choose your destiny

lunedì 10 dicembre 2012

Lettere Doc to Sinister Pop on the Upper East Side

Lettere DOC, another easy drinking sparkling red if your looking to explore beyond Lambrusco.  Lettere is a small town southeast of Naples and right next to Gragnano, the other friendly sparkling wine from Campania. Lettere joined the DOC club in 1994 and is required to use at least 40% Piedirosso with a blend of other grapes like Sciacinoso and Aglianico.  The Paolo Palumbo Lettere is farmed from five hectares with an annual production of 35,000 bottles using the Charmat method.

After a classic lunch at San Matteo Pizza and Espresso Bar, I ended up at the Whitney Museum also on the upper east side.  Wine and art pairings, I've always liked this idea...
Friday's you can enter The Whitney with just a small donation, below are two shots from the Sinister Pop exhibit now in action.

Before and After, 1961. Andy Warhol

Freezer Still Life, 1970-1973. William Eggleston

venerdì 30 novembre 2012

Eva Fricke, and a stop into Terroir for a much needed trocken fix

A handful of Riesling grapes in the vineyards of Eva Fricke in the Rheingau.  September 2012

One of the the coolest parts about traveling for wine is going back and referencing some of the shit you learned weeks or months after you have returned from a trip.  When you are visiting 3 to 4 producers a day for a week straight, certain aspects begin to blend together.  For me the most rewarding part is the day you drink that same wine in a different country or setting and are able to look back at your notes and experiences.

Stopping into Terroir in Murray Hill this week, I found myself reaching in desperation for a bottle of Eva Fricke to satisfy my thirst for that salty acidity I got so used to in Trocken Riesling's tasted in Germany last September.

A pleasant surprise to find Riesling hero Paul Grieco pouring wines himself at the Murray Hill Terroir.   Paul is a cool dude, even when he forces me out of my comfort zone and denies me of any wine Italian.

We ordered a bottle of 2011 Eva Fricke Lorch (blend of two single vineyards), an amazing example of those salty minerally notes you can find in a finely made trocken Riesling.  This was actually the first Riesling I have tasted since September and at least I got back on track with style.

A lineup of Eva's wines that she brought to our dinner at Adler Wirstchaft in Hattenheim.

Eva Fricke was the cellarmaster at Leitz before starting her own line in 2006.  She has a fresh view on winemaking and is quite in touch with nature.  Fricke wines are made using mainly indigenous yeasts, some champagne yeasts if necessary but always neutral non aromatic.  The wines age on the lees and there is some considerable skin contact, at times up to 48 hours.

Eva finds that in the Rheingau, vineyards with more quartz will produce mineral driven wines, while the vineyards with grey slate have a rounder creamier characteristic in their wines.

Talia Baiocchi with Eva Fricke steady sippin' in the Rheingau.

Christina with a glowing glass of Riesling.  Photo: Brunellos Have More Fun 

 Tasting the 2011 Lorch in the vineyards with Eva Fricke.  Photo: Brunellos Have More Fun

A little Riesling video I came across from Stuart Pigott featuring Paul Grieco.

martedì 27 novembre 2012

Riesling with Jens

Above, Jens from Weingut J. Bettenheimer in the Rheinhessen pours us a taste of his 2011 ''Illumino'' Riesling Trocken.  This single vineyard expression is full of peachy smokiness, which Jens says is a classic characteristic of spontaneous fermentation in wooden barrels.

I shot the above photo back in September with my Cannon Powershot.  It glitched out on me to produced this funky effect which I found again today browsing through some photos.

Above, some Silvaner grapes from one of the Bettenheimer vineyards.  

domenica 25 novembre 2012

Team Germany 2012

A little edit from the September trip through the wine trail in Germany.

GERMANY! from croosadabilia on Vimeo.

mercoledì 21 novembre 2012

2003 Bartolo Mascarello and white truffles

While tasting a flight of Nebbiolo based wines tonight at Maialino, I finally went for it and ordered some white truffles. House made Tonnarelli done in butter, a touch of Parmigiano Reggiano and finished with the sacred whites truffles from Alba shaved gently over the top.
Ragazzi, che meraviglia...

I saved the Bartolo Mascarello tasting for the arrival of the white truffles.  The 2003 we are currently pouring by the glass at Maialino, along with about 15 other amazing Nebbiolo based wines on the Enomatic Nebbiolo Bar.  Bartolo for $140 a bottle in a NYC restaurant is quite a steal!  This wine is very aromatic right off the bat with classic roses, earth, tar and liquorish.  The acidity is still brilliant and it is a no-brainer when it comes to a pairing with tartufi bianchi di Alba.

