Marolo Cuneesi alla grappa di Barolo
Anything that ends with the words “alla grappa di Barolo” is likely to attract my attention. Especially if they are cuneesi. These are the renowned little chocolate-coated treats invented in the town of Cuneo by Pietro Galletti more than a century ago. They look like wee domes of dark chocolate with a layer of dainty cake inside, and another of chocolate ganache, its texture something between a marshmallow and a Milky Way. Galletti flavoured his with rum but these particular examples are saturated in Paolo Marolo’s grappa di Barolo so they taste decidedly grown-up and delicious. Where can you find them? Contact Sarah Liberatore at www.vinaiowines.com – she’s the exclusive agent in these parts. And you might want to order one of her Piedmontese Marolo-grappa-soaked panettones for the festive season. It is an ideal base component for a classic English trifle when smothered in fruit, jelly, set custard and whipped cream.
Villa’s Authentic Sauces
I first met Vivian Villa in the 1990s – when I used to put together Toronto Life’s Food Shop Guide, a gruelling but educational occupation every summer that had me driving from dawn to nightfall for six or seven weeks, from Oakville to Markham to Pickering, visiting and tasting and following the most obscure gastronomical leads. Does Toronto Life still send its food columnist out on such a marathon? Your guess is as good as mine. But that’s where I met Vivian Villa and tasted the fabulous pesto she was making and marketing at the time. She recently started doing it again, with a series of absolutely brilliant pestos, salsas, dips and sauces, all natural and profoundly flavourful. My favourites are the arugula pesto and the classic Genoese basil pesto (sulfite- and gluten-free, with no added salt or preservatives) but there are many to try, and they work with more than pasta, transforming potatoes, vegetables, pilaffs, grilled chicken… They are intense enough that you only need a spoonful per serving: and now they’re all over town. Find out more at www.villassauces.com.
VIP Pinot Grigio (LCBO 272351, $12.95)
Why buy a Pinot Grigio from Argentina? It’s a reasonable question. VIP provides the answer – and it has nothing to do with the chic label or the robust 13.3% abv. The floral, apples-and-pears nose is refined and a little shy; the immediate impression on the palate is also delicate, lightweight, clever and very dry. And then suddenly an intense illusion of bosc pears swoops in out of nowhere to supercharge the crisp flavour. The end result is more Granny Smith than the usual Pinot Grigio citrus. Sharp, clean as a whistle, lovely balance. A class act.