Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Onward Through the Fug

Postings might be a little light next month. It’s a busy time of year for the wine business and there will be some travel involved. A little research is needed in the area of winegrowing at higher elevations. So, make do, while I do the mountain do. I'm going in.

Before that, a short list. Just a few things on the radar, and a prediction or two.

The price of oil and the weakness of the dollar. Enjoy the buys this year, folks, methinks next year is gonna be a doozy. Oil @ $125+ a barrel and the Euro @ $1.50+ to the dollar. Prosecco @ $20+, Pinot Grigio @ $30+ and Brunello @$95+. This isn’t scraping the ceiling, it’s pealing off the tin cover tiles and fashioning sharp projectiles out of them. I have never seen anything like this in the 30+ years I have been paying attention. Talk about spooky; this ain’t no treat, my friends.
Prediction: Argentina wines will become more prevalent in the Italian restaurants in 2008.

One can always get a sense of how things are going, in the wine business, when we start seeing year end meetings before the end of the year. It could mean a couple of things. What it usually indicates, in this end of the wine biz, is that even though goals are on track, there is a whole lot of wine waiting to be shipped out of warehouses somewhere. So during the busy time of the year, along with trying to move out close to 40 containers of product a day, per warehouse, and another 20+ coming in on the other side, and by the way, the warehouse is packed, make room for some more. It happens like clockwork and there are deals to be made.
Prediction: This glut of wine will dry up in the next 16-24 months. There are some deals out there, but in places like South Africa, Argentina, Chile, places where the dollar isn’t sucking and the country wanting to sell hasn’t just had a drought or a freeze or a hailstorm. Bordeaux wines just might get a break here, but heavily discounted.

Press releases about famous chefs whose names are branded, they keep coming into the in box. One area of discourse hovers around a certain bicoastal chef who operates on a very high level. Think, it’s gonna cost you $500+ for you and your guest to eat there, if you can even get in. A recent discussion has been about this branded chef going into the supermarket frozen food biz. People are in shock over this line extension plunge way below business class. But not to worry, another press release just popped up. Now said chef will release a “very limited” red wine offering from Napa. It had great pedigree and provenance. Meticulous winemaking. Oh, and it’ll set you back only about $200. If you can get any.
Prediction: If you cannot get on the list to get a precious bottle, will feature it next year for $400.

The Get Lost Generation. The young ones in my world have announced we are to no longer refer to them as millennials. That is unless we want to wipe the drool off our own faces in 20 years. Hate to say it, but it’ll be more like 30 years and I am not waiting around for them to refill my Depends drawer or restock my fridge with Ensure. Thanks Bea and Arthur, and all the other market targets. I’d rather do it myself. And seeing as you don’t call us, we’ll not call you – anything.
Prediction: You've got to be kidding. Next.

What is the response to a long air flight, that left one in the very last seat, with no ability to recline said seat, while a previously named millennial supinely slumped his seat into one’s previously functioning reproductive organs – for 4 hours? It’s a simple fix. Send 'em packing.
Prescription: Acupuncture. Go get all that airplane poison released. It stings like a bee and feels like nirvana. And the mindless one from the get lost generation? Just a faint memory. Om, mommy take me Om...

Seat backs and tray tables up. And cross check.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Going Green

After a few hectic days in NY, a soft landing back home. Texas has a calming effect, and on an autumn day, when the sun is casting shadows differently, it might be the time to talk about something a little away from wine and Italy.

Kim’s dad, Hugo Richter, is 92, and just finished building a 1913 Model T Ford from scratch. A car that was made a year or so before Hugo was born, these two old fellas in the company of each other, keeping each other alive. It’s an amazing thing.

Hugo lives with his wife Alice out in the country north of Dallas. Driving up to their house, one might not know if this were Texas or Perigord, what with all the geese and their commotion. But it is a serene life with a workshop filled with interesting things.