But 2003?  Yes an overall shit year, being overly hot and resulting in scorched vineyards, but true producers were able to put together some fine wines which are drinking gorgeously right now at only 9 years out.  Where I have tasted some B. Mascarello from finer and more talked about vintages such as 97, 98 and 2000 they can go through unfortunate stages where they are completely closed and inexpressive.

This type of experience can definitely make one rethink the whole process of selecting a vintage, especially in a restaurant setting where sometimes the underdog vintage will triumph in the end.

venerdì 16 novembre 2012

Thursday, celebrating Beaujolais

Yesterday (November 15th) brought us the celebrated Beaujolais Nouveau Day and while tasting a handful of Beaujolais Cru's I found myself fascinated by the above bottling of Domaine des Billards Saint-Amour 2009.  Belonging to the Barbet and Teissier families natural/organic farming is practiced in the vineyards as well as traditional winemaking.

The wine has some nice bright fruit aromas jumping out of the glass at first, but on the palate a whole different story of complexity.  Luscious red fruits and cherry notes are balanced by a wonderful minerality and earthiness.  The most focused Beaujolais I have tasted in a while and it really stood out from the rest.  You can find this wine through David Bowler imports for the U.S. market.

A Beaujolais Slinger at L'express on Park ave and 20th st. New York.

lunedì 5 novembre 2012

Day number 62 on the road in Europe... La Partenza

Finally the day has come. The last day where I find myself in Milano after 62 days of travel throughout Europe.  Originally having some plans for Alba, and then possibly Bergamo I find I am simply to exhausted to partake in such events.

I have experienced the last day blues many times before, but this may be the longest I have traveled without a home or fixed place that I was living in.  Of course I have mixed feelings, but I also have a mixed suitcase of dirty clothes and wet shoes that need a changing.

Arriving in Milan back in September I spent a few days and then then took off for Germany.  On the wine trail with some amazing wine writers and ending the trip in Berlin for some unforgettable times.  Berlin definitely had a lasting effect on me and it really gave me the feeling of a special city on the rise through creativity in a special moment in time.

From Germany I flew to Geneva, Switzerland, a stop in Lyon, France and then a flight to London to regroup with old Roman international friends.  From there I found myself in Marocco checking out Casablanca and Marrakech with a two day trek to the entrance of the Sahara desert and a night camping out under the stars.  One of the coolest feelings I have ever experienced.

I flew back to Milan and took a train to meet my mother in Rome and Florence for her first visit to Italy.  From there I met an American friend (Jay, aka Guido laBici) and stayed a week in the quiet Italian countryside of San Donato Val di Comino.  Three days in Napoli, a day in Procida and back to Rome for a night before flying to Amsterdam.

The last week coming back to Italy I found myself with old snowboarding friends from a different life in Emilia Romagna.  I watched a snowboarding big air, I played drinking games, I danced and I had an Aperitivo in Modena, which was followed by a dinner in Bologna!

And now in Milan the day before I fly back.  A lot of disaster has happened in New York while I was gone and it will be great to arrive back on the other side.

I am absolutely spent, shot and exhausted and while meeting new and old friends along the way during the two month period, I have definitely had more than my share of food, wine, beer, spirits, espresso and celebrations.  Last night I was able to pull off a sober Milanese Sunday, ending in some cinema and green tea before bed.

Tonight I will rally it for one last night in the Navigli district, one last aperitivo, and maybe one last night cap.

Goodnight Milano, Goodnight New York.

Last day in Milan, One last Bollito Misto at Al' Less

Last night, after multiple days of exhausting parties in Modena and Bologna I walked into Al' Less on a rainy Sunday night in Milan.  I knew we weren't going to walk far for dinner and luckily it was located quite close to Piazza Piola where I was staying with an Italian friend.

As soon as you step into the place you feel a rush of creative energy as the building is decorated very artistically and precise.  After this it is normal to feel a great appetite striking you the moment you smell the aromas from the kitchen which is located in the dead center of the restaurant.

Wine from Oltrepo' Pavese Pinot Nero and Bonarda were the popular choices of the restaurant.  This region just south of Milan by the river Po' is also known for its Sparkling wine from Pinot Nero grapes. The legendary Bruno Giacosa sources his Pinot Nero from this area for the production of his vintage Spumante Extra Brut made in the Metodo Classico.

