Monthly Archives: November 2019

A Taste of Parma in NYC

I always enjoy visiting the city of Parma and have been going there since 1983. Just walking around the city and looking into the food store windows and reading the restaurant menus is enough to make one very hungry. All one has to mention is Prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano to get one’s mouth watering. We returned from Parma and a few days later with the taste of Parma still in my mouth I went to the tasting  called:

Presenting the Parma Valley with a White Truffle Experience

The event was had at the unique location of Sabatino Truffle Concept store in NYC

Chef Paolo Amadori of La Forge Restaurant in St. Tropez prepared the food in an open kitchen with specialties from the Parma Food Valley and with a generous accent of white truffles. The chef is a former teacher at the Alma International School of Italian Cuisine in Palma.

The speaker was Nicolette Perusin, marketing manager “Parma Incoming”. There was a slide presentation that highlighted all the wonderful reasons to visit Parma. She spoke about the wonders of Parma, the food, the Alma Culinary School, the sites: the Cathedral, Baptistry and the Farnese Theatre  for music and opera. Arturo Toscanini was born in Parma and Giuseppe Verdi was born in Roncole Verdi, a small village close to Parma.  She told us that the Festival Verdi takes place in Parma and Busseto in 2020 from September 24 to October 14. What made it more interesting for me was that I had visited most of the places she spoke about.

The Menu

Prosciutto di Parma al Coltello–the  famous  ham  from  Parma  being  hand  sliced

Salame Felino

Black and White Truffles

Crispy Egg & Parmigiano Fondue

Parmigiano Reggiano – Uva Sabbiata

Parmigiano  served  with  sugared  grapes

Gnocco Fritto  — fried pastry puffs eaten  stuffed  with  Prosciutto di Parma

Chips of vegetables and Black Truffles.

Potato Chips with shaved Truffles – I could not stop eating them.

Pappa al Pomodoro & Parmigiano Reggiano

Parmigiano Risotto, Balsamic Vinegar and Black Truffles

Homemade Spinach Tortelli and White Truffles

The perfect wine with all this wonderful food is Lambrusco

Vanilla Ice Cream, Balsamic & Red Fruit

It was a true taste of all of the wonders of Parma and there was even an opera singer!

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The Impressive Wines of Montefili

On a recent trip to Italy, Michele and I were planning to go to Florence. We wanted to have lunch outside the city at Antica Macelleria Cecchini, owned by Dario Cecchini, known as “The Butcher of Panzano”. Nicola Marzovilla, owner of I Trulli Restaurant, who is a friend of Dario’s made a reservation for us. Nicola also suggested we visit Vecchie Terre di Montefili in nearby Greve before lunch. Nicola is a partner in the winery and it is a short distance from the restaurant.

I tasted Nicola’s wines of Montefili last February at Restaurant I Trulli and was very impressed by them. Nicola said the winemaker was the talented Serena Gusmeri and he hired her because they both have the same approach to winemaking. It would be interesting to see how the wines developed and to speak to Serena about the wines.

We left Florence and about an hour later we arrived at the winery.

Serena welcomed us and said there are 12.5 hectares of vineyards planted mostly with Sangiovese in the heart of Chianti Classico on the highest hill outside of Panzano.


Like Nicola, she believes in as little interference in the winemaking process as possible, the grapes should speak for themselves. The vines are very old and they produced a wine that is very concentrated and can last for 20 years or more. This concentration and longevity come from the grapes themselves and not from anything that is done during the winemaking process.

We had some local products to eat with the wine

Serena said that none of the wines undergo filtration or fining and with the 2015 vintage they use spontaneous fermentation for the alcoholic fermentation, malolactic fermentation and the final refinement. When asked about the 2015 and 2016 vintages she said that in 2015 the grapes were perfect and the wines produced are big wines and will last for many years. The 2016 produced fresher wines with more acidity and will be ready to drink sooner.

The Wines

Montefili Rosso Toscana IGT 2015 made from 35% Sangiovese and 65% Cabernet Franc. The vineyards are at 500 meters and the terrain is hilly. The soil is galestro and alberese and the training system is spurred cordon. Vinification takes place in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts. The wine is aged for a minimum of 20 in tonneau of 3.5 HL for the Cabernet Franc and large 20 HL barrels for the Sangiovese. The wine is aged in bottle for a minimum of 6 months before release.

