During my Journey back to America from my South East Asia Adventures I received some photos from friends enjoying a Piedmontese life at Maialino in New York City. Damn, these are two things that I will never feel bad about when returning to the city.
White Alba truffles and baseball, Maialino New York City.
Some 1971 Oddero Barolo is poured at Maialino to compliment the seasons white truffles.
Lets face it, The Philippines can be quite consistently a disapointing culinary experience . But there is however the infamous Balut! Upon arriving in the Philippines I had to get my hands on this strange street food. Balut, an 18 day old hard boiled duck embryo.
When you go around browsing the shops, restaurants, and street food vendors you most likely wont find any signs for balut. In my case my trip found me in Puerto Princesa and El Nido and after walking around the streets asking the locals, "Whats the deal with the balut scene', here is what I found.
Very simply all you have to do is be in the right place at the right time. There will either be an old lady with a cart yelling ''balut! balut! balut!'', or in my case in El Nido I saw there were usually three kids carrying a bucket of freshly boiled balut eggs hollering balut in a similar manor. Sometimes you will be able to catch a cart set up in a food market in some towns.
After you take off the shell there will be
some nice spicy vinegar you will want to have with the egg. I also reccomend washing it down with a San Miguel Pilsen to help manage the crazy unique textures and cartalidge crunching sounds that one experiences.
Best Ramen I have had. Ordered from a vending machine at the entrance of this restaurant in Roppongi. You then take a seat and don't worry about a thing! An unexpected playlist of blues and jazz filled the room that really put the icing on the cake. God I love the way the Japanese think.
Arrived in Tokyo yesterday and while waiting for my travel mates Blake and James, I stumbled upon my first restaurant in Tokyo, “Sanda”, which turned out to be amazing! Located in the Roppongi quarter and with a tasting menu only at about 58,000¥ ($60). Here you will be served Sanda Wagyu Offals from the prized beef in many different tastes shapes and forms.
Above, Japanese Barbecue from left, diaphragm, “yann” the tissue between the 3rd and 4th stomach, pancreas, and finally beef cheeks.
Above, The 1984 Barolo Zonchera from Ceretto (my first tasting of my own birth vintage) ended up being surprisingly drinkable and enjoyable. In the glass the colour was very cloudy light, light red but not your typical orange rimmed old Nebbiolo. There was an immediate aroma of dark soils and heated chocolate. Developing into a rusty nose with a smokiness, resembling an opened bag of BBQ potato chips. Once swallowed there was pretty much zero complexity or finish. Pretty much all of the fruit has disappeared from this wine, but the acidity was surprisingly healthy and balanced. There was a hell of a lot going on in the nose, but quite thin on the palate and finish. A battered and weathered Barolo, refusing to die, holding on for dear life.
For me the thinness was expressive of the cold and rainy month and a half during the crucial period for the grapes ripening levels before harvest. But the fact that this wine is still alive 29 years later given all of the hazardous elements mother nature threw its way is pretty cool.
1984 Piedmont Vintage Report - Decanter.com ''The first three months of the year were cool with some snow. April was fair, but May was cold, cloudy and wet causing problems for bud-break. A problematic June meant flowering delayed by two to three weeks. The ripening process was hampered at key moments in the summer by rain and humidity, and a cool autumn was partly ameliorated by a warm final ripening period for Barolo.''
Had to splurge on some hopefully not hopeless 1984 vintages, a 1984 Giuseppe Rinaldi Barbera d'Alba, and a 1984 Ceretto Barolo Zonchera. Thrown in as well is a 1983 Chateau Romer du Hayot Sauternes.
The 1984 vintage in most of Europe was quite wretched; Plagued with cold weather and rain from mid september to early October. I have never tasted my birth year but I am heading to the LBI, dirty jersey and figured you only live once, Roll The Dice...
A 30 year old Barbera produced in one of the worst vintages? Hmmm...
Any who thanks to Chambers St Wines in New York City for having such bad ass wines.
A 1990 Sperss from Gaja made it onto the table of a lucky couple a few evenings ago. The 1990 was the second year of production for the Sperss and still at that point a 100% Nebbiolo wine. I was able to taste and receive some information from Angelo a few years back on Sperss and the 1989 vintage.
The Sperss plantings are within the Marenca-Rivette Area in South/Central Serralunga with an area of about 30 acres.
The 1990 was just as exciting as the 1989 bottling and probably even more complex. When first opened there was an explosion of chocolate that seducted the taster. Ten minutes into it all of the rose petal and cherry tar complexity was released and tasted as if it were a different wine.
We double decanted this as Angelo Gaja suggests. I always find it the best to drink a fine wine like this exactly how the wine maker or wine creator would drink them, as he certainly knows best.
Below a map showing Marenca-Rivette in green and orange within the mid section of Serralunga.
Above, side by side, the soft colours of Nebbiolo (left) against the intensely dark purple Barbera (right)
I had a brief stop and chat with Giuseppe Vaira in New York City last week and I managed to sample a couple of his wines right after he rushed out the door in typical New York Fashion. Having the night off, I actually brought these two bottles home with me: a 2008 Barolo Albe, and a 2009 Barbera d'Alba Superiore. The pleasant Barolo Albe coming from three vineyards, Le coste, Fossati and La Volta is usually a leaner, approachable style of Barolo but still with those traditional Nebbiolo notes you love.
I poured some of the Barbera Superiore into my glass and my only immediate reaction was a "Holy shit!''. This is definitely a bold and intense expression of Barbera which seems to coat your mouth in a syrupy fashion. This Barbera is not playing games, just kicking asses and taking names. I have tasted many of the these wines on different occasions, but the 2009 Barbera in my glass seemed to be showing outside of the Vajra style I was used to. Giuseppe was already flying back to his new daughter, so I threw an E-mail to his sister Francesca Vaira, who I happened to meet two years ago in Rome.
Francesca explains that the Barbera d'Alba Superiore starts with the vineyard, the criteria being the vines that work the hardest to produce the best fruit. The vines are either coming from the oldest vineyards or those from the poorest soils. This selection produces natural yields year after year. 2009 was also a hot and dry year preceded by a very snowy winter, an ideal condition for the correct development of the vines.
''Denso sì, di una densità dovuta all’annata e alle viti,
non certo alla lavorazione in cantina.''
The most important thing to note is that this very concentrated and ripe Barbera is an expression of the selected vineyards and vintage, and not that of the work/vinification techniques used in the cellars.
Thank you Giuseppe and Francesca, always a pleasure to taste and learn about the wines of Vajra.
Above, That spring feeling in the air with a rooftop spritz, Bushwick, Brooklyn.
Later, we dined at Bar Boulud which was a pretty memorable charcuterie experience. Also happened to open two memorable wines.
Starting with a 2011 Chablis from Domaine Pattes Loup, who practice organic viticulture, we were sold on it as soon as Sommelier Eduardo described it as fresh, and like tapping a glacier. It really brought a whole new style of freshness and acidity to chablis that I have never tasted.
The second bottle made its way to our table in the form of Philippe Livera, Domaine Des Tilleuls, Gevrey-Chambertin, Clos Village 2008. After this bottle I am sold on 2008 red Burgundy, for however long it lasts the wines at village level from this vintage are really expressing themselves.
In 2005 Damien Livera started estate bottling his wines. Since the 1930's his grandfather was selling the wines to the Beaune negocient houses.
This bottle was full of sharp toasty notes; like an enticing burnt match that slowly morphed into dark tobacco, cherry and leather with amazing acidity. Really food friendly as well, gorgeous stuff this night.