Monthly Archives: August 2015

Cape Cod Looms Large: Summer Sipping

This year it’s only a one week trip but very happy nonetheless to see the places of my heart. Looking forward to seeing what is offered at the local “package” store….



I am getting ready to go to Cape Cod for two weeks on a family vacation that has become a tradition these last years, again. We used to go when I was growing up and four years ago I decided to start the tradition again.

I am so looking forward to all the Cape has to offer in terms of beaches, water, seafood, fishing, fun and peace. Not so looking forward to the sharks that have come to feast on the growing seal population but nothing beats a sunset on Race Point or the dunes on Long Nook so I will just have to get used to sharks too.

As on any road trip, one packs the essentials. My toolbox includes some incredible wines from Italy and I am excited to share them and pair them with the bounty of the Cape. Here’s to the dog days of Summer. Very…

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Buon Ferragosto A Tutti! Going Fishing

Not yet Ferragosto and not yet on the Cape but I am looking forward to our annual family retreat next week despite the shark population. Here’s to mid summer fun and a good rest of August to all. I’m currently getting in a last bit of humidity while here in New Orleans. Nothing quite like it.



Today is the quintessential Italian holiday, Ferragosto. What is Ferragosto you might ask, well according to Wikipedia:

“The Catholic Church celebrates this date as a Holy Day of Obligation to commemorate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary—the actual physical elevation of her sinless soul and incorruptible body into Heaven. Before the Roman Catholic Church came into existence, however, this holiday also included honoring of gods—in particular Diana—and the cycle of fertility and ripening, during the time of the Roman Empire.”

Actually the history of the holiday has many interesting tidbits which Wikipedia explains here.

Ferragosto for me is much simpler and has always represented the beach, good food and good friends. This Ferragosto I am about to leave on a holiday trip to Cape Cod, beloved mecca of my life and alias a new hotbed of shark activity…That said, I can’t wait to see the beach, old friends…

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The Muffaletta – One of Italy’s Gifts to New Orleans

I’m down in NOLA for the Society of Wine Educators Conference again this year. I had a version of the Muffaletta yesterday and was reminded of this post, which is on of the absolute most widely read on my blog for the last seven years. I like this city – what warmth and great food. Went to Mr. B’s Bistro for dinner and was impressed. Conference as always is a great time to connect with old friends and make new ones and to taste great wines. More of the conference in the coming days.


The Muffaletta is a delicious slice of Italy that is an integral part of the Crescent City’s food traditions.

Local lore is that the Muffaletta was created at the Italian run Central Grocery on Decatur St in the French Quarter in 1906. The store still sells Muffalettas and many say they are the best in town. The sandwich as you can see is huge and has a variety of cold cuts and cheeses topped with olive salad. While not slimming, it is an incredibly satisfying meal. Sharing is the way to go with this gigantic treat. For a great Muffaletta recipe, check out I had my Muffaletta at Cafe Beignet, a nice outdoor location on Bourbon Street in Muscial Legends Park.

Not having had the original, I can only attest to the merits of the Muffaletta from Cafe Beignet but next time I am in New Orleans, I intend…

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Italian Indigenous Varieties: Impigno Bianco from Puglia

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This week’s variety is called Impigno Bianco. The name is clearly a family name and is thought to be that of the person who brought this grape to Italy, specifically to Puglia near the town of Ostuni. A white grape it is used for blending generally with other indigenous grapes such as Verdeca, Bianco d’Alessano and Francovidda. It can be found in wines listed under the Ostuni D.O.C. denomination.

