From Sicilia, with love

A view of the Cantine Barbera vineyards in Menfi, Sicilia.

While working in the wine business, I had the amazing pleasure of meeting Marilena Barbera, whose family owns Cantine Barbera, one of Sicily’s most dynamic and beautiful wineries specializing in native Sicilian grapes, mainly Nero d’Avola and Inzolia. Marilena is one of my favorite people in the whole world, and I look forward to her visits when she comes to promote her wines. I also hope to visit her in Sicily someday soon.

Just as I was beginning to decide what to make for Italy vs. New Zealand on Sunday, she sent this comment to the blog. I am sharing it with you as it is an easy recipe that anyone can make, and likely to become popular at my home especially with the incredible supply of basil and tomatoes my garden is churning out these days. Bavette is a long, flat, narrow ribbon pasta that is similar to tagliatelle and linguine, only narrower. Marilena is a fantastic cook, so I know this dish will be delicious. Serve it, of course, with a nice Sicilian wine such as Cantine Barbera’s Nero d’Avola (Marilena says: I think Nero d’Avola will be perfect: the acidity of the wine matches with those of the cherry tomatoes, and the tannins are quite smooth, so you don’t risk to feel bitter taste”) or their new Nero d’Avola ROSE, La Bambina, both available at various retailers in Austin.  Grazie per la ricetta, cara Marilena!

Wines from Sicily’s Cantine Barbera are affordable and perfect for pairing with a variety of dishes. Ask for them at your favorite retailer!

“The difficult thing about cooking and watching the futbol Cup is to care about the pot while you watch Alberto Gilardino in his shorts, so you need something that is tasty, easy and quick, because you don’t want to miss a minute from the starting whistle.
My favourite is “Bavette con pomodorini e basilico”, a green-white & red dish that will hopefully bring good luck to the team – after the 1-1 tie with Paraguay last Monday we need that!”

“Cook the Bavette (not Spaghetti, please!) al dente: maximum 7 minutes, depending on the brand. While the Bavette are boiling, cut the cherry tomatoes in two and drop them in a large pan where good extra-virgin olive oil is warming with (just one) clove of garlic.
It will take 5 minutes to have the tomatoes ready: don’t cook too much, as they have to be soft but not smashed. Add sea salt and hot pepper, and then the Bavette, which you will pick directly from the pot with the aid of a long wooden fork, preventing them to dry too much. Reserve a cup of the cooking water, because you might need to add some to the pan while you mix the pasta with the tomatoes, raising the heat for 2 minutes.
Basil comes at the end, after turning off the stove: please use your fingers and not a knife to cut the leaves, or it will become dark and oxidized.”

“Chef’s tip? Chopped toasted almonds and a drop of fresh Sicilian extra-virgin Nocellara del Belice olive oil on top of the dish… forza Italia!”

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