Cucina Rustica in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter is a place to seek out if you enjoy Italian cuisine. Often though I think we visit restaurants and don’t pay enough attention to the wine list and to choosing a wine to go with our meal. That’s why I was intrigued by the idea of tasting and enjoying wines, which have specifically been chosen to compliment certain dishes. Previously, I’ve only really done this in Michelin starred restaurants, usually when we’ve picked the wine flight to go with a tasting menu.
Traditionally white wine is teamed up with seafood, but I was unprepared for the clarity and purity of the Frascati Superiore that was served with our first course. Frascati has acquired a poor reputation, thanks to over production and a decline in quality that went with its heyday of popularity about 30 years ago. It’s known as the ‘wine of popes’ and I can certainly see why after our experience of the Frascati Superiore from Casale Mattia in Lazio. A perfect match for our succulent scallops!
Cucina Rustica offered us a new (to me) take on that springtime favourite: lamb, with their wonderfully moist and sweet Costolette D’Agnello (rack of lamb with honey glazed apples and a Marsala wine sauce – pictured here on the right). I’d certainly pick this one off the menu on a return visit, but it would have to compete with the unctuous delights of the Tagliata di Filetto (sliced beef filet, with capers, shallots, anchovies and balsamic vinegar).
By the time dessert arrived I was struggling to find room inside for all the wonderful food we’d been served. It would be rude not to try the sweet course though and there were some wonderful options. There was Tortino al Cioccolato (a hot chocolate fondant), Torta Di Ricotta (a light cheesecake) and Tiramisu, the Italian favourite that is often the test of a good Italian restaurant (Cucina Rustica passed the tiramisu test with flying colours). We were served this with a dessert wine: Vinsanto del Chianti Classico. Dessert wines are a bit of an acquired taste and I only drink them a few times each year. When they have the intense fruit and nutty flavours of this one married with a deceptive freshness, they can really add the finishing touch to a meal.