Category Archives: Italian recipes

Wine of the Week: Scubla Friulano 2011

Scubla

I was lucky enough to try this wonderful wine, Friulano 2011, from Scubla earlier this summer and then to drink a bottle during my vacation holidays with great swordfish.

I like Friulano with its almond notes, good acidity and refreshing sapidity. I am tempted to write minerality but am trying to get away from that word which has caused so much consternation in the wine community. I have never visited this winery located in the Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC, near the city of Cividale.

Scubla makes just 11,000 bottles of this wine a year. The winery has 12 hectares and was created in 1991. To make this Friulano, they use whole cluster pressing and leave the wine sur lies for eight months. The nutty, yeasty notes you get from this process appeal to me greatly and were also a nice pairing with the torta rustica that I made. The wine is imported by Vinifera Imports.

torta rustica

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Filed under Friuli, Indigeous varieties, Italian DOC Wines, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian recipes, Italian regions, Italian wineries, Wine of the Week

Italian Indigenous Varieties: Cesanese Comune & Cesanese Affile from Lazio

Cesanese Comune and Cesanese Affile are red grape varieties that are grown in Lazio. The wines they produce are usually full bodied and somewhat spicy with nice tannins. The first time I had ever heard of Cesanese was in 2005 when I had the occasion to interview the Princess Maria Camilla Pallavicini from the Principe Pallavicini winery. She very kindly spoke with me on the phone about some of her impressions of the business and invited me to her property some 30 minutes on the train outside of Rome. I jumped at the chance to go and soon found myself in a jeep with her agronomist Mauro De Angelis on a very large property with what seemed to me to be acres and acres of vines.

The Pallavicini have a number of different properties, two of which they use to make wine. I went to visit the Tenuta di Colonna, the property is located in an area formerly known as Labicum that lies between the towns of Colonna and Frascati in Lazio. The family bought 1600 hectares of land in 1670. The Princess and her two sons, Sigieri and Moroello, are on the board of directors. The winery also counts among its considerable resources, the enologist Carlo Roveda, a well-known figure on the Italian winemaking scene and Mauro De Angelis, the agronomist responsible for implementing all of the changes in the vineyards. Carlo Ferrini is also a consulting enologist for the wines.

The Pallavicini family grows the grapes that are indigenous to Lazio, including Cesanese. I really enjoyed their Amarasco, a blend of grapes from different Cesanese clones. The grapes are left to slightly raisin on the vine giving extra strength and flavor. Red fruits and the spicy nature of the Cesanese grape burst through and lead to an enveloping round, velvety mouthfeel and a long finish.
This wine calls for a delicious meal and although it was the beginning of Summer, my thoughts went to Christmases I had spent in Rome and a truly delicious dish that always reminds me of Italy, Baby Lamb Chops Roman Style (Abbacchio alla Romana).

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Filed under Indigeous varieties, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian recipes, Italian regions, Italian wineries

Sweet Saturday: Be Still My Heart – Vivoli Comes To Town

I am jumping out of my skin today. Partly because it’s snowing, it should be spring and because I am participating in the New York Half Marathon tomorrow. No I am not running, I am walking it as part of Team in Training’s team that raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). The other reason I am excited is because Vivoli, a Florentine institution and my favorite gelateria in Italy is now in New York City. I couldn’t be happier.

Vivoli

Vivoli was one of the first places I visited that fated visit to Florence at 20 years old that changed my life forever. I love their gelato, old-fashioned, artisanal, real flavors that I recognize. Stephanie Teuwen told me about the opening yesterday and I had to check it out for myself.

Gelato

What I found, in addition to all the flavors I love, was a huge restaurant that I can’t wait to try, Stella 34 at Macy’s in Herald Square. The New York Times wrote this piece last month on the opening.

Stella 34

I felt like I was in Italy, maybe even on the last floor of Rinascente in Milan or at the bar in Como that I visited last month. I felt like I would look out the window and see the Duomo in Como (below).
Instead, I saw the Empire State Building which has its own fascino…

Como

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Filed under Art, Gelato, Italian recipes, Italian Restaurants, Memorable Events, Travel, Tuscany

Back In The Eternal City – Roma

I’m back in the eternal city and too excited and overwhelmed to sleep. I’ve in fact been up reading since 400am but no matter life is to be enjoyed “anche durante le ore piccole” or the wee hours of the night.

I’ve been in town just two days staying with riends from Italy and hanging out with  friends from the States who were in a Master’s program with me in Bologna. In fact, Zach, Julia and their great kids Sam and Jules but not little Elena and I spent part of our afternoon in Piazza Navona.

We also went to look at the Caravaggio’s in a nearby church, San Luigi dei Francesi. Somewhat overcome with all the emotions of the beauty of Rome, we settled down to have fabulous gelato near the Pantheon. My favorites are always the same, coco e caffe but the chose was difficult.

