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Summer Dinner with Friends

Tom Maresca and Diane Darrow are two of our favorite dinner guests.  The conversation always revolves around food, wine  travel and the many wonderful experiences we have had together. Hopefully we will all be together in Rome in October.

We started our dinner last wee as usual with Champagne:

IMG_5501Champagne  Krug NV Grand Cuvée 168EEM Edition made from 45/55% Pinot Noir, 15/20 Pinot Meunier and 25/35 Chardonnay–the percentage depends upon the vintage. They blend about 120 wines from 10 or more different vintages and it is aged for at least 6 years in the cellars. All of their Champagnes are aged in used small oak barrels. They are all prestige cuvees made from Grand Cru and Premier Cru villages and are aged longer before release. The overall rating for the vineyards is 98% with Krug’s own vineyards rating 100%.  This is a Champagne with hints of dried citrus fruit, gingerbread, hazelnuts and almonds, a note of honey and a touch of brioche. It has a very long finish and a memorable aftertaste. Fantastic. Michele’s favorite Champagne.

With the Champagne we had roasted cremini mushrooms stuffed with goat cheese and rosemary, a new appetizer in Michele’s repertoire, that I unfortunately forgot to photograph.  But I am sure she will make it again soon.


Erbaluce di Caluso “Kin” 2015  Tappero Merlo made from 100% Erbaluce.  Erbaluce is a white grape and the vines are either pergola (know as topia locally) or guyot-trained. The clusters are usually wing shaped and the grapes are small to medium with thick skins. When fully ripe they take on an auburn color as if they were sun dried. Erbaluce can be vinified as a still wine, a classic method sparkling wine, or as a passito. Erba means grass and Luce means light.

 Caluso is an ancient Celtic village on the top of a hill where you can look across the plain and see Turin. The vines were planted in 2004 and the vineyard is at 295 meters. There are 4,500 to 5,000 plants per hectare and the pruning system is guyot. The vineyard is entirely organic. Manual harvest takes place at the end of September.

Fermentation is with native yeasts in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine matures for at least 18 months on the lees in 20hl barrels with weekly battonage. Then it remains in the bottle for another 3 years. The wine has hints of sage, citrus, white flowers and herbs with balsamic and spicy scents. This is a wine that can age and I waited five years before I opened as it is not a complete wine until after 5 years/ according to the producer Domenico Tappero Merol  but it could last for 10 to 20 years. The wine was showing very well

IMG_5487Linguine with Crab and Fresh Cherry Tomato Sauce ready to serve

IMG_5488On the plate

IMG_5504 copyVino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 1999
  made from large Sangiovese grapes (aka Prugnolo Gentile.) The age of the vines ranges from 15 to 25 years. The running system is guyot. Only natural fertilizer is used and treatments performed on the vines are only copper and sulphur based. The grapes are hand harvested and carefully selected and placed in dry ice. Carbonic maceration is performed with dry ice for two or three days. The pied de cuve (process of using wild yeast from the vineyard to ferment the wine) is prepared 3 to 4 days before using the best grapes at 4 degrees alcohol for preventing aciculate yeasts from hindering proper fermentation. Fermentation is from 15 to 30- 35 days depending on the quality of the pomace. During maceration the cap is broken by mechanical means. The wine is aged in barriques and 15hl barrels with weekly lees stirring. The wine ages for 18 to 20 months. Then it is transferred to large barrels. Wood aging is for about 40 months and the wine is bottled after it is filtered with propylene cartridges using a mobile system. The wine has hints of ripe berries, cranberries, cherry, clove and a touch of iris. It was drinking very well.

IMG_5492Our main course was Pork, Rosa di Parma style.  This was a roast loin of pork rolled around a filling of Parmigiano-Reggiano and Prosciutto.

IMG_5493To go with the pork, Michele made a Tian of Summer Vegetables.

IMG_5494On the plate

IMG_5503Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2004 “Vigna Pianrosso” Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona made from 100% Sangiovese from  11.69 hectares named Pianrosso at 240 and 360 meters with a soil of medium grain with good levels of marl dating to the Eocene period. Fermentation is in stainless steel and glass concrete vats with temperature controlled via cooling plates and jackets. Aging is in 7.5 -30 Slavonian oak barrels, for 3 years followed by over 12 months of bottle aging before release. This is an intense, complex and full bodied wine wine with hints of red berries and spice.


Because I love blueberry desserts, Michele made one of my favorites, a Blueberry Pudding Cake.


