Category Archives: Torre Ercolana

When in Rome-Our Favorite Restautants

Michele and I rented an apartment in Rome again in February.IMG_9834

We have decided that for us it is better than a winter vacation to Florida, Mexico or the Caribbean. While it may not be as warm, the food is much better and Rome is Rome and we love it. These are the restaurants that Michele and I go back to every time we are in Rome.IMG_9708

Trattoria da Giggetto– Michele and I always go to the same place for lunch when we arrive in Rome.  We drop off our bags and walk to Da Giggetto (39-066861 05) at Portico D’Ottavia 21/A-22 in the Jewish ghetto.

I do not need to look at the menu because I always order the same things: fiori di zucca ripieni con mozzarella e alici.  The flowers were small and crunchy and very good.IMG_9710

I also get carciofi alla giudia  (fried artichoke) and spaghetti con vongole veraci.

IMG_9711The tiny clams were tender and seasoned with just the right amount of parsley, garlic, olive oil and a hint of hot pepper.  Michele had carciofi alla romana, braised artichoke and fettuccine with ragu. We drank the Passerina del Fruisnate IGT 2014 from Feudi Del Sole. It went very well with the food even with the fried artichoke.

Trattoria Armando al Pantheon-Salita de’ Crescenzi 21 This is one of Michele’s favorite restaurants in Rome and one of the restaurants that you have to make a reservation for lunch or dinner. We only started going here a few years ago and have been going there ever since.IMG_9694

I started with grilled bread Roman style with butter and anchovies,  while Michele had Buffalo mozzarella with braised Roan artichoke.

IMG_9701Then we had spaghetti alla Matriciana, chicken in white wine with peppers, and grilled sausages with lentils.IMG_9696

We drank Ghemme 2005 “Collis Brechema” Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo

IL Martriciano Via dei Gracchi, 55    06 32 13 040-06 32 12 327

Michele and I have been coming here for the last 35 years and nothing changes, the owners, the waiters and the menu are the same. I started as usual with a carciofo romano, fried zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies and of course bucatini matriciana

IMG_9765 I had the roasted baccala with potatoes in a tomato and onion sauce, which was delicious.IMG_9764

Michele had Vignarola, peas, artichokes and fava beans.

And for dessertIMG_9766

Ristorante Ar Galletto Piazza Farnese 104   06 686 1714

Michele likes to come here when the weather is warm so we can sit outside because the restaurant is in the Piazza Farnese and she loves the view.IMG_9771

We had fiori di zucca, fried artichoke, spaghetti with fresh anchovies and pecorino.IMG_9775

and crostata for dessert.IMG_9768

We drank Offida Pecorino 2014 “Merlettale” from Ciú Ciú.

Checchino Dal 1887 (www.checchino1887.com), Via  Monte 30 Testaccio.IMG_9789

The Mariani family has owned the restaurant since 1887. Francesco Mariani takes care of the front of the house while his brother Elio is in the kitchen.

Michele and I have been coming here since 1981. It is the restaurant where I drank Fiorano Rosso for the first time. The vintage was 1961IMG_9786

We went with friends that live in Rome and they were surprised when the Francesco came over and the first thing he said was, “I have one bottle of Fiorano Rosso left, the 1983, do you want it?” That was a trick question. Of course I wanted it!IMG_9791

Considering the wine and the food, it is the best restaurant in Rome with over six hundred wines from Italy and all over the world. The wine cellar is dug into Monte Testaccio, a hill made from broken amphorae, which date back to Ancient Rome. Francesco gave us a tour of the cellar that holds over 600 wines.IMG_9856

The slaughterhouses of Rome used to be located here and the restaurant still specializes in the so-called quinto quarto, the fifth quarter, or innards and other spare parts.IMG_9781

We ate Artichoke alla RomanaIMG_9783

Bucatini all’AmatricianaIMG_9897

Fegato di Vitello ai ferri, and grilled baby lamb chops.

For dessertIMG_9898

We also drank a Cesanese 2013 “Amarasco” Principe Pallavicini.