Chianti Classico DOCG 2016 made from 100% Sangiovese. The terrain is hilly and the vineyards are at 500 meters. The soil is galestro and alberese. The vineyards were planted in the late nineties and Serena said these were the youngest vines on the property. The training system is spurred cordon. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeast. Aging is for a minimum of 15 months in 3,000 liter Slavonian oak barrels and 6 months in bottle before release.  This is a wine with hints of blackberry  and cherry with a touch of violets and and a note of almonds. This is a fruity wine with hints of cherry and blackberries with good acidity.  $30

Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2015 made from 100% Sangiovese from a careful selection of grapes from vineyards with the best exposure. The vineyards were planted in the late 1980’s. The training system is spurred cordon and guyot. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeast. Aging is in Slavonian oak barrels of 3,000 and 2,000 liters for a minimum of 22 months and 6 months in bottle before release.This is a  well structed wine with hints of blackberry  and cherry with a touch of violets and and a note of almonds. . $50

Vigna Vecchia “Gran Selezione” DOCG 2015 made from 100% Sangiovese from a single vineyard called Vigna Vecchia planted in 1981. The training system is spurred  cordon and fermentation is in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts. The wine is rotated between 30HL and 10HL oak barrels for 26 months and 8 months in bottle before release.  This is elegant wine with red and black fruit aromas and hints of blueberries and cherries and a hint of violets .$75

Anfiteatro IGT Colli Toscana Centrale made from 100% Sangiovese from the Anfiteatro vineyard planted in 1985. Serena said this is their best vineyard. The training system is bilateral cordon. Fermentation is in stainless steel with indigenous yeast. The wine is aged for 28 months in 5HL barrels and 10 Hl barrels and a minimum of 12 months in bottle before release. This is a very big wine that needs more time. In fact all of the wines from the 2015 vintage will last for many years. Serena said because of the position of vineyards and because they are at 500 meters the microclimate is not like any other in Tuscany. $120

Bruno di Rocca IGT Colli Toscana Centrale 2015 made from 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Sangiovese from vineyards planted in the early 1980’s. The soil is galestro and the training system is spurred cordon. Vinification is in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeast. Aging for a minimum of 28 months in tonneaux for the Sangiovese and for the Cabernet Sauvignon in barriques (350 liters).  Nicola said Cabernet Sauvignon needs to be aged in barriques. The wine spends a minimum of 12 months in bottle before release. It is difficult to make this type of wine where the Cabernet Sauvignon does not dominate but this is a soft elegant wine.

It was a pleasure listening to the knowledgeable and interesting Serena speak about the wines of Montefili, the different grapes, and the other wineries in the area. Nicola made the right choice when he hired her.

Serena gave use a few bottles of wine to have at lunch and what better choice can there be than steak and Sangiovese.

Note: When we were at the winery they were harvesting the olives. Serena said 2019 was not a great year for olives but because of their location and microclimate their oil will be fine.






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White Truffles and Wine in Florence

Riccardo Gabriele of PR Comunicare il Vino heard I was in Florence and invited me to join him for lunch. We met at the elegant Porta Rossa Restaurant in the hotel of the same name.

When I arrived I could smell the aroma of truffles and then I saw a sign for Savini Tartufi.Riccardo

Riccardo had a selection of wines that he wanted me to taste, so I let him order my lunch for me.

We started with peaches in truffle oil and olive oil

What followed were 3 courses with truffles. I tasted all the wines with the different dishes.

The Wines

Società Agricola Usiglian del Vescovo is located close to the village of Palaia on the Valdera Hills and near the Tyrrhenian Coast.

Usiglian Del Vescovo Costa Toscana Bianco IGT made from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Viognier. The wine is aged for 4 months in oak barrels and for 4 months in bottle before release. This is an easy drinking wine with hints of citrus fruit, herbs and a touch of grass.

My first course was carne crudo with truffles, hand chopped veal topped with shaved white truffles.

Usiglian Del Vescovo Chianti Superiore DOCG made from 100% Sangiovese and aged for 9 months in oak barrels and 6 months in the bottle. This is a fruity red wine, easy to drink with hints of red fruit, cherry and violets.

