One of the few things better than the atmosphere at The Sturiale Place
on the night of March 20 was the collection of excited foodies in attendance, and the only thing better than the company was the imported Italian cheese and wine, presented in conjunction with brief classes from Whole Foods
cheese guru Shell Hartman and Tastevin
wine importer Gino Pilato.
The second course featured Provolone Valpadana (pictured) paired with a 2016 Alois Lageder Chardonnay.
The four-course, $40-per-person night of pairings began with a round of soft burrata
from Murgia in southern Italy, served with sliced cherry tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and topped with a sprinkle of torn basil leaves. Standing in front of fewer than a dozen people seated family-style around a large table, Hartman described the process of making the fresh cow's milk cheese and invited guests to dig in. Next, Pilato poured a splash of 2015 Marco Felluga "Just Molamatta,"
a dry white from Molamatta, Italy, for each guest and discussed the vineyard where it was made, right down to its soil profile and the rarity of its grape varietals. The crisp wine balanced beautifully with the creamy cheese and balsamic bite.
Gina Sturiale's housemade crackers served as a vehicle for every course.
Guests scooped up bites of cheese on crostini and rosemary crackers made in-house by Gina Sturiale, whose mother Rita owns and runs the property. Gina circled the table on and off, chatting with guests and clearing dishes, adding to the atmosphere.
During the second course, which featured provolone valpadana
served with green olives, peppadew peppers and charcuterie, Hartman described her experience making the unpasteurized cow's milk cheese with a group of fellow cheese makers by stretching a single piece out into a long enough rope that they were able to pass it hand-to-hand three times around a warehouse. That story was only equaled by Pilato's retelling of the Italain urban legend that earned the bottle of 2014 Badia a Coltibuono Estate Chianti Classico
its black rooster trademark.
The 2014 Badia a Coltibuono Estate Chianti Classico was a rich, fruit-forward red made in an Italian monestary.
Between courses, Hartman offered up single bites of off-menu cheeses, like a staggeringly rich Gorgonzola dolce
, served up with a house-made, port-infused fig paste on a long silver spoon. Laughter filled the room, and the wall-hanging sconces gave the restored historic home a magical glow that worked wonders on more than one customer; nearly every couple left at the end of the night with at least one bottle of wine purchased post-tasting.
Though this was the first night of pairings and education put on by The Sturiale Place, the house-turned-import-shop which will soon reopen its Italian cafe, it certainly won't be the last.