Once upon a time in Texas, there was a girl with an appetite and a dream...


Newlywed Couple Thoroughly Enjoying Registry Gifts (Austin, TX)

As DoBianchi and I settle into our married life and adorable little house, we are absolutely in love with every single wedding gift we have received so far. Case in point: Crock Pot (thank you Uncle Ray and Aunt Gladys).

I suffered a slight scare the first time I used it. There was a faint electrical burning smell/smoke that almost sent me into post-registrum depression, but it went away and all is well. Crock Pot and I are getting along swimmingly now! I took one of my fave braised dishes and translated it to the slow cooker. (If you must now, I am an unabashedly enthusiastic braiser.)

I know it ain't much to look at, but it sure tastes good--just ask mah man. Since you can't discern brown from beige here, I'll tell you what it is: pork chops smothered with cabbage. I've been making chicken smothered with cabbage (pretty sure it was a recipe from Marcella Hazan) for quite a few years now, so changing one meat for another is simply a matter of mood.

And who doesn't love a pork chop? I don't not.

Here's what you do:
*Take four pork chops (in the four-pack they only had loin chops, center-cut or rib chops work just fine too) and brown 'em up good in the All-Clad 3 qt braise pan that yo' mamma and daddy gave you for Christmas. Place them in the bottom of the slow cooker.
*Take half of an onion, sliced, and brown slightly in the same pan. Add a couple of cloves of garlic when the onions are almost done. (You can throw everything in the pot raw, but your laziness will translate in the finished dish as a sigh of mediocrity :)
*Transfer onion/garlic to Crock Pot in a layer over chops.
*Deglaze the pan with a hit of white wine (in my case, whatever is left over from a week's worth of working in wine biz), enough to cover the pan. Scrape up yummy bits and let it reduce. Add about 3/4 cup of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Pour over contents of Pot. You don't want too much liquid because the cabbage will contribute to the juices.
*Add 1/2 head of chopped cabbage (you can throw in a whole head too if you like) on top of everything.
*Lower the hatch and let it ride on High for 4 hours (3 will work too, if you have less time), or around 6-7 on Low.

What you will witness when you open the lid is quite unattractive to behold (see photo above) but SO so good. All that's left to do is open a rich rose'...we love the Campirosa by Illuminati. It's a Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Cerasuolo** DOC and shows lots of strawberry, cherry, raspberry and a surprising hint of lemon zest. There's still an ephemeral spritz in the '08 that balances the sweet caramelized cabbage and earthy pork perfectly. It's available around Austin, for sure at Mandola's, and surely elsewhere.

Buon appetito!

**Cerasuolo comes from the ancient Italian word ceraso, the same word that gives us ciliegia (cherry). It indicates the cherry-like nature of something.

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(Definitely Not) Any Given Sunday: Our honeymoon visit with Giacosa

As you all know by now, I went off and married my DoBianchi. We have so many things in common, but one of these is our passion for Italian wine. Luckily, Jeremy has a friend/collaborator named Franco Ziliani who not only shares this passion, but writes about it famously.

So strong is the wine geek factor between us, that we chose not to go off to some beautiful beach and laze around on our honeymoon, no no, we headed to the snow-white hills of the Langa (Piemonte: Barolo, Barbaresco). We also went to Montalcino, Bologna, and Rome, but those posts will come eventually.

Sunday morning, married one week, Feb 7 at 10:00 am: Appointment at Giacosa.

Franco met us downstairs at our B&B, Cascine delle Rose (Beautiful! Will post about this place soon) and off we drove to the village of Barolo.

Well, off we drove after a 30 minute effort to get Franco's car out of the snow...just look at my man and his braccio d'intellettuale! ;)

We were greeted by Giacosa's enologist Giorgio Lavagna, who said, "Bruno is here too, Bruna is in England." (Insert inner *squeal*) Jeremy and I shot each other an OMG glance as we followed Franco and Giorgio into the tasting room.

For detailed tasting notes of the loveliness that followed, please see Jeremy's comprehensive post here. I was on photography duty, Jeremy was on tasting notes duty. Tasting notes part 2 can be found here. Ever the fabulous writer my man is! If you are a fan of Giacosa you simply must take time to read both.

I have to say that I haven't seen such a beautiful parade of wines before me as I saw in those two days in Piemonte. That morning I smelled graphite, truffles, underbrush, tar, cherries, and flowers, all in an endless competition to jump first from the glass. Every one showing different manifestations of the land through Nebbiolo. What a display of the victory of nurture over nature! Environment influencing the predetermined genetic profile...there was Barolo and there was Barbaresco, different crus within each and different vintages....unique personalities, all of them. This is terroir at it's most compelling.

Bruno confessed that his fave Barbaresco was that of Asili. As we tasted the '07, he said, "Hm, you can smell Asili in this wine." Would I had so many encounters with this cru as to be able to find it under all of that complexity! Maybe one day.

As we finished the tasting, Giorgio invited us to lunch. Bruno sat stoically until we bid him farewell, when he said. "You are a lovely bride! I wish you many good things and much happiness." Thank you Bruno!

You shared your Sunday morning with us, thanks to Franco, and we will not forget.

We caravaned toward Alba and as we arrived at Enoclub, Giorgio said to the hostess, "Reservation for four, Giacosa."

Right this way.