 

 

 

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Filed under Amatriciana, Cantalupo, Checchino dal 1887, Ciu Ciu Pecorino, Da Giggetto, Fiorano Rosso, Il Matriciano, Restaurant Checchino 1887, Ristorante Ar Galletto, Roman restaurants, Rome, Torre Ercolana, Trattoria Armando al Pantheon

Celebrating “La Befana”

From beginning to end, it was a wonderful holiday season with good food, good wine and most of all good friends. January 6 marked the end of the season. Though it is not celebrated much here, in Italy it is the feast of the Epiphany, when good Italian boys and girls receive gifts delivered by the Befana, a good witch.IMG_6850

This year, we celebrated at the home of wine and food writers Tom Maresca and Diane Darrow. It was our third annual Befana celebration, a tradition begun by Lars Leicht, National Director of Cru Artisan Wines for Banfi. When Lars was young, he spent the summer and many holidays with his family in Anagni, a small town not far from Rome and became familiar with the Italian customs and traditions.

The evening began, as always, with Champagne.IMG_6844

Champagne Brut Andrè Clouet Rose No 3 Bouzy 100% Pinot Noir fermented as blanc Champagne blended with 8% still Bouzy Rouge.

The Clout family owns 8 hectares of vines in preferred mid-slope vineyards in Grand Crus Bouzy and Ambonnay where they have excelled as Pinot Noir specialists. The wines are cellared under the family’s 17th century village house – built by an ancestor who acted as printer to Louis XV’s royal court at Versailles! Respect for terroir is evident in these traditionally crafted wines. The labels are attractively old-fashioned in design appropriate for the descendants of a notable printer. This is a fragrant, round rosé with fine bubbles and ripe, full fruit flavors of Pinot Noir interwoven with drier, toasty complexity; excellent deep color; with hints of strawberry, raspberry and almonds.

With the Champagne we ate baked Italian sausages with sweet and sour figs, a delicious recipe adapted from a cookbook by Penelope Casas. It was an interesting combination and went very well with the Champagne.IMG_6845

Luna Mater Frascati Superiore DOC 2011, Fontana Candida Made from 50% Malvasia di Candia, 30% Malvasia del Lazio, 10% Greco and 10% Bombino. Harvesting began in the final 10 days of September and continued until the end of October, producing perfectly ripe, healthy grapes with a golden color and high sugar content. The grapes are grown in selected hillside vineyards ranging between 650 and 1,300 feet in the communes of Frascati and Monteporzio Catone.  The volcanic soil is loose, porous and dry but not arid. Spalliera, Guyot and Cordone Speronato training systems are used. First selected bunches of mature grapes are picked by hand. Then the best grapes from each bunch are chosen.  The grapes are transported in small baskets directly to the cellar so that they will be in perfect condition when they arrive.

The vinification of the grapes for the Luna Mater is a process that they invented and takes place in three different stages. In the cellar the grapes are separated into two batches. This is called the “modern” stage. The first batch is cooled immediately prior to a gentle pressing to ensure maximum aromatic qualities. The second batch is destemmed, cooled and fermented in contact with the skins to produce a marked varietal character. This is done without oxygen to keep the grapes fresh. After 6-7 days the skins were removed, any longer than this and there would be too much extract.

Three days later a small quantity of the best grapes are destemmed by hand and added whole to the fermenting must with their own natural yeast for bouquet and flavor. The berries remain in the must until the end of February.  The alcohol helps extract tannin from the skins and pits. The wine is aged in 10HL acacia wood barrels, which may be the best wood for the Malvasia grapes. The barrels are not toasted and were steam folded. Mauro Merz, the wine maker, feels that barriques do not give him the type of wine he wants to produce and they are not traditional.  The wine is left to age in bottles laid horizontally in the ancient tufa tunnels under the Frascati hillsides.

Luna Mater means Mother Moon; it reflects the wine’s close ties to nature and the 50 old vines that are used to make this wine. It has floral aromas with hints of white peach and honey with bitter almond in the finish and a very pleasing aftertaste.

Seafood Salade

Seafood Salad

This was served with a mixed seafood salad perfectly prepared by Tom Maresca. It was a great match.

