A brisk San Francisco evening found VLM, Ian, Kraft, Tristan, José and myself sitting down at perhaps my favorite restaurant in the city; La Ciccia. Lorella, Massimo, Phil and staff made us entirely welcome: served us food that is simple, earthy and delicious; and Massimo, selected wines off his list that paired well and held our interest. José also contributed a couple bottles.
The food: baby octopus stew in a spicy tomato sauce, fresh spaghetti with spicy oil and bottarga, fresh linguini with cured tuna heart and pan roasted pork loin served with saffron onions. And a bit of dolce at the end.
The wines: 2010 Pedra Majore, Vermentino Hysony; 2006 Klinec, Pikotno; D’Annunzio, Cannonau Oliena; 2010 Gulmaro, Ribeira Sacra; 2011 7 Fuentes; a sylvaner that I never got the information for and, later that night at Terroir, the 2011 Pur, Morgon Côte du Py.
(I tried to take pictures of each bottle as I was not familiar with them, but almost incoherent labeling and lighting made later deciphering difficult; please forgive the errors.)
On the personal side, I treasure evenings like this. Not so often do I get to drink wines I never heard of with food that I dream about. And the camaraderie amongst those assembled bordered on family. These are the convivial moments that live on with me well past the good byes.
As for the wines; I never ceased to be amazed at how little I know of the wines of Italy and the area. The sylvaner, vermentino and tocai were all so distinctive and filled with light and minerals. The mencia was such a balanced and charming wine; the cannonau a bit too VA tinged for me but still filled with flavor. Only the Morgon was objectionable and maybe even bacterial. I don’t get to drink this producer much but, from what I have read of his wines, this could not have been a representative bottle (or the vintage is worse than expected).
As for the food; simple, rustic and perfect. The octopus melted in your mouth; the bottarga was wonderful counter-point to the freshness of the pasta; and the tuna heart is indeed, the stuff of dreams. I find myself tending to such simpler preparations these days; most of the fancy food I eat makes me wish I hadn’t. At La Ciccia, you only wish you had more room.
Thanks to all for making it another grand night in my favorite city.