Thursday, January 20, 2011

3 Days, 2 Towns and a "Biblical Commute"

On and on and on and on and on the Italian trail again - Photo by Teresa Rafidi

My barking poodle buddy, Ron, likes to lampoon my blog name. I know it’s all in good spirit. If I didn’t feel that way I would have called my cousin Calogero in Sacramento to pay old Hostradamus a visit. But fortunately, for all of us, we didn’t have to go there.

No instead, I headed back onto the road this week, this time to Arkansas. I’ve been working my way up to New York and Friuli with forays into New Orleans and Little Rock, La Place and Fayetteville. This week was a great week, but cold, and snowy, and lots and lots of ice on the wine trail. That part wasn’t so fun.

I just got back a few hours ago, and managed to make the flight from Tulsa before the weather started dropping and the roads and the air strips started to ice up again.

Folks like to make fun of Arkansas. Last night one of the guests at the wine reception we did told me about a nearby county that there are only 88% of the homes with indoor plumbing. I don’t think she was making fun. But still, Arkansas does take a lot of ribbing.

It reminded me a little of Friuli or Piedmont, with the hills. And with lots of snow. I know it is winter and I’ll probably be griping about snow for a few weeks. Poor Italian wine guy, eating pizza at Keste and walking in the snow. Poor IWG, drinking grappa in Buttrio and stumbling home with Samantha to the agriturismo, looking for a proper toilet for her. Yeah, all y’all are gonna get a mulletful.

It was supposed to be Little Rock on Monday and Tuesday and Fayetteville on Wednesday and Thursday. But last night it snowed and the road from Fayetteville to Tulsa and the weather folk were calling the drive a “Biblical commute.” I kid you not. So I did the only Italian thing possible. I panicked. And drove into the storm. At 20-30 miles an hour. Light ice. Snowing. Foggy. On and on and on…oy.

But the good parts. The Capital Hotel has a really interesting menu and wine list. Folks there are pretty tuned in. But what really turned me on was their Cobb Salad. I know I should have taken a picture of it. But I had just finished a 12 hour day with a seminar for 70+ that went a half hour over (sorry folks) and I was beat. I couldn’t bear to go back to my hotel restaurant again. The night before I did and ordered a Cioppino. It came with onions. And garlic. And Monday mussels. No, I went across the street. And had a beer and a salad.

Growing up in Cali, I got into Cobb Salad at an early age. And I don’t really know what made this one so bloody good. It didn’t have avocado, not that I could notice. But the ingredients were pristine. The meal was a perfect balance of all the ingredients the chef put into it. A perfect sphere. 100 points, as one American wine critic living in Tuscany might say.

The other great meaI I haven’t yet had. It will be in Fayetteville at James at the Mill. Chef Miles James is a pretty cool fellow. He worked with Guy Savoy, and was the only American who worked all the stages of the kitchen. “Not even Thomas Keller did that,” Savoy told chef Miles. Another Guy, Guy Stout, will be writing about that experience he had. I will return to Fayetteville in May to a wine event. And I am sure it will be one of the great meals I will have in 2011.

So, here’s the deal. I busted my tail this week, selling Cannonau and Vermentino and Fiano and Grecanico and Sangiovese and Morellino. I’m pooped. I want to watch a movie. I’m also tired of all the drama between Gambero Rosso and Daniele Cernilli and James Suckling. We need to give it a rest. Who freakin’ cares? The web has leveled out the old hierarchy and diminished their influence. Hey, ask the young up-and-comers, ask them who they take their cues from. It sure as hell aint some tired old apparatchiks from Italy. If it were me, I’d be listening to the young man who writes for Parker, Antonio Galloni. He smiles. He’s not tired. Or over weight. Or overwrought. It’s his time. Not Sergio’s. My money is on Galloni. I like him. He isn’t overexposed in the Italian wine world.

There you have it. I just cleaned out the dustbin of my mind. Ran three miles in the freezing cold with wind. Ate three bowls of chicken soup. And am now ready to get ready for all the stuff that lies in front of me.

Move along now, there’s nothing else to see here.


Samantha Dugan said...

Dude, I cannot wait...

Anonymous said...

Big fan of your blog. Wish i would have known you were coming to AR - would have loved to meet you. I work for one of the "other" wine houses in AR. We genrally don't co-mingle with each other's suppliers but I would have made an exception.

Do Bianchi said...

When they took me to the Capital Hotel, they told me that "Grant stayed there during the occupation." I guess they really haven't gotten over that...

Great hotel...

Who's James Suckling?

Drew said...

Glad you made it out alive!

Tidwell worked at James at the Mill BTW.

Zachary said...

Mr. Cevola, it was wonderful meeting you last week at the Emilia's tasting in Fayetteville. Glad to hear you made it out alive. Also, I've become a huge fan of your blog. I look forward to talking again with you next time you are in Fayetteville.


Real Time Analytics