Monday, July 28, 2008

Pass The Polenta

Polenta, was once a peasant dish and is made with ground yellow or white cornmeal. It is often cooked in a huge copper pot, known in Italian as a paiolo. The most famous northern Italian polenta dishes are cooked with various cheeses and topped with mushrooms, various meats, pasta sauce or vegetables. Cooled and hardened, polenta can be sliced, sauteed, or grilled. You can also create a layered polenta torta, similar to lasagna.

The difference between grits, a staple in the Southern U.S., and polenta, is that grits are usually made from more coarsely ground kernels. In Mexico, maize and hominy are commonly used and in Brazil they use a variety known as angu.

Growing up, we would sometimes have a fried, hardened cornmeal mush topped with syrup for breakfast. It was good, really!

Tonight, we opened a 2005 Thomas Halby Sauvignon Blanc to serve with our fish in Italian stewed tomatoes, onion and garlic and polenta with a cremini mushroom ragout. Sourced from Napa Valley, there was a distinct difference from grapes of this varietal grown in New Zealand. The aromas were of ripe fruit instead of grassy or grapefruit-like with more of a medium body.

In 1983, Tomas Halby started Halby Marketing, Inc., just off the square in the town of Sonoma. One of the investors was the infamous Jess Jackson and the company's first client was a small, then unknown Lake County winery called Kendall-Jackson. After forty years in the wine business, Tom has put his own name on the label. He has personally selected premium California and international wines that he is proud to call his own. From the elegant packaging, to the rich tasting wines inside, the quality is evident throughout. No matter which wine you choose, Thomas Halby Winery always represents great values.

Play around with polenta!