Celebrate The Holidays With Nougat And Wine

Nougat SquareIf you live in Italy you cannot have an Italian Christmas without nougat.  Nougat is always linked to a day of celebration, the joy of being together, to share the pleasure of a delicious dessert.  If you are lucky enough, you will have the absolute pleasure of enjoying nougat by Pastry Di Tullio and Malvasia delle Lipari, produced by the winery Virgona

Torrone (nougat) is a sweet dessert made with sugar, honey, toasted almonds, toasted hazelnuts, vanilla and egg whites.

Torrone, mostaccioli, crunky, biscuits, jujubes, cotton candy, are symbols of our childhood, who keep alive in our memory, the memory of happy moments.  Today, there are many varieties of handmade nougat: white, covered in chocolate, with candied fruit, soft, hard, with liqueur, covered in icing citrus fruit, with pistachio, and many others.

It’s almost impossible to go back to the original recipe of the nougat. The ancient Romans Tito Livio, and then Marco Valerio Marziale, wrote about a specialty called “Cupedia” from Benevento.  It too was made with honey, almonds, hazelnuts, egg whites, and steamed.

Other writers of the culinary art, attribute the birth of nougat to the Arab tradition.  Still others, to the Spanish pastry.  With my Italian spirit, and the romantic poetry in the blood, I like the version that is credited to a pastry chef from Cremona, who on this occasion was inspired by the shape of the tower of the Cathedral of Cremona, called “Torrazzo”, and created this specialty desert for a wedding feast of the Duchess Bianca Maria Visconti and the Duke Francesco Sforza on October 25th, 1441.

Di Tullio, is the family name of the pastry, that began producing handmade nougat, covered in chocolate, with the traditional recipe of the masters of Benevento, in a small town in southern Lazio, Alvito, in 1850.

The taste of the Di Tullio nougat is well balanced. The sugar notes are wisely calibrated to avoid encumbering the spicy scents, and the caramel adds a delicate flavor, with hints of cinnamon and the nuts are roasted to perfection.  Notes of high quality local honey are present, and it’s texture is soft, compact and fluffy.

I prefer the classic almond nougat , accompanied by a glass of Malvasia delle Lipari by Virgona cellar.  On the Island of Salina, Sicily (specifically in Malfa, otherwise known as Lipari’s Islands), is where you will find the Virgona cellar, owned by Daniela and her husband Calogero.  Their sweet wine is of excellent quality, evidence of typical wines of southern Italy.  Raisin wine with enhanced notes of candied fruit, dates and apricot, honey and aromatic Mediterranean herbs.  The wine has balanced minerality and acidity, which is typical of the land on the island of Salina.

After the harvest, in September, the grapes are left to dry outdoors for 15 days, on a traditional rack of reeds called “cannizzi”, absorbing the heat of the Sicilian sun, the sea breeze, the taste of aromatic notes of the surrounding vegetation.  After the maceration and pressing of the grapes, the wine is aged for at least three years in steel barrels, and then in bottles.

The Malvasia grapes (with a minimal addition of Corinth Black – 5%), give the wine the typical flavor and its amber color with orange reflections.  The pleasant aroma is confirmed by the taste sensations, which extend gently without overstepping into notes cloying.

Torrone Di Tullio and Malvasia delle Lipari, what a great combination and tradition, to bring to your loved ones during the Christmas holiday.