Monday, July 26, 2010


Michele Chiarlo Barbera d'Asti

It's birthday month for Denise.  We don't wait for the one day to celebrate, we try to stretch it out over the entire month.  We've been a little bit distracted by other events this month, so we really have let things slide a bit where celebrations are concerned.  She's been a pretty good sport about it, though.  So good a sport has she been, I wanted to have a really special dinner with her. 

It's always a little chancy, we've found, trying new dinner spots.  We've had so many rude awakenings in Los Angeles restaurants we have sworn off new places several times already.  I felt good about this one, though.  And it turned out to be just fine.

Pane E Vino on Beverly Boulevard is an Italian restaurant - a nice one - that we hadn't visited for quite some time.  Why we hadn't been there in forever was a mystery to both of us, but we are both glad we stopped staying away.

We opened with a shrimp and Feta cheese appetizer and a plate of melon and prosciutto.  Denise had the lobster tortellini while I ordered the spaghetti with calamari and leeks in a light marinara sauce.  It was delicious all the way around the table.

On the suggestion of the waiter, I ordered the 2007 Barbera d'Asti from Michele Chiarlo .  I'm glad he suggested it, because I get into a Sangiovese rut in Italian restaurants.  Not that it's a bad rut to be in, but I like to keep it varied when I can. 

This Piemonte red is medium in color with aromas of cherry cola and some soft spices.  It feels medium full in the mouth with a big, fresh taste of cherry and raspberry.  The oak shades the fruit with a very light touch of leather.  It pairs well with marinara sauce and would no doubt be a hit with pork, too.

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