A Cornucopia of Italian Wines and Food at Il Centro Dinner

At the Vancouver International Wine Festival you can celebrate with food and wine together through various dinners.  I attended one dinner at Il Centro at the Italian Cultural Centre. Of course all the wines were Italian.  There were 3 participating wineries, and each brought a representative to tell us about their wines that we would be tasting.  The wineries attending were Bottega SpA (from Veneto), Damilano (from Piedmont), and Luccarelli (from Puglia), representing wines from the north to the south of Italy.

Bottega, Damilano, and Luccarelli wines at Il Centro

Bottega, Damilano, and Luccarelli wines at Il Centro

Our food and wine pairings were:

Appetizers:

  • Insalata Tuna Poké with Avocado, Mango Salsa, and Sesame Seed Cone
  • Chicken Liver Pate with Confit Onion
  • Mozzarella Sphere with tomato, basil and Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Bottega Gold Brut
  • Bottega Rosé Gold Brut

Amuse-Bouche:

  • Arancini made with mushroom, goat cheese, truffle aioli, pickled celery and tomato powder

There was no official wine for this dish, but I matched it up nicely with the Bottega Pinot Grigio delle Venezie IGT 2015 from the first course.

First Course:

  • Il Centro - Seared Scallops

    Il Centro – Seared Scallops

    Seared scallops with celeriac purée, pancetta chips, basil foam, brioche soil and mustard caviar

  • Bottega Pinot Grigio delle Venizie IGT 2015

Second Course:

  • Octopus rounds with tomato confit, four-herb pesto, potato, caperons, pine nut butter and lemon powder
  • Luccarelli Campo Marino Malvasia Nera 2014
  • Damilano Nebbiolo Marghe 2011

Third Course:

  • Duck Duo with Magret and Duck Confit Ravioli, butternut puree, charred shallots, cranberry almond pesto and a Port reduction
  • Damilano Barolo Lecinquevigne 2010

Fourth Course:

  • Il Centro - Lamb chop with caramelized brussel sprouts

    Il Centro – Lamb chop with caramelized brussel sprouts

    Lamb Chop with sundried tomato tarragon, caramelized brussel sprouts, heirloom carrots, shiitake marmalade, crispy potato and red wine jus

  • Bottega Amarone della Valpolicella 2012

Fifth Course:

  • Cheese Trio of gremolata crusted goat cheese, Pecorino, smoked Gorgonzola, dried fruit crisps, candied citrus and blackberry jam
  • Luccarelli Le Folle Primitivo 2011

Sixth Course:

  • Chocolate Amaretto Cake with Passion Fruit Sorbet, Orange Gel, Lace Tuiles, Raspberry Meringue, and Amaretto Crunch
  • Damilano Moscato d’Asti 2014

The appetizers were a nice start to the meal.  We walked about, chatting with other guests, and sipped two different proseccos from Bottega.  I in particular liked the pairing of the isalata tuna poke, served in a small edible cone with the Bottega Gold Brut prosecco. The wine has a light intensity nose of flowers and citrus, with a hint of lime in the background.  Dry, with medium plus acidity and light body.  Aggressive, medium sized, creamy bubbles.  Citrus, apple, a hint of lime, and some lemon rind on the palate. The citrus and acidity in the wine paired with the tuna.

Il Centro - Arancini

Il Centro – Arancini

Arancini are wonderful balls made with various ingredients, but primary to all dishes is risotto rice.  I really loved the creaminess of the arancini.  In the centre of the ball was the goat cheese.  The wonderful textures of the arancini and flavours from the cheese, mushrooms and truffle aioli worked well with the Bottega Pinot Grigio delle Venezie IGT 2015.  The wine has a nice light peach aroma.  Light body dry with peach and citrus flavours,together with some spiciness.  

The Seared Scallops dish was cooked very well.  The scallops were still nice and soft, and you still enjoyed the grilled flavour from the searing process.  The celeraic puree offered a strong flavour to complement the scallop, some saltiness and crunch from the pancetta chips, and also crunch from the mustard caviar.  This was a complementary pairing with the Bottega Pinot Grigio delle Venezie IGT 2015

Il Centro - Octopus rounds with pesto

Il Centro – Octopus rounds with pesto

The Octopus dish had a lot of citrus and saltiness to it.  The octopus provided a soft texture for these flavours.  There were 2 wines for this pairing, the Luccarelli Campo Marino Malvasia Nera 2014 and Damilano Nebbiolo Marghe 2011. To me the sweetness of the ripe from the Luccarelli paired well with the saltiness in this dish. The Luccarelli was very deep purple in colour with ripe, dark cherry aromas.  Dry with ripe cherries and nutmeg flavours to start followed with some pepperiness.  The Damilano Nebbiolo Marghe I felt was a bit too light to pair with this dish. On it’s own it was nice.  It was dry, medium body, with light red cherry flavour and peppery mid-palate.

I think the Duck Duo with slices of duck breast and duck confit ravioli may be my favourite dish of the evening.  I liked the butternut puree as the sauce for the ravioli; complementing with flavour of the ravioli.  A tomato-based sauce would have been too strong.  Our pairing was the Damilano Barolo Lecinquevigne 2010, a Barolo with grapes coming from 5 vineyards.  It was medium translucent garnet in the glass.  Light woody and red cherry nose. Dry, medium body with light mouthfeel.  Tea leaves, red cherries and spiciness on the palate.  Again a nice complementary pairing to the duck.  Light flavours in the wine to the delicate flavours on the plate.

The Lamb Chop was a dish with big flavours, from the chop itself, but along with the caramelized brussel sprouts and the red wine jus.  It needed a big red wine, which is what you get from an Amarone.  We enjoyed this dish with the Bottega Amarone della Valpolicella 2012. It was a deeper coloured ruby and garnet mix of colours.  Sweet ripe cherry nose.  Full bodied, round, very fruity, and almost off-dry.  Lots of ripe cherries and red fruit.  Some spiciness and medium tannins.

Il Centro - Cheese trio

Il Centro – Cheese trio

Moving toward the end of the meal we first had the Cheese Trio, of goat cheese, Pecorino, and smoked Gorgonzola. I thought mixing the cheese with the blackberry jam was quite nice. You get sweetness mixed together with saltiness from the 3 cheeses, and bitterness also from the Gorgonzola. Our pairing was the Luccarelli Le Folle Primitivo di Manduria DOCG 2011. The wine is made from the Primitivo di Manduria grape, which I was told is different from the Primitivo grape that we are more familiar with.  The wine has nice ripe, juicy raspberry and dark cherry aromas.  On the palate the wine was mineral as well as very fruity and spicy.  Dark fruit, in particular cassis flavours.  Round and sweetish, which I think comes from the ripeness of the fruit.  Again pairing sweet, ripe fruit with saltiness and bitterness from the cheese and jam worked well together.

Il Centro - Chocolate Amaretto cake and passion fruit sorbet

Il Centro – Chocolate Amaretto cake and passion fruit sorbet

Finally the evening ended with a slice of chocolate Amaretto cake and a scoop of passion fruit sorbet.  It was paired with a sparkling off-dry wine, from Damilano.  Their Moscato d’Asti DOCG 2014.  I was enjoying my last dish so much, I did not record notes for the dessert.  A Moscato d’Asti typically has floral and stone fruit flavours, and is off-dry.  I think I liked the citrusy flavour from the passion fruit together with the fruitiness of the Moscato d’Asti the most.

Thanks to the Vancouver International Wine Festival for inviting me to this dinner.

Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Some people prefer red wines. Some only like Cabernet Sauvignon. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I met many great wine makers. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.

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