A PAIRING OF CHEFS AND WINES
MILLIE: Many dining places these days have been inviting to wine-pairing evenings mainly to introduce new wines to the Philippine market, which is fast becoming a wine connoisseur’s paradise.
Recently, we were invited to a very special dinner prepared by featured guest chef Musaro Rocco Roberto and chef Jessie Sincioco.
Chef Musaro, whom Jessie fondly calls Roberto, works exclusively at Origano Osteria, owned by the winery Menhir Salento in Minervino di Lecce, Italy.
Vini Menhir Salento was founded by Gaetano Marangelli in 2005 and is located in the southern part of the Puglia region in Italy.
In 2011, combining hospitality and contemporary cuisine, the company opened Origano Osteria & Store.
According to chef Jessie, one of the featured wines, the Numero Zero Negroamaro IGP from Menhir Salento, was the only wine that His Holiness Pope Francis enjoyed during his papal visit to the Philippines in 2015. This particular choice and all the Menhir Salento wines introduced that evening by Iphor, the exclusive distributor of Menhir Salento wines, will be available at chef Jessie’s for the whole month of June.
KARLA: For dinner, we started off with an appetizer by chef Robert, squid in tomato coulis with powdered capers and seaweed. It was paired with the Negroamaro Rosato “Novementi” IGP Salento Menhir Salento.
The next course from chef Roberto was a pasta dish with tubettino pasta, fagioli beans, mussels, shrimp and pecorino cheese.
Tubettino are small, short tubular pasta that remind me of macaroni. This was paired with a vegan wine, Fiano “Pass-o” Bio IGP Puglia Menhir Salento.
This was followed by another dish by chef Roberto, a sea-bass fillet in Mediterranean soup, which I enjoyed. Chilean sea bass is one of my favorite fish. It is a white fish with large flakes that are always very soft, moist, almost buttery. It is already flavorful on its own so I prefer it prepared with just salt, pepper, tossed in flour and pan-fried until golden brown. The only thing about this is that it’s quite expensive. A few years ago sea bass was declared an endangered species but recently got back into the market as they were able to breed more of the kind.
Chef Roberto’s sea bass was paired with the Negroamaro “N.0” IGP Salento Menhir Salento, though I personally preferred it with the Fiano “Pass-o” Bio IGP Puglia Menhir Salento of the previous course.
MILLIE: I’m a traditionalist and I quite agree with Karla. I was enjoying the white wine — it was light and not acidic and I was surprised to learn there is such a thing as a vegan wine, so I had a refill and drank it with my sea bass. It was perfect. Halfway through my sea bass, I tried the “N. O” IGP Salento Menhir Salento and was also quite pleased with the pairing.
To wash our palates, we were served a refreshing dalandan mint sorbet before proceeding to the next course. This time, we were served grilled US Black Angus filet mignon with morel mushroom sauce and chef Jessie’s signature wild and brown rice risotto, accented with steamed fresh green asparagus spears. The dish was paired with the Primitivo “Quota 29” IGP Salento Menhir Salento. Although it paired well, I preferred the ”N. O” IGP Salento Menhir Salento with my filet mignon.
The much-awaited meal ender was, of course, the dessert, which is chef Jessie’s forte and she awed us with a mango panna cotta topped with mango slices shaped like a rose and encased in a filo pastry shaped cup drizzled with caramelized sugar. Dessert was served with Aleatico “D’Alesio” Passito IGP Puglia Menhir Salento, which was a sweet dessert wine.
Since Karla was driving that evening, she couldn’t drink as much and I did feel sorry for her, knowing how much she enjoys these tasting dinners. Her face lit up like the northern lights when she was handed a token bottle of “N.O” IGP Salento Menhir Salento to take home.
*** Chef Jessie Sincioco has two restaurants: Chef Jessie at the ground floor, Rockwell Club, Amorsolo Drive, Rockwell Center, Makati and Top of the Citi by Chef Jessie on the 34th floor, Citibank Tower, Valero Streeet, Makati.
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Culinary pairing: Chefs Jessie Sincioco and Musaro Rocco Roberto from Italy
Grilled US Black Angus filet mignon in morel sauce served with wild and brown rice vegetable risotto on the side and asparagus spears by chef Jessie Sincioco
Calamaro, Coulis di Pomodoro, Polvere di Capperi e Alghe or squid in tomato coulis with powdered capers and seaweed by chef Musaro Rocco Roberto
Featured wines from Vini Menhir Salento from the Puglia region of Italy