We had guests® over from the United Kingdom this week and therefore we had to show them a bit of Tuscan hospitality.
We started with an amazing antipasto of gamberi & cannellini beans.  This is a must try primi and took all of 15 minutes to prepare.
Gamberi con Cannellini
1 can white cannellini beans, rinsed
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cloves garlic, halved
20 Shrimp, cleaned, raw
6 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
Salt, Pepper, Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Crushed red pepper
Simply warm a few tablespoons olive oil in a stock pot and add the garlic until fragrant. Add a pinch of crushed red pepper to taste. Add the beans, stir gently to coat. Turn off the heat and let sit until you’re ready to make the shrimp.  I let the beans “steep” for about 30 minutes before finishing the dish so they could soak up the garlic flavor.  Then, in a non-stick saute pan, add 1 tablespoon of oil, the two halved cloves of garlic, and saute the shrimp until cooked.  About 5 minutes over medium heat.  When done, combine with the beans in the stock pot. Add basil, season, and plate! 

Gamberi con Cannellini

With this, we served a wonderful Rose, from Castello Banfi – the 2010 Centine Rose.  This is a blended Rose made from Sangiovese, Cabernet and Merlot and was the perfect foil to the antipasto. The vibrant, bright fruit and flower notes paired perfectly with the richness of the shrimp and the acidity in the wine stood up well to the slight heat from the crushed red pepper. It was a perfect match and as always, simply a great value.  88 points, about $10. 
2010 Castello Banfi Centine Rose

For the entree, I made a wonderful broccoli rabe, and sausage risotto. Here’s the mis en place for that wonderful dish, which somehow escaped a picture in finished form! 

Risotto Mis en Place:  Grilled Sausage, Blanched Broccoli Rabe

With the Risotto, we opened what I like to call a vintage’s “precursor” – the recently released Chianti Classicos.  Typically, you hear press about a vintage even before the wines begin arriving, but when the Chianti Classicos show up, the complexity and intensity they possess can often provide a few hints as to the quality of the overall vintage.  Thus far, 2009 is looking very good indeed.  We opened the 2009 Casa Emma Chianti Classico and I was immediately struck by the color. It’s a dark, blackish purple in the glass. With a bit of air, it offers intense aromas of flowers, licorice, ripe black cherries, and some earthy undertones. Flavors match the aromas and this wine has serious structure. Balanced and long, with substantial tannins and acids to match, this is one of the more serious Chianti Classicos I’ve tasted in a long time. A perfect pairing with the risotto.  At $16, it’s worth picking up at least a 6-pack for your cellar, if not more.  This will easily drink well over the next 5 years. 92 points. 
2009 Casa Emma Chianti Classico – A “must buy”
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