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The Convivial Table gets down and dirty

By Laura Pensiero

This year I’m celebrating spring in a big way. Good-bye mountains of snow, farewell freezing sleet, so long broken limbs and branches strewn across my lawn. It’s time to look for budding crocus along the front walkway and or a faint shimmer of pale green and pink on the tips of the apple tree branches across the way. Spring is here, I’m changing the way I cook and eat, and we’re switching to a leaner and more colorful menu at Gigi’s.

Wine choices shift too and I’ve been sipping some wonderful local Chardonnays which complement the spring pastas, soups and pan roasts I’m starting to put together in the kitchen.

A good match is the Palaia Vineyards 2008 Chardonnay. This is a bright Chardonnay with the flavors of apple, citrus, and very faint vanilla. It pairs nicely with spring pastas like an arugula pesto with fresh favas, a classic basil pesto, or even a full-flavored puttanesca sauce. The unctuous richness of the pasta is perfectly set off by this Chardonnay’s acidity.

Millbrook remains a local favorite of mine, even more so after tasting the vineyard’s 2008 Proprietor’s Special Reserve Chardonnay. It’s a well-crafted 100% Chardonnay by winemaker John Graziano who, using malolactic fermentation and aging the wine in oak for eight months, has created a nuanced wine with layers of tropical fruit, honey and citrus flavors. This wine fits beautifully with the Mediterranean-styled cuisine that I’ve championed here in the Hudson Valley, especially one of my favorite spring meals, Seared Salmon with Spring Trifolati.

While many would naturally think trifolati must be a pasta shape, in fact it’s a quick pan roast typically made with mushrooms and zucchini. This spring version swaps in radicchio and asparagus. Sauteed quickly in a good glug of olive oil with some chopped shallots and a handful of cherry tomatoes, this trifolati is a flavorful accompaniment to a well-seared piece of salmon. Wash it all down with some Hudson Valley Chardonnay and suddenly you’ll feel that life is just a bouquet of daffodils.

Laura Pensiero, a registered dietitian and cookbook author is the creator of Gigi Hudson Valley, a company that celebrates local New York farmers and their products through her restaurant, Gigi Trattoria in Rhinebeck, NY; and her café and store, GigiMarket in nearby Red Hook. Her most recent cookbook, Hudson Valley Mediterranean (HarperCollins 2009), highlights local foods and the people that produce them, and offers more than 120 recipes.

Hudson Valley Wine magazine Summer 2014 issue

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