Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Carobs, Chestnuts, Chinotto & Chamomile: Italian Microbrewed Specialties ... and Spaghetti alla Puttanesca.

(Thanks to John Campbell for help with the following)

Yesterday we tapped four newly available Italian craft beers, which will continue pouring until they're gone. Chocarrubica, Nuovo Mattina, Piccolo Seson and Strada San Felice are each available in 10-ounce pours for $7.00 (see below for descriptions).

This week only, NABC co-owner Amy Baylor is cooking batches of Spaghetti alla Puttanesca, which will be available for $7.50 per serving from today through Saturday, July 26. I've also been cooking this dish for years, since Bluegrass Brewing Company had a version of it on the menu, but I confess to knowing nothing about it until now. Here are highlights from Wikipedia's explanation of Pasta Puttanesca; follow this link to read the rest.

The name originated in Naples[2] after the local prostitutes[3], Pasta alla Puttanesca meaning "Pasta the way a whore would make it". The reason why the dish gained such a name is debated ... one possibility is that the name is a reference to the sauce's hot, spicy flavour and pungent smell.

(Another) story about this dish comes from Diane Seed in her book, Top 100 Pasta Sauces (p. 20):

"My introduction to this famous pasta dish occurred when I overheard two elderly priests discussing the pros and cons of Spaghetti alla Puttanesca ("Whore's spaghetti") as they deliberated over the menu in a Neapolitan restaurant. Made of ingredients found in most Italian
larders, this is also known as Spaghetti alla Buona Donna - or 'Good Woman's Spaghetti' - which can be misleading if one is not familiar with the ironic insult figlio d'una buona donna - son of a good woman."

Certainly racier than I expected. Maybe that's why I love the stuff. Traditional ingredients are olive oil, garlic, onion, pepper flakes, anchovies, tomatoes, capers, Kalamata olives, parsley, basil, and Parmesan cheese.

As for the beers ...

Italy is indisputably Europe’s newest craft beer frontier, with dozens of innovative artisanal breweries coming into existence during the last decade. Courtesy of the groundbreaking importer B. United International, the Public House will be featuring four newly available Italian microbrewed specialties, none seen before on draft in metropolitan Louisville, and each with a twist. The following descriptions come from B. United’s web site.

Birrificio Grado Plato … Piedmont region
Malts: Pale malt, Vienna malt, dark malts, oat malt {over 30%}
Spices: Venezuelan cocoa beans, carob
Hops: HallertauerAlc/vol: 7%
Chocarrubica is a top-fermenting oatmeal stout creation of deep black color. The adding of Venezuelan cocoa beans, carobs from the island of Sicily, and large amount of oats {over 30%} gives this unusual Italian creation its silky, chocolaty, and roasty character.

Strada San Felice
Birrificio Grado Plato … Piedmont region
Malts: Pale malt, Vienna malt
Spices: Piedmont chestnuts
Hops: Kent Golding, Saaz
Alc/vol: 8%
This 8% alc. amber-colored beer, is actually bottom-fermented. The flavor and aroma of local chestnuts gives Strada San Felice its original and distinctive personality. All the chestnuts are grown in Piemonte, in a very famous area for chestnut trees. They are then dried over a wood-fire. It pairs well with traditional autumn and winter cuisine such as game and stews.

Piccolo Birrificio … Liguria region
Spices: Juniper, chinotto peel, coriander
Hops: Hallertauer
Style: Saison
Malts: Pale malt, Vienna malt, wheat malt
Seson, rated Italian’s best Saison-style interpretation in 2006, is spiced with, among others, chinotto {a small bitter citrus fruit, which is now under the protection of the Slow Food organization), and matured in Chardonnay wooden barrels.

Appearance: Big yellowish foam, orange-golden color
Aroma: Citrusy, touch of lemon and lime, grainy
Flavor: Pronounced citrusy notes, turning bitter {chinotto influence!} and tart , very well balanced against its malt sweetness
Finish: Blend of citrusy, bitter-tart character lingers forever

Chinotto: small bitter citrus fruit from the chinotte {myrtle-leaved orange tree}. It grows in the regions of Liguria, Tuscany, Sicily and Calabria. It is of bitter and sweet taste and often served as aperitif to open the palate.

Nuovo Mattina
Birrificio del Ducatio … Emilia Romagna region
Style: Italian saison style
Malts: Pale malt, unmalted & malted wheat malt, oats, rye malt
Hops: Hallertauer, Chinook
Spices/fruits/herbs: Coriander, ginger, green pepper, chamomile; licorice
Alc/vol: 5.9 %

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