Last night Francesco Secchi and his oldest son, Stefano, teamed for a joyous dinner celebrating the flavors of Francesco’s homeland, Sardinia. The timing of this dinner was perfect, as Stefano is still working on his fundraising for his soon to be made film about his father and uncle Dino, their life in Sardinia and beyond. This was also the first of a series of dinners that the Seccis will be doing at their Ferrari’s Italian Villa Grapevine and Addison locations.
About 30 people joined the 7 course dinner, which also paired the approachable, and incredibly drinkable, wines of Sardinia with the dinner. It is a common belief that when you don’t know what wine to order with a particular dish, look to the wine from the same region of the meal, as those flavors are most likely to marry well together. As these did.
The first course was a Zuppa di Arselle, soup with little neck clams, red onions and rapini with an incredible seafood broth made with time and love, as it was incredibly rich with lots of shellfish flavor. Argiolas Costamolino Vermentino paired nicely with the soup as the crisp Sardinia white cut through some of the richness in the soup.
Perhaps my favorite dish of the night was Stefano’s Burata con Guanciale e Noci with Trufflebert Farm hazelnuts, paired with a 12 hour low roasted tomato with olive oil, sage, thyme and fresh micro basil. I could eat Burata everyday, especially when you add hazelnuts that are the size of a large acorn, and a perfectly roasted tomato. The wine with this course was also my favorite of the night, Buio Carignano del Suleis, a big red wine with a good balance of earthiness and fruit with a lingering finish.
Stefano’s talent and creativity, with respect to tradition, came out with his Maltagliati Pasta with Wild Boar Ragu and Pecorino Sardo. Homemade pasta sheets that are then roughly torn prior to cooking, giving the pasta a rustic texture, and topped with a hearty, rich ragu of wild boar, quite common in Sardinia. The wine with this pairing was Argiolas Perdera Isola del Nuraghi, but I had a bit of the Buio left from the previous course, that really made the ragu pop.
Roasted lamb chops with a Soletta Cannonau, the signature red grape of Sardinia, was the final savory course. Quite a typical dish for a Sunday supper, with lots of fresh rosemary, juicy texture, and a perfect sear from the roasting. The Cannounau grape is known elsewhere as Grenache, is a fruit forward wine with lots of cherry and currant flavors. I find the Cannonau also has layers of black olive, coffee, herbs and toasted nuts, marrying well with the roasted lamb aromas and flavors.
The evening ended with father and son making crepes flambe with fresh oranges, butter and a good dash of both Cointreau and Grand Marnier, and served with house made pistachio ice cream. Watching Francesco and Stefano work side by side you can see that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree as the two were in perfect unison, with the same charming laugh, though Francesco’s side of the room got a bit more liqueur in their crepes. Lucky for me, I was on Francesco’s side…and they were delightful.
Stefano has about a month left on his Kickstarter project to raise the funds needed to produce his film, Shilo, An Italian Immigrants Debt to America. Follow this link for more information.