Free Zante Aligote + sweetbreads & marrows = Love

by Radu Rizea
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All the people who never met Vasile Ghimpu in their lives should know about him that he is not not only a sommelier and a gentleman, but also a huge gourmet lover. And huge is huge, no joke – well stretched beyond 6 ft in height, and passing the 200 pounds threshold so long ago he probably doesn’t remember himself. Whenever he’s not traveling around the country, organizing tastings with the wines he represents – Prince Matei and Caii de la Letea (Horses of Letea), his kitchen hosts memorable evenings, to the ecstatic joy of all those happening to be nearby.

Fair of the nobles, without bargaining

As a gentleman, a man of his word, on the first occasion we found out there was a chance for us to meet – about six weeks later, after our friends at Via Viticola had sent their new ‘Free Zante’ (the white version, made of Aligote) for us to taste and enjoy – Vasile calls me from a farmers’ market (Obor) and without any introduction or hello, he simply asks, as a gentleman: “They’ve got sweetbreads. Shall I buy”. So, in an attempt to be just as much of a considerate gentleman, and respect his time, I just said “18.30 sharp, I’ll knock on your door”. He bought it, I knocked, as promised.

Does baiting come from sweetbread or inversely?

Normally, the steamed & sliced sweetbreads were ready to be covered in egg and flour for a fast fry. Just to be sure you got this straight, a mention – sweetbreads are not bollocks (otherwise known as testicles), although those also have a strange preference for the same type of dry white wines. Sweetbreads are glands in the neck or chest area that grow in young males and resorb later.

Free Zante

Vicious till the bone marrow

Well, I told you that Vasile’s kitchen is a source of surprises, so it just so happened that on another plate, there were about eight pieces of pure cholesterol, 100%, perfect for those who don’t hope to spend too many years in retirement. That is, pieces of bone from which a fat yellow marrow smiled like the happiest sun ever, drawn by a child spending his holidays at McD’s.

The simpler, the tastier

I know, you are tired, you want the recipe. I don’t have one. The drained slices of sweetbreads (covered in egg and flour) are just a bit fried, the bones are left in the oven for half an hour and that’s it. Or, if you feel like a master chef, quickly blend a green mojo, a sauce made of parsley, anchovies, a tiny dash of garlic, olive oil, and mint – it also helps bring out the discreet vegetal notes of the Aligote.

The sweetbreads should be dipped in the sauce, like nachos in salsa, and the marrows are even better when mixed with mojo verde, so that they stick better to the toast. All bites hot, with the cold frizzante, so the synapses already suffer, since they can’t wait for the next simple but perfect feast!


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