choose your destiny

giovedì 30 dicembre 2010

building racks for wine storage with big frank

Took a Friday afternoon with my father, to throw together a wine rack for the basement.  Frank has all the carpentry skills which he developed over many grueling childhood years working with his father and brother.  It only took about 4 hours with a few breaks in between.  A 42 bottle wine rack made with pine...

It all starts with this legendary table saw passed down from my grandfather Americo.
Along with some modern tools like this Porter Cable nail gun.
The nails load in like a clip of ammo going into an AK47.

Setting up the ''jig'', which will make sure all the shelves are exactly the same distance apart.
Spacing the separators.
Big frank matching the shelves to the fram.
A finished product, A total savings of $120, compared with ordering wine racks online.

lunedì 20 dicembre 2010

croquembouche like whoaaa

Last night, celebrated the holiday season, and feasted on this exquisite Crouquembouche above made by friend and colleague Sara Bullock.  This thing was off the hook delicious as well as a masterpiece sculpture...  

martedì 14 dicembre 2010

La battaglia nel centro di Roma - Protesters clash with police in Rome.

December 14, 2010.. Parliament met for the crucial confidence vote, Berlusconi made it through by the skin of his teeth, with 314 in favour, and 311 against...  Anti-Berlusconi University students lashed out and set everything on fire down the famous shopping street Via del Corso to Piazza del Popolo while fighting police. 

I don't post politics...ever... but seeing this madness go down in my ''other home'' on the other part of the world, I'll share the news...
Click below for full stories...
Photos Courtesy of MSNBC
Video from la republica

lunedì 13 dicembre 2010

Throwback Luke Mitrani

Old footage of Luke, courtesy of Frends Vision.  Watch him slay a board since the day he set foot on skateboard or snowboard... He has always been one of my favorite snowboarders to watch... see for yourself.

Memory Monday - Luke Mitrani old Skate and Snowboard footy from Jack Mitrani on Vimeo.

shots from portland, and the best fries ever...

hand cut belgian duckfat fries up close and personal.

 Cruising into Portland, Maine on Friday night we had to make a necessary stop into DUCKFAT restaurant.  For a sandwich and a sampling of their famous Hand cut Belgian Duckfat fries.  They are served piping hot with a list of dipping sauce choices.  We shrelped up some duckfat gravy and the thai chili mayo.  The secret to these precious fries, is they are fried in oil which is 25% duck fat... great stuff....The Duck Cofit Panino (above) was decent, but I preferred the Corned beef tongue Reuben, served with swiss and marinated cabbage which was cheaper and more flavorful.

43 Middle Street Portland, Maine.

Saturday involved a day on the slopes at Sunday River, followed by some Portland madness with the ''Captain''...

venerdì 10 dicembre 2010

2010, Dukes of December are off...

I duci di dicembre, parte due, dumane partiamo da Pittsfield Massachusetts.  Andiamo a nord, e ci fermiamo a Portland, Maine.  Poi un giorno sullo snowboard a Vermont.  Ci gasiamo e famo bordello come sempre...

Aizza Aizza Aizza
Acala Acala Acala
Accosa Accosta Accosta
A' Salute Nosta!!!

Bunk Nebbiolo?

Somehow bought this Langhe Nebbiolo ''Roccardo'' from Rocche Costamagna, the other day, which happened to be the only Langhe Nebbiolo in the wine shop from my area...  I tasted it... nope...
just not happening.  Not feeling any of the Nebbiolo I love so much, on this wine.  This Langhe Nebbiolo from Rocche Costamagna for instance goes through a modern vinification, with maceration lasting for only 5-6 days, as opposed to say the above left from Produttori Del Barbaresco a traditional Nebbiolo (maceration lasting 22 days on the skins).  Both 100% Nebbiolo, around $20-$25, very different wines.  It seems crazy to me when vinification techniques can take over the sensation of the grape varietal, and suddenly you aren't drinking Nebbiolo but instead a bunk candy, fruit forward mess that resembles a Beaujolais Nouveau more than anything from Piemonte... Oh well, let's dump this bitch out and try again...

I remember a Salvador Dali quote
''Don't bother about being modern. 
Unfortunately it is the one thing that, 
whatever you do, you cannot avoid. ''

This is true in so many cases, but we hope for the sake of wine at least, that tradition can prevail....

domenica 5 dicembre 2010

82 Pichon Lalande drinking like a beauty

Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande last night was drinking like a true gem....My favorite community tasting note on this wine; ''Naso subito esplosivo di spezie (pepe), con bel tabacco scuro''.  It was all there the aromas of spices and pepper just exploding out of the glass..  If your one of the lucky ones who have this stored away,  drink her up!

mercoledì 1 dicembre 2010


Above, a selection of some typical neopolitan desserts with the classic struffoli on the left.  I spent Christmas day in Naples last year, and snapped this shot at my cousins house during dessert.  The photo isn't great probably due to my stomach being on the verge of bursting from being force-fed all day.  For a beautiful site with full videos and instructions on italian recipes go to  Below,  a poem on struffoli taken from 