Donne Fittipaldi Winery, Bolgheri, Tuscany

There are over 9 hectares of vines on the estate and the winery is run by 5 women, Maria Fittipaldi Menarini and her four daughters.

Donne Fittipaldi Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2016 made from 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 10% Petit Verdot from Vigna del Bruciato. The training system is cordon spur. Harvest begins in September and goes to the first half of October. Manual harvesting, soft destemming followed by natural fermentation with indigenous yeasts and 15 days maceration on the skins. The wine is aged for 12 months in barriques of 2nd and 3rd passage. This is a fruity wine with hints of cherry and a note of spice.

Second course was fettuccine with shaved white truffles.

Donne Fittipaldi Bolgheri Rosso Superiore DOC 2013 made from 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 30% Cabernet franc and 10% Petit Verdot. The wine is macerated for 20 days of maceration on the skins. The wine is aged in barriques, part new and part second passage. This is a complex wine with hints of red fruit and cherry with notes of spice and vanilla.

For dessert, there was tiramisu with truffles, a combination that I did not think would work but it was wonderful. We had it with the Frizzante Rosato and it was a perfect combination.

Donne Fittipaldi “5” Frizzante Ancestrale Rosato IGT Toscana NV made from 100% Malbec from Vigna del Bruciato. The training system is cordon spur and harvest takes place at the beginning of September. The grapes are picked by hand and immediately pressed. The must is then fermented at a low temperature and bottled with a slight amount of residual sugar necessary for starting the second fermentation in the bottle.

Riccardo said it is the only one of its kind, and the first example from the area of a wine that undergoes a natural second fermentation in the bottle, without being disgorged. This is a fresh and fruity semi sparkling wine with strong hints of red fruit.

Donne Fittipaldi also produces Lady F made from 100% Orpicchio–a very rare Tuscan grape. I did not taste it this time but have in the past and it is such a wonderful white wine that I had to mention it.





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Pizza by Roberto

I always enjoy going to Keste Wall St. when Roberto Caporuscio is there.  Not  only because the pizza will be fantastic but I also enjoy speaking to Roberto about pizza. Roberto said that after trying many different flours for his pizza dough he has settles on a combination of two: 50% each Caputo “00” and Caputo “Nuvola  “0”.


We have had many discussions about the flour that he has been using over the last year and I really like this combination. Because he knows I will tell him what I think, he often will try new toppings to see if I like them–most of the time they work.


Roberto started us off with his fried buratta.  The  creamy  cheese  was  rolled  in  a breadcrumb  crust  and  deep  fried.

It was fantastic,  a contrast  of  creamy  cheese  and  the  crunchy  fried  crust.

Roberto made his now-famous focaccia written up in the New York Times. The focaccia alla formaggio Recco style.  Recco is a town in Liguria famed for this type of pie.

The first pizza was with  pecorino  and  bresaola,  air  dried  beef.

Then the classic Margherita  made bufala mozzarella, tomatoes and basil.

After that was the chestnut aged cheese topped with pistachios and Gran Biscotto ham from Rovagnanti.  Michele loved the combination of the cheese, nuts and ham.

Mast’Nicola made with grana, lardo, basil and extra virgin olive oil.

Last a dessert pizza with Nutella filling and dabs of strawberry puree on top.


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Cantina Vincenzo Ippolito and the Wines of Calabria

Enrico Battista of Soilair Selections invited me to a tasting and lunch at Restaurant Il Gattopardo in NYC to taste the wines of Cantina Vincenzo Ippolito, one of the most important and oldest wineries in Calabria in Southern Italy.

Vincenzo Ippolito was the speaker.

Calabria is located in the toe of the Italian boot and has both an eastern coastlne on the Tyrhennian Sea and a western coastline on the Bay of Taranto. Cantina Vincenzo Ippolito is located on the east coast of Calabria in the historic center of Marina of Ciro and it is the oldest winery in Calabria. There are 100 hectares of vineyards that go from the mountains to the plains near the Ionian Sea. Vincenzo said that his great, great grandfather Vincenzo Ippolito founded the winery in 1845. The land is worked by organic farming methods with the objective is to limit erosion and to preserve biodiversity. The only grow autochthonous grapes and all the wines at the tasting are certified organic.

