Sunday, June 30, 2024

Learning to Trust Italian White Wines

While in my local Italian store the other day, a sales rep was doing a tasting of Italian wines. He had a bevy of whites and one red. It was over 100℉ outside. People were gravitating to the red wine. Maybe it had something to do with the meat counter beyond, so nearby the tasting station?

During the demo, a young, exuberant alpha-male comes up to the table. “Let me try one of your white wines,” he barked. He took a swig, “Not bad. I’ve stayed away from Italian white wines because I don’t trust them. They’re too nothing, don’t have a lot of body. They’re ‘meh’ wines.”

That was a trip down memory lane. He should’ve been here in 1974. But there was a kernel of truth to what he said about not trusting Italian white wines, even in 2024.

Sunday, June 23, 2024

The Guy Buys the Parrot

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Affogato and Averna with a Sicilian Surrealist

Our time at the dinner table was over. Giorgio motioned to me and his wife that he was moving to the drawing room. His wife said she would prepare the affogato. Meanwhile Giorgio foraged in his liquor cabinet for a bottle of amaro. “Seeing as we are all Siculi, shall we have some Averna with our dessert?” he suggested. As long as it wasn’t Cynar, I was fine with it. I’d been plied with the artichoke amaro in Palermo with every family visit. Averna was a relief.

“Isa was visiting a friend near Piazza Navona and brought back some gelato from Tre Scalini.” Isa had a sweet tooth, I gathered. Giorgio too. Fine with me. I was 20, skinny and ready for whatever came my way. I could handle amaro and gelato.

Sunday, June 09, 2024

Fettuccine and Forastera with a Sicilian Surrealist

Una favola continuava

It was 7:00 PM and Giorgio’s residence was about 15 minutes away from the pensione I was staying in. But I wasn’t that familiar with Rome, and we didn’t have GPS in 1971. So, I gathered my myself, a little gift I had gotten In Sicily for his wife, and my camera, and headed out. I thought I should probably take a bottle of wine, and earlier in the day I had gone into a shop which sold wine, beer and liquor and looked for something appropriate. I knew little to nothing about wine, despite the fact that my dorm mates  at university had last names like Mondavi, Sebastiani, Heitz, Pellegrini and Filice. My uncle back in California was a wine merchant and he told me a little about Italian wines.

The store had what I would now call a selection of tourist recognizable wines from places like Umbria (Orvieto),  Lazio (Est! Est!! Est!!!) and Campania (Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio). The white wines all looked more amber-like, so I tried to find one that wasn’t as dark. On a display I found a white wine, simply called Ischia Bianco, from the eponymous island that was a popular day trip for vacationers.

Sunday, June 02, 2024

Caffè and Cannoli with a Sicilian Surrealist

una favola...

My first trip to Italy was in 1971. I was a student on summer break and spent days in Rome, wandering the streets at all hours with my camera. One night I happened to be near the Spanish steps when it was very late. In fact, it was almost dawn. And down the street from the steps on the Via Condotti, the familiar noises of a coffee machine, the grinding, the steaming and the drip, drip, dripping, sounded. With the aroma of fresh coffee, I was drawn like an insect to light.  It was there where I first encountered the Sicilian Surrealist.
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