Friday, September 13, 2013

Food I'm Eating: Wine from the Cinque Terre at Cucina Paradiso, in Petaluma

Locals have been flocking to Cucina Paradiso in Petaluma for about five years now, it seems. I don't know how I missed hearing about this restaurant until just a few days ago, but I'm glad I recently had a chance to get acquainted with the place.

I visited on a Saturday night. It was packed, but the service was up to the task of handling a full house, and the food came promptly but not so quickly that things felt rushed--just the way I like it. Solid Italian fare, an interesting wine list, and surprisingly reasonable prices for food of this quality make the place hard to resist; a meal for four with appetizers, main dishes, desserts and a $45 bottle of wine was just over $200--including tax and tip. While not cheap, high-end local restaurants in the area far too often ask considerably more than that for food much less good. I had ravioli filled with roast duck under a sauce of sundried tomatoes, pine nuts, and basil (below). The restaurant uses organic vegetables exclusively. At dessert, the tiramisu was excellent.

What most impressed me, however, was seeing a bottle of Cinque Terre wine on the extensive (but not bloated) wine list featuring many good Italian and local wines. The Cinque Terre wines are delicious and extremely rare. The entirety of the Cinque Terre zone is only about 200 acres. Most of the small output is consumed locally. Cinque Terre is hard to find even in Italy outside the immediate area of production. Exceedingly dry but flavorful (reminiscent of a good Riesling from Alsace) these wines are the perfect accompaniment to Italian cooking--northern Italian cooking in particular. This one (pictured above), was from the cooperative that makes most wines labeled "Cinque Terre." It was less interesting than some of the (even rarer) wines bottled by individual Cinque Terre producers I've had, but a pleasure nevertheless; deceptively simple at first--like so many Italian whites--but with a delicate balance of fruit and acidity on the mid-palate and a lingering finish. I look forward to my next visit to Cucina Paradiso (114 Petaluma Blvd. North, Petaluma, CA 94952, (707) 782-1130).

Here's a blog post I uploaded from Italy a couple of years ago while visiting the Cinque Terre.

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