More Pasta alla Norma. Nothing on the side, because, pace Wilfrid, I'd had some tapas and wine before my concert tonight.*
This time I served this the Normal way, over spaghetti. The sauce, though, not so much: I accidentally put in too much black pepper, to the point where I increased the level of the other seasonings and even (I hide nothing from you guys) put in some sugar to counteract it; I also added a lot more ricotta salata than I Normally would. I'm not going to say I snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and materially improved the dish. It was, however, more complexly flavored than the usual preparation -- more interesting, if not really better -- and not at all displeasingly.
Which may have been a good thing. Because, having established that Nerello Mascalese is the absolute perfect pairing for Pasta alla Norma, I brought out a big gun.
2014 I Vigneri (Salvo Foti) Vinupetra
This is mainly very-old-vine Nerello Mascalese and its cousin Nerello Cappuccio, with lesser amounts of very-old-vine Alicante (that's Grenache to you) and mystery field grapes that no one can identify. The grapes are grown near the very top of Mount Aetna (one of the highest vineyards in Europe), so you get a combination of high altitude and very intense sun. And it's completely natural.
Is this the best Nerello Mascalese-based wine in the world? I'd love to have better. It's deeper, more profound, than any such wine I've ever had (which is a good thing, as it's like four times as expensive). Not just dark berry fruit, but FRUIT. Not just rocky minerals, but MINERALS. (And not fruit and minerals that you kind of get as metaphors: it tastes like literal fruit and minerals.) And both those sets of flavors last and last and last.
OMG was this good with what inadvertently turned out to be an equally layered-flavor dish. This would probably have been overkill with standard-issue Pasta all Norma.
I'd like to thank the World Famous Orik (he was just plain Orik back then) for turning me on to this wine here on the board.
* Which drove home why I don't like to eat and drink before shows. Contemporary classical music -- as well as avant-garde theater, for that matter -- isn't always the most viscerally exciting stuff you could imagine. You have to concentrate. Which is just what food and alcohol impede. Oh well, I had time to kill in Manhattan between events: what was I to do?