I sometimes remind myself, or Spouse does, that ‘Giovanna was a most original and gifted pasta cook’. I don’t know Giovanna, nor do I know anything about her apart from the scarce details Elizabeth David shared with her readers: that she was young and worked in a country restaurant in Tuscany in the 1970s (An Omelette and a Glass of Wine, p. 107 [Dutch edition]). And that she could make a mean spaghetti.
The combination of ingredients may seem a bit unusual, and the amounts rather odd (only a 100 gr of liver and no less than 200 gr of parmesan) but do stick to the recipe as much as you can. Giovanna is, after all, an original and gifted cook. (I must confess that I am not always that obedient, being more generous with some ingredients and less with others, and turning to bacon if per chance the fridge does not provide me with coppa. The result is still tasty, but not as good as it could have been.)
What to drink with it? In my opinion a light red wine would be best. A fruity Cabernet Franc, for example, that pairs a certain earthyness with freshness, as does this dish.
Dine: Spaghetti with chicken livers and lemon (serving 4)
Cook the pasta al dente. Sauté finely chopped chicken livers (100 gr) with 4-5 gloves of chopped garlic (better still: rub garlic with coarse salt into a paste), 100 gr coppa, and the grated peel of 1 lemon in olive oil for ca. 3 minutes (be careful not to overcook). Beat 1 egg and 4 egg yolks with 200 gr of grated parmesan or pecorino. Pour egg mixture into the pan with the livers (heat off) and mix thoroughly. Drain pasta and add to the mixture. Keep stirring and mixing till sauce and pasta are amalgamated.
Wine: Les Andides Saumur Champigny
Les Andides Saumur Champigny 2013, 12.5%vol, € 6 (sale price at Albert Heijn)
Fruity with earthy tones, soft tannins, easy. Good value for money. Cave de Saumur is part of the cooperative Alliance Loire, a big player in the region. The same wine may be found with other retailers under a different name. Serve slightly chilled.
Eggs are not a food I pair with wine. This may have to do with the time of day I usually eat them: breakfast or lunch. Hubrecht Duijker, Mr. Wine in Holland now retired, recommends a dry sparkling wine to go with them. His are the ones you get at a traditional New Year’s Eve party, where the eggs are devilled and sparkling wine is abundant. More often than not, however, eggs are an ingredient, be it in a Spanish tortilla or a sauce Hollandaise – and who wouldn’t like a glass of wine with those?
But a plain omelette?
‘Let’s just have an omelette and a glass of wine’ may indicate ‘the almost primitive and elemental meal’ (Elizabeth David, ‘An Omelette and a Glass of Wine’ in the anthology of the same title). The kind of meal one longs for after a hard day’s work. It’s late, you’re tired and hungry but you don’t feel like cooking, so you drag yourself to the fridge: eggs, a rind of Parmesan, drooping lettuce, half a lemon, and on your way back you grab a bottle of whichever wine you come across first. When Elizabeth David drags herself to the fridge she naturally returns with eggs, a piece of home-made pâté, olives, a fresh salad, ripe, creamy cheese and fresh fruit. The omelette she turns the eggs into contains Parmesan and Gruyère. This indeed primitive and elemental meal is then washed down with a local (she admits sometimes dreadful) wine.
Architect, script writer and travel and gastronomy author Aldo Buzzi (1910-2009) also likes to pair eggs and wine. And a local, in fact very local wine at that. So I read in his little book about all things foodie: The Perfect Egg and Other Secrets (it’s the kind of thing one gets published only after one has made a name for oneself with several more substantial works).
In ‘Eggs on Leeks’ he gives a recipe of – you guessed right – fried eggs on boiled and chopped leeks. ‘The [frothy] butter mingles with the remaining waters from the leeks to make a delectable little sauce. Should be accompanied by a good glass of Clinto (…).’
There he is again (see my posting Foreign Affairs): Clinto, Crinto or Clinton. This American hybrid produces a dark red wine, low in alcohol, famous for its stains, not for its taste: a bit foxy, they say, or ‘peculiar’. I wouldn’t really know as this outlaw grape is hard to come by. It is still grown in some places, including France and, where Buzzi must have gotten his bottle from, Veneto. Every now and then voices are heard who plead to lift the ban on American hybrids, as they need much less chemical treatment. For this plot of Clinton, however, there is no hope left. Or so I think. I must confess I don’t understand a word they say.