For the past 15 years, my wife Barbara and I and our best friends Jeff and Barbara have marked our annual rite of Spring with a visit to Barboursville Vineyards in Virginia as guests of Luca Paschina, the General Manager and Winemaker of the Estate which is owned by a consortium of Italian wineries based in Tuscany and headed by Gianni Zonin, the patriarch of the Zonin Family. The vineyards and winery are situated on the grounds surrounding the old estate of Governor Barbour where winemaking was first introduced by Thomas Jefferson. This Celebration of Spring is marked by an annual Morel Dinner that the Winery and its Restaurant 'Palladio' organizes usually the first Saturday in May. As longtime wild mushroom foragers, we are responsible for a morel talk and slide show as an introduction to the all morel dinner paired with various wines from Barboursville Vineyards. But the highlight of the weekend has always been the informal Friday evening before the main event get-together with Luca, his wife Patty and children and assorted friends from near and far.
Entrance to Barboursville Vineyards
Al Fresco Dinner:
This past Friday, we took off from work early and drove down to Luca's house just in time for an Al Fresco dinner in his backyard with his family, his assistant winemaker Daniele, Domenico Zonin (eldest son of Gianni) and Christophe, a visiting French Wine Consultant. In anticipation of this get-together, the day before, I had baked a Pane Casareccio di Renzano loaf from Daniel Leader's 'Local Bread' to go with a whole Prociutto ham made from the leg of a pig named 'Spike' that was raised for a caterer friend and that I had cured for almost two years. The weather was gorgeous, the fellowship was excellent, the morels were plentiful, the wines were flowing and the prociutto and bread were not bad either.
Pane di Genzano w/ Prociutto and Tomato
Fresh Pasta w/ Sauteed Morels
Pane di Genzano:
I followed Leader's list of ingredients and proportions exactly but downsized the loaf to a manageable 500 gms total of KA Bread Flour. I modified the procedure to include a 30 minute autolyse and a light 4 minute kneading with a dough hook on low speed followed by a 2 1/2 hour fermentation with stretch and fold in the bowl every 30 mins. I shaped the dough into a boule and proofed it in a banneton for 1 hour before scoring and baking. I baked it at 450 degrees F with steam for 1 hour and at 400 degrees on convection without steam for 25 mins. The loaf snapped, crackled and popped when removed from the oven and the crust developed nice cracks and remained crunchy until the next day. The oven spring was tremendous and the crumb was tender and open. The dark crust was nutty and the crumb flavor was sweet and complex with no trace of sourness. I read that this bread would last for several day without staling but I would never find out because the loaf was gone in no time thanks in no small measure to Luca's kids.
The Main Event:
We capped the weekend festivities with the Saturday evening Dinner in the Banquet Room of the Winery. The dinner which is always sold-out was a 5 course dinner featuring Yellow Morels from Michigan and Black Morels from Oregon paired with a selection of wines from Barboursville.
Frisee and Grilled Asparagus Salad w/ Pancetta and Roasted Morels
Braised Pork Belly w/ Cauliflower Gratin and Glazed Morels
I cannot wait until next year...
Happy Baking (and Eating)!