Photo and Article by Gina Ruccione, Restaurant and Cuisine Writer
The Nov. 11 Antinori wine and dinner pairing at Michael’s on Naples Ristorante was a mind blowing culinary experience. This should come as no surprise, as Michael’s on Naples just came in 10th on the Zagat Top 50 Best Restaurants in Los Angeles for 2016.
Sometimes food is only as good as the company and wine it is paired with, but when the food, wine and company are actually outstanding together, the trifecta is a game changer.
Maybe the impact of the evening had something to do with a heaping mound of freshly grated white truffles on a small serving of risotto that was paired with my very first sip of Amarone wine. Whatever it was, something clicked in that moment. It was exactly like the scene from the movie, Ratatoullie, when the food critic, Anton Ego, takes a bite of ratatoullie and is immediately transported back to his childhood, a nostalgic moment that melts his hard exterior and all of a sudden, he’s changed forever.
That night was my Ratatoullie moment. And, while moments are fleeting, this was one of those instances that seemed to linger for a while. It was a reminder to slow down, appreciate simple things in life, like a great food or excellent wine, and just be thankful.
Enough of that. Let’s talk food shop.
The wine dinner consisted of five courses, each paired with a wine. But this is much more than, “Oh, red meat goes with red wine.”
Just to give a bit of perspective, the Antinori family has been making wine in Italy since the late 1100s.
There’s are reasons certain dishes are paired with particular wines.
There were a couple of dishes on the menu that really stood out, in part because they were paired with exceptional wine.
Gambero alla Griglia: A grilled Kaui prawn with Meyer lemon marmalade and watercress that was paired with a 2013 Orvieto Superiore “San Giovanni” Castello Della Sala. Isn’t that a mouthful? What I particularly enjoyed about this dish was the sensation of different flavors that were so apparent with each sip of wine and bite of prawn, ranging from peppery to sweet orange. It was outstanding!
Orecchiette con Coniglio: Pasta with devil’s gulch ranch rabbit sausage, Tuscan chard, chestnuts and sage paired with a 2009 Chianti Classico “Gran Selezione” Badia di Passignano. Orecchiette in Italian means ear, so picture little ear-shaped pasta. The Tuscan chard was a nice change of pace from the traditional pasta dish, which is typically dressed with a bitter green-like broccoli rabe or rapini. The wine lent velvety components to the dish and brought out the nuttiness from the chestnuts. Again, it was just well-executed in so many ways.
So, when is the next wine dinner? That I don’t know, but what I can tell you is that I will be attending their next Meatball Monday, which is a monthly event, that features special cocktails and meatballs. There’s even live music, so basically it’s a party. For more information check out their website.
Gina Ruccione has traveled all over Europe and Asia and has lived in almost every nook of Los Angeles County. You can visit her website at www.