choose your destiny

giovedì 24 marzo 2011

the beauty of Italian advertising

Sometimes you can't help but love cheesy things like this Italian advertisement for Lavazza coffee (taken in the Ciampino Airport in Rome).   This man with his diesel biceps is so elegant with his miniature espresso cup and flowing vale around his face...

mercoledì 23 marzo 2011

snow continues


The snow continues to fall making it a full week of non stop snow, and no plans of stopping... Today we received an inch an hour for 24 hours and tomorrow another 2 feet should be dropping.  One of the funnest days on the hill today at Mammoth Mountain.  WOW!  By far the biggest blizzard I have been in, all my life...amazing stuff

domenica 20 marzo 2011

stranded in tahoe, powder paradise

Friday afternoon, drove from Mammoth Lakes, CA up towards the Shenandoah Valley with plans of pruning on the Ard Aven vineyard.  The weather had other plans and left us overnight in South Lake Tahoe.  An epic Powder day yesterday though at Kirkwood ski resort was not a bad plan B.  The storm is still coming in hot, probably 100 inches in the end...

venerdì 18 marzo 2011

Cara Italia, 150 anni

''Cara Italia, perché giusto o sbagliato che sia questo è il mio paese con le sue grandi qualità ed i suoi grandi difetti.''

Enzo Biagi

Above, a bust of Luigi Bartolucci in Piazza Garibaldi in Rome.  A picture I snapped last month during the preparations for the 150th anniversary memorial.

mercoledì 16 marzo 2011

Tacos in San Miguel de Allende

My dear lady Thalia Kazakos sent me this recent taco pornography from San Miguel de Allende in Mexico.  San Miguel is located in the state of Guanajuato in central Mexico.  Here they are known for some of the most superb street tacos.  The tacos below are Al Pastor (made with pork) and my personal favorite.  In the fall of 2007 Thalia and I traveled and tasted our way through central Mexico staying primarily in the romantic town of San Miguel with friends Geneva and Alejandro.  I frequently daydream about these unctuous tacos and yes it's very shitty settling for inferior Mexican food elsewhere.  A future visit is much anticipated.

Above, is the very unique Parish of San Miguel which is the emblem of the town.

Above, In the market with Thalia gathering ingredients for lunch.  San Miguel de Allende, 2007

domenica 6 marzo 2011

Squid 1st place run at the Dew Tour

Colli Orientali Del Friuli, 8 days a week!

I recently came across all of the random videos I took in Friuli last month, and put together a montage of some of our discoveries.   

sabato 5 marzo 2011

Blogger encounters in Los Angeles

Samantha and Carl at the Farmers Market.

Was given the warmest welcome on my first time visit to L.A. by none other than Samantha from our recent Friuli trip and of the amazing blog Samantha Sans Dosage.  I had a last minute change of plans that made me land in L.A. from Rome and she and her husband Carl were amazing hosts and showed me although short a very sweet time...
Thanks guys

A late lunch of an assortment of tacos at the Loteria Grill within the Farmers Market.

The second surprise was the long awaited meeting with Whitney from Brunellos Have More Fun.
She was one of the first blogs I read along with that of Do Bianchi.  It was amazing to meet with her for dinner at Cliffs Edge and what can I say, she showed up with a bottle of 2003 Radikon Ribolla Gialla. She had already won my heart... The wine was stunning, (as was all of the wine that night) a really spectacular nose coming from this ribolla... hibiscus, grapefruit, orange peel... really intriguing and I must have sniffed it 47 times.  Beautiful acidity and was really food friendly (much more than I remember an earlier vintage being, which i drank a few years ago).
We also Enjoyed a 2004 Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fume Silex, which was delicious as well....

The atmosphere at Cliffs Edge was amazing and the company even better.  It reminded me of when I heard Piero Incisa della Rocchetta from Sassicaia speak at a wine dinner in December.  He talked about how there are so many factors that come into play in enjoying or not enjoying any given wine.  The glasses, temperature of the wine, lighting, atmosphere, the company your with, just to name a few.  When your on vacation in Italy having a blast, drinking and enjoying the shit out of a cruddy vino da tavola, it is a perfect example of this taking place!

venerdì 4 marzo 2011

Arrivederci Roma...

Enjoyed a last dish of Bucatini All'Amatriciana at Trattoria Lilli on Tuesday before I left Rome...Once again... No matter how many times I leave Rome it will be sad and i will have to write about it.  Trattoria Lilli is always a must visit when I'm in the city, and they do the best Bucatini All'Amatriciana that I've had in a Trattoria in Rome. O' Guanciale mio.... They have a very small menu consisting of only 4 or 5 primi and secondi, but they are all done to perfection.  I still can't get over how perfectly al dente the bucatini are cooked every single time! I believe it is the first and most important thing when cooking a pasta dish.  No matter how good you can make your ragù, sugo, sucù, sauce, gravy or whichever ingredients, (quote me on this) if you fuck up the cooking point of your noodles you've fucked up everything.  For Lilli's wine list? No wine list.  But you can shlug down their vino della casa senza problemi.

A recent tweet from Alfonso about the over use of garlic and salt in U.S. restaurants made me think back to Lilli.  There we were served the local vegetable cicoria, without any garlic and hardly any salt.  Simple with a dash of olive oil and peperoncino maybe, but you really taste the vegetable in this style.  But it is like that everywhere in Italy.  Maybe it is the tasteless GM vegetables here in the states that makes you always reach for the garlic... who knows?

