Saturday, March 4, 2017

Sicilian Filet with Eggplant Caponata & Nero d'Avola

This month our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group (#ItalianFWT) is revisiting the island of Sicily. The last time we talked about this region I shared a wine based on the inzolia grape and an arancini dish (not paired together). This time around I'm featuring a Sicilian pairing of filet with an eggplant caponata (melanzane di caponata) and the Feudo Arancio Cantadoro wine. Oh, and I threw in a side dish of gnocchi with gorgonzola for the pasta lovers in the house. 

Sicily & it's offerings
Italy's largest island, Sicily, is a melting pot of cultural influences over thousands of years that is apparent in it's cuisine, wines and architecture as you travel throughout the island. Giuseppe Pitre describes the cuisine of Sicily as “dinners for the rich and food for the poor”. There was the basics of bread, cheeses, pasta and vegetables and more eleborate foods for the noble of the island. 

The wine scene in Italy has grown tremendously in the public eye and indigenous grapes including nero d'avola, grillo, nerello mascalese, inzolia have made their way to many a folks wine glasses. The nero d'avola grape is one of the most popular native grapes of the island said to have been introduced by the Greeks. It can be seen as a single varietal or some producers are blending it with international varieties like cabernet sauvignon as you'll see today. According to the site dedicated to nero d'avola, each part of the island producers different styles of the grape. “The Western area is marked by a higher concentration, harshness and toughness; the central area is denoted by a sharp taste of red fruits, and the eastern area provides a more refined taste, with an aftertaste of dried fruits.”

Feudo Arancio Cantodoro

2012 Feudo Arancio Cantodoro nero d'avolaI've written about Feudo Arancio on my site previously when I wrote about Stemmari and the 2012 Dalila blend. The two brands, Stemmari and Feudo Arancio, both are part of the conglomerate, Mezzacorona. I had received another sample at that time of my last blog, which I had yet to taste and what better opportunity than the present. This time I sampled the beautifully labeled 2012 Feudo Arancio Cantadoro made of 80% nero d'avola and 20% cabernet sauvignon. This wine demonstrated on the nose ripe berries (blackberries and raspberries) with a hint of licorice. On the palate it's a medium bodied wine displaying rich, expressive ripe berries backed by good acid and finishing with a hint of vanilla and black currants. This wine is aged 12 months in French oak (3 year old barrels). ABV 13.5%

Filet with Eggplant Caponata
The filet with eggplant caponata was an easy dish to prepare. I'm a fan of eggplant in many dishes and even though it served as an accompaniment to this dish you can also serve it over pasta. To prepare it I sauted some garlic and oil first and then added some sliced onions. Once the onions were rather translucent I added sliced red and yellow peppers and cubed eggplant. I cooked those for about 10-15 minutes until tender. I then added salt, oregano and chopped up whole tomatoes and cooked another 5 minutes. You can then add capers and black olives or even anchovies, but since my husband isn't a big fan I withdrew from the later ingredients. 
making eggplanta caponata
eggplant caponata

The Pairing
Overall the dish paired well with the wine. I expected a little more with the Cantadoro in terms of body and complexity with the oak aging and addition of cabernet sauvignon, but for the average retail of about $11 it's a rather good value.

Sicilian wine and food pairing with nero d'avola
Join our group for a live chat on Twitter 11am EST Saturday March 4th to discuss Sicilian food, wine and travel using the #ItalianFWT hashtag.  Here are my fellow Italian lovers journeys to Sicily. Make sure to check them out!
We hope to “see” you online Saturday, March 4th!

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