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Tuna and Beans

My good friend—Sandro Rossi (former Oakland cafe owner, food and wine savant) from our porcini mushroom adventure—was kind enough to drop off a bag of caponi beans and some bottles of Da Capo wines from Italy. (Seriously, life is good.)

Caponi beans seem to be rare, as the only Google info about them comes from a page of the Corti Bros. catalog, which is not surprising. It’s not surprising that Darrell Corti would have written about Caponi beans; it’s just surprising that he’s the only one in the Google universe to have done it. (I guess that makes me the second!) These particular beans were grown at Phipps Farm, producers and sellers of fine heirloom beans (though their bean list strangely does not mention Caponi) and then collected and shelled by Sandro in November.

I called Sandro about how to prepare these beans, and he said to soak them for four hours, and then boil them in water. If I really wanted to make them delicious, though, I could toss them with some fine imported tonno (tuna) and some good olive oil. On a cold night last weekend, this is what we did.

Normally, I’m not that interested in beans, but these were fantastic, with a gorgeous, sweetly earthy flavor. We chopped in some parsley with the tuna and used the absolutely stunning Francesco de Padova olive oil. Francesco de Padova, whoever you are, I love you. This olive oil is so good—light, fruity and complex—that you could pour it on dirt and it would still be delicious. For $14 a bottle, it’s a steal.

Oh, and the wine—Da Capo Barbera D'Asti Superiore Nizza 2000—was wonderful (the “Nizza” designation means that it is of the highest quality). Dark ruby, it possessed a blend of deep blackberry and violet flavors as well as an earthy expansiveness—all softened by seven years of bottle age. What particularly impressed me was the depth of concentration, as the flavor penetration of the dark fruit lasted well into the finish. It paired quite well with the beans, even though one might have thought to go with a white wine. The wine is handled by Zigzagano, if you want to find out how to get it.
Thanks again, Sandro.