Hugo told me he spends about 6 hours a day out in the workshop. He has been working on the 1913 for at least three years that I know of. We go out there several times a year; I love to go out there. We eat and have a little wine and then go out into the garden and then the workshop. Pieces of ancient Fords litter the place beside a prehistoric lathe machine that is a piece of art. Shavings and belts and all kinds of adjustment gears make up this machine from another time. It has helped to rebuild countless Model T’s.

He emailed me a picture of the finished car. A green (not standard black) Phaeton.How is it a 92 year old man can do these things? Good genes and an engaged mind. Hugo is a gentle man and people are drawn to his goodness and kindness. I truly like him, like being around him. He is old but his mind isn’t. He works it. How many reading this could rebuild a Model T?

So let’s raise a toast of a nice Spatlese or even a rich red from Southern Italy in honor of a man who hasn’t given up. Hey, millennials and gen-x’ers, put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Full Moon Pizza

Late this week, in NY for meetings, the dreaded Wine Experience and a chance to satisfy a craving for some Pizza Napoletana.

The evening started at the Wine Experience, where a whole slew of winemakers were pouring one of their wines. Bruna Giacosa, Pio Boffa, Piero Antinori, Stefano Chioccioli ( pouring Tua Rita Redigaffi), Carlo Ferrini running around like a whirling dervish, a nice, nice man. On my way to talk to Anthony Barton, the tireless Angelo Gaja was pouring one of his reds.

Angelo Gaja, Warhol-ed

I snapped a quick pic of him and a young lady comes up to me and asks me if he was a famous man. She was a newbie, albeit a well cared for one. Very well adorned and splendidly tanned. I replied that he did some work in his life that would be remembered as something historic, but that the fame that came along with it wasn’t the most important thing. She raised an eyebrow, curious as to my rendition of fame vs. good works. “So he is famous?”, she pursued. “Yes, my dear, he is. But the legacy that he has established will outlive him and everyone in this room.” At which point she made a gesture known well to a trained face screener that said, I’m interested in this and want to know more, but I must go back and think about this some. At which point she asked me which California wine should she go taste. I motioned for her to pass by the Ridge table and sample the Montebello.

So it was that kind of a night, full of interesting and wonderful people, many colleagues and friends, from Italy, France, New Zealand, California, Germany Portugal and Spain.

Matt Kramer comes up to me and an old Italian friend, gesticulating and sprouting Italian prose-nography. Lots of fun. And the wine wasn’t too shabby.

That's Amore

A quick cab to 1st and 13th for a little reception in an underground cavern. A little sparkling rosato from Torti in Lombardia.

Above, inside Luzzo, warm coals and crusty pizza. Falanghina and and Aglianico/Piedirosso blend, Serrone, from Nifo Sarrapochiello.

Full moon on its way up, overlooking Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

Good Night and Good Luck

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

“Wine like my grandfather made”

Another late night, another early plane in the morning. A few hours to sleep, and on to another adventure.

As I slipped into my room tonight an email was blinking at me. Luca and Francesca, a young couple from Calabria, and my family home place, Bucita, were among the folks who came out tonight to dine and savor the wines of Paolo Librandi. Luca writes:
Thank you so much for the good time we had tonight …. We hope you will have time to download the pictures from tonight! It was a wonderful night (excuse my essential language, but after all that passito I fell quite happy and too relaxed to write more ! ehehe). Best of luck for everything … Greetings, Francesca and Luca

You know, after a day of climbing an ever expanding hill of expectations, occasionally to slip of a ledge or two, it is really rewarding to get a note like that. Two young Italians living in Dallas, far from home, missing their family. My grandmother went through that, with 5 children, alone, during the Depression, not speaking English so well. Without welfare. She had to send my mom and her little sister to an orphanage for a few years because she needed the help. The nuns pitched in and helped bring the girls up for a few years. Sad.

