Fava Bean & Ricotta Salata Strozzapreti With 2011 TAMí Frappato Sicilia

Fava Bean & Ricotta Salata Strozzapreti With 2011 TAMí Frappato Sicilia

Strozzapreti means "priest strangler" in Italian. We had this meal mere hours after the new Pope was elected, continuing our string of accidentally eating meals that relate to news or day designations. My recent favorite was accidentally having meatballs on National Meatball Day.

Frappato. It's something rather new to us. I've had a few through work but never a 100% bottling and never enjoying an entire bottle with food. That will be changing. Because as Mrs. Ney put it, "It's like good Lambrusco without the slutty feeling."

Where veal short ribs and La Rioja Alta shed some of its goodness after eating it, here's a pairing that was great while eating and just kept gettin' better with time away from the fork and glass.

Food: Fava bean and ricotta salata strozzapreti with Zen blend salad and tomatoes to finish

Lidia Bastianich recipe. When she makes something and tells you to make it, you do that. She makes "simple food, poor food" and delicious food that tastes of a place. I sorta hate that phrase but use it all the time because when you taste food that tastes like a vacation, it tastes of a place. Not like it was from a destination restaurant that made you take the vacation in the first place, but food you come across randomly, maybe recommended by a local, something that feels like happenstance and turns into part of the definition why the vacation becomes "A VACATION!" Maybe it's from a nondescript little restaurant, maybe there's a crabby 80 year-old guy pushing out the vittles, but you notice that the place is packed while every restaurant within a stone's throw has a pushy guy standing out front of an empty café trying to lure you in with his pushiness. You go to crabby guy instead of pushy guy because food shouldn't taste pushy. Then you realize why. Crabby guy makes food that tastes honest.

Lidia's food is honest. It's never a spastic concoction of food competing with each other. It's always just enough. It's food with space.

Shucking fava isn't the best time. But put on a crappy movie - Wanderlust this time for Mrs. Ney - kick back, do your shucking and revel in Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston making the same movie they made in a slightly different form last year. It's what they do.

This isn't a cheap meal, but isn't expensive either, especially compared to the pay-off. In my world, fava bean and ricotta salata strozzapreti is a Top-Ten-er.

$3 for frozen fava (Harvesttime), $6 for ricotta salata (Whole Foods), $3 for strozzapreti (Harvesttime - substitute for cavatelli in recipe), say $2 for the pancetta (Paulina or Trader Joe's?), $3 for Zen blend salad (Whole Foods), say a buck or two for everything else already present in the house. Toss in the wine at $16 (Binny's) and you have a $34 meal for two, $17 each and a meal that you'd happily pay $70 for.

Because it tastes oh-so honest, fulfilling, clean, seasonal and happy.

Wine helped in spades.

Wine: 2011 Arianna Occhipinti TAMÌ Frappato Sicilia Rosso IGT ($16 - Binny's)

Biodynamic wine. Natural wine (expect some bottle variation). 100% frappato. 11-14% alcohol (bah! - result of its "naturalness," I'm assuming - this drinking came off in the middle of that range). This is a joint project in Sicily headed by Arianna Occhipinti, a winemaker that released her first wine at 21 (yet another reason to hate my unproductive early 20s - geesh!).

Speaking of honest, here's honesty in a bottle. It is what it is in the bestest sense. A lighter-bodied wonder from a grape formerly known mostly as a blending grape with nero d'Avola in the Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOC. In the last few years, it's begun to get its moment in the sun as a 100% bottling. Here's why.

Pretty bundle of cherries, herbs and licorice on the nose that follows through to the tongue. Sparkly, jumpy, light but a darker brooding mood casting a delicious shadow. Spicy at times, grapey at others, earthy every time, and just all-around delicious at every turn. Sicilian Beaujolais is an apt description with a qualifier. This is all Sicilian. I love the Planeta Cerasuolo and intimately know that wine. This is better.

Just buckets of personality.

Pairing: I'll take a dozen to go.

We loved this meal with a Sancerre Rouge last April. Liked it muchly with a Duorum Colheita Duoro last September because we're Portuguese monkeys.

This pairing beat both. Because it tasted like a random café meal in a foreign country that makes you feel all warm and snuggly, centered and satiated. Tastes like a meal that makes you feel grounded and home in a foreign land.

This batch of food seemed to match right up with the season, bringing a hint of spring with the greeny-gardeny fresh taste of the fava beans while keeping one foot in winter with its salty-pancettay heartiness. Fresh favas are better. It's what this dish wants/needs. But this batch wasn't trying to announce a spring that isn't quite here yet. Something about that made it perfect.

And the wine did the same, keeping in lockstep with the weight of the food while amping up the springy fresh, yet dark and spicy winter edge.

Yes and yes with a side of yes.

Loved everything about this.

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