It was standing room only on Monday at this year’s BBQ and Italian wine tasting and seminar at Taste of Italy, featuring celebrity pit master Ara Malekian of Harlem Road Texas BBQ.
Chef Ara (above, second from right) was joined by a true “dream team” of panelists including Tom Dobson (left), the Italian wine buyer for Spec’s (one of the largest wine retail chains in the world), Eric Sandler (far right), the food writer for CultureMap (one of the most widely read lifestyle sites in Texas), and Italian wine and food historian and educator Jeremy Parzen (second from left), author of the blog Do Bianchi.
The wines — six different Chianti — were selected by the Chianti Consortium (Consorzio Vino Chianti), the event’s title sponsor, and were tasted blind by a group of 50+ attendees, including leading restaurant trade members, writers, bloggers, and influencers.
Tom and Jeremy spoke at length about Sangiovese’s incredible versatility as a gastronomic, food-friendly wine that works well with a wide range of meat dishes, including — and especially! — Texas barbecue.
Chef Ara prepared a classic brisket for the event. But his second dish was more unusual: Pork belly that had been cured with the same seasonings used to make pastrami and then smoked in the traditional Texas style.
Both dishes worked exceedingly well with the wines and Chef Ara declared that Chianti could possibly be the best wine ever to pair with this style of cooking.
Now in its third year, the Texas BBQ and Italian wine seminar at Taste of Italy has become a bona fide Houston tradition. This year’s event was another smashing success.
The organizers of Taste of Italy couldn’t be more thankful to the Chianti Consortium for their support.