Torre Ercolana 2000 Cantina Colacicchi – (Anagni) Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cesanese di Piglio.IMG_6846

The wine is made by a natural fermentation, no filtration, sterilization or pasteurization. The wine is aged in barrel with four rackings a year. I have been drinking the older vintage of this wine for a number of years and buy them in Rome at Trimani, a wine store (and wine bar) with an excellent selection. They have exclusive rights to the wine. It is not available in the U.S. and it difficult to find outside Rome. The wine does not always taste the same because the blend changes according to the vintage. In hot vintages the Cesanese does better so there is more of it in the blend. In cooler vintages the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot does better so their percentage is increased. The best however is when all three varieties ripen perfectly.

IMG_6855

Timballo

Burton Anderson, in his book VINO, describes the wine in musical terms. “My first mouthful of Torre Ercolana was like my first earful of Beethoven’s Fifth: so overpowering it left me gasping for adjectives to describe it.”  It has hints leather, spice, red fruit, a nice long smooth finish and great aftertaste.

Lars Leicht’s family is from Anagni where this wine comes from. He told us a story about visiting the winery when he was young. Lars made his famous timballo that he remembers his family making on the holidays. It is made with fresh pasta layered with tomato sauce, ham, hard cooked eggs and cheese, similar to lasagna, though much more delicate. I brought the Torre Ercolana thinking it would go perfectly with the timballo and it did.IMG_6847

 Flaccianello Della Pieve 1999 Tuscan Colli Centrale IGT 100% Sangiovese Fontodi. In magnum The oenologist is Franco Bernabei. There are 6,000 vines per hectare and the training system is guyot. Fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, with the addition of indigenous yeast for at least 3 weeks. The 1999 was aged in French oak barrels for 12 months. Today maceration is in new Troncais and Allier French oak barrels for at least 18 months. It has hints of blackberries, spice, tobacco and blueberries. There was not even a hint of oak or vanilla. Flaccianello is one of the few Super Tuscans that I can drink and enjoy.

The Ham

The Ham

This was served with roasted fresh ham (porchetta), potatoes, pears and peas.

 Recioto Soave Classico 2007 “Le Colombare” 100% Garganega ( Veneto) PieropanIMG_6848

Certified Organic. Volcanic soil, rich in basalt and tuffo Eocene. The vineyards are at 300m and the exposure is west. The training system is Pergola Veronese and there are 4,000 vines per hectare. There is a manual harvest with careful selection of ripe grapes. All the grapes are collected in small boxes and brought to the winery for the drying process. The grapes are manually placed in a loft on mats made of bamboo reeds. The drying is natural and the grapes remain until they wither which is around the end of February. The natural climate conditions allow for berry dehydration, loss of water and the development of noble rot (Botrytis). The yield of juice is very low and the grapes lose 1/4 of their original weight. The wine is only produced in good vintages. Destemming and pressing of the grapes takes place. There is a selection of the must and fermentation at a controlled temperature 14 to 16 degrees C in barrels of 2,500 liters. The residual sugar is 110 to 120 g/L. The wine is aged in oak barrels of 200 liters for about two years and in glass for 6 months before release. This is a dessert wine with ripe fruit, hints of apricot and quince with a very long finish taste and nice aftertaste.IMG_6863

Michele made an Upside Down Meyer Lemon Cake which she adapted from the clementine cake her new book The Italian Vegetable Cookbook”. The citrus flavor of the cake enhanced the flavors of the dessert wine.

For more information about the dinner, see Diane’s blog

https://dianescookbooks.wordpress.com/2015/01/07/a-feast-for-la-befana/

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Filed under Andre Clouet champagne, Champagne, Flaccianello, Fontana Candida, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Luna Mater, Pieropan-La Colombare, Recioto, Recioto di Soave, Torre Ercolana

Champagne, Old Wine and Turkey


Thanksgiving lunch/dinner (linner) is traditionally served at 4:00PM at our house. This gives everyone the chance to eat and drink as much as they want and still not get home too stuffed or too late. Our Linner usually lasts for 5 to 6 hours. This year was no exception.

To start, Michele made persimmons wedges wrapped in prosciutto, followed by a chestnut soup, roast turkey with a fennel, sausage and rice stuffing and many side dishes.  Then we had a cheese course, followed by a hazelnut tar and caramel pumpkin pie for dessert.  We have been having Thanksgiving for several years with Tom Maresca http://ubriaco.wordpress.com and his wife Diane Darrow http://dianescookbooks.wordpress.com.  Diane is a very excellent baker and brought a beautiful loaf of home made bread, as well as the hazelnut tart mentioned above.  Travis and Nicole joined us this year and brought some Champagne and old wines.