Calabria- to some folks it could be Arabia, for the different world it represents. Francesca and I were talking about the food, especially eggplant. Her family makes the eggplant Parmigiano with boiled eggs, like my family does, and as I saw it made in Bucita. But her eggplant “meatballs” really got my attention. Thanksgiving time we will be making them.

Paolo Librandi is a great guy, very good command of the language of wine. This Librandi family, like so many of the winemaking families from the South lately, they are engaged. The land, the soul of the place, the work to be done, the wine that comes from it, the process of refinement that is evolving so rapidly in places like Calabria and Sicily, Abruzzo and Campania, this is really a historic time in all of Italy. But for the South it is monumental. They are really growing into their role of stewards of tradition with style. I cannot even find the words. Pick up a bottle of Librandi’s Efeso, a 100% Mantonico or their Magno Megonio, a 100% Magliocco. Like Luca said, “this is wine like my grandfather made. This is a wine from the country.” Yes, a wine that is historical and healthy. What a wonderful world.

You must try to make it to Calabria, to experience truly something original and unique. As Paolo was talking about an 11th century church built by hand by the Orthodox-rite monks, he seemed to shudder a moment as he relived the time he visited the humble chapel.

As my California burns, again, I look to the Calabrian landscape to rest my eyes a while from the smoke. I hate when California catches fire. But it is as it has been for untold millennia. Build a home out of concrete or brick, let the chaparral do what it does, which is burn. That is a way for the seeds to pop and spread, with the heat from the fire. It is just Nature at work. It’s the humans who insist on putting multi million dollar homes in the path of the natural cycle. Still, sad at the loss and destruction.

I’m all over the place tonight and I must finish, get some rest and get back on the wine trail, early in the morning before anyone in America is awake. Meanwhile, good morning, Italy and Calabria.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Taste of Four Cities

There are four cities in America that I am fond of. Each of them represents something of America that I am drawn to, although these four do not constitute my sole fascination for this country. They are simply four cities I have lived in. My birthplace, Los Angeles. The place of my university education, San Francisco. The first city I went to live in as a young man in search of fame and fortune, New York. And the town I raised my son in, Dallas.

If I could live anywhere, it would probably be in the Los Angeles of the 1930’s. But that isn’t possible. San Francisco is a source of inspiration for me, as it has been since the late 1960’s. New York is the high mountain that I jump off my horse for and attempt to climb, from time to time. But the wild beast and the wide open spaces have a greater pull on me than any long term commitment to the center of the universe. As long as I get 3 or 4 days every so often, I am happy. And Dallas? I really don’t know what I have been doing there half my life. Dallas, for me, was always a place that had the sense of opportunity, to make oneself over again, to clean the slate and to even live an inner life that isn’t weighted down with any sense of outer expectation.

So what little wines do these cities represent for me, on the wine trail in Italy? Let’s have a look…

Dallas. A place where all possibilities are in play. Dark, light, good, evil, a microcosm of the society at large. Dallas is green and flat, at the edge of the Northern Plains, skirting the East Texas Piney Woods, bordering the West Texas badlands and leaning south to the Hill country beauty. The trains met here. Dallas isn’t any one thing, nor would it be if it were a wine from Italy. It would have a little oak; it would have a fruity character. It would have to go with red meat, like a thick T-Bone steak, the Texas rival to bistecca Fiorentina. It would be good if it could age but probably wouldn’t spend that much time in a cellar anyway. It would have a sense of place, but the wine would have a larger purpose. It must be important and have bluster. And it would be very fashionable and graceful. An order as tall as Texas is large? Perhaps.

The wine – Il Borro. Owned by the Ferragamo family, frequent visitors to Texas for the wine and the fashion business. Il Borro is a blend of 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah and Petit Verdot. It’s a wine that I quite like. Whenever I pull it out of the rack I know it won’t disappoint. Yes, it is Tuscan, and there aren’t the usual indigenous grapes that folks are stumbling all over themselves these days. It is a balanced, elegant, juicy red wine which walks without tripping, looking straight ahead, eyes on the road.

