciofi Ammollicati (Artichokes with Breadcrumbs) that also includes grated Pecorino cheese, lemons, and olive oil. Many people claim that artichokes are difficult to pair with wine. They surely haven’t tried this dish with a Vermentino di Sardegna DOC, a Vermentino di Gallura DOCG from Sardinia, or an Italian Gewurztraminer, Pinot Grigio, or Sauvignon Blanc.

Another starter is Bucatini con la Mollica (Bucatini Pasta with Breadcrumbs) that includes salted anchovies, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Use whole-wheat breadcrumbs. This dish is traditionally served without cheese and works best with Bucatini, large hollow spaghetti. Enjoy this dish with an Italian Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.

Another local pasta dish is Spaghetti al Ragu di Totano (Spaghetti with Squid and Tomato Sauce). Of course the hardest part of preparing this dish is cleaning the squid. Other ingredients include onion, garlic, and basil. If you are up to it, save some of the squid rings for your second course. Among the suggested wine pairings for the pasta dish (often made with angel hair spaghetti) are Italian Pinot Grigio and Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC or Verdicchio di Matelica DOC from The Marches.

Pesce Stocco alla Calabrese (Salted Cod Calabrian style) is made with tomato sauce, black olives, onion, potatoes, and some herbs and spices. The real thing is cooked in a terracotta dish. If you like salt cod, you’ll enjoy this meal with an Italian Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.

I’ve saved the best for last; namely Pesce Spada alla Bagnarese (Swordfish Bagnara style). Bagnara is a fishing and now tourist village also known for Torrone, a delicious almond-nougat candy. The swordfish is roasted with a mixture of capers, chopped parsley, lemon, and olive oil. Suggested wine pairings include Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG from Tuscany but you have to get a good one, an Italian Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio.

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