It’s nice to write about a grape from Puglia during the summer months. I have such fond memories of a vacation I spent in the Salento and of my visit to Ostuni, the first town I really visited in that part of Italy. We also visited Rosa Marina, the beach nearby. Amazing places to vacation and really enticing on this overcast New York Tuesday. All white, it must have been 50 degrees celsius in the shade that August. I drove to Puglia from Milano with a small group of friends. We spent a lovely week staying in the Salento, eating royally and swimming in the green water that is found all over Puglia. I loved all of it, perhaps not the 3 kg I gained from all that eating but it was such a memorable trip. The people were more than welcoming and the countryside is beautiful but it was the color of the water that I will never forget. I remember seeing pictures of green water thinking it had to be colored or changed on a computer but it actually was that color green. I felt I was swimming in an Emerald. If you ever get the chance to visit the area, don’t pass it up.

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La Notte di San Lorenzo – The Night of the Shooting Stars

Make a wish! It’s tonight for those of you who can stay up late enough to look at the stars….


August 10 is officially known in Italy as la notte di San Lorenzo or the Night of the Shooting Stars. This is because, apparently, tonight if there were clear skies, one could see many shooting stars. I always thought this was very poetic but somewhat of a myth. Until I went sailing in the Mediterranean some years ago on August 10. I saw tens of shooting stars and it was indeed magical. I have no idea why this is the case, from a scientific point of view, but effectively everyone in Italy looks to the sky on this evening to make a wish on a shooting star.

There is also a very famous movie called the Night of the Shooting Stars by the Taviani Brothers. I love that movie and most that have to do with World War II.

Recently I had the pleasure of translating for Giovanni Taviani…

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Trying To Fallen In Love Again – With Sauvignon Blanc

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I confess – Sauvignon Blanc has really never been a favorite grape of mine. I have assiduously avoided it the way some people avoid Pinot Grigio, thinking erroneously, that I know what I will be getting in the glass. If there is one style of Sauvignon Blanc that I have really stayed away from – it’s that of New Zealand. Recent events and some humbling wine moments however have made me think that perhaps it was time to start over again. Not dipping my toe in the same water or reheating old soup – as they would say in Italy when you try to rekindle a failed relationship. We all know that never works. No I decided to erase any idea of my former self and go right to the heart of the wine style I thought I didn’t like. I went out and bought one from Benziger, much to my surprise. Of course, being in NYC meant it was more in the $17 range than $15 but it wasn’t an expensive wine. I actually really enjoyed it. The lees aging made it more complex on the palate and it paired well with my simple summer dinners and the occasional Peruvian chicken I bring it. It also stayed fresh for a couple of days.

I then remembered a recent tasting of New Zealand wines in April of this year where I tasted a number of wines that I enjoyed including those of Babich, Elephant Hill, and Spy Valley . None of these wines were what I had imagined they would be. They showed much more muted aromas and flavors rather than hitting me over the head with their aromatics.

New Zealand’s attention to purity of fruit and sustainability has always been interesting to me as is their technology but the wines were always second chair. I love that they are committed to “reducing all use of chemicals, energy, water, packaging.” At this last tasting, the wines seemed to show restraint and varietal purity which did actually interest me. I’m not sure if I am changing or if the wines are calming down a bit but whatever the new combination is, it works. I am looking forward to continuing my Sauvignon Blanc exploits. My longtime goal is to have it be a “banker” – always recognizable in all of its forms. We are a long way away from that sadly but I am sure it will be loads of fun getting to my destination.

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Italian Indigenous Varieties: Groppello di Revo’ Nero from Trentino

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It’s taken me 11 months to get through posts about Italian grape varieties that start with a “g” and here we are with my last one on Groppello di Revo’. I finished the “F” grapes right before I gave birth to my son last September and his 11 month birthday is tomorrow. Hard to believe all around. Last week I wrote about Groppello Gentile and Groppello Mocasina from Lombardy and the Veneto while today’s Groppello is a totally different grape variety that grows primarily in Trentino in the Val di Non. This area was apparently a very important one for grape growing until the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The grape which fell out of favor has seen some renewed interest of late. It is grape that is very tied to the local traditions and pairs well with local foods. I haven’t been to the Trentino in a number of years but have been appreciating the wines since I first discovered them in the late 1990s. Greg Dal Piaz is the expert on this region and I enjoy seeing his amazing photos of the area.

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