Buon Giorno! Welcome to this month’s Italian Food Wine & Travel group. I love Italian food and wine, so I was ecstatic to learn about the Italian Food Wine & Travel group. This is my first month participating, and we will be taking you on a virtual tour of the Marche Region of Italy this month. Grab a glass of vino and join in on the fun.

My introduction to the Marche region was on a recent trip to Washington D.C. We visited Chef Fabio Trabocchi’s restaurants Fiola and Fiola Mare. Both restaurants feature the regional cuisine of the Marche, where Chef Fabio Trabocchi is from. The food is so authentic, the only thing missing was the Italian Countryside.

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Chef Fabio Trabocchi had his cookbook “Cucina of Le Marche” available for purchase at the restaurants, and I was so impressed with his food that we had to bring a copy home. I’ve made three dishes from this book, and all of them are exceptional. I have fallen in love with the cuisine of the Marche region. The first dish I made was “Roasted Veal Chops with Honey” this was a beautiful dish– the only problem was I mistakenly paired it with a California En Route Pinot Noir that overpowered the subtle, delicate flavors.

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The next dish I made was “My Father’s Grilled Pork Chops”.  This was phenomenal and I don’t think I will ever make pork chops any other way.  It requires marinating the pork chop overnight and is well worth the extra planning to let them marinate. This was paired with a 2010 Saladini Pilasastri Pegio del Conte. The wine had notes of spice, pepper, ginger and tobacco along with grilled herbs and a hint of balsamic.  It was full bodied but not to heavy or hot.  The tannins were balanced. The nose was pleasant and it paired well with the grilled pork chops.

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The Marche is known for the wine it produces and in the last decades has shifted gears to producing quality wines over quantity according to Le Marche.com .  The varietal that we were unknowingly drinking already from the Marche region was Verdicchio.  I subscribe to the ABCC (anything but California Chardonnay) rule when it comes to white wines, so I am on the constant lookout for crisp, refreshing white wines to pair with our meals.  Verdicchio is one of Italy’s most known dry-white wines that pairs beautifully with seafood.

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The original plan was to pair Verdicchio with Spaghetti and Mussels, but the fish monger at Whole Foods sent home clams instead of mussels. The end result was delightful.  The clams were simmered in the Verdicchio along with a few garlic cloves and diced tomatoes.  The crisp, dry Verdicchio compliments the seafood wonderfully.  The wine we paired with this was a 2013 San Rocchetto Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi.  It is light, food friendly with the perfect blend of crisp minerality and citrus notes.

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Since I’ve only visited the Marche region virtually through La Tavola Marche blog and online cooking classes, and through Chef Fabio Trabocchi, so I found myself curious about the region.  Marche is found in the “calf” portion of the boot of Italy otherwise known as Central Italy.  It is conveniently located between Emilia-Romagna, Umbria, and Abruzzo. Marche is one of 20 regions of Italy and the name Marche originated from the plural name of marca and refers to the Medieval March of Ancona and nearby marches of Camerino and Fermo.  The Marche region extends over an area of 9,694 square kilometers.  The eastern region borders the Adriatic Sea, and most of the region is mountainous or hilly.

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You will want to explore the food and wine of this region. Here are some great food and wine pairings from the Marche Region:

Vino Travels – Vernaccia di Serrapetrona: A 3 fermentation wine

Cooking Chat – Orechiette and Sausage with a Marche White Wine

Rockin Red Blog – Marche revisted for #ItalianFWT

Enofylz Wine Blog – A Taste of March: Chicken in Potacchio with Sararelli Verdicchio

Food Wine Click – Hidden Treasures from Le Marche from FoodWineClick

Join us live on Twitter today at 10am EST and throughout the weekend at #ItalianFWT and share your experiences of the Marche region in Italy.

Join us next month Saturday June 6th as we explore the Campania region in Italy.  If you would like to join our group email Vino Travels directly at vinotravels at hotmail dot com.  Ciao ciao for now!

Le Marche: Verdicchio with Spaghetti & Clams
 
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Author:
Serves: 6

Ingredients
  • 1 pound spaghettini
  • 3¼ pounds mussels, scrubbed and bearded
  • 2½ cups dry white wine, such as Verdicchio
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced paper thin
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped Italian Parsley

Instructions
  1. Place a large heavy pot over high heat. The mussels should be cooked in a single layer. If necessary use two pots, or cook the mussels (in the wine) in batches. When the pot is extremely hot, carefully add the mussels and the wine. Cover tightly, and cook just until the mussels open. Remove from the heat and pour the mussels into a colander set over a bowl to catch the liquid. Set the mussels aside. Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth into a bowl.
  2. Shell half of the mussels, adding the meat to the cooking liquid. Discard the empty shells and any mussels that did not open. Set the remaining mussels aside.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.
  4. Place the garlic in a large cold saute’ pan with the olive oil. Bring to a simmer over low heat and cook for about one minute, or just until garlic is soft and translucent. Watch carefully to make sure it does not color at all. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente.
  6. Just before the pasta is done, add all of the mussels and their cooking liquid to the tomotatoes and olive oil and simmer gently for 2 minutes.
  7. Drain the pasta well in a colander, and shake to remove excess water. Add the pasta to the mussel sauce and stir gently, or combine by moving the parts back and forth to flip the pasta in the sauce. Add the parsley.
  8. Serve the pasta on a warm plate, spooning the sauce and mussels over the spaghettini.