choose your destiny

sabato 30 ottobre 2010

mushroom spotting in new england

While on my road bike in Richmond (Massachusetts), I cruised by this gorgeous collection of Oyster mushrooms.  Later I harvested a few of them, and cooked them up.  While mushroom hunting has been a popular pastime for hundreds of years in Europe, it is just starting to catch on in the states.  The most important thing, is to not kill yourself with a fucking poisonous mushroom! study the lookalikes..

detail of the oyster mushroom.

The mushroom I have been trying to track down lately is this bearded fellow above, known as a bearded tooth, or hedgehog mushroom.  No dice, but it is suppose to be excellent.  It has been known to resemble crab meat, and is found on the american beech tree.  Mainly in the summer and early fall, so it is begining to be too late.  Morels are also very popular here in the berkshires, but are only found in the spring... Other popular fall mushrooms include Chicken of the woods, and hen of the woods (Grifola in italian). which are two completely different types of shroomage...

Above are some Porcini's my friends in Sappada found this past fall...
There in Sappada, Italy located in the northern Veneto, I was introduced to mushroom hunting.  I have posted on the gastronomic delights earlier...  There is nothing quite like a freshy picked Porcino mushroom.  Raw, sliced thin and drizzled with olive oil....

above is a ''lookalike'' of the porcini, and is not edible..  you really cant tell unless you slice it in half and that bottom green layer shouts ''che schiffo, non mangiare!!

The second most popular hunting mushroom in northern Italy is the above ''gialletto'' or chanterelle...
they are found in abundance around Sappada, and are very delicious as well..

happy mushroom hunting..

giovedì 28 ottobre 2010

some La Tache and Lafite

Tasted a wonderful DRC 2001 La Tache last night after pouring for a wine dinner.  Still way too young for me but nice fruit and a very stunning finish, lasting more than a couple of minutes in the mouth with beautiful rich red fruits. wowwww
Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1986
Opened this first growth, which happened to be finely corked... not extremely unapealing though for a not so fine vintage in bordeaux..
deep deep forest aromas, a little too musty on the palate...but not a total loss of fruits and acidity..
opened a second bottle which was much more explosive with fresher fruit, acidity and complexity, much more enjoyable!
afterall we are talking about a first growth here.. jesus....

martedì 26 ottobre 2010

1998 vin de paille, a harmonious assemblage of caramel, gold and mint

1998 M. Chapoutier Hermitage Vin De Paille (375 ml)
100 cases made
100% marsanne grapes
15% alcohol
Fully mature grapes spend two months on straw mats before being pressed.

As Robert Parker says, ''It will last for 100 years, but will be impossible to resist in its youth.''
Opened two of these bottles for a wine dinner, smelt both of the corks upon opening, and there was a rush of deep deep concentrated mint.. like pulling a candy cane out of the bottle.  A sexy light gold in colour.  On the palate elegant and incredibly youthful with caramel, and marmalade notes.  This wine has a long beautiful finish leaving traces of that mysterious mint which seduces you into another sip.

lunedì 25 ottobre 2010

commotion premiere in brooklyn

Shayne Pospisil - Commotion Premiere from Carmen Vicari on Vimeo.

a video put together by my pal pizzle ( of the brooklyn premiere of the snowboarding movie commotion, and some jersey surfing...

lunedì 18 ottobre 2010

el guincho

anto passed this fine piece of video on to me.. a must see!

EL GUINCHO from MGdM on Vimeo.

Marc Gómez del Moral

sabato 16 ottobre 2010

dreaming of piemonte...

moon nebbia dawn on bricco delle viole

Throwing this photo in the mix today, in honor of two blogs I read the most often Do Bianchi , and Mc Duff's food and wine trail.  Both who have posted this photo earlier courtesy of Giuseppe of G.D. Vajra.. Who's wines I respect and enjoy.
Just glance at this view, and it fills your heart with nostalgia... why wouldn't you want to pass on this beautiful alba to everyone....

On the subject of piemonte, this brought to my attention again the 80th anniversary of the Fiera Internazionale del Tartufo Bianco d'Alba .  The annual festival celebrating the all mighty white truffle of alba (being sold somewhere over $3,000 per pound).  It is taking place right now through the 14 of november.  A good Friend of mine will be present, and hopefully I can get some pictures from him I can post over here...
tartufo bianco e cane. photo courtesy of

venerdì 15 ottobre 2010

Gaja Sori San Lorenzo 1971

Had the pleasure to open this wine, and experience a part of Gaja History.

Gaja Sori San Lorenzo Vendemmia 1971

1964 - The Gaja family purchases the "Sori San Lorenzo" vineyard (Sori meaning hilltop with southern exposure).
1967 -  First vintage of Sori San Lorenzo (released in 1970) and of a single vineyard Barbaresco for Angelo Gaja.
1975-1976 - Gaja begins the usage of Barrique aging for the Barbaresco's
1996 - Sori San Lorenzo is declasified to Langhe DOC with Angelo's decision to add a small pecentage of the Barbera grape (usually 5%) to the previously 100% Nebbiolo wine.

giovedì 14 ottobre 2010

calcio storico

Calcio storico is an annual competition fought between the four florentine quarters:
San Giovanni, Santa Maria Novella, Santo Spirito, and Santa Croce in the epic Piazza of Santa Croce, in Florence...
A friend Midori Pasi recently sent me this trailer for the Florence Fight Club, a documentary of Calcio storico floating around on You Tube.

mercoledì 13 ottobre 2010

Ricetta: Arista di maiale al latte

Pork cooked in milk...

