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Carbonara + Wine is Fine

When considering the world’s great comfort foods, Italy’s carbonara has to be on that list.  I know on my list, carbonara is right up there at the top with Chinese soup dumplings and good ol’ American country fried steak.  I mean, for goodness sake, we’re talking a rich ‘n’ creamy Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese sauce with crispy pancetta that’s basically sopped up with spaghetti.  There ain’t NOTHING wrong with that.

Ro Cole’s version featured in my October JONES IS HUNGRY column, keeps this classic recipe simple, which is why it’s so perfect for supper or a late-night snack.  Ro avoids tramping up the sauce with green peas, sautéed onion or funky herbs.  When it comes to carbonara, Ro’s a purist, and I respect him all the more for that.

But what about the wine?

The easy match is to go with a crisp Italian white like a Pinot Grigio or Gavi di Gavi to cut through the carbonara’s rich sauce…and the fact that I’m always a fan of keeping things within the country of origin.

Having said that, though, I actually prefer a slightly heftier white like an unoaked or lightly oaked Chardonnay.  Unoaked simply means the wine doesn’t touch an oak barrel either during the fermentation or aging process.

Unoaked (or naked) Chardonnay is growing in popularity and when served alongside this hearty recipe, it’s easy to see why. Free of the heavy-handed oak often found in many California Chardonnays, natural layers of apple, pear, and lemon radiate through playing up the nutty, slightly sweet Parmigiano-Reggiano. Yet there’s still plenty of heft to karate chop through the creamy sauce and crispy pancetta.

 

A few of my favs you can find in and around Birmingham:

  1. Toad Hallow, Francine’s Selection Unoaked Chardonnay, California
  2. Novellum, Chardonnay, France
  3. Laetitia, Chardonnay, California (lightly oaked)
  4. Four Vines, Naked Chardonnay, California
  5. Marcel Servin, Chablis, France

 

Ro’s Carbonara

“It’s mission critical to cook the pancetta and garlic while the spaghetti boils,” Cole stresses. This ensures the heat of the spaghetti cooks the raw eggs and melts the cheese creating a rich, creamy sauce.”

Prep: 15 min., Cook: 10 min., Makes: 4 servings

 

4 large farm-fresh eggs

1 cup freshly shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 (16-oz) package spaghetti noodles

1 tablespoon olive oil

8 oz pancetta or slab bacon, sliced into small strips

4 cloves garlic, minced

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Freshly shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

 

  1. Whisk eggs and cheese together in a large mixing bowl.
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender yet firm (what the Italians call al dente). Drain the pasta, reserving about 3/4 cup of the cooking water.
  1. In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the pancetta, and cook for about 5 minutes or until crisp and the fat is rendered. Add the garlic, and cook 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water, scraping up any brown bits in skillet. Add pasta; toss to coat with pan drippings. Remove pan from heat.
  1. Pour the egg mixture over the hot pasta; stir constantly until sauce thickens. Thin sauce to desired consistency, if needed, with remaining cooking water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with more cheese, if desired.

Recipe courtesy of Ro Cole

Wine + Coffee = Clean Drinking Water

No-Snobbery Wine Education is what Jones Is Thirsty does, but we also exist to help fight true thirst.

That’s why, earlier this year, we made NEVERTHIRST our charitable partner.

Neverthirst’s mission is simple: Provide clean and living water to the poor through the local church. But their aim is much higher. Neverthirst seeks to change the lives of people on both sides of this transaction. Neverthirst currently has projects in India, Central African Republic, Cambodia and Sudan.

Our first project was to fund a rainwater collection tank for a Cambodian family.  We were able to knock out that project last month.  

As a donor incentive, I gave away a Jones Is Thirsty tasting for six, including wine.  The lucky winners randomly chosen by Neverthirst?  Darron and Eliana Burke.  Here’s the catch — the Burke’s live in Miami.  (Guess I just assumed the winner would come from Birmingham, right?)  “No Sweat,” said Darron without a second thought, “we’ll just fly you down.”  And that was that.

Another cool fact about the Burke’s: They just so happen to make my favorite coffeeCafé Don Pablo.  In fact, “Don Pablo” is Darron’s nickname.

Good news travels fast, and once word got out about the event, the Burke’s guest list quickly blossomed to more than 30.  The more the merrier, we all agreed.  The party, err, wine tasting was a blast.

Here are a few shots from the evening

Dan Pablo1

(clockwise): Jones with Eliana and Darron Burke; table in Cafe Don Pablo cupping room; Tapiz, “Alta Collection” Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina; the evening’s menu

 

Don Pablo3

(clockwise): Domaine de la Perrier, Sancerre, France; super-cool espresso press; Jaillance, Crémant de Bourgogne, France; bag of roasted-to-order Café Don Pablo

 

Don Pablo2

(clockwise): Martin Ray, Unoaked Chardonnay, California; festive party guests; evening ephemera; Chef José Torres wows guests in the cupping room kitchen

We’re now working on our next goal — funding a well for an entire Cambodian village
(just like the one pictured below).

For this project, I’m giving away TWO separate tastings for six, including wine
(each a $1,000 value).

Click HERE to donate!

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Who’s in?

About Jones Is Thirsty

My tastings run the gamut from team building events for large groups of employees to holiday parties to more targeted marketing functions for prospective clients and vendors (and everything in between). I also work with individuals hosting special occasions—think birthdays, holiday gatherings, bunko night & charitable events.

And don’t let the location get in the way—it won’t get in mine. I take the show on the road—everywhere from lake houses to beach bungalows to hunting cabins. Whatever the occasion, I tailor events to accommodate any budget, space or food pairing need.

Expertise Without Intimidation

Click HERE to learn more.

10 Winemakers, 1 Camera and 1 Question

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Viñedos TerraNoble, El Algarrobo Vineyards, Casablanca Valley, Chile

During a recent trip to Chile (as a guest of Wines of Chile), I couldn’t help but notice the energy and excitement among the winemakers.  They all spke of their love for the country and the promise of finally moving beyond the stereotype of only producing value wines. 
All of the winemakers—to a person—were absolutely energized by the future of the Chilean wine industry and, most importantly, working diligently to produce world-class wines.  Some are closer than others, but all seem to be unified in this singular goal.

In an effort to seize the moment, I asked 10 winemakers to tell me why the country is such a special and exciting place to make wine. The video below shows what they had to say…   Featured winemakers (in order of appearance): 1. Julio Bastías of Vina Matetic
2. Gonzalo Guzmán of Viña El Principal 
3. Matías Rios of Cono Sur Vineyards & Winery 
4. Andrea León of Lapostolle Wine 
5. Sebastian Labbe of Carmen Wines 
6. Edgard Carter of Oveja Negra
7. Benjamin Mei of Apaltagua 
8. Andrés Ilabaca of Santa Rita Wines 
9. Marcelo Papa oConcha y Toro
10. Cristóbal Undurraga of Viña Koyle

 

 

About Jones Is Thirsty

My tastings run the gamut from team building events for large groups of employees to holiday parties to more targeted marketing functions for prospective clients and vendors (and everything in between). I also work with individuals hosting special occasions—think birthdays, holiday gatherings, bunko night & charitable events.

And don’t let the location get in the way—it won’t get in mine. I take the show on the road—everywhere from lake houses to beach bungalows to hunting cabins. Whatever the occasion, I tailor events to accommodate any budget, space or food pairing need.

Expertise Without Intimidation

Click HERE to learn more.