When Janelle Maiocco learned she was traveling to Italy last summer on an all-expenses paid trip through Tuscany, it was as though the chef and blogger were really just coming home.
Having spent a year living abroad in Florence with her family, the Seattle-based mom and urban-gardening foodie was certainly no stranger to adventure. So when Maiocco discovered DaVinci Wine’s Storyteller Experience application on Facebook, she decided to throw her hat in the ring for a chance to visit the old country once again.
She wasn’t alone.
DaVinci received over 200 applications from other chefs, bloggers, videographers, artists and wine enthusiasts, selecting just four lucky Storytellers to travel to Vinci, Italy and learn about the people, place and passion behind the storied Italian wine brand. Four categories – culinary arts, visual arts, language arts, and documentarian – comprised this year’s coveted spots.
“It was such an overwhelmingly fantastic opportunity,” says Maiocco. “I love stories. We’re all either reminiscing about the last story or making the next story. To get to travel to Tuscany and help share the story of DaVinci wine – from the growers to winemakers to local artisans – was a dream come true.”
Maiocco was selected as the “Culinary Arts” storyteller, bringing her love of Chianti and Tuscan-style dishes to the forefront of the weeklong Storyteller Experience.
“We met growers, winemakers, chefs and employees of DaVinci Wine. We made lifelong friends, enjoyed countless food and wine pairings, and soaked up the Tuscan landscape,” she says.
She also translated her experience in the best way she knew how: through authentic Tuscan-style dishes paired with delicious Italian wine. Below are two such recipes inspired by DaVinci wine, and include insider information on proper pairings. With simple ingredients and easy preparation, you too can share the Storyteller Experience with friends and family this holiday season.
Primi: The first course is generally a starch. Italians spread out their courses, so no two menu items go on one plate because each course is deserving of its own. The primi course includes everything from pasta to risottos, polenta, gnocchi and gnudi.
Chianti Meat Ragu with Pappardelle
Start to finish: 2 hours (30 minutes active time)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 carrots, minced
2 small shallots, minced
1 celery stalk, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 pound beef, trimmed of fat and cut into 1/4 inch dice
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup DaVinci Chianti
1/2 pound pappardelle pasta
1 cup vegetable or chicken stock (or pasta water from boiling the pappardelle)
In a large skillet over medium-low, heat the oil. Add the carrots, shallots, celery and seasonings and saute for seven to nine minutes. Increase heat to just above medium. Add beef and stir occasionally, cooking for five minutes. Add tomato paste and stir into mix. Cook three minutes. Add Chianti, lower heat to just below medium, and let simmer for 30 minutes. Add stock or pasta water and let simmer, uncovered, for one hour. Adjust stock and seasonings for desired consistency.
In large pot, boil pasta per packaging instructions in salted water. When pasta is al dente, remove from water and place directly into ragu pan. Remove from heat, stir to blend and serve immediately. To loosen sauce, add a little hot pasta water while stirring together the pasta and ragu.
Wine pairing: DaVinci Chianti Riserva
Secondi: The second course is the main course: the protein climax. Big forks and knives dive into wild boar stew, tuna steaks, shellfish or sausage nestled in a bed of cannellini beans with garlicky tomato sauce.
Mussels in Pinot Grigio and Garlic
Start to finish: 45 minutes
Servings: 2 for main course; 4 as appetizer
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 shallots, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 2/3 cups DaVinci Pinot Grigio
1 1/2 pounds cultivated mussels, scrubbed
2 tablespoons fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
In large pot over medium low, heat the oil. Add garlic and shallots then salt and peppers. Saute for six to eight minutes, careful not to burn the garlic. Add wine, let simmer for a few minutes, then add scrubbed mussels. Cover and cook for seven to nine minutes. Open pot, discard any unopened mussels and place opened mussels in serving bowl. Swirl parsley and butter into wine sauce, then pour over mussels.
Optional: Halve one baguette lengthwise, rub with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and coarse pepper. Grill or broil. When still hot, rub face of bread with raw garlic. Serve alongside mussels.
Wine pairing: DaVinci Pinot Grigio
For more recipes, works of art, photos and video from this year’s storytellers, visit www.Facebook.com/DaVinciWine.