New York – While it is a multi-layered city of old and new, New York is not just glitz and glamour. My days living there in the 1970’s were far from the New York we know today. It was brooding and dark. It was dangerous. It was inhospitable to strangers. It is after all, an island. An island of powerful people, with something under the surface of all that money and majesty, something of the raw, the isolated, the individualistic. And for some reason it brings to mind a wine from Sardegna. Cannonau red wine, without wood, raw and powerful. Alessandro Dettori said it better than I can make up, “I don’t follow the market, I produce wines that I like, wines from my territory, wines from Sennori. They are what they are and not what you want them to be…singing of Sardinia, which is powerful and vehement, but at the same time sweet and harmonious, just like our wine.”

San Francisco - to me is a dream place, a place of my youth, a place I can never move away from. In the city there is an energy, a vibration of life that I have always felt there. It excites me, it re-invigorates me. I love to walk in San Francisco until there are blister on my feet. Tired, dead, exhausted, only to fall into a little Italian trattoria and sit at a little table by the window, with that light, almost like the light in Greece, but even brighter and sharper, to me. Wine wise, it’s an earthy, gutsy, lively wine. It’s a wine that when the cork is popped, the wine flows out as if in relief of its escape. Or is it to mock the volcano under which the grapes are born? The wine, from Gragano near Naples is a Penisola Sorrentina DOC. Grapes of Per’ e Palummo, Sciascinoso and Aglianico, how’s that for going native? What it does well is match itself with the liveliness of the place and the adventurous cuisine of San Francisco. But it also captures those innocent days of youth when a frothy red and a loaf of sour dough bread, a little salami and, if one were lucky, a pretty gal to sit by the bay with and watch the sun set.

Los Angeles – my tribal grounds. The place where my coyote spirit lingers, fleeing from the fires in the hills. Wind and heat, October, a time when the town catches fire. Running to the water to escape the slap of destruction that is sweeping the land as it has for millions of years. Los Angeles is a town with apocalyptic blood in its veins. A beautiful and terrifying nature, awesome and imminent. What town is this? Not the cruising down Sunset Blvd in a convertible, but rather a place that one is fearful of, one that destroys and scars? Yes, that side of Los Angeles is very much a part of this scenario. all the while they line up around the corner to eat Pizza at Mozza or producers squat in the private dining room of Celestino Drago’s place to suck up plates of Carpaccio al Salmone just moments before the Big One hits. But with the courage to face the unknown and to go forward, undaunted, possibly to ones death. Not before the last sip from the chalice. And what is our little Italian surprise? What would cool and refresh, extinguish and exhilarate? What can help to overcome the fear and the terror? And what goes with that last meal? It isn’t a red wine, and it isn’t a still wine. So as Wall Street slows like lava coming down the side of Etna, Angelinos celebrate their 21st century march towards annihilation with a bottle of Franciacorta Rose’. If your last meal is pizza or a crudo of salmon, a macrobiotic rice bowl or an East LA burrito, or a humble plate of bigoli with pancetta, The soothing presence of the Northern Italian sparkler is its own force of nature. Oblivion? Or perhaps, nirvana?

Lest we forget, great cities have come and gone, along with their civilizations. All through this pageant the winemaker and the wine has been there, with the tyrant and the poet alike. Wine is a great civilizer, and while we have amongst us dark hearted ones who would rather destroy than build, we have countless reminders of their misplaced ambition, strewn across the deserts of forgotten lands.

Whatever city or country you are living in, open up a bottle of wine and enjoy it with someone. Soon.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Selling the Sizzle

Looking up to the moon tonight, I wondered about when it would be full. It's about a week before the Blood Moon arrives. My son, the one in the picture above, fires up the grill and cooks a steak during the full moon. Something about his inner bio-dynamic.

