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by Fred McMillin
for May 18, 2000

 

Okey Dokey "nyoh-ky"


Prologue

Chef Vittorio Saccone demonstrated the preparation of Gnocchi Verdi for my wife at Rome's Grand Hotel.

Chef Vittorio Saccone

Chef Vittorio Saccone demonstrating for Mrs. McMillin the preparation of Gnocchi Verdi at Rome's Grand Hotel.


The Rest of the Story

The Italian word for one dumpling is "gnocco." The plural is "gnocchi." "Verdi" is green, the color the gnocchi acquire when they are made with spinach. Two millennia ago the Romans had an early version of the dish. It is still a favorite in Rome. There is a fine recipe and photo of gnocchi verdi in the Time Life book on The Cooking of Italy.


After the Lesson

In the large dining room after the lesson, Chef Saccone poured a light Italian white wine with the gnocchi. After that careful preparation, he wasn't going to overwhelm those delicate flavors with a red. I'm sure the chef would approve this...


Wine of the Day

Danzante 1998 Pinot Grigio (PEE-noh GREE-jyoh), Italy
By Danzante (dahn-ZAHN-TAY)
Danzante??—The Italian word means "dancing." Well, if it takes two to tango, there couldn't be a better pair than Mondavi and Frescobaldi, leading vintners in their respective countries. Danzante is the name of the wines they are producing jointly in northeastern Italy. The Grigio is their first white release.
Production—40,000 cases, which tells you they KNOW the public will like it.
Tasting Notes—Crisp and refreshing. Drink now. It's a companion for light dishes, not a dominator.
Rating—RECOMMENDED; good value at TEN DOLLARS!
Contact—Mary Ann Vangrin, (707) 251-4483, FAX(707) 251-4386


Postscript

Gastronomy had a good 1894...

  • In Paris a new dish is created, Lobster Thermidor.
  • A new vegetable quickly becomes very popular in France and the United States...iceberg lettuce.
  • In New Braunfels, Texas, German-American William Gebhardt invents the first chili powder.
  • In London, the celebrated Auguste Escoffier honored the Australian opera star, Nellie Melba, by inventing the dish Peach Melba (a scoop of vanilla ice cream on a peeled, poached peach half.)

    What's this have to do with today's article? Well, the Grand Hotel in Rome opened that year. The dining room seated 250 people. They had an eye-catching innovation; each room had three electric light bulbs! And on January 11, 1894 they opened the hotel with a fantastic, sixteen-course banquet, prepared by a chef brought in for the occasion, Escoffier!

    Credits—James Trager's Food Chronology

     
    About the Writer

    Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

     
     


    This page created May 2000

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