Christmas Recipes

Christmas Recipes
Christmas Recipes

Italian Recipes

Italian Recipes
Italian Recipes

Dessert Recipes

Dessert Recipes
Dessert Recipes

Piedmont Food and Wine Pairing

Piedmont Food and Wine Pairing

Today we are sharing a guest post: Piedmont Food and Wine Pairing by, Valerie Quintanilla.

When it comes to the art of flavor, wine is my first love. The amazing thing about wine is that it can teach endless things and take you endless places – if you let it.
Piedmont Food and Wine Pairing

Wine has opened up new worlds, new ideas, and new hobbies for me. In addition to travel and my life in Italy, cooking is one of my greatest finds by way of wine. Living in wine country and with a wine expert (I don’t use that term loosely, but my husband is deserving), I enjoy wine and food pairing on a whole new level.

I live in the Northern Italian region of Piedmont (Piemonte in Italiano), a region that is just starting gain recognition on the global stage. When you happen upon a Barbera, Nebbiolo, Barolo, or Barbaresco are you comfortable with food pairing? For a long time I was not. Living and cooking here (with my own personal Wine Expert) I have learned a thing or two. So, I put together The Complete Guide to Piedmont Food and Wine Pairing to keep things straight for myself and to hopefully help other food and wine lovers. The below is a condensed version of that guide with the region’s primary varietals, a recommended recipe, and a recommended wine (all are imported in the U.S., availability may vary).

Buon Appetito!


Arneis is one of the few white wines of Piedmont. It’s medium-bodied with low acidity and low aromatics. It often tastes of pear, green apple, and hints of blossom with a nutty finish.

Pairing Ideas: Try fish, white meats (turkey, chicken), cold ham, salumi, and lighter cheese sauces.

Recipe Pick: Chicken Thighs Braised in White Wine

Producer Pick: Demarie Roero Arneis

Moscato d’Asti

The semi-sweet, sparkling Moscato d’Asti is growing in popularity with GenY. It has medium acidity so it can stand up to some greasy, fatty foods. On the palate it shows pear, apple, peach, and apricot.

Pairing Ideas: Fruit-based desserts are a good match, like apple pie, berries with cream, and peach cobbler. Add it to brunch or happy hour / aperitivo spreads – the balance of sweet and salty compliment perfectly. That contrast makes it our favorite with a Full English.

Recipe Pick: Full English Breakfast

Producer Pick: Isobella della Croce Moscato d’Asti, ‘Valdiserre’


Dolcetto is a favorite table red of the region. It pairs nicely with rustic foods and antipasti. Some of the top expressions come from the communes of Dogliani and Diano d’Alba. It’s easy drinking with low acidity and sweet, full tannins. It shows tart slightly bruised cherry flavors. Recently producers have been making it more fruit-forward so it shows darker, heavier fruits.

What to pair: Pizza, tomato-based ragu, moderately spiced chili, slightly spiced barbecued pork rib, and cured meats.

Recipe Pick: Pork Ragu

Producer Pick: Marziano Abbona Dolcetto, ‘Papá Celso’


Barbera is the most widely planted, adaptable, and vigorous grape in the region. It has high acidity that cuts through meat and vegetable fat. It’s low in tannin and shows brambly fruit, red cherries, and spice.

What to pair: Meat- and tomato-based pasta dishes, game, hard cheeses, and grilled meats (hamburgers and sausages) work well. For a fuller Barbera seasoned beef or lamb (roast, curry, stew) pair well.

Recipe Pick: Beef Stew Tip: Cook with the same Barbera to enhance both the wine and food.

Producer Pick: Poderi Colla Barbera, ‘Costa Bruna’


Nebbiolo is considered one of Italy’s noble varietals. Its powerful tannins make it an age-worthy wine that demands a rich food and wine pairing combo. To enjoy young, drink Langhe Nebbiolo or Nebbiolo d’Alba. Nebbiolo offers a beautiful balance of acidity and tannin while also being intensely aromatic. On the palate are dried petals, more red fruit than black, and earthy tar notes.

What to pair: For something different, try moderately spiced Asian cuisine; the red fruit, high tannin, acidity levels, and perfume work beautifully with tannic Asian dishes.

Recipe Pick: Asian Noodle Bowl with Steak and Snow Peas

Producer Pick: Cá del Baio Nebbiolo, ‘Bric del Baio’


Barbaresco is considered the more elegant aged Nebbiolo, though to be fair it does vary by commune and producer. Regulations require two years of aging (nine months in oak) before release. The required aging gives it a rich, elegant structure showing more savory, earthy notes. It’s recommend that you hold these wines at least 10 years to let the tannins calm.

What to pair: Darker, gamier meats with rich sauces like venison, prime rib, wild boar, etc.

Recipe Pick: FoodWineClick’s Spring Pea Basil Risotto

Producer Pick: Produttori del Barbaresco


Barolo aging requirements are a year more than Barbaresco; three years with 18 months in oak. They also start to show their beauty after 10 years, but can be laid down much longer. Barolo shows a more tannic, tar essence with more intense structure and complexity from heavier tannins.

What to pair: Pair with rich, heavy meats and sauces like Beef Wellington.

Recipe Pick: Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon Tip: Cook with a bigger Langhe Nebbiolo.

Producer Pick: Guido Porro Barolo, ‘Lazzairasco’

Text and photo credits: Valerie Quintanilla.