The WinesChampagne Grand Cru D’ay Füt de Chène Brut 2000 Henri Giraud. 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay harvested exclusively in the terroir of Aÿ Grand Cru. The wine is aged in small barrels made from Argonne oak for 12 months. The first vintage was in 1990. This is a full and rich wine with aromas of pear, stone fruits and a hint of mushrooms. It has a long lasting finish.Champagne Curvèe William Durtz Brut Millesimè (prestige cuvee) 1999 (Aÿ) made from 62% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 8% Pinot Meunier. This is a well-structured, complex, elegant Champagne with hints of herbs, dried flowers and a touch of toast.

Torre Ercolana 1982 Cantina Colacicchi – Anagni  Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cesanese dl Piglio  When this wine was produced, there were only 2 acres of vines and only 2,000 bottles were made, one fourth of them a white called Romagnano.

The wine is made by a natural fermentation, no filtration, sterilization or pasteurization. The wine is aged in barrel with four rackings a year.

I have been drinking the older vintage of this wine for a number of years and buy them in Rome at Trimani, who has the exclusive rights to the wine. The wine does not always taste the same; this is because the blend changes according to the vintage. In hot vintages the Cesanese does better so there is more of it in the blend. In cooler vintages the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot does better so their percentage is increased. The best however is when all three varieties ripen perfectly.

Burton Anderson in his book VINO describes the wine in musical terms. “My first mouthful of Torre Ercolana was like my first earful of Beethoven’s Fifth: so overpowering it left me gasping for adjectives to describe it.”  Morey-Saint-Denis “Les Sorbets” 1976 Domine B. Serveau et Fils. Made from 100% Pinot Noir. The soil is limestone and clay and the 7 hectares of Pinot Noir are in the heart of the Côte de Nuits. The grapes are picked by hand and the wine is matured in oak casks for 18/22 months. The Premiers Crus are aged 2/10 years before coming to market. This is a wonderful wine with aromas of red fruit and blackberries, round with a silky fruity feeling on the palate. It was a pleasure to drink.Reciotto Secco “Amarone” Vino della Valpolicella 1960. Bertani. This is one of my favorite producers and I like Amarone on Thanksgiving.  With turkey and all the side dishes, it makes for a great combination. So I was very disappointed because the wine was too old and tasted like sherry. Travis brought the wine.  He had had a 1964 a few days before and said it was wonderful. You never know with old wines — you take your chances and hope for the best.Alicante Bouschet 1996 Russian River Vineyards (old vines), Sonoma Country Topolos, made from 100% Alicante Bouschet from the Sequoia View Vineyards. The wine is unrefined. It was bottled December 16, 1997. Since the Amarone was not good and it was Thanksgiving, the truly all-American holiday, I decided to try this wine. It was interesting but it seemed they were trying to make an old style wine but could not get away from all the modern techniques. It was unbalanced with too much alcohol.

The winery was sold and the name changed to Russian River Vineyards and I do not know if they still produce this wine.

Because we had a cheese course and two pies, it was time for the dessert wines.Montefalco Sagrantino D’Arquata Passito Abboccato DOC 1981 Adanti 100% Sagrantino The grapes are naturally dried for two months (appassimento) followed by a slow fermentation. The wine is aged in large Slovenian oak barrels (botti). They still make a passito but the word Abboccato does not appear on the label. The wine had aromas and flavors of dry fruit, blackberries and a dry aftertaste.Anghelu Ruju 1979 Vino Liquoroso Tradizional di Alghero  Sella & Mosca (Sardinia) 100% Cannonau. This is a late harvest and after the grapes are picked they are dried in the open air for a long time. There is a long oak aging in fusti (small oak barrels of 20/50 liters). This is an aromatic wine with hints of cinnamon and walnuts. I do not think it was produced after the 2003 vintage. We ended the meal with the last of my last bottle of Romano Levi Grappa, which I bought a few years ago just before the great grappa maker died.

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Filed under Anghelu Ruju Vino Liquoroso, Burgundy, Champagne, Domaine b. Serveau et Fils, French Wine, Henri Giraud, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Passito, sagrantino, Topolos, Torre Ercolana