Oct 232012
 

Messina Hof Pasta Making Party:  Five things We Learned at this Food/Wine Experience

My daughter and I are always looking for good ways to learn things about food and wine together. We have cross the threshold of cheese making and are now seriously considered making sausage. So, when I got the announcement for the recent Pasta Making Party at Messina Hof Winery and Resort in Bryan, TX, I figured that this was a must event for us to attend.

After a not so smooth exit from Houston during evening rush hour, we remarkably arrived on time ready for the experience. Messina Hof Executive Chef Chris Shepley, talked, demoed and tasted a dining room full of attendees through the preparation of a four-course pasta wine dinner that included:

1st Course – Potato gnocchi in a Chenin Blanc shrimp cream finished with spiced tomato basil jam / Messina Hof Pinot Grigio

2nd Course – Tagliatelle pasta tossed with diced cheeses and Italian meats in lemon oregano Chardonnay vinaigrette / Messina Hof Private Reserve Pinot Noir

3rd Course – Lasagna Bolognaise with ricotta, beef and pork with a Merlot tomato sauce served with side salad and rosemary foccacia / Messina Hof Private Reserve Merlot, Rea Gae Vineyard, Texas High Plains

4th Course – Fried chocolate ravioli filled with a sweetened mascarpone cheese over raspberry Port couli with a rosemary biscotti / Messina Hof Private Reserve Port

Not having actually attempted pasta making, it was both educational and interesting to watch someone who knows what he is doing go through the motions. It was also a pleasure to dine in the company of other “foodies” like us that were avidly taking notes and asking questions about the Chef’s techniques and requests for his tips to guide their own efforts.

We came away with several pasta, food and wine tips from the Chef:

  1. The most common problem in pasta making is making it too wet so that it literally falls apart while rolling or once in the boiling water.
  2. A must for making pasta is let the dough relax before attempting to roll it out. While the dough is relaxing. This is a good time for for you to do the same and drink some Messina Hof wine!
  3. When making a vinaigrette that you want to emulsify and to aid in wine pairing, don’t use too much vinegar: 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar is best.
  4. They way to cut onions without crying is to use a very sharp knife and work fast; you can also refrigerate the onion before cutting it.
  5. Dry white wines like Pinot Grigio work well with pasta with a heavy cream sauce; crisp (high acid) red wines pair with pasta with tomato sauces.

I can also share that I learned what is meant by Chiffonade, a cooking technique in which herbs or leafy green vegetables (such as spinach or basil) are cut into long, thin strips by rolling them up and cutting them crossways.

Our favorite course for the evening was Lasagna Bolognaise with ricotta, beef and pork with a Merlot tomato sauce served with side salad and rosemary foccacia / Messina Hof Private Reserve Merlot, Rea Gae Vineyard, Texas High Plains. Interestingly, when I saw the wine described on the menu, I figured that the Merlot from the Rea Gae Vineyard was going to turn into another one of Paul Bonarrigo’s famous stories (aka Halfway Texas, Three-quarterway Texas etc. – ask Paul for the punch line if you haven’t heard it). I thought that the story might evolve into Rea Gae being a Texas vineyard owned by a Reggie musician. However, I later found that there actual is a Rae Gae Vineyard in Lamesa, TX, owned by Mark Shofner.

Russ Kane & daughter Caroline Carruba

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More information on wine and food-friendly events at Messina Hof Winery can be found on their website (click here). For my article on Messina Hof Winery and my discussion with Paul and Merrill Bonarrigo in the Lubbock Avalanche Journal click here.

Photo credit for photos in this blog: Caroline Carruba

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