Monday, July 26, 2010

Buitoni, Homework, and Wine: What Could Be Better?

I hope you will indulge me while I take an editorial detour for the day...

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received a boatload of Buitoni Riserva Pasta and a few bucks to host a party. (Who is going to turn down money to throw a party?) The idea was to come up with a vegetable side dish pairing to go with one of the Riserva Pasta flavors. Always the overachiever, I decided to come up with four side dishes – one for each of the four Riserva flavors (What can I say? I use to do the extra credit assignments in school too).

Then, if that wasn’t bad enough, I decided to structure the party as a tasting. I mean, if I’m going to cook all day for people, they are darned well going to have to participate somehow. Everyone received a sheet that listed the pasta, Buitoni sauce, vegetable side dish, and a wine that was paired for that course. They then had to rate each individual dish and the whole course as a pairing (Of course, this probably explains why all the pictures look like the people are taking their SAT's).

Many thanks to Jonathan at the Wine Warehouse in Palmetto for coming up with great wine options that averaged $10 per bottle. And thanks to the Baroness for the use of her home for the evening.

Pan frying the Pub Course
This is Serious Work
Since I cooked all day, I decided to let my friends from the party write this blog. Below you will find each paired course, its overall score, and comments (positive and negative; useful and not) from the judges The names have been changed to protect the innocent (come to think of it, the names have actually been changed to protect the guilty).

The original side dishes will get some spotlight time over the next few weeks, and I’ll be back to my regular format next time. In the meantime, enjoy the party…

Pairing #1the Pub
Pasta: Buitoni Riserva Quattro Fromaggi Agnolotti (breaded and pan fried)
Sauce: Buitoni Tomato Herb Parmesan
Side: Baked Zucchini Fries
Wine: 2008 Ruffino Orvieto Classico

  • “Breading on ravioli makes it a great appetizer. I would consider taking this to a party.”
  • [side] “fun appetizer. Healthy too. I think I could do this.”
  • “how clever”
  • [pasta] “very fresh tasting, nice crunch”
  • [sauce] “I like the chunky texture”

Everyone Waiting for Dinner

Pairing #2Raw and Roasted
AVERAGE SCORE 9.6/10 (the winner)
Pasta: Buitoni Riserva Chicken and Four Cheese Ravioli
Sauce: Buitoni Pesto with Basil
Side: Roasted Corn and Tomato Salad
Wine: 2007 Teruzzi & Puthod Terre di tufi

  • “favorite pairing of all”
  • “the server is getting a bit snippy now…”
  • [pasta] “taste is somewhat lacking – would have liked chunks of chicken”
  • “pesto was a little mild”
  • “pesto was nice addition to the 4 cheeses”
  • [side] way cute. The color is a welcome addition to the plate”
  • [pasta] “moist and delicious”
  • “great combination; loved it!”
  • “they didn’t come together for me, seemed too different rather than complimentary”

Prepping the Next Tasting Round

Pairing #3Hearty and Traditional
Pasta: Buitoni Riserva Spicy Beef and Sausage Ravioli
Sauce: Buitoni Marinara
Side: Kale & Cannellini Beans
Wine: 2008 LeSalette Valpolicella

  • “didn’t taste beef & sausage too well”
  • “I’m getting in trouble for looking at Jane’s paper”
  • [wine] “brings out the earthiness of the vegs; interesting spiciness”
  • [side] “eating this, then following it with the wine brings out a very earthy flavor w/the kale mixture; nice pairing”

Two Tables, One Party

Pairing #4Fast Forward to Fall
Pasta: Buitoni Riserva Wild Mushroom Angolotti
Sauce: Buitoni Alfredo Sauce
Side: Sweet Potato & Fennel Gratin
Wine: 2007 Donna Marzia Primitivo del Salento

  • [pasta] “the best – delicious combo – pasta is light, filling good flavor & texture”
  • [sauce] “rich yet not cloying” (I don’t even know what this means, but it sounded good)
  • [pasta] “delicious – mushrooms tasted wonderful – not overpowered by pasta”
  • “good PMS dinner”
  • [pasta] “sharp mushroom flavor; not bland”
  • [side] “best part of meal – wonderful flavors”
  • [side] “best dish – want this often”

This Table Was Well-Behaved

This Was the Disruptive Table

And the best comment of the night:
“The people at this table confuse me. Or maybe the wine did.”
Thanks to the Wine Warehouse for the Great Selections


  1. It looks like great minds think alike! I also held a Buitoni party and my recipes are strangely very similar....
    looks great!

  2. Looks delicious!!! I wish I could have attended.


  3. That looked like a great party! Tasting and grading just adds more fun. My friends would enjoy it for sure.
    Zucchini fries seem very interesting.
    I love the Sicilian Primitivo!

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  6. Looks like you guys had a lot of fun! I think I would have loved the last one best

  7. Looks like a fun party with great food! I think I'd have voted for the winning dish too :)

  8. Some of those judges comments are hysterical! Looks like a lot of fun.

  9. What a fun way to host a Buitoni party!

  10. Haha, great party. I dig the test format — it's a lot of fun to read!