I had the extreme pleasure of participating in the Taste of Abruzzo: Press Luncheon held at the Alta Cucina Epicurean Center. The multi-course lunch consisted of pairings between the very flavorful food characteristic of Italy’s Abruzzo region with wines representative of the 10 million liters annually produced there. You absolutely must hear about this stupendous meal. And I can share my experience with you sans any extra calories!

The lunch began with a spicy tomato appetizer placed on crisp bread followed by a bean barley vegetable soup made from chicken broth. It was served with Cococciola D’Abruzzo wine (the host said it is definitely not pronounced as “Coca Cola”), a high acidity dry white wine. I thought that this wine had a very good after taste.

A bowl of very tasty and hearty soup would certainly be a sufficient lunch for me. But the genial and knowledgeable host had not yet even begun to serve lunch. So I settled back to enjoy what was to come with a happy and curious anticipatory “bring it on” attitude.

I was next served a pasta dish made with cream sauce and ricotta cheese—i.e. pasta heaven. Ok, I really really wanted to eat the whole thing. I instead made a deal with myself that I could just have five and a half (more like six) small (verging on medium) tastes before stopping. The pasta was served with Pecorino D’Abruzzo white wine which is characterized by good body, structure and acidity. I found this wine to be richer than the first one.

The pasta gave way to lamb infused with eggs, onions and cheese accompanied by tantalizingly spiced potatoes. Since lamb is on my calorically okay list, this time I did eat the whole thing. This course was paired with Trebbiano Vallevo’ vintage 2010 red wine, a light wine due to its being made from young grapes. I enjoyed its light red color.

All good things have to come to an end; it was time for desert. Cake which was hard on the outside and soft on the inside and filled with chocolate chips and almonds (it was great!!!) was accompanied by Montepulciano Vallevo’ 2008 vintage dark red wine. This wine had a pleasantly strong aroma. When I was told that it is stored in big barrels, I hoped that this over the top super lunch would not cause me to be mistaken for a big barrel clone.

I enjoyed tasting Abruzzo – the truth is that I ate the entire region – and sharing the experience. I am left with the lasting impression of a great culinary experience and a final question: does the effort expended to spell complex wine names correctly burn any calories?

— Marleen Barr

The Alta Cucina Epicurean Center is an epicurean society for those who want to explore, share, and celebrate premium Italian cuisine and wines.

Founded in 2007 in New York City, Alta Cucina was created by an enthusiastic group of Italians who wanted to share culinary experiences and exchange culinary ideas.  Our mission is to spread the unique joy Italians take not only in savoring a wonderful meal but in the great pleasure of enjoying friends and interesting conversation around a table. Alta Cucina is for those individuals who enjoy Italian food and wine and want to explore and share educational experiences and discussions.

Check their calendar for a full list of their events!