A few days before the Boston Wine Expo, we received an email that we could enter to win two tickets for one of the sessions at the Boston Wine Expo. The sessions that were part of this were:
LOVE BREWS FOR CHEESES OF THE VENETO
We responded that we were interested, and were the bloggers chosen to attend LOVE BREWS FOR CHEESES OF THE VENETO, which we would actually attend before the wine expo.
LOVE BREWS FOR CHEESES OF THE VENETO was held on Saturday, February 15th at 12:00pm. Tickets were $25pp. The event’s description:
“Join epicurean and beloved Italian Cheese Guru Lou Di Palo for a whirlwind tour of the Veneto’s fabulous DOP cheeses and fall in Love Italian Style – this Valentine’s Day Weekend!
Sample Piave, Asiago and Grana Padano cheeses paired with a premium selection of Italian Artisanal Beers from Tenute Collesi. Taste along while Lou explains how to effortlessly pair Italian Cheese and Artisanal Cheese.
And to complete this simply divine experience, special guest chef Stefano Palermo of Risotteria Melotti will stir up a traditional Risotto dish from the region!
Leave with hands on cheese tasting, artisanal beer pairing experience, a go- to risotto recipe and a treasure trove of helpful hints that will make entertaining friends and family a breeze in both formal and informal settings.”
On the day of the event, we took the T in, which is one of the easiest ways to get into the Seaport World Trade Center, where the Boston Wine Expo was being held. The Trade Center is right on the Silver Line, and easy to get to.
Having never attended the Boston Wine Expo, or one of their sessions, we were not quite sure what to expect. We arrived early, checked in for our passes, and then went upstairs to where the sessions were being held. You could purchase tickets before entering the sessions, if there was room remaining, or have your tickets on hand. Our tickets were through EventBrite, so we were able to store them on my phone- which made things easier (less to lose on the way in!). We went to the Session area about 15-20 minutes before it began. Some sessions were letting people in as they arrived, ours wasn’t until it was time. When the session was about ready to begin, they let us enter the room. There were 5 rows of tables, split into 5 people on each side. Each seat had a setup of: 3 wine glasses, a plate of cheese, mustard and cherries, a booklet and pen as well as a fork, napkin and water glass.
The session began with an introduction from Antonio Lucarelli, the Deputy Trade Commissioner of the Food and Wine section, from New York. He informed us that the session would be the on the study of the region of Veneto, which is most famous for Prosecco. He then introduced Lou Di Palo, who would be running the show for the remainder of the session. Lou is from an Italian family, and is the fourth generation of his family to run DiPalo Selects in Little Italy, New York.
Lou told us a bit of history of Italy, of Italy as we know it and Italy before it was Italy. Italy as we know it is very young, formed only in the 1860s. We heard about the Dolomite Mountains in Venice; how the mountains are beautiful and change colors throughout the course of a day. From brown, to white, like snowcaps, to the color of roses. The richness of the fertile grounds in that area, with the combination of the free grazing cows, resulted in great cheese.
We learned the stories of the individual cheeses. In the Poe River Area, the “bread basket of Italy,” land was wasted due to being controlled by Barbarians. About 1,000 years ago, monks reclaimed the land and used cows to revive the land from swamp to usable. This resulted in too much milk, so they made it into cheese. They cut cheese curds into rice grains, packed it down into a form, and added sea salt. Sea salt is the “secret ingredient” many Italian cheese makers use which helps it to stand the test of time.
The stories Lou told us weren’t told in a lecture way, but instead in a way that brought you in. Although Mark and I haven’t ever thought about traveling to Italy, it made us think about it.
Artisanal Beers were from Tenute Collesi. The technique of the beer is the ancient way made by monks. The beers are unpasteurized, and naturally fermented.
Chiara: light, bubbily, honey
- Asiago Pressato Dop: fresh, soft, nice buttery milk flavor. Made with only whole milk.
- Asiago D’Allevo Oro Del Tempo Dop: aged, made with whole and skim milk. Almost had a nuttier flavor. We felt this one paired better with the beer.
Bionda: smells similar to a pale ale, with a coriander type note. Fruity in flavor.
- Plave Stravecchio Oro Del Tempo Dop: nutty, smooth. Aged 12+ months. From the most modern cheese factory in Italy- the cheese maker is a computer! All cheese is made in a small wheel, coming from area farms. There are about 500-600 farmers involved, using brown and grey cows. This was one of Megan’s favorites.
Rossa: nutty. Megan enjoyed this beer with the Black Cherry and Cheese combo best.
- Grana Padano Stravecchio Oro Del Tempo Dop: grainy- from the separation of fat and protein. Tried this with a Black Cherry as well, which made it almost dessert like! Wow!
We also tried a fruit mustard, from Lazzaris. Mark enjoyed it, however, Megan was not a huge fan.
We loved the tasting! The cheese was amazing, and it was great to try Italian beers. The beers reminded us of sparkling wine in some ways. The only thing we would have changed about the tasting, is that sometimes we were uncertain about which cheese was next. We knew the name of it, but not which one it was on our plate. We did our best to guess, and think we did pretty well. We also weren’t sure if we could eat all of each cheese, or if we were going back to any later to try with a different beer. We loved how the session was presented as well.
The last part of the tasting was an absolute treat! Chef Stefano Palermo of Risotteria Melotti, in New York City, made us a delicious Risotto- which we were given the recipe for. “Amarone Risotto in Grana Padano Cups.” Ours was served with a Padano chip instead of in a cup.
This was delicious and I can’t wait to make it myself! Here is the recipe, courtesy of Agriform, if you are also intrigued…
Amarone Risotto in Grana Padano Cups, serves 4
1c Amarone della Valpolicella wine
1 ½ c Melott Vialone Nano Veronese Rice
5 c beef stock
2 tbsp butter
3oz Agriform Grana Padano DOP cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste
Parsley for decoration
- For the Grana Padano: Heat a small, nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Sprinkle 2 tbso of the cheese into a 4in circle in the middle of the skillet. Cook until the circle starts to hold together as you lift it off the pan and the bottom is starting to brown, about 1 minute. Flip, and cook for an additional 15 seconds. Transfer to an upside down cup and press down to give the desired shape. Repeat 4 times.
- For the Risotto:
- In two separate pans, bring wine and stock to a simmer, then keep both warm over low heat
- In a third pot, melt 1 tbsp butter, then add rice and cook, stirring to coat with the butte, about 2 minutes.
- Add wine and cook, stirring continuously for about 30 seconds until wine is almost completely absorbed. Add a ladleful of stick at a time, stirring constantly. Wait until almost all of the stock has been absorbed before adding more. Continue cooking and adding stick until rice is tender but firm to the bite, about 25 minutes
- Remove pot from heat and vigorously stir in remaining butter and Grana Padano DOP cheese.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place cheese cups on four plates. Divide Risotto evenly between the four plates, filling cups and garnishing with parsley.