Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Top Dallas chefs pit skills to match Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre – and you ... - Dallas Morning News (blog)

Allegrini,Capital Grille,Lucia,Zio Cecio,Village Marquee,Palazzo Della Torre Cook-Off for a Cause

At the Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre Cook-Off for a Cause, Keith Hanks' seared tuna with foie gras mousse defied the adage to pair only white wine with fish.

What’s a great dish to pair with Allegrini’s Palazzo Della Torre, a so-called “baby amarone” from Valpolicella? Four top Dallas chefs competed to show us yesterday at Central Market, “us” being a group of local food-and-wine media and Italian enthusiasts, including Paul DiCarlo from Jimmy’s Food Store and Adelmo Banchetti from Adelmo’s.

The chefs:
Francesco Farris, Zio Cecio
Keith Hanks, The Capital Grille Dallas
David Uygur, Lucia
Tre Wilcox, Village Marquee Grill & Bar

Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre Cook-Off for a Cause,David Uygur,Tre Wilcox

Maralisa Allegrini and Francesco Farris exchange views in Italian over the fresh herbs in the kitchen at the Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre Cook-Off for a Cause at Central Market Tuesday.

The dishes:
Farris: Fregola Sarda porpora d’Amarone â€" Sardinian couscous simmered with amarone, shallots and garlic, finished with fiore sardo (cheese) and served with crisped pancetta
Hanks: Anise-scented tuna with foie gras mousse â€" with onion, carrrots and currants set of by arugula
Uygur: Otto File polenta with braised duck â€" coarse-grained Otto File (it’s a type of corn) polenta from Anson Mills made with cold-smoked milk and topped with duck and broccoli buds in browned butter
Wilcox: Grilled pork tenderloin with polenta made with chorizo and cheeses, lobster mushrooms and peas

The wine:
Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre, the highly rated, under-$20 wine called a baby amarone because it’s made with the ripasso method that effectively produces double-fermentation. 70 percent of the grapes were picked and vinified; 30 percent were held back and dried and their juice only partially fermented. The two were blended, which initiated a second fermentation. What you get is a richly fruit-filled wine â€" but not like a California fruit bomb. It’s a bit raisin-y and earthy, like mushrooms, with beautifully balanced acid and good tannins integrated into a luscious whole. The grapes are natives: corvina Veronese, rondinella and sangiovese.

Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre Cook-Off for a Cause,The Capital Grille

The Capital Grille's Keith Hanks was the surprise winner in this contest, up against some real guns. Nedless to say, the dishes were great and the scores, close.

The winner:
Hanks’ anise-scented tuna with foie gras mousse. The flavors and richness of the mousse embraced the wine, and it was like a comfort beverage to the seared-outside-rare-inside tuna. He topped it all with a tiny dice of currants, onion and carrot that really popped against what he called the “liveliness” of the wine. The mousse included a reduction of the wine.

“This fish demonstrates the opposite of the white-wine-with-fish, red-wine-with-meat,” said Marilisa Allegrini, sixth generation with the family-owned Valpolicella property. “The red wine was perfect with the tuna. More to the point, it [the rule] should be white wine with white fish and red wine with red fish.”

The Allegrini Cook-Off With a Cause is taking place in cities across the country; The winning chef gets a $5,000 donation to the charity of his or her choice (Hanks won based on voting by attending participants, and he chose the Turtle Creek Association.) Donations were made to all the chefs’ chosen charities, depending on how their dishes ranked, so there were no losers. Each dish not only had to be tasty and creative on its own, it had to match the wine. I think all the chefs had fun. I know we tasters did.

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