In Italy, pizza calls for bubbles, whether Lambrusco, beer or Coca-Cola. For a celebration, you could most definitely keep drinking Champagne. It’s a tried-and-true combination, for me at least. Or you dispense with the bubbles imperative and pull out a fine Barolo, Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino or any other red with lively acidity.
It’s been a rough year for the scallopers. The Peconic Bay season was a bust, and the Nantucket Bay season has not fared well in the pandemic. Yet scallops are such a treat if you can find them. I like them done simply, sautéed in butter with garlic. But maybe this is the time to cook them as the French might, with a recipe for coquilles St.-Jacques Bordelaise, maybe with rice and a fennel salad.
Scallops are a wonderful dish for a fine white Burgundy, though, if you want to be Bordelaise about it, a good white Bordeaux from Pessac-Léognan would be delicious, too.
Steak is a celebration any time, and I’ve got a bottle of 2001 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from Cathy Corison waiting for the next time I cook a dry-aged porterhouse. But if you really want to get fancy, how about this throwback to the days of sumptuous haute cuisine. Tournedos Rossini incorporates not only filet mignon but foie gras, truffles and the sort of rich sauce that nobody makes anymore. You could add some sautéed spinach and maybe a baked potato, but only with plenty of butter.
It’s one complex dish, but a good, aged Burgundy or a red from the Northern Rhône, like an older Côte-Rôtie, should be up to the task.
Pasta With White Truffles
Speaking of truffles, December is the end of white truffle season in Italy. If by chance you should manage to acquire one, it could have no better fate than to be grated over pasta with butter. Tajarin is the pasta of choice in the Piedmont region, where the truffles grow. It’s just Piemontese dialect for tagliatelle, but any long, wide pasta right down to linguine will do. Serve it with salad.
This is the dish for an older Barolo, if you have one, or even a younger one (by which I mean 10 years old or so). No old Barolo? You could try an older vintage Champagne or white Burgundy, but if aged wine is not in the cards, a youthful Dolcetto d’Alba or Dogliani will do nicely.