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Italian Night Dinner Cruise

photo 4 300x140 Italian Night Dinner Cruise

Cioppino (see recipe below)

By Betha Merit

We all have our favorite little Italian restaurant.  From bistro-style casual to white tablecloth formal dining, something special draws us back.  Usually, that something is the food.  Often that something includes the ambience.  Always that something is about the people.

For your own Italian night dinner cruise, you can select which friends and family get to share the experience.  Being on the water and on a vessel is already the perfect setting.  As a main dish, Cioppino will fit the menu perfectly.  Cioppino is a tomato-based one-pot stew chock-full of shellfish and seafood with Italian spices, garlic, and onion.  It is served with crusty bread to sop up the flavorful broth, and lots of napkins.  This dish originated in the late 1800’s by Italian-American fisherman living in San Francisco (that other Bay Area) who often cooked it on their boats while out at sea using fresh catch.

antipasti 285x300 Italian Night Dinner Cruise

Antipasti

Antipasti (literally, “before the meal”) will set the tone.  A variety of stuffed deli olives, marinated baby artichokes and mushrooms provide an easy, colorful, and delicious presentation.  For dessert, if a classic tiramisu or ricotta cheesecake sounds too heavy, you can select a variety of Italian cookies or biscotti, served with espresso roast coffee.

Selecting your wines will be fun.  For Antipasti, a young fruit-forward wine is best, perhaps a Pinot Grigio or Rosato or even a Prosecco if you like bubbles.  Cioppino is a challenging dish to pair.  A Barbera is a great red option that will stand up to the spices and tomato flavor.  White is not consistently recommended, however, Sauvignon Blanc or perhaps a dry Riesling would work.  For dessert, biscotti are traditionally dunked in Vin Santo, a late harvest Italian dessert wine.  A Moscato will also pair nicely with any dessert choice. Mangia! Mangia!

 

Cioppino

Serves 12

• ¾ cup butter
• 2 onions, chopped
• 6 to 8 minced
garlic cloves
• 1 bunch of parsley,
fresh chopped
• 28 oz can diced tomatoes
• 3 ½ cups chicken broth
• 2 bay leaves
• 1 tablespoon dried basil
• ½ tablespoon dried thyme
• ½ tablespoon dried oregano
• cayenne and black pepper to taste
• 1 cup water
• 1 ½ cups dry white wine
• 1 ½ pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
• 1 ½ pounds bay scallops
• 18 small clams
• 18 mussels, cleaned
• 1 ½ cups crabmeat
• 1 ½ pounds redfish
or similar

Melt butter in large stockpot, add onions, garlic, and parsley.  Slowly cook over medium-low heat until onions are soft, stirring occasionally.  Add tomatoes, making sure to break them into chunks.  Add chicken broth, all spices, water, and wine.  Mix well.  Simmer covered for 30 minutes.  Stir in all seafood and bring to boil.  Lower the heat, cover, and simmer five to seven minutes or until mussels and clams open.  Serve in bowls with crusty warm bread for dipping in the broth.

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