I know that for the uninitiated the above photo may not seem immediately appealing.
But for those familiar with the joys of country cooking in the land of Prosecco, the dish above might as well be a painting by Renaissance master Titian!
Those are bigoli, hand-rolled noodles and a classic of Veneto gastronomy, tossed with hare ragù. This pasta shape, a long noodle similar to the spaghetto but with a much more coarse surface because of the ingredients and production process (which I’ll address in a moment), are renowned for their absorption of the sauces used to dress them. Whatever the dressing, the flavors of the pasta and the topping blend together, thus resulting in a particularly satisfying and rewarding culinary experience.
When I visited the Villa Sandi winery, estate, and villa in early December, official hunting season was well under way. And the hare used to make this sauce was not farmed. It was a hunter’s bounty, making it all the more flavorful and redolent of the aromas of the woods.
Being on the road and not wanting to overdo it that night, I didn’t indulge in the rotisserie-fired meats that glistened over the hearth at the Locanda Sandi (Sandi Inn) where I was staying. But the delicious aromas filled up the dining room, adding to the rustic setting and ambiance.
Bigoli are made using just flour, water, and salt (Tuscan travelers will immediately recognize their counterparts in Tuscany’s pici). Today, they are formed using a extruder die. But especially when it comes to places like the restaurant at the Locanda Sandi, the pasta is still worked by hand. And this is what gives the noodles their wonderful texture and consistency, making them the ideal receptacle for the savory sauce.
This dish would have been well served by a Piave Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. But the night I was at the locanda, we paired with a Prosecco DOCG. It was a brilliant pairing: The freshness of the wine worked gorgeously against the richly savory pasta and the wine’s fruit was a wonderful counterpoint to its fattiness and saltiness.
If you make to Valdobbiadene in Prosecco DOCG country before the end of hunting season, I can’t recommend it highly enough!