Find the complete guide with more recipes and details at Girls Gotta Drink.

Find more of Valerie here:


Your Own Private Uffizi {guest post by Alexandra Lawrence}

Uffizi Gallery

Your own private Uffizi

There is no doubt that Florence’s museums are at their best during the off-season (November, January-February). There is nothing like a leisurely stroll through the Uffizi Gallery, stopping to contemplate masterpieces but also interacting with some of the lesser known (but equally as stunning) paintings by Renaissance masters. The reality, however, is that most people travel to Florence during the peak season when places like the Uffizi can feel overwhelming, hot and crowded.

Finding some peace, quiet and privacy during a high-season visit to the Uffizi is possible, especially if you let yourself be taken in by stories that you won’t find in the guidebooks. The rediscovery and restoration of the Rape of Proserpina by Giuseppe Grisoni is one such tale.

Picture the scene: Florence, 2002. Palazzo Serristori. Antonio Natali, director of the Uffizi Gallery, notices something wrapped in plastic and rolled around a lamppost. He calls over restoration expert Muriel Vervat and together they unroll it, discovering that it is a painting, its colors obscured by thick, dark mold. The smell is overwhelming.

The painting's subject incomprehensible, they search for any identifying qualities, anything that might give them a clue as to what may be below the layer of black mold, but they find nothing. Then, a breakthrough: a small tag with an inventory number. The records entry reads ‘Painter from the XVII century; Pluto kidnapping a nymph.'

Now cross the river to the Uffizi Gallery. Room 42, the Sala della Niobe, in need of restoration. The splendid room was built in 1770, by order of Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo of Lorraine, to house the statues of Niobe and her children, which were discovered in 1583 in the Tommasini vineyards in Rome. The statues depict the myth of Niobe—the proud mother who boasted of having more children than the goddess Leto. Enraged by Niobe's pride, Leto punished her by sending her own children, Apollo and Diana, in to kill all of Niobe’s sons and daughters.
According to the first official guide to the Uffizi, the Real Galleria di Firenze, written by Luigi Lanzi in 1782, the statuary was flanked by a group of monumental paintings, including ones by Rubens and Justus Suttermans, as well as The Rape of Proserpina by Giuseppe Grisoni. The Rubens canvases had been restored and rehung after they were damaged in the 1993 mafia bombing. Then restoration of the Suttermans canvas in 2001 had triggered the desire to see the entire Sala di Niobe returned to its original splendor—a room that, according to Lanzi, emanated regal magnificence and rivalled the salons of other European royal courts.

The only hold-ups to the complete restoration of the Niobe Room were funding and the fact that the Grisoni canvas was missing. Without the immense 6m x 4m painting, the room would be out of balance, its original harmony lost for good. It was then that the pieces of the puzzle began coming together. Could the ruined canvas from Palazzo Serristori be Grisoni's masterpiece? The period, seventeenth century, and subject, ‘Pluto kidnapping a nymph,' were right.

Enter Countess Simonetta Brandolini d'Adda-founder and president of U.S.-based nonprofit organization, Friends of Florence-who received a phone call from Natali. Could she come by the Lungarno palazzo to have a look at something they had just found?

With the tar-colored canvas now laid flat, and with Brandolini and Natali looking on, Muriel Vervat carefully took a gasoline-soaked cotton rag and began to pat at the mold on the top layer of the canvas.

What emerged was striking: it was the terrified face of Proserpina, who, in Vervat's words, seemed to be crying out ‘Please, help me!' Thanks to uncharacteristically detailed archives, Vervat discovered that Grisoni's work had been commissioned by the Medici in 1731 not as a painting but as a tapestry to be woven in the family's workshop. Indeed, we can still find the exact replica of Grisoni's Rape of Proserpina as a tapestry hanging in Palazzo Pitti. The fact that the tapestry's model was then hung in the most prominent gallery in Florence, rather than being destroyed once the tapestry was complete, is testimony to its stunning character.

After two years and countless hours of work, Grisoni's Proserpina was brought back to life. The restored masterpiece was unveiled in 2004, transformed from a blackened, ruined canvas to a brilliant painting bursting with energy and color that stands as a testimony to tenacity, courage, collaboration—and faith.

Next time you are in the Uffizi, get off the beaten path with a visit to Proserpina in Room 42. She’ll be all yours.

This post was adapted from an article that appeared in The Florentine (Issue No. 88/2008).

Alexandra Lawrence bio

After studying Italian literature at graduate level, Alexandra made her permanent home Florence where she teaches art history, contemporary Italian culture, and travel writing courses at several local universities. A member of the council of advisors for the Advancing Women Artists Foundation, she is particularly interested in women artists and patronage in Florence and Tuscany. In addition, she has written on several of the city’s most important restorations and has enjoyed getting to know many of the experts in the restoration field. She is a licensed professional guide for Florence and its province and is the editor-at-large of the English language newspaper, The Florentine.

Text and photo credits: Alexandra Lawrence.

Where to find more of Alexandra:


Kale and Red Onion Pizza

Kale and Red Onion Pizza

I know that it is a New Year and there are lots of resolutions floating around and most of them are involving a diet of some sort. Could a Kale and Red Onion Pizza fit into your new diet? Possibly! This pizza is vegan, vegetarian and I  can even say it involves some whole-wheat flour!