As for the food, a small to medium menu with a wonderful collection of creative Northern Italian recipes.  Primi consisted of homemade pastas such as I pisarei e fasò (a type of gnocchi typical of Piacenza cooked with beans and Parmigiano Reggiano), Agnolotti in brodo and I tortelli alla Maremmana (delicate Tortelli stuffed with ricotta and spinach dressed with a wild boar ragù) which is what we went for.

I Secondi are a wonderful display of mouthwatering meat dishes like Lo stracotto di vitello al Barolo, Il brasato di puledro (puledro or cucciolo del cavallo would be a foal or baby horse from around 11 months old), Il cinghiale in dolceforte and finally the two dishes we ordered, La carne Salada con arancio, timo e limone (a cured meat from the Trentino, with its unique texture resembles more a type of carne cruda or carpaccio) and of course the dish for which Al' Less is known for, their Bollito Misto coming with four gorgeous salsette to dress the boiled meats ranging from chicken to beef toungue.

Everything was tasty, fresh and seasoned perfect.  For dessert there were some unique options like Salame di ciocolato and Castagnaccio (the Tuscan chestnut cake with pinenuts and rosemary).

La carne salada del trentino, served with tyme over a salad dressed in olive oil and orange.

Bollito Misto, the signature dish of Al' Less which comes with  four delicious salsette including the classic salsa verde.

Al' Less 
V.Le Lombardia 28
20131 Milano, Italia

domenica 14 ottobre 2012

Il Perseo, e come si parla fiorentino

Finishing up my last few days as a Fiorentino.  Always will come back to these lands which I consider a certain type of home.  Heading south again to Rome and San Donato Val di Comino.  And hopefully a trip to Calabria as well.  Picked up some useful Florentine dialect (below) to entertain.

Passando la Piazza Della Signoria, Il Perseo di Benvenuto Cellini. 

Una lezione di dialetto fiorentino per voi...

sabato 13 ottobre 2012

Casa del vino in Florence, and the beauty of raw pork sausage

Stopped into Casa del Vino today by the San Lorenzo Market in Florence.  This time around the Panino con Salsiccia e Stracchino caught my eye.  An incredible combination here of raw pork sausage and the soft creamy cows milk cheese from northern Italy all on a toasty warm unsalted Tuscan roll.  We drank a classic glass of Colli Fiorentini Chianti from Fattoria Poggio Romita, followed by some Vino Nobile di Montepulciano from Trerose.  Raw pork sausage is not really something you find in the States due to the Trichinosis scare, but for me it captures the freshness and one of a kind texture of artisinal salsiccia.

I talked with Gianni Migliorini briefly who told me that the small panino, crostino and wine shop has been open since 1870 and owned by his family since 1930.  An amazingly tasty and affordable place for textbook Tuscan sandwiches and wine.

 Casa del Vino.

 Perfectly spicy yet delicate Crostino di Peporoncino.

 The Marvelous bowl to the left containing fresh raw pork sausage and stracchino cheese
 ready to be served up on a panino roll.

We went for an addition of a slice of grilled eggplant which paired wonderfully with the two.

In other Negroni News...

Jay and I stopped into Caffe Rivoire (where the recent Rape of the Polissena incident happened) in the Piazza della Signoria. Normally I would have avoided this caffe at all costs due to its super tourist appearance on the outside, but we found out that same day that this is the spot where the Negroni Cocktail was invented.  It was indeed an amazing Negroni and there were some locals inside enjoying aperitivo which was a comforting feeling.


Negroni Plaque that can be found inside of the caffè.

Roma Lungotevere

Photo: Jay Elling Photography.

Cycling to Fiesole for vino sfuso with a view

Yesterday charged it up the steep hill from Florence to Fiesole with my good mate Jay Elling.  We stopped for a spritz and a .75 L bottle of vino sfuso from the Colline Fiorentine at ''di Vino Paci'' for only € 1.80.

Vino Sfuso is a simple and wonderful thing to enjoy in Italy, and as fellow blogger/friend Alfonso just wrote today in his post, also tastes better than most Italian supermarket wines you find in the states for a fraction of the price. 

 di Vono Paci, vino sfuso, Fiesole.

 Out of shape but still going for it on the rental bike.
Jay looks into the distance towards florence from above.

lunedì 1 ottobre 2012

Marrakech to the Sahara and a taste of Moroccan wine

Yesterday, I returned from a two day trip (7 hour drive each way) into the Moroccan Sahara Desert.  I left from Marrakech with a group of seven others and when we arrived built a fire and camped out in the sand dunes underneath a full moon.  For my last day in Marrakech I visited the botanical gardens and made a stop into the wine shop aka the supermarket, the only place selling alcohol in most of the country.

