Sunday, October 02, 2016

Etna and Eggplant in the National Press: What I shot and how I cooked it

Eric Asimov (L) with Salvo Foti (R) at Quattro Archi in Milo on Etna
In the last month or so, my life of wine (and food) has ventured outside the constraints of the blogosphere. Consider this my brag blog post, for those who don’t read the NY Times or the Dallas Morning News on a regular basis. In today’s era, the ranks of newspaper readership have dwindled, or so we have been led to believe. Then again, who’s reading wine blogs anymore either? I know I’m reading less and enjoying it more, blog wise.

The Etna (and Vittoria) pieces were written masterfully by my friend and colleague (and Sicilian crash tester) Eric Asimov. I was the assigned photographer for the series. It was a once in a lifetime trip and we went to see a lot of folks we both have known for some time.


It was my sixth trip to Etna in 40 years: I'm not a newcomer to this region. It was Eric’s first trip. We went to see folks he contacted. Eric has “connections.” I do as well, but not for this trip.

Ciro Biondi - all are welcome ~ all will be  revealed
Etna is so popular now, and there all kinds of new producers emerging from this varied landscape. The place seems to be under a microscope. There aren’t really any secret producers. There may be some under the radar, but everyone talks to each other. It’s a good collaborative environment. And it’s open to all.

If you want to go to Etna or Vittoria, feel free to reach out to me for ideas. None of the producers I saw (or didn’t see) have an arrangement of exclusivity with me or any wine writer that I am aware of. I’m glad to share the information and if you can go there and get a new story, a different angle, more power to you. It’s like California in 1976. Open to all – exclusive to none.

The four part series:

Pt. 1 - Etna Fumes and Spews, but the Winemaking Goes On http://nyti.ms/29kNjZL

Pt. 2 - From Etna and the Salty Sea, a White of Great Potential http://nyti.ms/29Bh4ps

Pt. 3 - In Sicily, Making a Name for Vittoria http://nyti.ms/2aZy6ym

Pt. 4 - The Evolution of a Natural Winemaker http://nyti.ms/2bJUX3D


Closer to home, a blog post I wrote last year, Sixteen little eggplants that made a grown man crycaught the eye of a Dallas based food writer, Tina Danze. She wrote a nice piece on the eggplant dish I have been making since I was in college, one which has changed over the years. That was especially true after I went to my mother’s mother’s home village in Calabria and saw how our relatives made the dish in its native state. Tina did a great job of eking out a recipe from me and, as well, there is a little multi-media on the site - a video. So you can watch me and my son put the actual dish together. It got a great online response for the Dallas News and it also helped up the sale (by 50%) of eggplants at my local Italian store, Jimmy’s. Mike DiCarlo has the article displayed proudly in his produce section. It is the year of the eggplant, in our little neighborhood (and in my back yard). Anyway, just wanting to share this online, so folks will have a place to go to retrieve these stories in one place.

Dallas Morning News story: This Parmigiana has actually made a grown man cry
with accompanying video:



Post Script
The wine blog universe is contracting. I am reading less and less wine blogs than I did five years ago. There's a rash of unvetted opinions encouraged by today’s social sub-standards. True, many wine bloggers have gone on to other things. I don’t have any plans to stop wine blogging, but I see this tendency, on the fringe, to sensationalize every little last bit of information, to heat up a story and attach a ludicrous headline for click bait. What is the end game for those who do this, other than to curate their narcissism upon the world? Do they make more money? They’re not making much, if any, money now. Is it a cry for attention? Perhaps.

It does a great disservice to the subject and to the reader to ramp everything up so much all the time. We just don’t have the adrenaline or the capacity to withstand an ongoing onslaught of wine crises around the world. And Italy, while it has its share of ups and downs, is not a war zone. Not for Nebbiolo and not for Sangiovese. There are real wars being fought, as in Syria and Yemen. And there is the massive cleanup and rebuilding going on in the Lazio, Marche and Umbria (and Abruzzo) regions with recent earthquakes. Wine should offer a respite, not a burden. Bloggers who portray every little thing as a DEFCON 1 event are one of the reasons why wine blogging is on life support.

Filippo Rizzo of Lamoresca

wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W

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