It's amazing how different traditional Italian food is from what most Americans grew up to believe it to be. The Sunday sauces and everything parmigiana that we grew up with are a far stretch from what you find throughout the majority of Italy. From north to south, the cuisine of Italia changes just as much as its geography, traditions and wines.
However, for the most part, one thing remains the same throughout Italy: the cuisine is based on simple recipes made great through the quality of the ingredients and the deft, passionate hand of the person who is making the dish. Calamari in Zimino is a perfect example of this.
Calamari in Zimino is seafood stew made from a short-list of ingredients and prepared so simply that you'll almost feel like you're cheating. However, sourcing the best ingredients will make the difference between making this good and making it great. The most important part of this dish is the calamari itself, which needs to be as fresh as possible because it's the flavor of the squid that makes this dish utterly amazing. Framing the flavor of the squid is the Swiss chard, which lends a sweet butteriness, and the onions, tomatoes and celery, which literally dissolve in the cooking process and become the broth of this stew. Can you tell I'm in love? It's because of preparations as flavorful, yet simple as this, that I became so enamored with Italian cuisine.
This could be an easy appetizer, for a light summer treat or a cold winter night. I would also suggest serving it with slices of toasted baguette brushed with a hint of olive oil, because as you'll quickly come to realize, the broth is delectable and each of your guests will want to make sure that it has been completely sopped up.
As for a wine pairing, a Greco di Tufo was my choice. D'Antiche Terre, 2007 Greco di Tufo, from the region of Campania, was a perfect pairing for the Calamari in Zimino, as the nose showed ripe tropical fruit mixed with a Mediterranean twist of olive and sea air. The palate was slightly sweet with a medium body and zesty acidity, giving flavors of stone, apricot and minerals, which finished fresh. If I was pressed for another perfect pairing, I could easily imagine a Verdicchio having similar results.
See page 2 for the recipe.
Meet Chef Eric Guido
After working in the New York City restaurant scene, Eric Guido branched out, organizing private dining and tasting events centered around Italian cuisine and wine. Here he began to incorporate food photography and recipe development. His continuing work can be seen at www.theviptable.net. Eric’s passion for food and wine is fueled by the togetherness and satisfaction found at the table.