Above: Not exactly traditional but delicious. Buckwheat bigoli with guinea hen last night at Trio in Austin.
My Italian friends will get the joke from last night. When Tracie B and I saw that Trio chef Todd Duplechan was offering buckwheat bigoli on his menu at Trio, I couldn’t resist the pun: I turned and asked sommelier Mark Sayre, “do you think that Todd will let me taste his bigolo?”
Here’s what “Trevisan humanist” Bepo Maffioli had to say about bigoli in his landmark Cucina Veneziana (1982):
- “Brown” bigoli — the buckwheat long noodles of Bassano and Treviso — went through a dark period because Italian law requires that only durum wheat flour be used to make pasta. As a result, bigoli were considered an adulterated product. But then, sentence was passed, and they were found to be a traditional product and thus were permissible for consumption. Since the time of the “vigils,” bigoli a puro oio, in other words, dressed with just extra-virgin olive oil, has been one of the most common dishes for abstinence and fast days. Christmas Eve, Ash Wednesday, and Good Friday have always been holidays for bigoli in salsa (literally, bigoli in sauce) in nearly every city of the Veneto. This dish was almost always made by pairing bigoli and salt-cured sardines but the ingredients could change depending on the city and province and sometimes even the township.
[His thoughts on “adulteration” and culinary law (playful in this case) might seem ironic in the light of the pasta price fixing scandal that surfaced this week in Italy and the Chianti adulteration controversy that first raised its ugly head last week. Ne nuntium necare!]
Like the Tuscan pinci or pici, the Veneto word bigoli is a generic term that denotes long, round artisanal noodles. Most believe it comes from baco or worm. Many Veneto cookery authors use it interchangeably with spaghetti, which simply means little strings (from spago or string). In English, the term spaghetti evokes a particular shape of long noodle. But in Italian, it is a generic term that can be used in certain contexts to denote a wide variety of long, round noodles. The expression bigoli in salsa, literally bigoli in sauce, is used elastically to denote the traditional Venetian dish bigoli with sardines or anchovies as well as other preparations.
For obvious reasons, bigolo, when singular, is a euphemism for the male sex.
Todd served his buckwheat bigoli with guinea hen. They were shorter than traditional bigoli but delicious nonetheless.
Above: Pierre Péters rosé at Trio. I had never tasted this superb wine before. What a fantastic, exquisite expression of Champagne! There is so much great wine in the world. Anyone who’s really into wine will tell you, the more I learn, the more I realize how little I know.
Our friends April and Craig Collins graciously and generously treated us to a bottle of Pierre Péters rosé to celebrate the holiday season. What an amazing wine! Ubi major minor cessat: for notes on the producer and the wines, I’ll point you to the experts here and here.
As we sipped this delicious and gorgeous pink wine (full of luscious fruit balanced by stern minerality), I couldn’t help but think to myself about how some of my wine blogging colleagues warned me (fruitlessly) that I wouldn’t find good wine to drink in Texas. Well, I’m here to tell ya, they got them some pretty darn good wine down here in this fine state!
Above: Master sommelier candidate Craig Collins and his lovely wife April are the leading man and lady of the Austin wine scene.
Thanks again, April and Craig, for turning us on to (and treating us to) such an amazing wine!