San Luigi dei Francesi was one of the stops on my dear friend Teresa’s family tour of Rome. Her father, Brunello, loved Caravaggio and it was with Teresa that I first went to that church. I got to spend an amazing day with her family on Friday in Zagarolo.

I was Teresa’s testimonio di nozze in 2008 and I’m glad to be here for her fourth anniversary, more or less. I’m sorry that I will be missing the annual festival of the Tordo Matto. I tried this local delicacy for the first time at Teresa and Filippo’s wedding and while I am against eating la carne equina (I can’t even write it),I must say that this dish was particularly memorable and part of me is sorry to not have the opportunity next weekend but I’ll be in the North.

Teresa and Filippo have introduced me to some of the most incredible restaurants and chefs that I have ever met. Top among them were Sor Anna, Antonello Colonna and the famed sommelier turned restaurateur Pipero. Who you might ask are these people?

A trio of noted Roman food & wine notables. Anna Dente is the owner and maestra of the Osteria San Cesario.

Sor Anna is the “quintessenza della Romanita’.” I know not everyone reads Italian but I just found this amazing entry about Sor Anna on the blog Le Forchettine by the multitalented author of Aglioolioepeperoncino.com. This is such a perfect description of Sor Anna and a beautifully written blog post, worth reading with a dictionary to catch some of the underlying things that make Rome great.

Sor Anna is particularly enamored of Filippo and I have always had royal treatment when I have been at the restaurant. Sadly much of the menu are things that I don’t have nell’anima. Someone who I have always thought was her son but am now less sure asked me if I didn’t like eating the “menu macabro” or a menu of internal meats much to my dad’s chagrin.

I have never forgotten that statement nor have I ventured towards any of the items on that list but if you are in Rome and like those dishes, Sor Anna is a must.

Antonello Colonna I met at his restaurant in a town called Labico outside of Rome. It was the first “ristorante di alta cucina italiana” that I had been to in my many years in Italy. Filippo was the assistant sommelier when interviewed Colonna in 2005 and was fascinated with his conceptual ideas of the kitchen, food and the like. I remember him telling me about his plans to open a resort and I see from his site that his dream has been realized. I will have to check it out. He also runs a famed restaurant in Rome at  Palazzo degli Esposizioni.

Alessandro Pipero, un altro personaggio storico and good friend of Teresa and Filippo’s is perhaps the perfect incarnation of a restaurateur. He also catered their wedding so I have been able to see his work on in the intimate setting of his restaurant as well as at a wedding for 100+ people. This blog post about his new restaurant Pipero al Rex, also in Italian is just dreamy and makes me want to eat immediately, even through it’s only 730am. Not only would I trust all of his food recommendations but wines as well without blinking. Truly a memorable experience, you must meet Pipero at least once in your life and eat in his restaurant drinking wines that he has chosen for you. He also happens to be very funny so it really is a truly memorable evening.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, I’m staying with my lovely friends who are Rome transplants from Emilia and Milan, Cristina and Giuliano and their three delicious children Emma, Camilla and Giacomo who wasn’t born at the time of the photo in 2009.

Cristina is among the loveliest and brightest people  I know as well as one of the best cooks I have the pleasure to count among my friends. It’s always a joy to be in her house with her family and her food. Cristina comes from Emilia, Borgo Taro, specifically which is home to the mushroom. In fact some of the best meals I have had in Italy with mushrooms have been at their houses.

We’ve been friends since 1998 and I went to my first Cantine Aperte  with them to Alba. I had my first Barolo from Oddero and my first Brasato al Barolo with Cri and Giuli, other moments that remain in my heart. Here in the Boggiali house in Rome in the incredible neighborhood of San Saba, I have rediscovered the joy of being with old friends once again and spending time with 2, 8 and 10 year olds and their passions. For years I have visited Cristina and Giuliano in Rome, in Milan, in Levanto, and in Gressoney. Always welcoming and generous, I also was first introduced to wines from the Valle d’Aosta, Donnas Blanc de Morgex et de la Salle ,   with them and the particular varieties from their area of Liguria, Levanto, wines I love from Colli di Luni.

All of these wine and food discoveries have been part of the conversation and experience but never the main event, perhaps that is why I never realized just how many things they have introduced me to during the course of our long friendship. In just two days in Rome, I feel completely back to myself, my Italian life and of course more enamored than ever of this eternal city. Happy that I am just at the beginning of my trip, I may have to leave Rome soon otherwise my friends will have a guest “a vita.”