Celebutantes with their bio-accessories newly re-tuned, and nillionaires alike, rushed the original Neiman Marcus last week, for their 100 year gala. Pursed lips and hip-replacements, manicured hands caressing flutes of Veuve Clicquot, not Prosecco. Shadowed by men in black with platinum cards, in case there was something they had forgotten to buy for their cottage closets in Highland Park.

“Go to this town, ask for the Chiavennasca.” I was mindlessly channel surfing, when I heard these words on the “Dirty Sexy Money” program. Fifteen years earlier I heard someone order a glass of Pinot Grigio on “Seinfeld”, and knew that was the moment. When I heard the word Chiavennasca, I was startled. What was really odd was the guy who was pouring the glass of Chiavennasca looked like Stanley Marcus. Worlds colliding. Probably not the next Pinot Noir, though.

“Loosen up baby, it’s grappa,” I heard a moment later on the same program. Chiavennasca and Grappa in the same evening, on netwreck TV? Meanwhile back at Cadillac Raunch, Dallas was blazing on Main Street. I really thought all those women disappeared after the 80’s. But then again, it is the 100th anniversary. Some of the partygoers looked like they were celebrating a few of their own milestones in time. It’s an interesting town, not a lot of introspection but a lot of glitz. Lots o’ sizzle, even if the meat on the bone has been dry aged a little too long. Money, money, money. God, I love the smell of this town.
So even if the TV program doesn’t kick start Gattinara or Grappa, it was fun just hearing the words Chiavennasca and Grappa. Or in the words of Bob Dylan:

Now you're probably wondering by now
Just what this song is all about
What's probably got you baffled more
Is what this thing here is for.
It's nothing
It's something I learned over in England.

Harvest is winding down, people in the fields are gathering spent branches and vines and starting bonfires. Wine from the north is coming on down the through the foothills and chilling the nights and fogging the morning. The cycle is completing as we wind through another revolution around the sun. The little glass of grappa warms the insides and loosens the door of the mind that stares out from behind this screen.

Neiman Marcus gala photographs by Elizabeth Lippman

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Changing the Rules

“Italy is a mess”, a Sicilian friend told me in a recent conversation. “It is like the 1970’s, with more potential for an explosive revolution, sitting below the surface, like a volcano ready to erupt.” As we proceeded through the evening I pressed my colleague further. What is the motive, who is doing this, what will we see? “They are changing the rules. It has become a society of Dottores, minute people with large diplomas and important connections. It is just like it used to be, but now instead of a mafia alone, now they have their fraternal organizations, their unspoken unions, their society of entitlement.”

We talked about the education in Italy. I learned that, with all the education I have received in the United States, in Italy I would also be called Dottore. I howled. We were shown the gates of hell those years at the University. One teacher opened up the future and laid it all out. Oh he missed computers in the pocket and instant communication, but he got all the rest. The inability to assimilate all the information that is being thrown at us. He was prophetic.

I hear that Slow Food and Gambero Rosso might be parting ways soon. Being more of a Slow Food’er than a Gambero Rosso’er, I don’t know what to make of that. One more Italian wine authority climbing on that Tower of Babel?

I have my doubts about the legend of how Slow Food got its inspiration. The story has it that Carlo Petrini inadvertently founded the international movement when he joined in a protest against the opening of a McDonald's Restaurant at the foot of the famous Spanish Steps in Rome in 1986. However, a distant memory ( was it just a dream?) has it that that McDonald's was there back in 1971 when I first went to Rome. I remember going into it because it seemed so strange to see it there. I also remember buying a hamburger for the curiosity of it all. The bun was a hard crusty bread and the “burger” was leaner, maybe a lower fat content meat. Probably grass fed. Somewhere I have a picture of it. Curious that a movement, called Slow Food, would find a fast food joint after it had been there for 15 years (For all we know it may have only been a dream).

The matter of another wine guide, though, is just too much.

I get emails, all the time, from wineries, from importers, from everywhere, touting this wine or that, and the rating they got. The selling world, however, sees those things as bullets without the rifle. One must still load up the blunderbuss and go out hunting. Bring ‘em back, dead or alive. But get an order. Get an order.

