Chilly nights with Good friends, Cured meats, and Barolo by Tara Carney

It is a cold winter throughout most the country and today I am thinking about red wine.

A friend of mine in the Great Pacific Northwest called me the other day to ask advice on
which wine to bring to a gathering. “The man of the house cures his own meats”, she informed me.
These homemade cuts were to be served with an assortment of cheeses and breads, at a fine winter gathering of friends.

I hung up, but I couldn’t shake the scene she had just painted for me. A house with a yard, surrounded by lush redwoods, blanketed with cold foggy clouds, and the earthy scent of things growing year round. A crackling fireplace, a kitchen table with mismatched chairs and friends conversing, playing 45’s: gathering. Because it is winter, and they are cold, and they want to warm their bones and their spirits over a few bottles of red.

I stared out onto the bustling BQE from my kitchen window and let images of cold starry nights in the town of Barolo pour into my head. In the hills, a thick nebbia (Italian for “fog”) starts to roll in on the harvest in the late fall, and the growers are willing to wait until as late as November to harvest their delicate Nebbiolo grapes. Townspeople gather around on the chilly nights to carve into their menu of cheeses and meats, with forestale sides of truffled this and olive oiled that, talking, lighting the fire, filling the glasses. And in the Piedmont region these rich foods are paired best with its very own Barolo.

The price of a good Barolo may not be what my dear friends in the arts can stock up on. But there are many other affordable options from the nearby DOC: wines like Langhe Nebbiolo, Nebbiolo D’Alba, or Dolcetto D’Alba. I would recommend this next time my west coast friend attends a gathering thrown by the meat man and his wife.
A gathering I suggest we all remember to throw or attend at least once this winter, for our soul’s sake.

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