I remember the responses I received from restaurant equipment suppliers when I tried to find a sous vide machine for my kitchen 15 years ago a device that cooks vacuum sealed ingredients in a water bath or using steam. It was as though I’d asked for a Flux Capacitor. I wound up having to go to a scientific laboratory; this one used them to regulate the temperatures of water baths for experiments. The staff there was certain I was nuts when I told them I planned to use it in the kitchen.

Skip to the present, and it has become one of the most popular gifts for a serious home cook…one you can actually buy at Williams & Sonoma. So, congrats to all who received one from Santa!

1. You must add fat to the bag containing the meat (duck fat, olive oil, butter etc.).
2. Fatty meats work best (like beef and pork). A lean meat like venison or chicken winds up tasting dry.
3. You need a good vacuum packer to seal the bag. A Ziploc bag doesn’t work.
4. Lobster sous vide in butter works well, but most other fish becomes bland.
5. The vessel that your machine sits in doesn’t matter. You don’t need some type of fancy stainless steel pot. The water only surrounds the bag, it never touches the food, so you could literally put it in an old paint bucket and it wouldn’t matter.
That said, picking a wine to pair with such delicately cooked cuisine does matter, and when it comes to superfine, aromatic Italian reds, seek out anything from Stefano Almondo’s estate in Roero. Roero is in Piedmont, home to the great red wine appellations of Barolo and Barbaresco, but those wines are rarer, and best put aside for Saturday nights.

Many of you know Almondo’s incredible white wine made from Arneis, the Bricco delle Ciliegie. His base Roero Rosso is just as exciting, showing of the aristocratic, elegant side of the Nebbiolo grapes. Super expressive in the nose, aromas of sweet red berries, mint, roses and baking spices lift effortlessly from the glass. This is a medium bodied and racy red, perfect with sous vide beef. And, for one third of the price of Barolo, don’t miss it.

The grape Nebbiolo, of Barolo and Barbaresco fame, becomes fine and elegant in the high elevation, sandy soils of Almondo’s vineyards in Roero. Giovanni Almondo Roero 2015 (seen here) has a great nose, with pretty rose petal and berry aromas that lead to a fine, fruity middle and a honed, mineral finish. Pair with roasted poultry, roasted salmon, and goat cheeses. Perfetto!


Avora Spread

Restaurant Nicholas/Nicholas Wines
160 Route 35 South, Red Bank / 732.345.9977,