The reality is that there still have to be those folks out there on the front line. There are enough REMF’s putting their heads on their comfortable pillows every night. Teachers who don’t know how to teach something as simple as a follow up letter after an interview. Because they never had to do it. The ranks of the unqualified aft are growing faster than the price of a barrel of oil.

Scrambling for the gold and the silver, whether it be wineries or lap dancers. That’s the mantra of the day. Go for the gold, get your silver buckle, get yours, get it, go get it, fetch, retrieve, bring it back, dead or alive.

And by the time you get your gold medal or your 95 points or you exceed your quota, then what? Will the rules change again? Will things be what they appear to be? Will it all be worth it?

Italy has never been what people think it is. It isn’t spaghetti and meat balls. It isn’t California wines on the list. It isn’t Caesar salad. It isn’t Porterhouse steak. It isn’t any one thing, for it is a world in motion. And it is a world that you really need to slow down and pay close attention to, using your mind and your heart and your soul and taking it one heartbeat at a time.

Things don’t always end up being what they seem to be. But try telling that to the experts.

Photo by Chema Madoz

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Square Meals

Aunt Mil at the dawn of the Roaring Twenties

This has been an eating weekend, starting Friday night with a visit to the Texas State Fair. Corny dogs, Fried Avocado and Frito Pie, along with cold beer and even a little Texas wine. The old neighborhood near the state fair was my mom and her sister's growing up place.

Saturday we married San Marzano DOP tomatoes from Italy with a 27 inch cucuzza from my yard. Well, I married them in my mouth. After a day of preparing a Slow Food event about wine from ancient grapes, I just fell into the couch and tried to stay awake. The aroma of the slow cooked vegetable stew was enough to keep me going. Really my soul food, these squash and tomatoes, rice and more vegetables.

This morning we fashioned pecan pancakes from our state fair shopping spree. The mix was made in San Antonio. We had it with some wild bacon, from some poor little pig that never made it to the state fair. But he did make it out of the pen and able to breathe fresh air and drink clean water and not be crammed up its whole life.

Today at the Slow Food event one of the top chefs in this town, and a guy who “gets” Italian food, brought his salumi to the event. I read stuff on some of these supposed serious eating food websites, from famous chefs at that. But this guy, David Uygur, just has the incredible knack of making out of this world, cured meats. And this coming from one who would rather go out into my back yard and forage for something green. Especially intriguing was the testa he brought. Something particolare, something meravigliosi. Ottimo, Davide.

Ok so after all that, what now? Sunday night with a beaker of some distilled potion while a storm rages above.

We eat some really stupid things out. I have been looking at new menus lately and reading old books about Italian food, what a difference. If only some of the famous chefs would look into these older books, they might see something special, food that is interesting, complex, but not affected. Simple,simple...

My aunt Mil, like my second mom, she passed away this month 8 years ago. She was born on Nov 11, 1911 at 11AM. That would have been 11-11-11-11. She was a happy gal, she was my friend, she was a grand lady in the kitchen. She could boil water and make it taste good. Seems she started early on, the picture of her is from 1919; she would have been about 8. Baking a cake. Darn, do I miss her cooking, and her, a million times more.

Ladies in the kitchen. We were in a Sudanese restaurant in the neighborhood, recently. Ladies running the food there. Just like the little place in the Veneto above Valpolicella, pictures of them line the stairway up to the dining room. Pristine food, served slow, cooked as ordered, no one in a hurry to eat and go somewhere else.

Roasted meats, potatoes from the oven, wild greens tossed lightly so you could taste the place them come from. Pasta made earlier in the day, just a taste, all one needs. Why complain that we seldom see it like this in The States? Forget about it. Go there. You can.

