This Thursday, I’m thrilled to welcome my friend Marco Fantinel for the virtual wine dinner I host each week for Roma restaurant here in Houston.
I first met Marco in 2007 at the U.N. when he was launching a wine to benefit humanitarian aid (a lot of people don’t realize that Italy is one of the biggest supporters of the U.N.).
Over the years, he’s become a great friend and his family’s wines have become one of Tracie and me’s go-tos.
Marco is an amazing guy: a soccer club owner, a hotelier, a producer of Prosciutto di San Daniele (Friuli’s classic prosciutto), and first and foremost a grape grower and winemaker.
As you can see in the photo below, he grows his wines in the shadow of the Karsic Alps in the gravelly and limestone soils of Grave and Collio in Friuli. And I bet many of our guests will be surprised to learn how significantly his wines and Friulian culture have reshaped fine dining in the U.S., thanks in no so small part to Marco’s efforts.
Most recently, Marco partnered with Mary J. Blige to produce her Pinot Grigio (no joke!). I can’t wait to see him on our Zoom call and hear all about it as we taste his wines and enjoy Chef Angelo’s amazing cooking.
See the menu and details here. $119 send you home with three bottles of wine and dinner for two. Please support local businesses, including my own, by eating Italian food and drinking Italian wines with the people who make and love them. Thank you for your support.
In other news…
A ton of people had questions about this photo, posted on my social media over the weekend.
Back when I was translating recipes and writing about Italian wines and gastronomy for La Cucina Italiana in the late 1990s, this was how I learned to roast bell peppers.
You just place them on the stove top over medium or low heat and turn the pepper as it chars on each side.
For the next step, most recipes call for it to be placed in a brown paper bag to steam as it cools. I just put it in a medium-sized mixing bowl and cover it with a b&b plate.
After 10 minutes or so, it will have cooled and the charred skin is easy to remove.
After I’ve removed the skin under running water, revealing the beautiful color underneath, I clean the pepper of its stem and seeds. Then I slice it into thin strips that I dress with kosher salt, extra-virgin olive oil, and a kiss of red wine vinegar.
Sometimes I sauté the strips with garlic and chili flakes before dressing them as above. But Tracie and I like them best simply roasted and dressed.
It’s a super easy but classic way to prepare them! We served them with crusty bread and a glass of delicious Lageder Chardonnay (our new favorite everyday white ever since we did a virtual wine dinner with Helena Lageder a few weeks ago!).