Crumbs: Scaia, Pearà, and Mussels alla Buzara #ItalianFWT
Updated: Oct 10
This month the Italian Food Wine Travel bloggers are looking at the wines of the Veneto with Deanna of Wineivore is hosting.
Deanna wrote: "We've reached one of the more romantically well known regions of Italy - Veneto! From the cuddlesome gondola rides through the canals of Venice to the the star crossed love of Romeo and Juliet in Verona, the region is also well known for its wines: Prosecco, Valpolicella, Soave, Bardolino, and Amarone, to name a few. Maybe you'll pair with a cozy fall meal for two or a dreamy Venetian memory. Whatever you choose, hope you can join us and share your experiences." Here's the line-up from the group...
7 Veneto Wines and a Meal with Memories from My Visit: Venice, Verona, Valdobbiadne, Valpolicella, Soave by Wine Predator...Gwendolyn Alley
A Taste of Verona by Wineivore
Beyond Prosecco: Carménère is Cultivated in Veneto, Too by Grape Experiences
Crumbs: Scaia, Pearà, and Mussels alla Buzara by Culinary Cam (you're here)
Gambellara, Veneto: A Bubbly Wine & A Revelation! from Keep the Peas
La Gioiosa Brut Rosé & Raspberry Soup by The Quirky Cork
The Custoza Grape from the Glacial Hills Near Lake Garda by Vino Travels
The Hills Near Verona and the Organic, Biodynamic, and Regenerative wines of Fasoli Gino and Tasi by Crushed Grape Chronicles
Since I have posted many, many pairings from the Veneto ahead of this event, I'll do a quick run-through for you. Hopefully you will be inspired to track down some of these wines for yourself.
The Pink Wines of Lago Garda
Back in July 2018, I was introduced to Chiaretto, which can only be made from the Bardolino zone bordering beautiful Lake Garda (Lago Garda) in the Veneto region of northern Italy and is made primarily from the Corvina grape. For that event, I posted Chiaretto Poured with Local Catches. It had me wistfully remembering my day at the lake when I lived in Italy. I was en route from Verona (which I loved) to Venice (which was not my favorite).
I shared Marchesini Chiaretto Rose 2016 with Halibut agli Agrumi, Bolla Bardolino Chiaretto 2017 with Olive Oil-Poached Salmon Bellies with Cantaloupe-Preserved Lemon Salsa, and Casaretti Rosa dei Casaretti with Salmon Spoon Meat Over Hand-Rolled Gnocchi.
A Dive into Prosecco Superiore
Probably my most widely explored wine of the Veneto would be Prosecco. In fact, in July 2019, I hosted the group in a deep dive of Prosecco Superiore. Here's the round-up from that event: Climbing the Prosecco Hierarchy: To Prosecco Superiore di Cartizze with Steamed Clams, Smoked Scallops, and Capellini.
After that exposure to Prosecco Superiore, it has been my favorite sparkler. I have posted The Marriage of Sweet and Savory + A Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Extra Dry which featured Stuffed Delicata Squash and Vanilla-Mimolette Snickerdoodle Ice Cream Sandwich. In November 2019, I centered my entire Thanksgiving menu around those wines with The 'Ab Ovo Usque Ad Mala' Recipes + Some Bubbles from the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG.
The Romance and Red Risotto of Verona
When I traveled to Verona, I was on a serious starving student budget. I remember eating bread and cheese at the hostel and buying a kilo of grapes at the market during the day. I always saved money for a glass of wine at an enoteca. And I did splurge on the baci di guilietta and baci di romeo. I never had Risotto all'Amarone, but it's a highly regional dish. I shared my version after our Movies & Munchies group watched the rom-com Letters to Juliet. Romance and red wine collide in that silly, but inspiring movie. Read my post here.
But for this month, I had to share the wines of Scaia and two pairings I did recently. As for the title of this post - crumbs - read on to understand.
