In vino veritas: two wine recipes and one confession

This post is in partnership with Millesima, a leader of luxury wines and futures, Italian and French fine wine merchant since 1983. Have a look at their online shop, they guarantee you a service that will take the utmost care of your wine and deliver it promptly to your doorstep! Heaven!

The two desserts I propose in this post (red wine poached pears I also used for some frangipane cream tartlets, get the recipe below!) can be nicely paired with a fruited rosé such as this one, I discovered on www.millesima.it where the variety of fine wines available is exceptional. They offer wines from the best properties in the Rhone, Burgundy, Alsace, and other leading French regions, as well as top producers from Italy that were recently added to the selection.

Vine and wine are an integral part of the history, culture and landscape of Veneto region. They have characterized its lifestyle, economy, fame and even gastronomic tradition over the centuries.
I have read that there is no other area in the world where wine has such extensive, varied and ancient roots as in this region … in fact, we have a reputation of great drunkards!
Yes, as a Venetian I can confirm it: in Veneto, wine flows on our tables as much as in our veins. It has always been like that, as the stories of our gramps say when they’re lost into amazing and nostalgic monologues about poor country life, when there was hardly enough to eat, but wine was never missing! To make it last longer, however, it was diluted with water directly in the glass, turning it into a sad and pale drink called “bevandiol” … that my Venetian nonna never missed to drink at every meal.

In Veneto, wine is a serious matter. I don’t think you have an idea of how many times I’ve been told of not being a worthy Venetian for having refused one drink too many! Have I ever mentioned how you get treated if you just try to order a glass of water at any Venetian bacaro*? (*Venetian term for tavern). They usually answer you “l’acqua marsise i pai!”, that literally means that water rots the poles, which in Venice are indispensable (like the briccole, the wooden poles to dock boats)… so, just drink wine!
So please, consider these premises to understand how and why I so easily found myself more than once with that extra glass of wine in the hands, which makes me ramble and go home with smudged mascara.

Perhaps this is how I soon learnt that I am an atypical Venetian: I am not a great wine drinker, in fact two glasses are already enough for providing funny moments and crazy speeches, which are usually followed by a very heavy moment of introspection.
More or less, it went like that even when I finally got to focus the causes of what for me has been a difficult winter, made of great existential doubts and the definitive realization of what triggered a whole series of paralyzing uncertainties that normally are not part of my way of being.

It was at the third glass of wine that I had my “In vino veritas moment” (a Latin phrase that means “in wine lies the truth”), finally understanding the meaning of what is probably the most famous proverb which is used in reference with wine.
As it often happens, ancient sayings have the ability to enclose in a simple expression much broader concepts which are drawn from everyday experience, thus resisting through the centuries perhaps precisely because of their intrinsic veracity.
This saying is surely not an exception, at least certainly not in ancient Rome, when the great emperors used wine to get members of the council drunk to verify their loyalty, thus giving this drink the power of unveiling untold intents and secret thoughts.

A glass of wine in a hand, the mascara down to the feet, and a poor @thefreakyraku taken hostage as a trusted listener, and I started blurting everything out.
I don’ t know if I realized it right away, but those words – about which I thought many times later on – came out so freely and with such a surprising clarity, that I think they marked a sort of turning point for me.
Some contingencies and delicate dynamics which – I know for sure – are well-known to many of those who, just like me, have based their working career in the digital world, brought me to realize how the appropriation of creative identities belonging to other people is actually within anyone’s reach.
The individualists, the vulnerable, the insecure are usually the most skilled at making their own what’s been shown to them, without filtering it according to their own re-reading.
They are talented at becoming clones, often hiding themselves behind the easy illusion of being “inspired by …”, when in reality there is no need of trained eyes to realize that they are only caricatures.
I met some of them on my path, but the most catastrophic of these relationships slowly planted a sort of bad seed within me.
Only much later, and with the help of several friends confirming what I did not want to see because it made me feel so unwell, I realized what had actually happened.
I felt like being robbed of my creative identity. I allowed this to happen and I stupidly let this feeling make me feel empty and less original.

