Photo by Tibor Silva
It’s not every day that you get invited to help celebrate 100 years of La Scolca winery, hosted by the very charming and charismatic owner and CEO, Chiara Soldati, at the Italian restaurant of Novikov in Mayfair. The vineyard is located in the Piedmont region of Italy and was purchased between 1917-1919 by Chiara’s great-great grandfather who planted Cortese vines in an area traditionally used to cultivate only red grapes. Through the hard work, drive and tenacity of the Soldati family La Scolca winery has created an extraordinary set of wines that have brought attention to the “Gavi” region and to the Cortese grape.
Photo by Tibor Silva
Attending the seven course lunch were a host of gourmet food and wine connoisseurs from industry, the press and bloggers, as well as some of the most respected general managers from well known Italian restaurants across London. The gathering was intimate and celebratory and we began the occasion with a glass of Soldati Brut Millesimato to mark the occasion. This sparkling wine is 100% Cortese, is fresh, full with a velvety embrace.
The menu as you can see below, was beautifully put together and each dish presented was a triumph. I particularly loved the crispy sweet paprika coating to the calamari – nice touch – and the spiky artichoke salad from the starters and both mains were exactly the type of dishes I would naturally choose from a menu – and I got to eat both. LUCKY.
Photo (above and below) by Tibor Silva
With our food we were treated to two different wines from the La Scolca winery – Gavi La Scolca (Gavi D.O.C.G. wine), which is a delicate, dry white that paired beautifully with the antipasti and seafood and fish dishes that we ate. Following this we had the Gavi dei Gavi Black label, which again is made with the Cortese grapes and was utterly delicious, and one that I will most definitely be seeking out again.
Drinking Chiara’s beautiful wines got me thinking. Both the white wines I had drunk would work rather well with some of the Indian recipes that I make. Something light, fresh and possibly citrusy would work well with these wines.
Back in my kitchen I came up with a lemony tomato chicken curry, that does not have much chilli heat but is delicately spiced. I think it would work brilliantly with Chiara’s wines or other Gavi whites.
Lemony Tomato Chicken Curry
4 medium tomatoes, quartered
1 large potato, quartered
1 large white onion, quartered
3 green chillies, halved
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
4 lemons, juice only
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1 tsp brown sugar/jaggery
1 tsp salt/to taste
2kg chicken on the bone (legs and thighs)
1 large handful of freshly chopped coriander
- Blend the tomatoes, potato, onion and green chillies in a blender until smooth.
- In a deep wide pan heat the oil and when it is hot add the cumin seeds so that the begin to sizzle – within 20 seconds – and then add the garlic and ginger paste. Move around the pan for a minute before adding the tomato and onion puree.
- Add the lemon juice and the remaining spices as well as the brown sugar/jaggery. Mix together.
- Add the chicken and coat in the masala mixture. Place a lid on the pan and keep on a medium heat for 30-40 minutes, stirring intermittently so that nothing burns on the bottom of the pan and the chicken cooks through evenly.
- You may find you need to add a little more water if the sauce is drying up.
- Taste test the salt level and check the chicken is cooked through – it sometimes takes a little longer on the bone.
- Before serving mix in the fresh coriander and serve with some simple plain rice and some dal (see my recipe library for a wide selection).
Me, Chiara and Susi – check out her blog www.foodwithsusi.com @food_with_susi
I was a guest of Chiara Soldati. Some of the photos above (mentioned) were taken by Tibor Silva