 Stopping into the town of Ait Ben Haddou, famous for film settings 
for movies such as Indiana Jones and Gladiator.

On the road...

 Another view...

Long shutter self portrait in the Sahara.  

 Here I'm about to take off for a sunrise camel ride from Zagora, Morocco after a fine night of camping.

 A lot of this trip has been spent at the fruit stands.  In particular the ones selling this exotic thorned fruit called Ficus Indica which grows in Mexico, Africa and some parts of Europe.  Fico d'India in Italian and in English I tend to refer to it as an Indian fig. They are the fruit of a certain cactus of the same name and possibly native to Mexico.

Stopping at one of the many Marrakech Indian fig vendors for only 5 cents a pop. 
 These babies have a really soft ripe texture but with hard little seeds that are 
easy to swallow and man are they addicting.

Domaine du Val D'argan El Mogador Rose' visiting the botanical gardens in Marrakech.

Popped this bottle in the hotel by the pool tonight and it was actually quite fantastic.  We drank a red last night from the Guerrouane in the Meknès region which was quite rubbish, but this rose' here is definitely a contender.  I believe this wine is coming from mainly Muscat Noir grapes (13% alc.), and drinks similarly to a refreshing Provence rose' with a little bit of a herbaceous quality and a soft ashy, almost volcanic note that reminded me of a couple of Etna Rosato's I have had.

There are five wine growing regions in Morocco with 14 of them having AOG status.  This wine here lies in the south and outside of the five regions and Domaine du Val D'argan is the only winery located here (just 30 KM south of Essaouira, a lovely Moroccan beach town also famous for its seafood), with a production a little over 100,000 bottles a year.

Heres to discovering new wines in new places, especially in this case where the drinking culture is almost non existent.

mercoledì 26 settembre 2012

Morocco day one, arriving in Casablanca.

Here are two quick pictures i snapped, edited and posted with my iPhone. Quite hard to write much at the moment. Off for some more exploring for the day and tomorrow Marrakesh and then Essaouira.

lunedì 24 settembre 2012

Cruising through London

One of the classic Banksy tags in London.  This particular one has been preserved and encased in plastic where in other areas the city has painted over certain street art.

London has been amazing cruising the streets with the Gubbio Crew from Rome.  Many eats and drinks, fish and chips and traditional sunday pub stops.  Today off to the National Gallery to see some paintings by Caravaggio, and then tomorrow I catch a flight to Morocco where I'll be sure to post on some gastronomic adventures. 

 A Lamb shank with yorkeshire pudding for brunch anyone? An awesome afternoon spent in a traditional English pub sipping pints.  Andover Arms in Hammersmith London.

And don't miss out on this secret English pub snack.  Pickled egg mashed up 
in a bag of salt and vinegar crisps with a dash of tabasco!  Incredible shit, no?

venerdì 21 settembre 2012

Negroni In Bocca

Geneva, Switzerland... September 2012.  All work and no play makes Nico a dull boy...
allora, ci facciamo un bel negroni in bocca!

negroni in bocca from croosadabilia on Vimeo.

Lyon, Escargot and Chablis

Sometimes even the most ordinary wine can strike you at the just right moment and in the right way that it creates such an experience as if it were another beast.  Tuesday was all about the magic of Lyon and escaping the gloomy calmness of an uneccentric city. Arriving in Lyon, I took a direct route to the large food market known as Halles de Lyon.  Seeing many locals enjoying small dishes of escargot I had to follow suit and I sat down at Ecailler Cellerier.  Not expecting anything great on the wine list I spotted a 2010 Chablis from Louis Jadot and went with it.  Not that it was an extraordinary wine by any means but I have to say it was absolutely delicious with the food in that very moment.

La Fontaine Bartholdi, Place de Terreaux, Lyon

lunedì 17 settembre 2012

Berlin to Geneva to Lyon

After a week of tongue searing Riesling I escaped to discover Berlin earlier this week with Whitney and Talia.  What an amazing city we uncovered and there is no doubt that Berlin is having a special moment in time right now.  Today I arrived in Geneva which is quite a polar opposite of Berlin.  Good times to relax and gather some thoughts however.  Seeing some old friends, talking some shit, cooking roman style dinners and then tomorrow I will explore Lyon, About a 2 hour train ride west of Geneva.  Cheers y'all.

 The Victory Column, arriving into Berlin.

One of the many wiener schnitzles consumed on the Berlin trip.

Swans with sunsetting in background, Geneva, Switzerland.

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