choose your destiny

lunedì 10 marzo 2014

Timeless method yesterday at the Us Open

Taylor Gold sending a timeless method on the first hit yesterday
and taking home the Gold medal at the US Open in Vail, Colorado.

There was a good feeling in the air after watching the US Open of Snowboarding yesterday.  After a terrible Halfpipe competition in Sochi for the olympics, Vail put on an amazing contest and some amazing tricks went down.

Besides Terje poaching with some classic frontside Indy to Method double grabs, Taylor Gold mixed up some classic styles with some new school tricks like Haakon 1080 Chicken Salads, and Frontside crippler Roast Beefs.  It was enough to take home a well deserved gold medal which left a sense of hope for the future and style of competitive snowboarding.

Link to Snowboardermag Video

Terje, Danny and Lago sending it together.

venerdì 7 marzo 2014

Tokyo. Remembering the two best culinary experiences of my life, in one day.

The flawless fatty tuna at Sushi Dai in the Tsukiji Fish Market.

The two single best culinary/dining experiences of my life at 29 years old happened in one day in Tokyo, Japan.  The first was a sushi breakfast at 8 am in a tiny little place and the second happened 12 hours later in a fine dining restaurant.

The following is a journal entry from 100 Rolls by Blake Noyes during that magically tasteful day in Tokyo.

After a 3am wake-up call and a sip or two of some Japanese whiskey we set off for the Tsukiji fish market. Somehow we wandered in the right direction and found ourselves in a huge, dark complex of warehouses with every sea creature under the sun in what seemed to be millions of boxes and crates. Total sensory overload. Gasoline, cigarettes and raw fish. Squeaking styrofoam and screaming fishermen. Dismissive hand gestures and dangerous hand carts. 

The sights, sounds and smells were unlike anything we’d ever seen.

And the flavors? Well after being politely “excused” from the grounds by various security officers we wound up in a line about 20 people deep for Sushi Dai - an 11-seat sushi bar renowned for their omakase menu featuring the chefs favorites from that night/morning’s catch.

Still only 5am mind you. 1 hour goes by. Then 2. Then 3. Luckily we had run into some friends from NYC (shout out to chefs Ben and Sara) to help pass the time. By 8:30 we were crammed into this hole-in-the-wall joint tucked away in an alley and had the best sushi meal of our collective lives. We all agreed. Quite the breakfast.

Here are some shots of the sushi served up by the very talented, comedian sushi chefs

After a pitstop at the hotel it was off to the Ryogoku Kokugikan Grand Tournament to see some classic sumo wrestling matches. Again, quite the sight to see.

Then it was the red light district by Shinjuku Station...

We finished the night off at Kyubey, another small sushi bar, this time in the Ginza neighborhood. Here the service and location were much more polished but once more, another stellar meal. It may be a bitter-sweet thing that happened, but it made for the second best sushi meal of our lives. And they happened on the same day, not even 13 hours apart from one another. Many thanks to Chef Takeshima and his crew.

We were ambitious with our plans for the club scene, but it was probably for the best that we called it a night after that 21 hour marathon.

Here we are… Nico, Blake, and James with Chef and server at Kyubey.

Cheers from the 333, #AsianTouringClub2013

martedì 26 novembre 2013

Missing the Piedmontese life in New York City.

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.

venerdì 11 ottobre 2013

How to find Balut in The Philippines

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.

Happy Balut searching!


giovedì 19 settembre 2013

Incredible Ramen in Roppongi

Best Ramen I have had.  While in the Roppongi quarter of Tokyo we found this spot and ordered our meal from a vending machine at the entrance.  After ordering you 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.

First tastes of Tokyo

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.

martedì 20 agosto 2013

1984 Ceretto Barolo Zonchera Tasting Notes:

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 -

''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.''

domenica 18 agosto 2013

The dreadful 1984 vintage

You only live once...

 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.


venerdì 19 luglio 2013

Krug and Jazz at Coppolas place in New Orleans

Cruising around the music filled, boozy streets of New Orleans has found me in the Coppolas residence for Krug and Jazz... Life is hot and humid , but definitely beautiful living. 

Fried boudin with pickled peppers at Cochon, New Orleans.

mercoledì 10 luglio 2013

Coming back around to Sperss, 1990.

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.

martedì 7 maggio 2013

The colours of Vajra, and an unexpected Barbera d'Alba Superiore 2009.

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.

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