Italian Wine Dinner at Riverside Farm Market and Cafe’…

I had the rare opportunity to attend a Wine Dinner that I was not hosting…in Oakland at Riverside Farm Market & Cafe’… and it was wonderful… I suspected that I was in for a great experience. The Riverside Farm Market and Cafe’ is known for its fresh ingredients and “farm to table” offerings. My friend Fosco Amoroso of Tricana Imports was our host, along with Kate Putnoky of Wicked Wines. Janna, the manager there, was able to sit with us as well, so I was in great company… Tricana Imports is lead by Sam Levitas, who has been cultivating relationships and importing Italian Wine for over 30 years. Fosco was born and raised in Italy, and like me…loves to eat great food. I can think of no better host for this dinner than Fosco and Tricana Imports. The focus this evening was on Northern Italy with a Tuscan finish. Our first course was a Trio of Italian Cheeses, Gorganzola, Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano Reggiano…what a great way to wake up your taste buds! These cheeses along with the Balsamic Vinegar really made your mouth water… the Montesel Prosecco that it was paired with couldn’t have been any better. The medley of savory, salt and tangy cheese flavors with the bubbles and hint of sweetness of the prosecco was the perfect way to start the evening…now,on to the salad course…the Farm to Table Salad was just that…fresh ingredients from the farm dressed with vinaigrette…for this they paired a 2013 Casata Monfort Pinot Grigio Rose’…yes…Pinot Grigio Rose’ from Trentino. The term Pinot Grigio means “small grey” as in the size and color of the grape. Most modern Pinot Grigio producers remove the grape skins as soon as they are crushed…at Casata Monfort they maintain the ancient tradition of leaving the skins in long enough to give the wine some color and complexity… great wine…great pairing…next Chilled Branzino (European Sea Bass) with Herbed Cream Sauce…this rich and flavorful dish calls for a cool climate white wine with good acidity…and the 2012 Terre del Fohn Muller Thurgau was an excellent choice…the subtle floral nose and mild peach fruit were a wonderful compliment to the savory herbs in the sauce, and the crisp acidity worked perfectly with the rich flavor of the fish and the cream in the sauce…the main course Hazelnut Crusted Pork Loin with Cherry Risotto definitely needed a red wine…something not to full bodied or tannic…the 2012 Terre del Fohn Marzemino (name of the grape) was the perfect choice…medium weight, soft berry fruit and smooth tannins…I might add that this wine has 12.5% alcohol…which seems to be the magic number for well balanced summer weight reds…great pairing! Dessert…Panna Cotta with a Caramel Praline Cookie with 1998 Querciavalle Vin Santo…a marriage made in heaven…there is something special about Panna Cotta and Vin Santo…and I am not even a dessert guy… The next Dinner Event at Riverside Farm Market and Cafe’ will be on July 25…call 465-4439 for more information… Fosco Amoroso will be back, at The Lucerne Inn with me, on August 14th…