Fusion: Cos Cerasuolo di Vittoria and smoked Texas ribeye

Last night was a night of fusions and no one was taking sides at Trio at the Four Seasons (Austin).

The first was Washington state abalone, oysters, and salmon, paired with Prosecco. Chef Todd was cooking for a Washington state wine event in one of the event spaces at the Four Seasons hotel and he sent down some of the pairings to our table at the restaurant downstairs where a friend and client had asked us to join him with a Prosecco producer.

Perhaps the most extraordinary fusion came in the guise of a Texas smoked rib-eye paired with the Cos Cerasuolo di Vittoria. The Frappato character was powerful in the bottling we unstopped yesterday evening and the match between the bright fruit and the smokiness and fattiness of the beef was delicious.

But the most intriguing fusion came with a smile and rimless glasses. Daniele d’Anna, the current generation of the Bortolotti family of Prosecco producers. Daniele is the product of a “mixed” marriage: his father is Neapolitan and his mother Veneta. I’ve never met anyone like him: he can switch between a thick Veneto accent (familiar to me) to Neapolitan (familiar to Tracie P) on the turn of a dime. I was curious to ask him about what it’s like to live in a Veneto now dominated by the Lega Nord, the xenophobe Separatist movement.

The Lega Nord wants to secede from the Italian republic and form its own country, severing ties with central and southern Italy. Let’s just say that the Lega doesn’t look so favorably on southern Italians, their customs, mores, and life rhythms. The image from the left is taken from a bizarre Lega campaign that I saw when I was in Italy recently. “They suffered immigration,” it says. “Now they live on reservations. Think about it.” Pretty scary, huh?

I liked Daniele very much and he struck me as a highly educated, cosmopolitan, and enlightened fellow. I doubt he shares the xenophobic sentiments of his Leghisti brethren. He made an interesting point: anyone who wants to get something done in Italian politics today, he observed, needs to take sides. His girlfriend, he told me, joined the Lega so that she could run for mayor of her small town in the Veneto, Asolo (one of my FAVORITE and one of the most beautiful and historically rich places in the world). Does she share the Lega’s racist platform? No, Daniele said. She just joined the Lega as a means to an end, he explained. Do they talk about politics when she comes over to the parentals’s for dinner? No, he said with a smile, they don’t. The 31-year-old woman won the election by the way and now serves as Asolo’s mayor.

Only in Austin can a Salvadoreño (my friend and client Julio, above, left), a Methodist (Tracie P), a Jew (that’s me), and a Trevisan walk into a bar and order a Texas smoked rib-eye with a wine aged in amphora from Sicily. Sounds like a joke, but I’m here to tell you, people: it ain’t!

Buon weekend, ya’ll!

There’ll be more posts from my recent Italy trip coming up next week. Stay tuned…

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