The Wines

Ippolito 1845, Maria Chiaro Cirò Bianco DOC 2018 made from 100% Greco Bianco. The soil is sand and limestone, the vines are 15 years old, with a southeast exposure and the training system is cordone speronato and alberello (bush or little trees). Vincenzo said because it is very hot in Calabria they have to harvest once in August when the grapes have more acidity and once in September where the grapes have more sugar. The final blend depends on the vintage. Fermentation is in steel tanks and the wine ages only in stainless steel on the lees for about 4 months. The wine has hints of pear, peach, white flowers and a touch of herbs.

Ippolito 1845, “Pecorello” Calabria Bianco IGT 2018 made from 100% Pecorello Bianco. Vincenzo said Pecorello means little sheep. It is an ancient grape variety of Calabria and was almost extinct until Ippolito began producing it again. Manual harvest takes place in early September, then cold settling and fermentation in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks until the end of January. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, with notes of peach and pear and nice minerality.

Cantine Vincenzo Ippolito, “Pescanera” Calabria Rosé IGT 2018 made from 100% Greco Nero which Vincenzo said was a local grape from Calabria. The grapes come from the best vineyards on the coast and after a manual harvest are soft pressed without any maceration. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine has hints of strawberries and raspberries with citrus notes and a touch of wild flowers. Vincenzo said that Rosé wines have a long history in Calabria and Ippolito was one of the first to produce them.

With these wines we had the Stuzzchini: bruschetta di Stracciatella, carpaccio di tartufo nero, panelle croccanti and arancini di riso, cacio e pepe.

Ippolito 1845, “Liber Pater” Cirò Rosso Classico Superiore 2017 made from 100% Gaglioppo from 35-40 year vines at 250 meters with a southern exposure. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks with a long maceration. The wine is aged for 10 months in French oak barrels. Vincenzo said the barriques are 4 to 5 years old. This is a full-bodied wine with hints of red berries, violets, spice and a slight touch of oak.

With the reds we had:

Schiaffoni con salsa d’ Anduja. Schiaffoni is a local pasta specialty, with sauce made with anduja, a soft, spicy sausage. Vincenzo said this dish is typical from Calabria but it is not typical of the eastern part of Calabria where the winery is located. Carne dei Pastori — Sheperd’s style pork was the main course.

Ippolito 1845, Calabrese Rosso IGT 2018 made from 100% Calabrise at 0 to 250 meters and the exposure is south/southeast. The training system is pruned-spur cordon (Cordone Speronato) and head trained (Alberello). There is a long maceration on the skins after which the wine ages in stainless steel tanks for 7 months and then it is bottled to preserve the fruitiness of the wine. This is a fresh fruity wine with hints of black cherries, plums and a touch of black pepper.

Vincenzo said that the Calabrise grape originated in Calabria and then found its way to Sicily where it is known as Nero d’ Avola. This is a matter of controversy.

Ippolito 1847, Ciro Rosso Classico Superiore Riserva “Colli Del Mancusco” 2015 made from 100% Gagalioppo. The soil is clay; the vines are 50 years old and are at 350 meters. Exposure is southwest. The grapes are left on the vines until the second half of October and there is a careful selection of the grapes. Fermentation is in stainless steel with a long maceration of 20 days on the skins. The wine is aged for one and half years in tonneaux (500 liter oak barrels). The wine has hints of plums, cherries, licorice and spice with a long finish and pleasing aftertaste. Vincenzo said this was the first single vineyard (cru) wine in Calabria (1989).

Ippolito 1845,Calabria Rosso IGT “160 Anni” 2015 made from 100% Gaglioppo from 20 year old vines. After harvesting the grapes are dried on mats for 30 days followed by a traditional vinification. The wine is aged for 2 years in tonneaux. The wine has hints of berries, raisins, violets and sweet spice.

Ippolito 1845,Cirò Rosso Classico Superiore Riserva DOC “Ripe del Falco” 2010 made from 100% Gaglioppo from a vineyard more than 40 years old. The best grapes are selected. The vineyard is at 315 meters and the exposure is southeast. The training system is Alberello. There is 18-20 days of maceration on the skins. Followed by fermentation in cement tanks. The wine is aged for 2 years in Tonneaux followed by 5 to 6 years in stainless steel and a least 1-year in bottle before release. The is an elegant complex wine with hints of dried rose petals, berries, licorice, leather and spice, a long finish and very pleasing aftertaste.

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