25 Days of Christmas - Lights & Delights

Thursday, December 2, 2010 - 
Since our first holiday season together six years ago, I have given my loving hubs 25 delights each holiday season.  His own personalized advent calendar is planned out (I usually start in late October, early November) focused on holiday cheer.  Unfortunately, my travel schedule for work is slightly crazy this holiday season, so I've had to get creative with the planning process, especially incorporating events that are already on the calendar (holiday gathering, etc.)

You see, I over program hubs.  But, he is so amazing that he goes along with it.  This is one time a year where he knows he'll be programmed every day for the month, but looks forward to it (I believe he does, right hubs?!)
With his Movember 'stache, hubs and I at our first Colt's game this past weekend.  Don't be confused, we are both die hard Packer fans being from the state of Wisconsin.  I got that shirt for $5 and it normally stays in my pajama drawer. 
Yesterday was day one, December 1.  The "gift" of the day was a "Lights & Delights" evening.  We were driving downtown to enjoy the Indy lights on the circle and then dinner at Tastings, where Italian was the evening's theme. This review of Tastings will be a bit different from previous review formats - just to showcase the evening delights to give you a taste of our first advent revealing!

Apertif - Cantina Del Taburno Falanghina
A glass of white wine that had a strong apple smell, but was light on the palate.  It was a good thing no food was served with this wine, as I believe it would have been buried by any food flavors.

First Course - Mandra Rossa Fiano with Citrus Tuna
A stronger white wine was served with this dish, which was great as it stood up to the flavors without overwhelming.  Notes of citrus were strong and it brought out the citrus of the Ahi tuna.  Seared rare, the tuna was served on top of a roasted eggplant cous cous (the cous cous was essentially cooked in pureed eggplant), half wheat and half regular, then a tomato-cilantro brodo was poured over.  The dish had a subtle heat and a pleasant addition of cilantro that wasn't overwhelming.  It finished with a pleasant citrus taste on the palate.

Second Course - Colognolo Chianti Ruffina with Red Wine Pasta with Roasted Mushrooms & Greens
The deep smell of a Chianti was apparent, but the wine seemed like a basic Chianti to me.  I loved that the wine was used to half cook the ditalini pasta (it was used to finish them to al dente after being partially cooked in salted hot water first) - brought great flavor to the dish.  The basil roasted crimini mushrooms were fantastic, rich in olive oil and Italian seasonings.  The chili-garlic sauteed swiss chard and Italian kale brought out the rustic element of the dish - and the aroma of the Parmesan was fantastic from the minute it was placed in front of you.

Third Course - Andrea Oberto Nebbiolo with Italian Braised Beef
A great pairing, this deep red wine stood up to the braised beef.  A slow braised chuck roast, the sauce which it was cooked in was pureed and added back in to give it the most flavor.   The highlight of this dish was the creamy roasted garlic polenta topped with shaved asiago.  Oh gosh, highlight to it's finest.  It was creamy, thick, buttery, delicious - from everything that gives those flavors (think butter, mascarpone, etc.) - I was saddened hubby was still recovering from a cold and didn't have his full taste buds to enjoy that polenta.

Fin - Tedeschi San Rocco Ripasso and Italian Cheese Tasting
My favorite dish (shocker - it has cheese) was the tasting of a creamy fontina, a slice of gorgonzola dolce and chunks of parmigiano reggiano.  Two homemade jams, one rosemary-fig and the other cranberry-vanilla, were served so you could mix and match with or without the warm ciabatta toasts.  It was a great tasting wine too, cleansing the palate between each cheese but really bringing the flavors forward.  Fave thing?  The crunch of the parmigiano reggiano in the teeth - you know it is aged well when you get that.  Fave combo?  The cranberry-vanilla jam with the gorgonzola dolce - divine.

Overall - a great first day of Tim's holiday advent calendar.  Tonight is an Ahrens' tradition - any guesses what it may be?