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Filed under emilia romagna, Friends/Family, Italian Delicacies, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian recipes, Italian regions, Italian Restaurants, Italian wineries, lazio, Liguria, Memorable Events, Piedmont, Sommeliers, Travel, Valle d'Aosta, wines

Italy in New York: Alta Cucina Opens for Lunch

I have been missing Italy a lot these past few days. It’s the holiday season, Sant’Ambrogio, the beginning of le citta’ adorned with Christmas lights and of course missing my friends. What I always miss is the ease of eating a good meal at lunch without paying a fortune. When I worked in Italy, you could go out for a relatively quick bite to eat and have something healthy as well as enjoyable while sitting down and chatting with a friend.

I am happy to report that the same is now true near my office in New York City. Alta Cucina is open for lunch from 12:00 – 2:30 pm, Monday through Friday. This lovely little Italian outpost is in an interesting area with a dearth of good lunch options, East 38th Street right off of Madison Avenue.

Alta Cucina, which is also open for breakfast Italian style – coffee and pastries – from 700am on, has been a resource for me in many ways since I moved back to New York and they opened their doors. Alta Cucina sells Italian specialty products and also holds cooking classes. I started my Italian indigenous grape variety series for their website and then moved it to this blog.

I don’t like to eat a heavy meal at lunch nor to spend a lot of money midday unless I am doing something festive. Alta Cucina has salads, soups, pasta and pannini at very reasonable prices which is also a joy. I ate there today and had lentil soup and a salad for a modest sum and felt like I had spent lunchtime in an Italian local. While nothing beats going to Italy, I am happy when I can find a touch of il Bel’ Paese here in New York City.

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Filed under Indigeous varieties, Italian recipes, Italian Restaurants, italy, Memorable Events, Restaurants

Bottega Falai – Tuscan Chef Iacopo Falai Expands Empire

I’ve just been in the mood for Tuscany lately, what can I say. I was there just two short weeks ago having dinner with friends I have known for 20 years. I miss those carefree Tuscan days and my friends but lucky I can get good Tuscan fair right here in New York thanks to Iacopo Falai who made his name as a pasty chef in New York and is certainly remaking himself into a serial entrepreneur in the food industry. His latest venture, Bottega Falai, is doing just as well as all of his other locations.

The Bottega operates from 7 A.M. – 10 P.M. and sells a number of items to take out. There are a few tables to sit and have a coffee and a pastry but the main thrust of the place is that of a caffe. In the Bottega, one can buy all the fresh ingredients used to make delicious dinners at the restaurant next-door, Caffe Falai. The location on Lafayette was just recently expanded. Of course, using the same ingredients doesn’t guarantee that you food will be as good as Falai’s but one can always hope.

One can find prestigious Italian olive oils, teas, pastas, mineral waters, seasoning, and some prepared foods as well as a host of breads and pastry made daily.

To read more about the bottega, check out my article on Alta Cucina Society’s website.

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Filed under Italian Delicacies, Italian recipes, Italian Restaurants, italy, Restaurants

Largest BYOB Party Ever, James Beard Awards, Kevin Zraly

Last night the James Beard Awards were held in New York City. Many of the wine and food luminaries were of course in attendance, those getting awards and those merely watching the festivities. I really like this article in The Atlantic about the Awards.

For those of us who were not invited or prize winners, one had to celebrate in other ways. Luckily, my friend Eric Orange of Local Wine Events invited me to Kevin Zraly’s after party which was billed as the largest BYOB party.

I am not sure how many people where there but it seemed like a rockin’ crowd to me. I saw many of the wine world luminaries I know and some I do not. Kevin won the Lifetime Achievement award for his work in the field. Hats off to him. I have sat in on many of his classes and enjoy his enthusiasm and warmth, verve and energy when teaching. Many of his former colleagues from Windows on The World were in attendance which was very touching.

Hudson Chatham Baco Noir

Everyone brought a wine to the event. I tasted a number of wines including some that I had never tried such as a Baco Noir from the Hudson-Chatham Winery. I was favorably surprised.

I also tried Merican, a Bordeaux blend made by Eric Miller of Chaddsford Winery in Pennsylvania. I had heard about Chaddsford from my Society of Wine Educators friend Mark for a few years now but had never tried their wines. I was impressed.

Chaddsford Winery

Apparently, Eric and Kevin go back 40 years to early days at the Depuy Canal House in the Hudson Valley. Many of Kevin’s old friends were in attendance and it was touching all around.

Amarone
The best wine of the evening that I tried was a 1960 Bertani. It was so alive and still filled with fruit and spice, acidity and finesse. This 50 year old wine was drinking beautifully. Tomorrow I hope to write about my experiences at the Bertani home in Verona during Vinitaly. Quite memorable but for today just a congratulations to Kevin Zraly and other winners.

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Filed under Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian recipes, Italian regions, Italian wineries, italy, Memorable Events, New York