A touch of Italy at Almost Home
Mondays, the beginning of the dreaded workweek and counting down the days till the next weekend. Usually nothing too exciting happens and people are going about their day with not too much enthusiasm.
Almost Home shook up this Monday trudge, though, by hosting a wine dinner featuring the cuisine of Gail Smith, owner of Almost Home, and wine from Barone Fini winery in northern Italy.
On hand for the event was the grower of Barone Fini wine Giovanni Bonmartini-Fini. He, like his wine, has a rich history. Being raised overseas and going to French schools when he was younger, Bonmartini-Fini is delighted in coming to America to experience his mother's culture and introduce wine to everyone.
"Wine is all about culture, history and food," Bonmartini-Fini exclaimed to the guests. "In Italy this is an agricultural project, it's not just alcohol."
Barone Fini winery has a 450-year history of wine making and it shows. With a crisp Pinot Grigio, which was paired by Smith with a roasted red pepper, goat cheese and asparagus salad, it is noticeable that distinct difference between it and other Pinot Grigios on the market.
"Taking a sip (of the Pinto Grigio) you get more history than you know," Bonmartini-Fini stated.
Guests at Almost Home were treated to many anecdotes about Bonmartini-Fini's home of Italy and of his own family history as they sipped and dined into the evening.
As service staff roamed from table to table dishing out wine and food. Guests could see the thought and preparation that Smith put into pairing dishes with the wine presented.
For the first course, a Barone Fini Merlot was paired with a salty prosciutto, mozzarella and tomato skewer. The salt and smoky flavors helped mellow some of the bitterness that is associated with merlot.
Next was Smith's roasted red pepper, goat cheese and asparagus salad paired with Barone Fini Pinot Grigio. The Pinot Grigio was light enough to down play some of the richness from the goat cheese and bring out the subtler flavor of the asparagus. Smith also added olives to the salad that were an un-necessary addition, but did add a nice bite to the end of the course.
Between courses people mingled with other diners almost in a true Italian form of good wine, good food and good conversation. Bonmartini-Fini made quick friends with many of the guests. As the main course was served the 70 or more guests present could be heard chattering about the wines and how different this dinner was from most things in Greencastle.
The main course of farfalle with salmon, fresh peas and mint was paired with a heavier white wine, akin to chardonnay, called George Duboeuf Macon Village. Although lacking in some seasoning, a dash of salt and pepper helped to bring the pasta dish's mint undertone and helped it stand against the buttery richness of the wine.
Bonmartini-Fini was an exuberant guest who wove stories and could probably talk to anyone for hours on end.
"This town reeks of what is great about this country," Bonmartini-Fini told the Banner Graphic.
Bonmartini-Fini expressed his remorse for having to leave Greencastle so soon.
"(I am) such a lucky guy," Bonmartini-Fini stated. "(I) get to come out here and experience real values."
As the evening was winding down to an end the two collaborators of the night were able to come together and say thanks to the guests as they sampled the final wine of the evening.
For the final course, Smith's strawberry and rhubarb pie paired with Enza Rose Prosecco was a hit and was a great ending to a delightful meal.
"She (Smith) is a super woman," Bonmartini-Fini exclaimed in his deep Italian accent at the end of the meal.
Smith's wine dinner was a bigger hit than she expected with over 70 guests, which almost doubles the number of guest she has had at past dinners. Smith was grateful for the chance to host Bonmartini-Fini and his wines. She also hopes to continue with the wine dinners in the future and hopes for the continued success.