Italian White Wine, Trout, & Eggplant

THE WEEKEND COMETH – FINALLY

Yesterday was so bright that it hurt the eyes. We’re on borrowed time. The temperatures have been in the 60’s and the only hint of the impending winter has been the colors and the ever-so-slight nip in the breeze.

madison riverI got to fish yesterday afternoon on the Madison. I stopped at 7-Mile bridge but there was nothing there, (for me.) Went on down to 9-Mile Hole and wonder of wonders there was no one there. I took my first spawner at the big snag above the hole, it was about 18″; then worked down the hole to the deep weeds at the tail-out. Took a couple of smaller fish on the way down and then another 18″ Brown in the mid-channel hole.

All fish were taken on a #4 yellow sparkle legs – it’s like a big black woolly bugger with six legs. One of the local guides gave it to me – it needed sharpening – works very well indeed. Went down to National Park Meadow and there were too many fishermen for me to butt in. There were some small mayflies, and at dark there were some very small caddis flies. At sunset I came home.

romasTonight it’s eggplant, spinach salad, and my favorite green beans. A decision based on the available decent food. The tomatoes and eggplant won. There is just not too much to choose from in the grocery stores here. I couldn’t find any good meat. I guess I’ll just have to go to Ennis like everybody else. The wine will be a nice Italian white that mom brought from California.

a-egplnt-parm.jpegHERE’S THE RECIPE
INGREDIENTS:
eggplant
olive oil
sauce
Parmesan cheese
Mozzarella cheese

BASIC:
Peel eggplant, (or don’t,) and cut into 1/4-inch slices, (or slightly thicker.) Quick fry on both sides in skillet in hot olive oil until browned. Drain well on paper towels, (let cool completely.) Place a layer of eggplant slices in a shallow baking dish; cover with sauce, Parmesan & Mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers until all ingredients are used, ending with Mozzarella cheese & a light sprinkling of stale bread crumbs mixed with Parmesan. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 15 to 20 minutes.

SAUCE:
Chop garlic, basil, parsley, oregano, onion. Chop roma or pear tomatoes, (or any kind of tomatoes,) into coarse chunks, (peel & discard seeds – or not.) Rub cold skillet with garlic. Reserve garlic. Place giant pile of tomatoes in cold cast iron skillet with a bit of olive oil. Heat to a sizzle, reduce heat. Cook all day at a simmer to reduce.

In separate pan saute onion and garlic until soft. Add to sauce throughout the day. As sauce reduces, add spices and remainder of onion in several batches. Use wine to avoid burning, (the wine is the body and character of the sauce; (heavy = Burgundy or Chianti — light = Verdicchio or water.) I never get it right on the tomatoes – so keep chopping and adding.

CHEESE:
Get fresh Mozzarella & Parmesan. Grate the Parmesan, cut the Mozzarella into round slices about 1/8-inch thick. (or coarse shreds.)

verd-wine.jpgOTHER THINGS:
Grandma used to put the eggplant in salted water for about 10 minutes and then press with a plate or saucer in a strainer for a few hours – don’t know if it matters to get the water out or not – never do it. If you have to bread it – use stale bread crumbs mixed with cornmeal and an egg-wash. You can use commercial sauce if you don’t have all day. I like to let the casserole rest for about 15 minutes after assembly and before putting it in the oven to bake – it gets all the stuff to about the same temp. It goes good with the green beans, and some spinach salad. Hot tea was a tradition at aunt Minnie’s and aunt Jenny’s house, cold milk at ours.

THE WINE:
The Italians make some wonderful white wines. They were, in fact, known throughout the ancient world for it. The whole peninsula was called “ENTORIA” by the Greeks. The word means land of wine.

The ancient Greeks were so fond of the wine that they gave it as a prize for their Olympic Champions. Most of the best white wine then, and now, comes from Calabria, (down at the tip of the boot.) In this recipe I use Verdicchco Di Matelica, (translation = Red Dressed As White.) I use it to add highlights to the sauce instead of a red wine, and at the table, (although it’s noted as a great compliment to fish.)

This particular wine is described at Strada Verdicchio di Matelica. Another good site for beginning to appreciate Italian white wine is the note in BellaOnline. I also like to scan Bella Umbria, and the Itallian Flavor Consortium for ideas. I really enjoyed a recent post in The Wine Hiker about the value of living life with wine. Montana has some fine fishing, some fine scenery, some fine people, and even some fine beer: sadly wine is a little known entity.

Gotta run! I’ve go to get to the range and try out the Hunter Class rifles. I’ll probably be surrounded by giant 30’s and bigger, each touching off a keg of powder with a single shot. Accuracy is in the same category as wine among the local hunters – they’ve heard of it.

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There’s more to the association of fish and wine than meets the eye. Mark Powell at blogfish reports that sea born nutrients from migrating salmon are found in wine grapes. You can read all about it in the ESA Journals.

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