Honor the fallen; celebrate the grape

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 30, 2016

In honor and memory of the people of Amatrice, Italy, whose town was destroyed last week in a massive earthquake, try the dish they were about to celebrate when their world came crashing down.

Pasta all’amatriciana is a classic dish, served in Italian restaurants all over the world.

Many of those restaurants have been making the dish and donating proceeds to the stricken city. Out of 281 people who died, 221 were in Amatrice.

Choose a charity to help, and try their dish.

Pasta all-Amatriciana

1/3 pound pancetta in one piece, partially frozen

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, or less

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 1/2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

3/4 cup tomato puree

3/4 pound spaghetti or bucatini

Freshly ground Pecorina romano

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.

Meanwhile, unroll the pancetta and cut into 1- inch chunks, then slice each chunk thinly across the grain.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over moderately low heat. Add the pancetta and cook until it renders some of its fat, about 5 minutes. Do not let it crisp. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. While the onion is cooking, add the pasta to the water.

Add the red pepper flakes and parsley to the onion mixture and cook briefly to release their fragrance. Add the vinegar and simmer until it evaporates. Add the tomato puree and a quarter cup of pasta water. Simmer to blend.

When the pasta is al dente, drain it and return it to the warm pot over moderate heat. Add the sauce and cook briefly so the pasta absorbs some of the sauce. Then transfer to a warmed serving bowl and shower with the cheese.

You can substitute bacon for the pancetta — but pancetta is not smoked. Bucatini is a hollow, long pasta, like hollow spaghetti.

Wine and Grape Month

Wine lovers will have plenty of ways to celebrate the state’s $1.7 billion wine and grape industry in September during North Carolina Wine and Grape Month.

The annual celebration aligns with the traditional harvest season of grapes across the state. The N.C. Wine and Grape Growers Council, which promotes the industry, is encouraging consumers to visit local wineries during the month.

“North Carolina is home to more than 180 wineries, and each one is as unique as the wines it offers,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “On top of that, the state has 525 grape growers from the mountains to the coast.”

The state has four American Viticultural Areas: Yadkin Valley, Swan Creek, Haw River and Upper Hiwassee Highlands.

Each is federally recognized for its distinctive combination of soil, climate, elevation and wine characteristics.

Consumers can find a list of N.C. wineries with maps and contact information online at http://bit.ly/NCWineries.

New BBQ Map

The Great NC BBQ map has been updated and will be available Sept. 1, featuring 65 new restaurants and cutting 45 places that have closed.

The map also has new icons to show places that have a buffet, places that only take cash and those that are only take-out.

The map lists addresses, hours, contact numbers and whether each restaurant cooks the whole hog or just parts. It also lists the style of sauce and how the pig is cooked.

For a foldout version, you have to shell out $9.99, or for an unfolded poster, $29.99. The map will be available around the state and at www.ediamaps.com. Unfortunately, the site indicates the maps are sold out right now. But you can also find the N.C. Beer Map at the same location.