After two seasons of the Cooking Channel's Extra Virgin, Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos moved from L.A. to Brooklyn for the start of season three. A marriage between a native New York actress–of Entourage, Ugly Betty and Goodfellas fame–and a musician from Tuscany who learned the traditional ways of the kitchen from his grandmother and mother, Extra Virgin offers the viewer a place at the couple's kitchen table. And because every Tuscan table would be incomplete without bottles of wine, TEW joined forces with this dynamic duo for Episodes 6, 7,8 and 9.
After attending "Dinner Under the Tuscan Gun" (Episode 8, January 2nd), where we drank La Massa with Debi and a table full of their "foodie" friends, while Gabriele worked the kitchen, we had the opportunity to ask the couple a few questions about life and wine in the kitchen. The last question reveals the episodes on which our wines appear.
What inspired the incarnation of Extra Virgin?
Debi and I started posting our family recipes on Youtube in 2007. We did it for fun, no expectations. But all of the sudden we started receiving press requests from People Mag, Bon Appetite, InStyle...
When we heard that Cooking Channel was about to be born, we reached out and they expressed sincere excitement for the idea. A few months later we were shooting the first season of Extra Virgin. It was 2010.
What role does wine play in your family– at the table, in the kitchen and in the family vineyards?
There is no meal without wine, there is no slice of bread and Pecorino without wine, there is no fun without wine!
In Italy, wine is considered a beverage but also a necessary ingredient to enjoy every meal and to complete any menu.
Our farm used to yield great Sangiovese in the past, but unfortunately a severe snowstorm damaged our grapes in 1985, and our production had to stop. Our family still owns a Chianti License and we are discussing with neighboring farms the possibility of joining forces and planting new grapes within the next couple of years.
When living in Italy, did you visit any wine regions? Any favorites? Living in Tuscany, are you partial to Tuscan wines?
When in Italy we are always going around. We visit Umbria and Lazio just south of Florence, and we take road trips to the Eastern Alps. Every region has its own wines, and they are always a great match with their regional menus. Yes we are partial to Tuscan wines, as we believe they are a bit lighter and work well for any meal of the day. We mostly drink red wine, but we do appreciate dry whites when we go to the shore or when we cook seafood.
Do you have any favorite pairings?
La Massa is a nice and round wine, it works wonders for any dish of pasta or vegetables. [La Massa 2008 appears paired with Rabbit Cacciatora on Episode 9, "Under the Tuscan Gun," January 2nd]
Passopisciaro is well balanced but with great character and we enjoy it with both meat and fish, especially when using sauces with olives or eggplants. [Passopisciaro 2007 IGT Sicilia appears on December 26th, Episode 8, "Happy Birthday Debi!" paired withGrilled Asparagus Involtini with Lardo (and Charcouterie) and Melanzane Alla Parmigiana.]
Retromarcia is a great meat wine, wonderful to sip while working on a fire pit or BBQ, and a great match when ripping meat off grilled ribs. [Look for Retromarcia 2009 Chianti Classico on Episode 7, "Up on Arthur," December 19th, when Debi and Gabriele pair the wine with Pasta Incaciata.]
Barolo for us is a heavy hitter; it needs hearty menu items like polenta and beef stew, or a slow cooked pork roast. Barolo requires a nap after your meal! [Mauro Veglio 2008 Barolo appears paired with Quail with wild cherries & Barolo Sauce, on Episode 6, December 12th, "Urban Green".]
Do you have any parting words to share about developing/maintaining a healthy relationship in the kitchen?
The importance of being in the kitchen is in fact to be in the kitchen together. We always share tasks and cook every meal together, we tell stories, pass on our food heritage to our daughters and keep our traditions alive while chopping, sautéing, cooking and eating. The kitchen is the warmest place in the house, where we always come alive, feed our bodies and our souls.