Trattoria Lilli
Via Tor di Nona, 23

martedì 1 marzo 2011

Vajra and some Barolo tasted in Rome

The Barolo was flowing Sunday February 27, at the Hotel Quirinale on Via Nazionale in Rome for the Go Wine tasting of piemontese wines.  Above, Francesca Vaira of G.D. Vajra pours me some of their wonderful Barolo Albe 2006.

I woke up Sunday morning pretty shot and absolutely exhausted.  My roman days are coming down to their last and the late nights with old friends and la dolce vita finally caught up with me.  One last tasting to attend before a flight back to L.A. on Wednesday.  Especially since I saw G.D. Vajra on the list, and I've been wanting to taste their wines for a while now.

It was a pleasure to meet and taste with the very simpatica Francesca who had 4 vini rossi being tasted including the colaboration bottling of Luigi Baudana.

G.D. Vajra Langhe Nebbiolo 2009 14,5% 
Aged and fermented only in steel,  this was a drinking fresh and very bright.  Very refreshing on the palate and it felt good to taste the young expression of Nebbiolo.  But still containing some nice tannin that completes the mouthfeel of the wine.
Mcduff has a nice in depth post on the 2006 version here.

Barolo Albe 2006 13,5%
Aged 24 months in large casks (botti grandi di rovere di slavonia) and 5-10% barriques.
Vineyards: Fossati, Costa di Vergne, La Volta
This wine already expressing a huge bouquet, rose petals, beautiful red fruit and big tannins still.
Really complete and classic Barolo, One of my favorite at this tasting and I would love to taste it years from now.

Barolo Bricco delle Viole 2006 14,5%
Aged 24 months in botti grandi, coming from 50-60 year old vines from Bricco delle Viole in the comune of Barolo.  4,79 hectares.
This wine was also beautiful, showing a tiny bit more of a rugged earthy characteristic, still with similar gorgeous fruit and those big tannins. 

Luigi Baudana Barolo Serralunga d'Alba 2006
30-40 year old vines
This wine was the most closed at the moment.  Some big fruit emerging, wish I revisited this one.

G.D. Vajra Langhe Bianco 2009 13,5%
100% Riesling, and unoaked.
When I arrived I beelined it to the Vajra booth to wrap my lips around this Langhe Bianco.  Was stoked to finally taste this and it didn't let me down one bit.  I have tasted heaps of terrific white wines this month, and this was one of my favorites.
Showing beautiful white fruit, full and thick with full body mouth feel.  Great acidity, crowd pleaser.

The only other Langhe Bianco tasted this day was by Cascina Ballarin. Consisting of 75% Chardonnay, Favorita and Pinot Nero.  But, when it comes to drinking a Langhe Bianco it will be hard to steer away from the version made by G.D. Vajra.

The Prunotto Barolo 2006 normale was the most enjoyable out of the Prunotto wines for me.  Aged in Botti Grandi with a small passing in barrique.  This wine was quite swampy with a hint of burnt hair, some good fruit and interesting to say the least.  The Bussia Barolo was less enjoyable for me showing off a more fruit forward style.  The Barbaresco and Barbaresco Bric Tarut bottlings werent doing much for me.  I've enjoyed their Barbera D'alba in the past but it didnt show up at this tasting.

Cascina Ballarin Barolo Bussia 2005
This barolo of Cascina Ballarin was quite surprising.  Apart from the Dolcetto 2009 which overwhelming  candied fruit, these wines had the biggest expressions of terroir showing at the tasting.  The Barolo Bussia especially was really open, earthy and muddy.  I was also surprised to see these wines are barriqued (although I was told a mixture of things) and quite modern, but there was no overwhelming oak and I was digging the poop and fruit combo and how they were drinking on this day.

The Roberto Voerzio Barolo La Sera 2006 and 2007 were damn interesting and for sure standouts. Although there wasnt anyone to really explain the wines they remained a bit of a mystery.  I later researched a bit on Roberto (Vino al Vino) and discovered he is quite a mythical man and highly respected.  He founded his estate only in 1987, and has an extremely low production (one of the lowest in barolo) of around 40,000 bottles a year making 12 different wines (7 barolo) total.  Although considered a modernist, he is also referred to as the most traditional modernist.

I believe these two wines go through a traditional style maceration of 20 days and are then aged 24 months in barriques.  The 2006 had an incredible complexity, beautiful fruit and a lovely mint note that made it so unique.  Just a wine that really makes you say wow, and ponder for a few minutes. The 2007 which was just released was a whole different story still closed a bit, with a new shoe element, big cherry fruit and a very particular chocolate characteristic that made it so different from 2006.  Pretty cool to taste these two wines side by side....

The 2006 Barolo Bussia of Sergio Barale was brilliant.  An excellent traditional style barolo that was complex and complete in the mouth.  The first taste was shortly after the bottle had been opened and it was far too closed.  I waited an hour and revisited and it had opened up so nicely.  This wine should go the distance in the cellar and develop some lovely characteristics.

The traditional styled wines of Gabutti Boasso, which are aged 36 months in Slovenian Botti.  The Margheria 2007 was showing the best for me out of the Serralunga 2007 and Gabutti 2007.

Above, Emiliano Di Leonardo Sommelier for the ''Enoteca booth'' pours some Francesco Rinaldi.  He had the biggest booth and the hardest job throughout the day.

Some nebbiolo aftermath, as we throw in the towel and call it a day...
nothing like cleaning the palate with a fresh cigarette after a long day of nebbiolo.
 A last day in Rome will consist of trying to find a bottle of the Langhe Bianco, then a visit to my favorite roman dining spot, Trattoria Lilli....

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