Philly wine week, as a wine enthusiast there are so many choices to pick from, I am like a kid in the candy store and I can only hope I choose the right ones. My hope turned into reality with the choice of Brigantessa. Brigantessa worked with Italian wine importer Banville and Jones to provide their guests with a spectacular variety of wines that worked in perfect harmony with each and every dish served by the brilliant Chef of Brigantessa, Joe Cicala. The atmosphere was special and as each wine was poured we had the advantage of an explanation of the history and description of each wine from the Banville and Jones representative. Also, this was not one of those wine dinners where you get 4 oz per dish, you were able to get refills of your wine until the bottles were finished, usually it was about two or three glasses per dish. Yes, you could say I felt pretty good after this dinner.
The spuntino (snack, first dish) was a steamed turbot with clams in a garlic, parsley and white wine sauce. For those of you that have never had turbot is much like halibut, it has a very mild flavor which allows it to suck up the flavors of the sauce. Fortunately, the sauce was full of flavor and absolutely fantastic, after finishing the clams and the turbot I made sure to dip the table bread in the extra sauce until there was none left in my dish. The wine pairing was a Vermentino called, Pala I Fiori 2012 from Sardegna. The wine tasted like an earthier version of a Pinot Grigio and was a great compliment to this dish, especially the clams.
Out next came the antipasto, the dish of wood-grilled quail, charred chicory, and rosemary was beautifully presented and tasted spectacular as well. The delicate flavor of the quail was nicely complimented by the smoke flavor from the wood, while the rosemary and chicory added a nice depth of rustic flavor to the dish. The pairing for this dish was the Terlaner Classico alto adige 2013, this is a blend of Pinot Blanco, Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc. As you will see throughout this dinner, this pairing was spot on, the strong mineral taste of the Terlaner matched perfectly with the rosemary flavored quail.
Up next came the Primo course, a dish of beet green cappellaci dei briganti topped with a dry-aged beef ragu and some parmigiana reggiano. This rustic looking dish made me feel like I was actually sitting in a village in Italy eating this delicious al dente pasta with a sauce that only could be made with love. The dry aged ragu had all the great flavor of a steak and mixed perfectly with the sweetness of the sauce, while the parmigiana reggiano added a great kick of flavor to the end of each bite. This dish was paired with Sorso Basilicata, a wine that comes from the south of Italy and the Aglianico grape. The Sorso Basilicata earthy yet fruity taste went wonderfully with the dry-aged ragu.
At this point I did not believe the meal could get any better but the secondo was the best wine/dish pairings I have ever had. The wood grilled venison with rainbow potatoes, roasted piennolo tomatoes and pesto Siciliana was an extraordinary dish. The venison reminded of a filet mignonette, cooked perfectly at (name your favorite steakhouse) while the tomatoes and pesto Sicilian complimented the meat with a tart, nutty flavor. Even with all of that praise for the venison, which was amazing, I must say the wine was the standout. Cupertinum Cantina Sociale Cooperativa di Copertino Rossa Riserva 2007 is far and away my favorite wine I have ever tried. The complexity of the flavor between, the fruitiness and nuttiness really made my taste buds savor the moment. The venison and wine came together spectacularly to make an unbelievable dish.
While the dessert did not sound like something I would especially like it actually complimented the entire meal perfectly. The almond polenta cake with saffron poached pears and moscato zabaglione was a perfect ending to a 5 star meal. The cookie texture of the cake went well with creaminess of the zabaglione, while the flavor of the saffron poached pears shined through to end the night with a light refreshing dish. The paring of the Col dei Venti Comete Moscato D’Asti was light and refreshing nip to end the night as well.
Brigantessa is a fabulous restaurant to visit at any time but lucky for me I picked it for a spectacular occasion. Brigantessa’s philly wine week dinner was a 5 Tizzle experience and deserves to be lauded for the passion and hospitality they put into the event.
For those of you who would like to visit it in the future (I suggest you do), Brigantessa is located at 1520 East Passyunk street.
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!!!