The turning point I was referring to before, turned up to be my battle cry: I can’ t allow my creative identity to be confused with that of others, I want to defend it!
It’s been so. Thanks to that last quite desperate sentence, I suddenly understood the black hole in which I had let myself slip. I mean, it was like a slap in the face.
The follow-up has been like a climb because, as it often happens, the realization of a thought sometimes coincides with the will itself to open the eyes and accept even the most uncomfortable realities.
I did the cleaning, I put some distance and I am back with something to tell.
Nobody can steal anything from your creative soul if what you do is really genuine and pure.
They can copy you and your work in every possible way, this has always happened and will continue to happen, but this does not change the value of your art and your creative research.
Protect your world and give nourishment to what you do. Don’ t stop opening your heart.

Obviously, even if it may sound like a funny and romantic vision, a couple of glasses of wine (even if great such as the rosé I mention at the beginning) have not really been the reasons which made me face the veritas. The road has been much longer, but in a quite surprising way, wine has been part of this path, as well as this sponsored partnership with Millesima, which helped me to remember how deeply I love what I do.

Red wine poached pears with dark chocolate and pistachio crumbs & Frangipane cream & red wine poached pears tartlets
Red wine poached pears with dark chocolate and pistachio crumbs:
  • 4 kaiser pears (not overripe)
  • ½ liter of red wine (a strong, rich red wine - find it on Millesima!)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 100 g of granulated sugar
  • 100 g of dark chocolate 80% cocoa
  • 80 g salted pistachios
Frangipane cream & red wine poached pears tartlets
(to make approx. 4 to 6)
*For the base:
  • 150 g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 70 g sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 yolk
  • 200 g flour
  • ⅔ tablespoons of water
*For the filling:
  • 150 g almond flour
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 100 g butter
  • 80 g sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch of salt
*Extra to decorate (optional):
  • 100 g dark chocolate 80% cocoa
  • 80 g pistachios or sliced almonds
To make the pears:
  1. Pour wine, sugar, cinnamon sticks and vanilla bean into a high-sided saucepan making sure it's large enough for the pears.
  2. Bring the red wine to a simmer while stirring to dissolve the sugar. When the wine comes to a simmer, lower the heat at minimum. Peel the pears when the poaching liquid is ready and soak them into it.
  3. Cook the pears in the liquid on low heat for about 15-20 minutes, gently turning them every 5 minutes to ensure they poach evenly on all sides.
  4. Remove the pears from the wine and place them upright on a dish to allow them to cool down.
  5. Simmer the remaining liquid in the saucepan for a few minutes until the liquid thickens slightly into a syrup. Remove from the heat and keep it aside.
  6. Crush the chocolate and melt it in a water bath or in the microwave, then roughly chop the pistachios with a knife.
  7. Serve the pears on a serving plate brushing them a little with the wine syrup, dripping on them the melted chocolate by using a spoon and finally sprinkling them with a handful of pistachio crumbs.
If you like, you can use some of these poached pears to make some delicious tartlets, here is the recipe:
  1. In a bowl combine flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter at room temperature and quickly work the ingredients with your hands to get a grainy mixture.
  2. Add the yolk and knead everything quickly with your hands until you get a ball of compact and elastic dough with no clumps. You can add a few tablespoons of cold water if it seems too hard to be worked with your hands, or adjust it with a bit of extra flour if it's too soft.
  3. Wrap the dough in the plastic-wrap and let it stand for 30 minutes in the fridge.
  4. Butter the molds for the tarts.
  5. Divide the dough into equal parts and, using a rolling pin on a lightly floured wooden board, roll out four parts to make four equal discs to lay on the buttered molds.
  6. Place the molds in the fridge and proceed with the preparation of the filling.
  7. Preheat the oven at 180 C*.
  8. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the butter with the sugar and pulse until smooth. Then add the eggs, one at time and pulse to get a creamy mixture. Add the vanilla extract, the pinch of salt and finally the almond flour and mix until well combined.
  9. Extract the molds out of the fridge and stuff them with the frangipane cream filling, it should come up just below the edge.
  10. Cut in half the cooled pears which you previously cooked in the wine, removing the core and seeds with the tip of a knife. Gently place half pear on each tartlet without pressing it too much into the cream.
  11. Place the tartlets on a baking try and bake until the crust and frangipane are golden brown, approx. for 20 to 30 minutes (depending on the thickness of the base and your tartlet molds size) at 180 C*.
  12. Cool on a wire rack and decorate at your taste with melted dark chocolate, pistachio or almond crumbs just before serving.


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