A fa ‘e struffoli è nu sfizio.
Cumminciamm dall’inizio:
faje na pasta sopraffina,
e po’ tagliala a palline,
cu na bona nfarinata.
Dopp’a frje. Già t’e stancate?
Chest è a parte chiù importante!
Mò ce vo’: miele abbondante
e na granda cucuzzata
(a cocozza nzuccherata).
N’è fernuto ancora, aspiette!
S’anna mettere ‘e cunfiette:
aggrazziate, piccerille,
culurate: ‘e diavulille…
Ma qua nfierno, è Paraviso!
Iamme, falle nu’ surriso!
Comme dice? “Mamma mia,
stanne troppi ccalurie
so’ pesante, fanno male?”
Si va buò,ma è Natale!

Alleyway in Naples, Christmas 2009.
 The above poem reminded me of a different poem I found in the home of a neopolitan that day... 

martedì 30 novembre 2010

barn burner sale, last tasting at the market

Above, My friend Caitlin Harrison (wine director from Mission Bar and Tapas) hosted her last wine tasting at the market on North St. in Pittsfield tonight.  A barn burner wine sale and good ass beer sampling as well....
thanks for the good times!

domenica 28 novembre 2010

Saturday tastings, Petrus & Screaming Eagle

Château Pétrus, Pomerol, Bordeaux 1990
Screaming Eagle, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 1993

Château Pétrus, Pomerol, Bordeaux 1990 (100 pts by Robert Parker)
Now producing 100% Merlot wines, this 1990 is a 95% Merlot 5% Cabernet Franc blend.  At one point before the 1960's they would use as much as 20% Cabernet Franc.  This was a great effort ...Pure Pomerol terroir on the nose, fruit closed at first but after an hour opened up nicely.  Showing great elegant Merlot fruit, cocoa, caramel, balanced acidity and lasting long in the mouth.

Screaming Eagle, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 1993
Screaming Eagle hit the market in 1992 with a Cabernet Sauvignon that Robert Parker scored a 99.  After that it was all ''cult'', with unusually high prices on the wines.  This wine was showing beautiful fruits, cherry, plum, dark berries, strong with a bit too much alcohol noticeable, the acidity was nice but not perfectly balanced.

Next weeks tasting:
Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, 2ème Cru, Pauillac, Bordeaux 1982
Shafer Vineyards,” Hillside Select”, Stags Leap District, Napa Valley 1996

sabato 27 novembre 2010


A friend Alessandro from Alba captured this shot yesterday (11/25)...A view of Pratonevoso, a Ski resort 1480 M above sea level located in Piemonte (Cuneo).  I was there last year for the first snowfall of the season... what mythical times..

One thing that kept reminding me I was in Piemonte and not Vermont, was this fabulous advertisement on the ticket check gates for Capetta: Vini e Spumante D.O.C.
Another advantage of cruising the slopes of Piemonte is being able to stop for a quick caffè (theres espresso machines located in just about every lodge on the hill) or if your feeling freaky a Bombardino.  This drink is popular in Northern Italy during the winter and consists of VOV (an italian zabajone or egg and marsala liquor) Brandy and whipped cream on top.  Another version that is popular adds an espressso shot.  This is sure to get yo' body moving...
Vov is hard to locate in the U.S. but you can make it homemade if your inspired... Im for sure making some this Christmas.. I will post on that later..

domenica 21 novembre 2010

GAJA Barolo Sperss 1989

Another magical saturday tasting at the castle, in Lenox MA.  This week featuring:

Gaja, Barolo "Sperss" Piedmont, Italy 1989

Earlier in the week i emailed over to GAJA, and received some of the history of Sperss from Angelo Gaja himself....
Sperss 1989
''Avevamo acquistato la proprietà nel giugno 1988,  l’annata 1989 è stata la prima di coltivazione del vigneto condotta integralmente da noi.''
''We acquired the property of Sperss in June of 1988, and the 1989 Vintage was the first year of cultivation of the vineyards which was undergone entirely by us.''
As each of the GAJA single vineyard names have their own story behind them ''Sperss'' is from the Piemontese dialect meaning ''nostalgia''.
Why Nostalgia?
Angelo explains how is father Giovanni (1908-2002) from the ages of 18-20, went to harvest the grapes in the vineyard of Sperss in Serralunga.  He was given food, a place to sleep and even some money.  On the other hand when he was working in his families vineyards in Barbaresco, he wasn't compensated at all.  He imagined his whole life it would be incredible to acquire the Sperss property but the chance never came.  Until one day his son Angelo had the opportunity and his father was ''felicissimo''.  They named the vineyard and the wine ''Sperss'' for the nostalgia Giovanni held throughout a very long period of his life.

