Few people have the passion and enthusiasm of Fifth Group's Vajra Stratigos. When I put together the "Riding Dirty" event, he was the first guy who came to mind. Listening to him talk about wine is like listening to a man possessed by fire-- I think he needs a podcast. If you want to check out more of Vajra's thoughts on wine and life, check out his blog Vajra Straight Up
We met up with Vajra and Chef Craig Richards at La Tavola- The Fifth Group's casual Italian restaurant in Virginia-Highlands. I love La Tavola. It is an ideal neighborhood restaurant-- great food, nice wine selection, and it is come as you are. It is the only restaurant in the Highlands that I wish I lived closer to.
Wow. Kind of a curve ball here- in a great way. As opposed to going with something that was funky, out there, or surprising, Vajra put together something almost something simple, but that said confidently what La Tavola is all about-- Quality, Comfort, and the Little Things.
This Primitivo, though essentially a Zinfandel, packs far less power than its Californian cousins. Instead of big, bomb-like fruit, it has country elegance, spice, and medium+ body with food friendly acidity. This is a wine you can chill with, but also drink.
The Orcchiette was the first dish I ever had at La Tavola. Killer pasta, homemade sausage, some bitter rapini, and a whole lot a love and spice.
Together- this was some great, saddle up to the bar, wine and food. The subtleties of the Primitivo really became pronounced with the dish- more fruit (but delicate fruit), more spice, acid and sausage and cheese oh my.... This is cold weather good eatin' that says "welcome home".
For more on La Tavola's food and style, Chef Craig Richards shares his thoughts below.