In Tuscany the word arista refers to the pork loin, which would be lombata di maiale in italian.  Pellegrino Artusi dates the word arista back to 1430 in Florence, during an ecumenical council held involving the greek and roman churches.  The florentines served pork cooked in rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper and the greeks exclaimed ''arista!'' meaning buona, coming in some shape or form from the word aristos, greek for best.

This recipe originates from Florence, but the use of milk may have influence from the veneto, but I am not 100% sure. Here are the ingredients I used.

3 pounds pork loin (with backbone taken out)
1 liter of whole milk
4 cloves of garlic
rosemary (handful)
sage (6 leaves)
olive oil

Pretty simple instructions here, you brown the pork on all sides, throw in the herbs and garlic, salt, pepper and bring the milk to a slow boil all together.  Transfer to the oven 320 F, about an hour and a half, or until cooked through.

For a wine, I would go the route of a light to medium body Italian red.  Like Mario Batali once said...  In Tuscany you dont want to try to pair a white with pork, unless you want to get shot and dragged across the street!  A chianti is perfect with this.  I had a cheap and simple Chianti next to a beautiful Coudoulet de Beaucastel Cotes du Rhone 2007.  Indeed I preferred the Cotes du Rhone by itself but the Chianti worked better with the dish.  Being lighter on the palate and not overwhelming the taste of the pork.

sabato 9 ottobre 2010

the making of mostarda mantovana

variations of mostarda on display in a salumeria window in downtown mantova

In an earlier post on la cucina mantovana, there was some mention on the mustard from the town of Mantua in Lombardy.  This historic city was founded around 2000 B.C, and named after the Etruscan god Mantus.  From 1328 to 1707 the city was ruled by the Gonzagas family.  Mostarda Mantovana is made from local Mantuan apples (and or fruit), sugar, and ground mustard seed (senape). It is most popularly used in the filling for Tortelli Mantovani, which is a staple of La cucina Lombarda.  It is also delicious after dinner served with local cheeses.  The mostarda graces every single restaurant, trattoria and salumeria you shall enter in Mantova.  It dates back to 1662 when the historic cookbook by Bartolomeo Stefani, ''L'arte di ben cucinare'' was published.  Nowadays there is Toretelli di Zucca which can be made without the use of the mostarda, but authentic Tortelli Mantovana is always made with the essential agrodolce mostarda mantovana.

Here is how I prepared it this week...

1Kg of tart apples
500g sugar
Mustard essence/powder (measured depending on how spicy you like your mostarda)

There are a few simple steps to this recipe, and it takes about 4 days.
Cut the apples into thin slices and cover with the sugar, let sit 24 hours.

A syrup will form, bring the syrup without the apples to a boil for 5 minutes, then pour over apples and let sit 24 hours.
Repeat the step above, let sit 24 hours again.
on the third boil, bring the syrup with the apples to a boil
add the mustard essence or powder, and now you can jar it in sterilized containers.

serve in tortelli di zucca filling, with a nice ripe soft cheese, or boiled meats
buon appetito!

lunedì 4 ottobre 2010

Mondo Cane

Mike Patton, from the album mondo cane... great style here

sabato 2 ottobre 2010

tasting 1985 Sassicaia, and 100 point wines

had the chance to taste four ''big shot'' wines this week... here are some brief notes

1985 Sassicaia
1994 Harlan Cabernet Sauvignon
1995 Domaine Ramonet Montrachet
1995 Royal Tokaji Aszú Essencia Tokaji

1985 Teunuta San Guido Sassicaia (vino da tavola)
WS 100
RP 100
24 months in french oak
85% cabernet sauvignon
15% cabernet franc
First released in 1968

This wine was really stunning.  The first of any 100 point rated wine I was able to taste.  After tasting a disapointing 2002 Sassicaia, this wine really put its money where its mouth is.
The fruit, so vibrant, alive, young and as fresh as if just picked off the vine.  Yet with the depth and complexity of a 1985 bordeaux.  Beautiful frutti di bosco here, gorgeous and elegant black pepper, tobacco, spice. big finish and lonnnnng lasting in the mouth..  delicious ''table wine''.

1994 Harlan Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
WS 97
RP 100

This cult wine was another story..  It was very enjoyable, some nice elegant sour cherry notes.. but nothing mind blowing, and nothing too complex. Loses focus in the finish, A bit disapointing..
For being a 100 point wine.. there is just no comparison to the Sassicaia, nowhere near as complex and balanced.  Maybe going through a bad drinking phase, but its hard to say.

1995 Domaine Ramonet Montrachet Grand Cru

This Montrachet was so exciting to drink.  After tasting the huge and premature DRC 2005 Montrachet, and then this D. Ramonet Montrachet aged 10 years more, it made a great comparison.
The young Montrachet I have tasted has a very distinct almond and almost burnt hair to it, with fruit waiting to burst out.  With this 1995 you see how after aging, those harsher notes turn into a very long and elegant toasted almond that is so enticing.  The fruit and complexity here is stunning, and you cant believe your drinking a chardonnay!  This is what chardonnay is my friends...

1995 Royal Tokaji Aszú Essencia Tokaji

This gorgeous dessert wine from Hungary dating back to the 16 century, is made by using the grapes affected by noble rot.  This 1995 vintage Tokaji, is a dessert in itself.. thick as maple syrup (and i would pour it on my pancakes if I was all out of syrup), delicious stuff... 

cheers to everyone reading!

lettori fissi