As the our much-anticipated, spirit-fueled Wine & Food Festival draws nearer, and with it its signature event, the Grand Tasting Village, we can’t help but ask ourselves, “What’s in a flavor?” Every year, chefs and sommeliers from across the county gather for tastings and demonstrations that delve into the world of flavor, searching for the most delectable gastronomic delights for food and wine lovers.
In the spirit of that search, we asked a few of the Italian restaurants participating in the Grand Tasting Village to tell us what they think is in a flavor. See our chat with Nonno’s Trattoria in Yonkers, tredici North in Purchase, Basta in Ossining, and Zero Otto Nove in Armonk.
What will you be serving at the Grand Tasting Village?
tredici North: A bruschetta with peas, different cheeses, and pea shoots.
Zero Otto Nove: We will be serving rigatoni alla genovese, a dish that Chef Roberto Paciullo was inspired to make by one of his recent trips to Italy in his town of Salerno.
Basta: We will be serving some classic cold antipasti and salads for the Wine and Food Festival: house-made fresh mozzarella, panzanella, and caponata.
What ideas and flavors were you aiming to incorporate?
tredici North: We wanted to go with something simple and light with fresh, quality ingredients. We wanted to highlight simplicity.
Zero Otto Nove: The Genovese sauce has its roots in Naples, and is composed of braised beef with onions. Roberto likes to call it “seven hour pasta,” as he braises the sweet vidalia onions with beef and black peppercorns for seven hours. He serves the sauce with Rigatoni pasta and some fresh Parmigiano Reggiano shavings.
Nonno’s: Chef is bearing in mind seasonal products available to provide the freshest dish featuring our culinary talent. He will work with our local produce vendors to see what is available about a week prior to the event and apply his creative juices to come up with a dish.
Basta: It being summertime, we try to keep dishes simple. It will be the perfect time for vegetables and herbs from our gardens or our local farmers.
What wine variety might pair best with your dish?
Zero Otto Nove: I think an Aglianico would pair best. It’s a native grape to Campania, like the dish we are serving, and is a full-bodied, highly acidic wine. It has notes of white pepper, smoke, and game, which just enhance the dish’s flavors.
Nonno’s: Given the season, a crisp white wine pairs well with summer flavors.
Basta: A nice, crisp Verdicchio would match the acidity in the tomatoes and vinegar in our panzanella salad.
Is there an art to tasting a dish?
Zero Otto Nove: The flavors should balance each other out — too much black peppercorn in the dish and that’s all you taste. With this dish you really have a harmony of flavors. You get the sweetness from the onions, the umami from the beef, and the spice from the black peppercorn. It’s a dish that’s hearty and light at the same time!
tredici North: It all depends on your palate, but it essentially comes down to your imagination. If you take a bite, it should take you to a specific place in your imagination, and you hope you accomplish this when putting together flavors in a dish.
Nonno’s: I recommend starting with lighter dishes first, and tasting heavier dishes last. This allows the pallet time to cleanse in between each dish.
Basta: Tasting begins with your eyes, color attracts me to dishes. While eating, I focus on texture and balance in flavors. I love contrast, sweet and salty, sour and sweet. I find those elements to be exciting in a dish.