Poor old Lombardy in northern Italy has no seacoast. So she has to make do with some of the finest lakes in all of Europe. Its capital Milan is Italy's center of finance, fashion, and the media. Did we mention the region's voluminous agricultural output? Expect to find fine wine and food in this lovely region.
Colomba Pasquale (Easter Dove) is a fine yeast cake that ends up looking like a dove, especially if you buy a mold. Among its ingredients are egg yolks, diced candied orange and lemon rinds, milk and almonds. It's a hands-on recipe, but if you're lucky enough to live near a good Italian bakery you may be able to buy it at Easter. Traditional wine pairings include fizzy or sparkling (the sparkling is more fun) Asti DOCG from the neighboring region of Piedmont, the nearby red or rose Malvasia di Casorzo d'Asti DOC available in a wide variety of styles, and the Tuscan white Moscadello di Montalcino DOC. You won't have any trouble finding the Asti or probably the Moscadello. No promises for the Malvasia.
Panettone is a classical Italian Christmas cake. The Lombardy version is said by many to be the best and the hardest to make. To do it right, you should use baker's yeast. Among the ingredients are egg yolks, melted butter, raisins (soak them and squeeze them dry), butter, and diced candied orange and lemon rinds. Italian bakeries should carry this delicacy at Christmas time. Suggested wine pairings include the red fizzy or sparkling Acqui/Brachetto d'Acqui DOCG from neighboring Piedmont (if you can ever find it), Asti, and Moscadello di Montalcino DOC.
Sbrisolona (Crumbly Cake) starts off with white flour and cornmeal. Other ingredients include butter, white wine, chocolate, and candied cherries. As its name indicates, make sure the dough stays crumbly. Slice while hot so it doesn't break. Among the many recommended wine pairings try Colli Orientali del Friuli Picolit DOCG from the Friuli-Venezia Giula region of northeastern Italy, Vino Santo di Chianti Classico DOC from Tuscany, and the hard to find Ramandolo DOCG also from Friuli-Venezia Giula. In spite of what you might think from its name, Vino Santo di Chianti is often white.
Torrone (Nougat) is a delicious candy made from honey, sugar, egg whites, pistachios, almonds and some other goodies. This should be relatively easy to purchase. I'm told that Torrone keeps for a long time when wrapped in waxed paper or aluminum foil. Don't believe it. Enjoy it with wine pairings such as Greco di Bianco DOC from Calabria, Moscato di Trani DOC from Apulia, or Vin Santo di Montepulciano DOC from Tuscany. This last wine may be white or red. At least the last two should be fairly easy to find. Our final Lombardy dessert recommendation is Torta Paradiso (Angel Cake) said to be best in Pavia. You'll need potato starch, more egg yolks than egg whites, butter, and a few more ingredients. Serve the day after you make it. And what dessert wines should you serve? The suggested pairings include Loazzolo DOC from Piedmont, Malvasia di Cagliari DOC from Sardinia, and Recioto di Soave DOCG from Veneto. This last wine may be sparkling. Whether or not it sparkles it will probably cost more than the others. But it's a lot easier to find.
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Levi Reiss authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but prefers drinking fine wine. He teaches computers at an Ontario French-language community college. His global wine website www.theworldwidewine.com features a weekly review of $10 wines and a whole lot more. Visit his wine, nutrition, and health website www.wineinyourdiet.com.
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