Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire. Or a BBQ.

What says Cold Weather better than Italian chestnuts (marroni) roasting?  Toasty, nutty and vaguely sweet- these little nuggets are fun to pair with all kinds of wine, especially the Elio Perrone “Bigaro”

Our resident Orange County Italian, Luca, brought some beautiful chestnuts over the other night.  We decided to roast the marroni over an open flame… err… a Weber Propane BBQ (listen, even in November it’s only about 58 degrees at night- there are not very many fireplaces burning in southern California).  They were still delicious!

Luca instructed us to prepare the chestnuts as his mother does- a small slit in the shell and then a 5 minute soak in cold water before roasting.  The result was perfection.  The meat turns soft and creamy, and the shells become brittle and easy to remove.  I remember my first marroni experience- in the beautiful city of Bologna. It was snowing, and my friends and I were walking home from class when we spotted the chestnut roasting cart in one of the squares. We bought a bag of these delicious nuts and filled our pockets with them to warm our hands.  It was weeks before I could get the remnants of chestnut shells out of those pockets…

The wine we paired with the chestnuts the other night was Elio Perrone’s “Bigaro”.  This wine is simply delicious- light, bright and creamy.  The sweetness of Moscato is tempered by the addition of Brachetto.  The result is perfect to pair with marroni, as the wine’s sweetness plays up the rich, meaty savory side of the chestnuts.  I also love the play of this sparkling, cold wine next to the chewy, warm texture of the chestnuts.  Brilliant wine, and one of my new favorite pairings.  The Bigaro was another genius suggestion by Lance Montalto of the Wine House.  What can I say- the man never steers me wrong!

Mugsy… waiting to see if any Marroni happen to fall on the floor.