Pairing food with wine is a complex affair, one that would require the expertise of a chef who knows both his cuisine and his wine well. Thankfully, Chef Ricky Parlanti is one such chef whose Italian roots go deep into both its cuisine and wine knowledge. Recently, we were given the opportunity to taste Parlanti’s expertise with a Pelissero wine pairing dinner at Prego in The Westin Kuala Lumpur.
Pelissero wines hail from Treiso, a northwestern region of Piedmont spanning 38 hectares of vineyards. It was founded in 1960 and is most known for its three core varietals: Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Dolcetto. The six-course dinner’s main highlight was in fact, the Barbaresco DOCG Tulin 2013 to be paired with the pan-fried wild duck breast with truffled sweetbreads, stewed lentils, and Toma cheese polenta.
But first, we started the dinner with some pre-dinner canapés of Spiced Bagna Cauda Crostini and Brioche with Fontina Cheese. These canapés, warned Parlanti, are only meant to be consumed in moderation so one would not overwhelm their appetite before the main courses began. The reason for the canapés? “Because we don’t want you to drink on an empty stomach,” said Parlanti. How very thoughtful.
We then move on the appetisers: Carpaccio of Scallops, Ocean Trout, and Marinated Anchovies with Salsa Verde. The medley of seafood paired with the Dolcetto D’Alba DOC Munfrina 2014 was interesting, especially with the inclusion of the salty marinated anchovies. The earthy cherry notes of the wine surprisingly complemented the flavours of the sea — a harmonious pairing.
Then came the first main, Nobile Risotto with Braised Oxtail and Ash Coated Goat Cheese. A comforting sight on a rainy day, the warm risotto was further made richer thanks to the ash-coated goat cheese. According to Parlanti, the ash absorbs moisture from the cheese, which enhances its flavour. The risotto is paired with the Barbera D’Alba DOC Piani 2014 which offsets the creaminess of the oxtail, whetting the appetite and leaving you wanting more. The palate is then cleansed with a Forest Berry Sorbet sipped with limoncello (Villa Massa Limon de Sorrento), preparing us for the next main.
The star of the six-course dinner is undoubtedly the second main: Pan fried Wild Duck Breast with Truffled Sweetbreads, Stewed Lentils and Toma Cheese Polenta.
The use of lentils in the dish is not only a nod towards it being a traditional winter dish in Italy and also a symbol of good luck, but also offered a different texture to the dish of duck breast. As for the duck itself, it was undeniably tender and went well with the Barbaresco DOCG Tulin 2013. Just as most would characteristically pair red wine with red meat, the Barbaresco indeed complemented the wild duck.
And then, we had our desserts. A crowd favourite, the Piedmontese Chocolate Bonet, Almond Cantuccini Crisp and Passion Fruit Gelato was the perfect ending to the six-course dinner.
The Piedmontese chocolate bonet was contrasted with the passionfruit gelato which made for a non-cloying finish and left you wanting more. Naturally, the best wine paired with the dessert is a Moscato D’Asti DOCG 2016, the perfect ending to a perfect dinner.