It is usually 5.30am after we drive alongside the Through Appia Antica, on our approach to Ciampino airport and often working late. Rattling over basalt cobbles smoothed by 21 centuries of site visitors, and previous excessive, stone partitions overhung with bushes and hiding villas and catacombs, it seems like time journey earlier than extra journey, on the 6.50am flight.
Inbuilt 312BC, Through Appia was the primary lengthy highway constructed particularly to move troops south, and was later prolonged so far as Brindisi in Puglia. After the autumn of the Roman Empire, the as soon as nice consular highway declined: some elements have been left to go wild, others included into different roads. Nevertheless, sections of the traditional highway, such because the stretch leaving Rome, remained an vital route for folks and issues going out and in of the town.
One of many vital issues entering into was wine, made for greater than 21 centuries now, from grapes grown within the fertile, volcanic soil round a gaggle of cities known as Castelli Romani on the foot of the cool, enchanting Alban hills: frascati, marino, albano, genzano, grottaferrata, ariccia to call however a number of. Whereas white wines produced from grapes akin to malvasia and trebbiano are carefully related to this space, the immense vineyards have all the time produced purple grapes, too: cesanese, aleatico, sangiovese, merlot and montepulciano. Cesanese particularly, which many imagine to be a grape that’s indigenous to the Lazio area and named after the city of Cesano, may be fantastic, violet-coloured and tastes of black cherries, rose and juniper, and in addition contemporary, fairly than plodding. Additionally, allowing for the simplistic however efficient concept that what grows collectively goes collectively, cesanese is an efficient match for the meals of Lazio and Rome. It is usually the purple wine we frequently drink at house, so it’s what I used for right this moment’s recipe, spaghetti ubriachi con vino rosso e cipolle, which interprets as “drunk spaghetti”, though I desire “merry” with purple wine and onion.
The precept right here is like Venetian onion and anchovy “salsa” in that the onion just isn’t fried however stewed, first in butter and olive oil, then in a beneficiant quantity of wine, which reduces, leaving the onion comfortable, creamy and the color of bishops’ socks. You should use purple onions, however then you definately received’t have the satisfaction of watching the white ones change color.
Whereas a few of the wine will evaporate, removed from all of it’s misplaced throughout the simmering, which is why you must cook dinner with what you take pleasure in ingesting. And the proportion misplaced may be changed by ingesting a glass. You’ll be able to, after all, use any wine you want, but when yow will discover some, I counsel travelling to Lazio and returning with a bottle crammed and merry with cesanese.
Spaghetti with purple wine and onions
Prep 10 min
Prepare dinner 30 min
1 giant onion (ideally white or brown), or a bunch of spring onions
3 tbsp olive oil
300ml purple wine, cesanese for desire
2 tbsp grated parmesan, plus additional to serve
Peel and trim the onion, then slice it into half-moons. (In case you’re utilizing spring onions, trim off the darkest ends, then slice the bulbs and pale inexperienced elements.)
In a big, deep frying pan for which you’ve gotten a lid, soften the butter with the olive oil over a medium-low warmth. Add the onion and a pinch of salt, stir, then cowl and depart to cook dinner down gently.
As soon as the onion is comfortable, add the wine and depart it to simmer for about 25 minutes, till the liquid has decreased and the consistency is creamy. Stir sometimes, and if at any level the combo appears dry, add extra wine or slightly heat water.
Whereas the onions and wine are simmering, cook dinner the pasta till al dente, then elevate it immediately into the onion pan and toss energetically. Add two tablespoons of grated parmesan and some grinds of black pepper, and toss once more, including slightly of the pasta water to deliver all the things collectively. Serve instantly, passing spherical extra cheese for many who need it.