My quest to obtain "centurion status" http://www.winecentury.com/membership.php has gotten me actively seeking out things I ....:
a) never heard of....
c) let take me away from my true love, California Pinot.
Recently, I visited restaurant A16 in San Francisco http://www.a16sf.com/. Named for the highway that cuts across Campania/Southern Italy, the upscale rustic cuisine never fails to please. Especially the meatballs, with long simmered sauces constructed of freshness, tomatoes and herbs, toothsome pastas, pizzas, and "whatever's fresh" menu offerings will delight. Yum! Also, an impressive wine list heavy on the Italian and unsual also stays true to the local focus of the food by including many small production California wines. Hey, I am nothing if not a "grows with, goes with" kind of girl and love the nod to mi tierra. Thus the wine selection has never failed me when ordering. Coincidentally, my insistence on the unfamiliar (to me) Aglianico ("ah-LYAH-nee-koe" Wikipedia assures me) is a varietal originating in Campania, so I'm sure I looked super smart by a happy coincidence to my winey-foodie friends. The wine was a deep, dark purple with a lovely aroma kissed by oak with enough tannic energy to stand up to the food but enough complexity and balance to be enjoyable while we waited. Produced by de Conciliis in the Campania region of Italy, it had a dark spicy quality. Everyone at the table had Cali-centric palates and we all loved it. I found it tasty on its own, good with the entree and I even had enough left to try it with dessert.
There is a picture of this on A16's website, so I'm hoping it's a regular thing, because though the pairing was pleasing, the dessert on its own rocked my world. Called "Chocolate budino tart with sea salt and extra virgin olive oil" the name does not adequately prepare you for the taste treat you are in store for. Dark chocolate alchemically combined with creamy goodness renders a poufy mouthful of creamy, chocolate-dense lightness. This contrasted with the slippery floral olive oil, whose savor was enhanced by the surprise crunch of sea salt. I will admit I just rattled it off because someone else wanted chocolate and I had a half a glass of the wine left and was curious how it would mesh. I will also admit, I can't wait to go back, just to have this again---and this time not share! All in all, A "A" for A16, an "A" for aglianico and an "A+" for the Chocolate budino tart with sea salt and extra virgin olive oil.
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