Tag Archives: Italian food

February Beer Club Boxes

As one of the “romantic languages,” Italian professions of amore, elegant cheeses, hand made pasta, and dark, luscious bottles of wine would be apropos for the month of February. What doesn’t usually come to mind when thinking of Italy is beer. But with all of the skill and artisan attention the Italians give to the production of all their products, it is a shame to not equally consider their craft beer creations!

So this month we are showing a little amore to the underappreciated Italian craft beer scene, as well as to you with this Italian themed box! The items in this box are all imported from Italy, which seems to contradict our “eat local” motto, but sometimes you have to recognize the best of the best when it comes to things like porcini risotto or salted capers! And we know you’ll be feeling the love when you cut into this decadent hunk of truffle cheese…

Birrificio le Baladin IsaacThe first bottle you’ll find in this box hails from the small village of Piozzo in the Piedmont region of Italy. Birrificio le Baladin was started in1996 as a brewpub by the quirky  mastermind Teo Musso. Teo’s mission was to bring the artisanal elegance and craft of the Italian culture to the creation of craft beers that would accompany his other favorite activity of eating food. Isaac is a Belgian inspired witbier that Teo first made in 1997, named after his first son. Like most Italian craft beers, Isaac is bottle conditioned which gives a wonderful complexity to the beer. The scent of fruity citrus and yeast jump off Isaac’s fizzy head. This beer is super refreshing with spicy, herbal dryness, as well as a delicate wheaty malt base. {ABV: 5%}

Almond 22 Brewery Pink Italian Pale Ale: Curiously labeled Pink I.P.A., this pretty in pink bottle is an Italian Pale Ale, not to mistaken for the hop bombs we as Americans have a cult fetish for. Not that hops don’t play a part in this curious Italian creation! Tropical fruit hops show themselves in the form of grapefruit, pineapple, and a slight herbal bitterness. From the micro brewery Almond 22 in Abruzzo (no actual almonds here, the brewery was once the site of the production of ‘confetti di Sulmona’, Italy’s famous sugared almonds), this brew is unfiltered and unpasteurized which gives a long life for the beer to develop more complex flavors in the bottle. The pink peppercorn will certainly pop up as a light spice that balances some sweet malt flavors. {ABV: 6%}

Birrificio Retorto Morning Glory: The last two piccolo (small) beers in this Italian box are from a brewer whose dedication to his craft runs deep from the land in which his ingredients are grown, through brewing, fermentation, and finally to the bottle. Birrificio Retorto comes from the Latin term “wring”, which brewmaster Marcello Ceresa believe evokes the slope of the valleys and rivers that define the province of Piacenza. These two bottles are dubbed Morning Glory, which shines through the fizz with fresh fruity notes of mango and sweet citrus. Classified as an American style Pale Ale, Morning Glory has a decent amount of hoppy grassy bitterness, but the funky earthy palate seems distinctive of its Italian roots. {ABV: 5.6%}

Riseria Campanini Risotto al Funghi PorciniThe intrepid cooks who have prepared risotto know it is, above all, a labor of love—requiring constant attention, nurturing, and, like any real love, no small amount of wine. Though it can seem a daunting task, we promise this, Riseria Campanini’s risotto, is as easy as it gets. Riseria Campanini is a third-generation rice mill where each step of production is personally supervised by an owning family member. Made in the north of Italy just outside Mantua, this risotto ai funghi porcini is comprised of vialone nano rice, a variety greatly prized by chefs for its flavor and consistency. Though traditionally a primo dish (an Italian first course), we think this risotto would be perfection with steak au poivre and a nice bottle of red—perhaps a belated Valentine’s feast is in order?

Azienda Agricola Caravaglio CapersCapers may not be the sexiest ingredient we will ever give you, but they are undoubtedly one of the most versatile. These capperi come from, appropriately enough, Salina Island, specifically the vineyard Azienda Agricola, where they undergo a rigorous process before shipping stateside. Not unlike grape picking, the harvesting schedule for capers necessitates a strict schedule; capers being the buds of a flower, they are harvested precisely eight days after formation, for on the tenth day, they bloom and the berry is lost. Picked in the coolest hours of the day, the capers are then allowed to “rest” for half a day before il matrimonio salino—their marriage to salt. Strangely enough, capers are extremely bitter when eaten fresh; the preserving process brings out the best in them, and they only improve with age. Whether it’s Puttanesca, salsa verde, or Chicken Piccata, we find these little buds improve any dish they meet.

Sottocenere al TartufoPerhaps our most requested cheese, Sottocenere al Tartufo was the only choice for our February box. It has certainly captured the hearts and minds of many of our customers, who come in every week with a certain love-struck look asking simply for “the truffle cheese.” Coated in spices, beech ash, and of course, truffle dust, Sottocenere (meaning literally “under ash”) cuts a striking figure on a cheese plate—one of many reasons we love it so. The cheese itself (cow’s milk) is pleasantly mild, creamy, and slightly sweet, the perfect canvas for the real star here: the black truffle. And just to gild the lily, the cheesemakers saw fit to add truffle slivers to the soft paste for extra decadence. Like a true Italian diva, Sottocenere boldly dominates most pairings so we typically enjoy it all by its lonesome, though we wouldn’t say no to a spoonful of raw honey alongside either.

All descriptions and photos taken by Caley Mahoney.

Call the store at (617) 269-6100, email us at info@americanprovisions.com, or ask a staffer for more information on signing yourself or someone you love up for the Beer or Wine of the Month Club!