Tasting wine today, talking about it, people sitting at tables waiting for me to say something. The wine, the way it tastes, what it does to one who tastes it, where it is taking one. Here we are in a little room with fans and pressed tile ceilings and we are space traveling to Piedmont, to Calabria, to Trentino, to Umbria, to Puglia. All together, with our fears and our hopes and our plates of testa and bufala mozzarella.

I think about these Sundays, with family, some still here and those who are just there in the dream space. My aunt and my great grandfather, my wife Lizzie and all those souls we shared a table with in this life, looking for a square meal and a full heart.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Scent of Possibility

Il Profumo della Possibilità

Four from Italy, six from America and one from Lebanon. Today will be about the Italians in remembering one of their countrymen who made it over so long ago. However you feel about Columbus, today is a little moment in history that will soon be forgotten. Thanks to the generosity of many of those seated at the table, we broke bread, tasted wine, told lies and enjoyed each others company, if only for an hour or so. The dream of America; a moment of calm, of peace, of prosperity, of hope.

Some of these guys I have known for almost 30 years now; some of us are getting older. All of us. But the possibility of America burns in the Italians and also in those of us who still remember our grandparent’s stories. The wines on the table came from the Italian Wine Trail; Piemonte, Veneto, Friuli, Campania, Calabria, Sicilia.

The Italian characters came any way they could get here:

Adelmo – From a noisy little Ma├«tre d' to his little eponymous trattoria. A gathering spot for so many good memories. After I proposed to my wife on her birthday, Valentines Day, we went to lunch at Adelmo’s, that’s probably my favorite memory. But there are more. Adelmo is a firecracker; everybody knows Adelmo and Adelmo knows everybody. Follow him around at Vinitaly and it’s just a block party extension of his lunch service back in Dallas. Everybody knows Adelmo. And we can poke fun at him and make jokes at his expense and he laughs along with us. He will laugh at all of our funerals, too. Adelmo is fron from Tuscany, though we make fun and tell him he is one of Napoleon's bastards from Elba.

Alessio – Adelmo’s old buddy, with his little trattoria on the east side of town, in the “ghetto”. Still smiling, though time has weathered his body, inside and out, with a grittier block of sandpaper. And it has also smoothed out the rough edges, he is now a round pebble that sails upon the surface of the water, playing dodge ball with Phantom Crane flies. He can still cook like a sonofabitch. From Piemonte.

Daniele – Our young turk from Palermo. He is always roaming around somewhere, if it’s on his Vespa or out West in Ft. Worth or Scottsdale or the beaches of Southern California. Sometimes back to the hidden kitchens of La Vucciria, gathering recipes from his pop or an aunt. He’s our pretty boy, we send him out to bring the girls in. He is our Siculo. Always smiling, never too morose, always ready for a smile and a hug. America is wearing well on him; his two boys are real American boys.

Massimo – Our representative from Abruzzo, today he was working the tables, but he should soon be sitting at the table. Massimo is newly arrived, so he must perform the Catechumens of a newly anointed resident of The USA. A good guy, with an almost Sicilian face and smile, but with the soft happy eyes of one who grew up in the countryside of Abruzzo. Lots of fresh air and plenty of breathing room. Massimo, our enigmatic Sphinx.

Those are our four hopeful ones. And the wines?

Some of the wines at the table were from:
Almerita Brut Contea di Sclafani DOC 100% Chardonnay
Tasca d’Almerita Cygnus 2002
Librandi Efeso Mantonico Bianco 2006
Librandi Magno Megonio 2003
Terra di Lavoro 2004
Di Majo Norante Don Luigi 2004
Jermann Dreams
Giacosa Barbera d’ Alba 2005
Maculan Acininobili 2001

And some killer Calvados from Comte Louis de Lauriston

Everyone knows I’m not a wine notes guy; that’s not why you come to these posts. Read the links; buy the wines if you want. I’m not here to sell them to you. That’s part of my day job.

Parting shot: Friends, food and freedom aren’t worth a damn if there ain’t any good wine to go with it.

Thanks to Paul Di Carlo for hosting us and bringing some great wines.

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