REALLY slow food at Michele and Charles Scicolone’s table

Above: Good friend Frank (not pictured) brought a 3-liter bottle of 1971 Chianti Classico by Ruffino to our “very slow” and excellent dinner the other night in the home of my long-time friends, the delightful Michele and Charles Scicolone — authors, bloggers, and legendary New York hosts. That’s me wielding the 3-liter with Charles in the background.

Michele and Charles Scicolone have a lot to celebrate these days.

Charles (check out his blog) was recently made a knight in the order of the Imperial Castellania di Suavia: a week ago Sunday, the “dames” of the confraternity presented him with his honorary sword and sash, in a ceremony replete with medieval pageantry and garb, at the historical Soave castle.

And New York Times best-seller author Michele (check out her blog) is basking (rightfully) in the glow of more than 50,000 copies printed of her latest book The Italian Slow Cooker (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010). (You may remember Tracie P’s post inspired by Michele’s book.)

Above: On Saturday, Michele was testing recipes for her forthcoming The French Slow Cooker recipe book. Slow-cooked veal shank was served with slow-cooked risotto (and oven-roasted asparagus).

Tracie P and I had the good fortune to be invited to Michele and Charles’s home for dinner on Saturday night, where we got to sample some of the dishes that Michele is testing for the forthcoming French version of her slow-cooker success, like this chocolate cake:

Above: Yes, made with a slow-cooker!

We also got to taste a champagne-method wine, a DOC from Italy I’d never seen before, a sparkling Lessini (place name) Durello (grape name).

Above: Anyone else have notes on this wine or other wines made from Durello grapes?

I was impressed by its richness, freshness, and unctuous mouthfeel, and it was a great accompaniment to Michele’s turkey, pork, and fig slow-cooker pâte. Charles had brought the wine back from his recent trip to Soave.

O, and the 1971 Chianti Classico? Old and dusty, earthy and grapey, crunchy and delicious… perfect with the veal and the ripened cheeses that followed…

Thanks so much, Michele and Charles, from both of us, Tracie P and me. Such success couldn’t have happened to more lovely people. You’ll always be the “first couple” of Italian food and wine in my book!

Heading to Italy and Slovenia…

I leave today for Italy (where I’ll be attending the wine fairs and catching up with old friends) and then Slovenia (where I’ll be performing with Nous Non Plus). I’ll be taking a break from blogging but will post on my trip when I have internet access on the road and after I get back.

I recently had the good fortune to taste a flight of Fiorano Rosso going back to 1986, thanks to my dear friends Charles and Michele Scicolone. You can read about the wines at VinoWire and I’ve posted some pics from the dinner below. See you in a few weeks!

Over the last few years, I’ve drunk some great wine with my generous friend Charles Scicolone. A widely recognized expert on Italian wine, he’s taught me a lot of what I know — through the wines he’s opened for me to taste and his colorful anecdotes and memories of the many winemakers he’s known over the years.

Michele is a leading authority on Italian food and has published countless cookbooks and magazine features. I’ve been a guest in the Scicolones’ home a number of times but have never been served the same dish twice: Michele keeps a journal of her dinner parties, who attended, and what was served.

Michele made Anagni-style lasagne for the first course, a nod to the first red we tasted that night, Torre Ercolana 1990, which is made in Anagni near Rome.

Lamb — a quintessential spring dish — was served as the main course.

Michele blanched orange zest to create this elegant presentation.