One of my many colorful character Ms. Yoga was in town for the holidays and everyone wanted to see her and one way was to all meet for a lunch. The last time we all met for a Sunday dinner at Parc in downtown Detroit, and one of the venues suggested was Cantoro’s Market. I have written about Cantoro’s Market in the past, as it is a Detroit version of the Eataly, the mega-market and restaurant chain that has a couple of locations in the New World. They are an Italian specialty market with produce, fish, meat, a deli counter, a pastry shop, a wine shop and a coffee shop. The other big attraction is that they have a full restaurant, all of which keeps the parking lot quite full. A lot of their die-hard old customers still prefer the original location which is just a market and a very packed store between merchandise and the shoppers. Detroiters are traditional and some don’t require “new.” All of us were meeting at the new location and the revelers were from all points of the tri-county area.
The dishes were all fresh and served in abundance, in fact most were already at capacity after we shared several appetizers. Ms. Yoga was leading the way in the ordering and we all followed suit. We started off with the “Formaggi Misti” a platter of five assorted Italian cheeses with crackers, fruit and toppings. There was a Caprese plate with DOP Bufalo Mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, basil, pesto and Extra Virgin Olive Oil. There was Calamari Peperonati with sweet, sour and spicy peppers, fresh lemon and marinara sauce. The last platter that we passed around was the Gamberi Alla Griglia or grilled jumbo shrimp, fresh chili and lemon marinade, farro and grilled vegetables. There is no way I could recall all of the assorted dishes that were ordered so I will stick with the two that I was intimately aware of. My Bride had Linguine al Salmone, which was house made linguine, fresh salmon, garlic, red pepper flakes, white wine and marinara sauce. I thought I was going to go with something a little lighter, but I was fooled when I ordered the Penne alla Puttanesca, which was imported penne pasta with a Puttanesca sauce (white wine, garlic, anchovies, capers, olives, red onions, red pepper flakes and marinara). When the dishes arrived, the size of the bowls had everyone requesting carryout boxes, before they even dug-in, and some claimed that they had enough for two extra meals. I guess it was no surprise, that no one ordered dessert.
Ms. Yoga was ruling the roost and she also ordered the wine for lunch, but told our waitress that I should have the honor of doing the tasting of each bottle. I was curious to see what white wine Ms. Yoga had selected as she does favor the whites. The Kelerei Kurtatsch Chardonnay 2016 was a refreshing choice. It is from the Trentino Alto Adige DOC district of Italy, and since it is so far North, it also included the area as Sud Tirol which is the Germanic term for the area. The winery was founded in 1923, and they made a very crisp Chardonnay, in fact, Ms. Yoga insisted after dinner that I follow her to the wine shop as she wanted to buy a couple extra bottles for herself for the trip. She also did a fine job selecting the red wine for the meal as well. The Travaglini Gattinari DOCG 2012 did not even carry the varietal, except in small print on the back. Gattinari DOCG requires that it be ninety percent Spanna, the local name for Nebbiolo and the rest could be Bonarda di Gattinara and Vespolina, but this wine was pure Spanna. This wine is aged for three years, of which two years were in Slovenian Oak casks of varying dimensions and at least three months in the bottle, before release (their Riserva calls for four years of aging). The winery was founded in 1920 and is still family owned, and in 1958 they created their iconic dark glass bottle that is designed to make decanting unnecessary as the shape of the bottle keeps all the sediment from pouring into the glass. We had the wine very young, so it was a big bottle full of the tannins that would probably mellow out in about eight to ten years, and with the “red” pasta dishes it was perfect. It was a great afternoon, with a little shopping after lunch, which just seemed so natural in progression.