Ronchi di Cialla 1998 Schioppettino and King Ranch Chicken (plus Houston music and tastings update)

On Saturday night, Tracie made a couple of my favorite dishes from her repertoire: King Ranch Chicken, a Tex-Mex classic, and fried okra fritters, a staple of her southeast Texas upbringing.

And Aunt Joanne and uncle Marty, who joined us for dinner, generously shared a bottle of 1998 Schioppettino, a library release from Ronchi di Cialla, Friuli’s legacy champion of native grape varieties and one of the region’s most soulful wineries.

The more-than-20-year-old wine was fresh and vibrant, with robust ripe berry flavors and a gentle touch of minerality and earth. Its sweet fruit made for a wonderful pairing with the casserole.

King Ranch Chicken is an ultimate Texas comfort food. For Tracie, it evokes memories of growing up on the Gulf Coast. For me, it conjures the aromas and flavors of the first meals she cooked for me when we were dating more than 10 years ago.

It’s not as spicy as you might think. And the surprisingly rich fruit of the wine and restrained alcohol sang beautifully against the creamy texture and richness of the food. We all loved it.

But before the casserole was served, Tracie also treated us to those okra fritters, which we paired with a Trebbiano d’Abruzzo from Cirelli (one of our house wines).

“Why do I like to fry stuff so much?” Tra asked our chihuahuas who huddled at her feet hoping for a morsel to be dropped.

The worst of last week’s rain had passed and it was a fine evening. All is well at the Parzens’.

In other tasting and music news…

I’ll be hosting, moderating, and leading a bunch of fun food and wine and music events this week and next.

Moscato d’Asti DOCG
Guided Tasting & Seminar
at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse (downtown)
Wednesday, May 15

There’s just a few seats left for this Wednesday morning tasting where some of Moscato d’Asti best and brightest will be pouring. Click here to reserve.

Paolo Cantele
in-store tasting
at Vinology
Friday, May 17

Paolo and I will be literally taking over the bar at Vinology on Friday night. Paolo is one of my best friends and we have worked together for 10 years. It should be a super fun evening.

Blow-out Party
and Potluck
live music and wine
Chez Parzen
Saturday, May 18

On Saturday afternoon/evening, Parzen family is hosting one of its house parties and Paolo is providing the wines. Everyone is invited — and yes, I mean everyone. If you have my phone number or we are friends on social media, just hit me up and I will send you details.

Houston Pasta Festival
Bayou City Event Center
Sunday, May 19

Click here to register for this Sunday afternoon festival (1 p.m. – 4 p.m.). I’ll be emceeing. Come hungry! There will be wine and Peroni beer, too.

My new band Problem Child
at Mongoose Versus Cobra
Sunday, May 26

We’ll actually be debuting the new band at the party but our first real show will be at the Mongoose Versus Cobra anniversary/Memorial Day party. We’ll be the first band to take the stage, at 6 p.m. Come drink craft beer, munch out at the food trucks that will be there for the occasion, and rock out with me.

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