What is life without a little daydreaming? And best of all, daydreaming over great food and wine.
Since my last trip to Italy in 2009 (I’m returning in September this year for two weeks!!), I’ve found that little transportative luxuries like good food and wine whisk me from the humdrum-everyday life back to a time where I felt happy, excited or sophisticated. This is what the Italians would call ‘Un pocco gusto’ (a little taste). One iconic, unique, food that defines a nation, through multiple generations is, for Italians, proscuitto.
While I love New Zealand, every now and again I do have the need to engage in what the Italians would call “trasognare”: to daydream (excuse me, you’ll have to put up with the half-arsed Italian peppered throughout this post – I studied it at l’universita Victoria di Wellington per tre anni). Why? I’ll hold my hands up and admit it: I am hopelessly attracted to cultural history, archetypes and tropes, especially from Italy (France comes in a close second). For me, Italy is more than a place. It is a state of being. The fantasy is that when you are Italian, you are more carefree, sexier, and take life a little less seriously.
Of course, Italians are a large part of the Wellington community, from the families who import traditional Italian food to New Zealand to the fisher families who settled in Island Bay post WWII. We have a deep cultural love affair with Italy, not just here but all over the world.
So I was thrilled to be asked to celebrate the unique pairing of Pinot and Proscuitto, by Cloudy Bay. And excitingly, there was even more to this lunch than met the eye.
I've always looked platters in magazine's, wondering why mine never look so perfect. Fortunately, the event gave a chance to peek behind the curtain with my lovely friend Kate from Tomboy, who over a wonderful late lunch shared the tricks of platter making with me, Maria, and a group of foodies at Foxglove one rainy afternoon at the end of April.
We arrived to the most beautiful table I had ever seen, richly laid out with figs, fruit, herbs, cheese, large bottles of Cloudy Bay Pinot 2015 or the Te Wahi Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015. Though rightfully famous for their Sauvignon Blanc, Cloudy Bay remains a popular drop. I have long been fans of their Marlborough Pinot Noirs and this is an excellent, expressive wine with lovely smokey and rosey flavours.
First the Kat Wiggins from Cloudy Bay talked through some of the history of the brand and why the Pinot Noir is so special, and that it only began to be made in 2010. Next, Chef Eric Lee of Foxglove told us about the differences between the types of proscitto venison, both from Italy and Spain, and how it was created. The Italian prosciutto crudo (uncooked) and procuitto cotto (cooked), and the Spanish jamon serrano of specific origin, and jamon iberico, of wider provenance were explained.
Finally Kate Marinkovich from Tomboy showed us how to create the most dreamy platter with proscuitto. She was so talented and it was wonderful to see her in action. She was also very generous in providing so many amazing ingredients. Kate is a local legend and we used to actually work together when I waitressed at Hummingbird when I was 22 so it was awesome to catch up with her!
Finally, Maria and I put the finishing touches to our platters. We were giggling and enjoying ourselves so much we simply didn't want to go back to work! If you ever get a chance to do a platter making workshop with Kate, or to try the Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir, I would highly recommend that you take the opportunity with all the enthusiasm of an Italian Mama! We even got to keep our board!
Cloudy Bay have partnered with a number of restaurants nationwide to promote the pairing of their Pinot Noir with prosciutto throughout May. The Pinot & Prosciutto series will still be live throughout the month of May at 30 participating restaurants nationwide. In Wellington, the pairing will be at the Hotel Intercontinental, Foxglove and the Grand Mercure.