Scaia is a word in the Veronese dialect for 'crumbs'. The four brothers of Scaia — Armando, Tiziano, Paolo, and Massimo Castagnedi — are referring to the type of soil in their vineyards. The fifty acres they inherited from their father in the eastern section of Valpolicella and the additional seventy-five acres they purchased in the same area all have chalky, granular soil that crumbles easily.
The brothers originally released wine under the Tenuta Sant'Antonio label in the mid 1990s. In 2006, they launched Scaia with the mission of creating modern interpretations of the traditional grapes of Valpolicella and the Veneto.
I had previously poured a red Scaia and Jake was completely enamored with it. He comments on my wine pairings, when prompted, but rarely asks me to buy a repeat bottle of a wine. In this case, we have purchased and shared the Scaia Corvina with multiple friends and family members. It's that beloved by us! I did also track down their white wine, Scaia Garganega Chardonnay, for this.
Bollito and Pearà + Scaia Corvina 2019
I already mentioned that Jake and I have re-purchased this wine to share with many friends and family. This 2019 Scaia is a single varietal made with 100% Corvina grapes, a red wine grape variety that's used to produce Valpolicella and Amarone. Aged in stainless steel, instead of wood, this wine is tangy and fresh. It pours a beautiful garnet red with flecks of purple on the rim. On the nose, I noted aromas of red fruit, black fruit, and even a whiff of garden roses. On the palate, this has a surprisingly light weight for its dark intensity.
When I started researching dishes from the Veneto, I came across mention of Pearà, a Veronese sauce whose name literally means 'peppered.' Since it is made with breadcrumbs and stock, it was a perfect dish for this post; and the sauce is almost exclusively served with bollito. The dish is just boiled meat; I did more of a seasoned braise. And it went beautifully with the Corvina.
This post, that includes Red Wine Braised Beef, is a similar process to what I did for this pairing. I left the beef chunks larger and added potatoes in since I wasn't serving it over pasta. But this is about the sauce! My sauce isn't wholly traditional as I didn't include any bone marrow. Next time.
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 cups beef stock
freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup grated Grana Padana cheese
Heat olive oil in a sauce pan. Whisk in the bread crumb to a form a thick roux of sorts. Stir in the broth slowly. Whisk until smooth. Simmer until desired thickness, then stir in grated cheese and season to taste with black pepper.
Serve over meat with a beautiful glass of red wine.
Mussels alla Buzara + Scaia Garganega Chardonnay 2021
This 2021 is a blend of 55% Garganega and 45% Chardonnay. Garganega is an indigenous gem of a white wine grape that is widely grown in the Veneto region, specifically in the provinces of Verona and Vicenza. And I was very excited because it's a completely new-to-me variety.
Aged in stainless steel just like the Corvina, this wine was inviting and intriguing. In the glass, it pours a bright straw color with a slightly greenish rim. On the nose, I jotted down jasmine, tropical fruits such as pineapple, mango, and bananas, and winter citrus. On the palate, this was both soft and tangy. It had me dreaming of seafood.
Mussels alla Buzara
I found this dish as a popular dish in both Croatia and the Veneto. And - serendipitously - it included bread crumbs. Done!
2 pounds mussels
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped parsley
5 or 6 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
1 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup bread crumbs
Also needed: baguette or other crusty bread for serving
Scrub and debeard mussels. In a heavy bottom skillet that can hold all of the mussels in a single layer, heat olive oil. Add garlic and cook until just aromatic. don't burn it or it will be bitter. Pour in the wine and stir in half the parsley.
Whisk in the breadcrumbs and place the mussels into the pan. Let this simmer undisturbed until mussels just begin to open. Stir occasionally until all the shells open. If there are some mussels that don't open, discard them.
Spoon the mussels into serving dish. Scatter with remaining parsley and spoon the cooking liquid over the top. Serve immediately with slices of crusty bread.