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The California Aperitivo takes all of the goodness of the traditional Northern Italian Aperitivo and adds localized farm to table fare. Perfect for small gatherings, a plate full of whatever is fresh and in season can be enjoyed before heading out for dinner.
An aperitivo is a pre-dinner drink and light fare meant to whet your appetite for dinner. Prolific throughout Italy and highly regionalized, the the ideal aperitivo time is between 7 and 9pm. Partaking in such a tradition is the perfect way to stimulate your appetite for dinner later.
Now, being as this is a California Aperitivo, we’re going to bring about a few modifications. In the traditional sense of localizing Italian culture, we’re going to localize this to California.
An aperitivo drink should pair well with snacks, with a focus on cheeses, cured meats, and whatever fruits or vegetables are currently in season. The goal is to enjoy small bites and keep yourself from feeling famished while waiting for your actual dinner. While preparing a California Aperitivo in February, I found blood oranges to be prolific at the farmer’s market. Stopping at the local cheese monger, I grabbed a few soft cheeses made from goats and sheep nearby.
For the sake of satisfying both my personal requirement of local foods, as well as wanting my friends to have a good variety for their own pallets and dietary restrictions, I stopped by the store and picked up a few more things.
While there are many appropriate choices, I found an exceptional paring for the California Aperitivo to be Böen Pinot Noir I picked up at a retailer nearby. Sourced from various vineyards throughout selected regions, Böen offers a nuanced, layered, and complex representation of the most renowned Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wine growing regions in California. Smooth and rich, the pinot pairs beautifully with the farm to table cheeses and fruits selected. As a lover of hidden meanings and symbolism, I found this quote from the owner/maker of the wine:
“Böen is a translation of “The Farm” and I chose it as a reminder to myself that the wine I make is indivisible from the land it comes from that first and foremost, I am a farmer.” -Joseph Wagner
Throwing everything together on a large platter, I set out a few wine glasses, invited some friends over, and we played a brief game of cribbage.
- 1 bottle Böen Pinot Noir White wine alternative: Böen Chardonnay
- 2 whole blood oranges Slice into wedges
- 5 oz blackberries
- 1 jar mixed olives
- 8 slices prosciutto
- 8 slices coppa
- 8 slices pancetta
- 8 slices soppressata
- 1 block parmigiano reggiano
- 1 block triple cream brie
- 1 block blue cheese
- 6 oz honey
- 5 oz spicy peanuts
- 1 box almond crackers
- Arrange cheeses, cured meats, and fruits on a large platter.
- Place honey in a separate small dish.
- Include a cheese knife for each block of cheese, and either a spoon or honey comb to dispense honey.
- Serve and enjoy with friends and family!
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