The Gaja Sperss wine is 100% Nebbiolo through the vintage of 1995.
From 1996 on Sperss no longer caries the denominazione Barolo DOCG and is made up of 
94% Nebbiolo
6% Barbera

Perchè Barbera?
Angelo explains, ''Before the war and until 1965, there were numerous producers that traditionally were adding little quantities of Barbera to their Barolo and Barbaresco.
The Barbera, doesnt mask or obscure the personality of Nebbiolo, which is dominant.  But it contributes to balancing the acidity which with global warming has been reduced (in comparison to the past).  According to the interpretation of Guido Rivella (responsible for the Gaja cellars) the wine benefits from this integration. (with all due respect to the producers making Barolo with 100% Nebbiolo.)''
The extra long cork (63mm or 1½ inches) that Angelo Gaja introduced in 1982

1989 was an excellent year, but only in Piedmont.  In almost all the other Italian wine regions the late maturing of the grapes was hindered by bad weather.
In Piedmont, it threatened to rain for 15 days (it poured rain everywhere else) but then returned to nice weather and it was possible to harvest some grapes which were in great condition.  Because the 1989 vintage was only good in Piedmont (also a few places outside of Italy) it became obscured by the outstanding vintage of 1990 (which was a good vintage worldwide).  

Angelo recommended we open this bottle 1-1½ hrs before pouring, decanting and then immediately pouring back in the bottle and re-corking (double decanting). 
The '89 Sperss was showing nicely with a brick red colour, an enticing gamy nose, and classic ''old nebbiolo'' flavours.  Hints of rose petal, licorice, nice fruit and long fluidity on the palate.  delicious...

Heitz Cellars, "Martha's Vineyard," Napa Valley, California 1989
With all the excitement of tasting an old Gaja wine, I wasnt too stoked on the Heitz, it wasnt showing so hot.. although well rounded and spicy, just not much complexity and the fruit was lost a little.  Maybe past it's peak for '89 vintage....

Stay tuned for next week:
November 27th, 2010
Château Pétrus, Pommerol, Bordeaux 1990
Screaming Eagle, Napa Valley, California 1993

domenica 14 novembre 2010

Oddero by mail = early Xmas

Oddero Poderi e Cantine is unavailable in Massachusetts, and shipping alcohol is illegal.  That isnt enough to stop me..thankful for having an uncle living in Connecticut, thanks David!

venerdì 12 novembre 2010

Sassicaia winter wine dinner

Winter Tasting Supper
With Piero Incisa Della Rocchetta
Sunday, 5th December 2010
Lenox, Massachusetts

Commotion Movie

Commotion- The Movie from Commotion on Vimeo.

Commotion has arrived....
A snowboarding movie put together last year, and just released by my good friends
Cody Rosenthal, and Nick Russell.
Full of bone crushing, action packed madness on the snow...
as Nick says, ''Here it is, hate it or love it, it's free...''

lunedì 8 novembre 2010

scenes from a beaux frères dinner...

We served a flight of Beaux Frères pinot noirs last night starting with recent vintages (2008, 2007, 2006, 2005) and ending with a 2002 beaux freres ''upper terrace'' and 1992 beaux freres ''the vineyard'' (their first released vintage) to accompany a cheese plate.  I'm not a big fan of these style of wines... they were showing alright, everyone agreed on the 1992 being the star, well rounded and the most mature.  After being open for a few hours it started to die a little and developed some ''burnt'' aromas that werent so appealing. In the Kitchen Chef Christopher Brooks and Arnaud Cotar laid the smackdown with some ass kicking creations...

Krug arrival toast with canapes...
Chef, getting buck nasty, putting the finishing touches on the Sustainable Tuna, Cauliflower, Capers and Parsley.

Autumn Mushroom Tasting

Duo of La Belle Farms Duck, Orange, Watercress and Frisée

Boneless Lamb Rack, Parsnips, Sultana, Chickpea Croquette and Curry Jus

Cheese Selection
Devils Chocolate Cake
Sommelier, Luc Chevalier decanting a few of the beaux freres wines.
Beaux Freres wine maker Michael Etzel in the middle with Luc and Christelle

mercoledì 3 novembre 2010

timeless mouton...

Baron Philippe de Rothschild in the Grand Chai about 1980, savoring the new wine in a glass held by the maitre de chai Raoul Blandin, photo pg. 123 mouton rothschild paintings for the labels.

above, the timeless photograph of the legendary Baron Philippe, who at the early age of 22 in 1924, came up with the outlandish idea to bottle the entire vintage at the chateau.  This led to the mise en bouteilles au chateau, which was soon adopted by the Premier Crus.  To draw attention to this new concept Baron commissioned poster designer Jean Carlu to create an original label for that year, 1924.
Baron Philippe, lived the life of a wealthy playboy at an early age, frequenting paris night clubs, and hitting it off with actresses.  Besides being one of the most successful wine growers in all of time, he also was a grand prix race-car driver (under the name of Georges Philippe), screen writer, playwright, theatrical producer, film producer, and poet.

''Premier je suis, Second je fus, Mouton ne change.''
 "First, I am. Second, I used to be. But Mouton does not change."

Carlu's label for the 1924 label

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