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Daniele Cernilli on The Importance of Territory

The importance of territory

by Daniele Cernilli 06/28/21 | 

Vigneti Montepulciano

Territorial subdivisions within appellations are a welcome development as long as these are accompanied by effective information campaigns for the public, otherwise they risk losing their relevance.

The new regulations adopted by Chianti Classico to establish Unità Geografiche Aggiuntive (UGA) – Additional Geographic Units, which are, in effect, municipal or territorial sub-appellations – are just the latest in a series of similar initiatives adopted by producers in the Langhe, Soave, Romagna, Bardolino or Montepulciano with Pievi, for example.

It is a positive trend, in my view, because it places the spotlight on the importance of a territory in a more precise and central way and, above all, it is not rhetorical but based on firm guidelines. If one considers that varietals can be cultivated in areas other than those of their origin or where they are traditionally grown, for example the French or “international” grapes that initially were only found in Burgundy, Bordeaux or the Loire, then it becomes quite evident that, fortunately, territories are immoveable and cannot be replicated by anyone elsewhere. All top quality wines derive their uniqueness from the territory they are from, their terroir. And this is a good thing and should continue to be so.

However, this entails adopting regulations that are shared, controllable and, above all, practical for all producers and consumers should be made aware of such an important commitment with a clear message. This is also because adding another term to a label means making it more difficult to decipher for those who need to understand it. Not everyone has a full understanding of geography and I believe few know where Vagliagli or Montefioralle are, what their different pedoclimatic conditions may be and how all this is recognizably expressed in their wines. And if this is the case in Italy, we can only imagine what it’s like in the United States or China.

Then again, if I were to ask you which is more north, Philadelphia or Baltimore, two important cities on the US east coast, I’m sure not many would know off the bat. And this is a relatively easy question. Things get a little more complicated when the question is which town in Barolo is home to the Villero vineyard. While it is true the situation is even more complicated in Burgundy or Moselle, there certain appellations have existed for centuries and have been impressed in the memories of generations of wine lovers.

In Italy, the recognition of more specific geographic indications is more recent and aside from adopting an UGA or MGA (Additional Geographic Mention), the need for campaigns to inform the public should not be underestimated because this would impair the efficiency of an operation that is and should be very important for Italian wine. 

I ofter post articles by Daniele Cernilli aka Doctor Wine because they are informative and to the point.

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“Finally Brunello” and the Wine Media Guild

The “Finally Brunello” Tour, conducted by the Consorzio del Vino Brunello Di Montalcino, included 3 events this year at Il Gattopardo Restaurant and I was able to attend all three.  Members of the Wine Media Guild were invited to the latest one, which included a tasting followed by lunch.IMG_4748

At the tasting luncheon, there were over 60 wines. Most were from the 2016 vintage, though a few were from the 2015 (also an excellent vintage) and there was a Rosso di Montalcino or two from the 2018 vintage.

The 2016 Brunello di Montalcino is an epic vintage. A balanced summer and autumn gave the grapes perfect ripeness. The right rains and temperatures never too high made this year one of the most important ever. I am paraphrasing one of the producers and it seems like both producers and wine writers were saying the same thing.

For more information on Brunello see: Finally Brunello

IMG_5035Banfi 2015 Poggio all’Oro Riserva made from 100% Sangiovese and only produced in great vintages. The soil is brown clay silt sediments with stones and pebbles of Calcareous origin, well structured and well drained. There is a trellising system, spurred cordon, and there are 2,100 vines per hectare. Fermentation is in temperature controlled hybrid French oak and stainless steel tanks. 70% of the wine is aged in French oak casks 60 to 90 HL and 30% in French barriques 350L for two years and 6 months. This is an elegant and complex Brunello with hints of licorice, plum, tobacco and a note of violets.

IMG_5037Capanna Riserva 2015 made from 100% Sanviovese. The vineyards are at 300 meters and the exposure is south/east. The vines are 25- 32 years old and there are 3,300 to 4,500 vines per hectare. Harvest is by hand from the last week of September to the first week o October. Alcoholic and malolactic fermentation take place in oak vats at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged for 40 months is Slavonia oak barrels of 10/25 HL. The wine remains in bottle before release. The wine has hints of cherry, blackberry, and plum with a balsamic note. I drank this wine with lunch.

IMG_5032Argiano 2016 made from 100% Sangiovese. The soil is clay with a high level of limestone and the vines are 12 to 55 years old. The training system is spurred cordon, organic, small quantity of grapes per vine. Harvest took place during the month of September. The grapes are cold soaked prior to fermentation. Spontaneous fermentation takes place over two weeks in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation occurs naturally in cement tanks. The wine is aged for about 30 months in Slavonian oak barrels of 10/15/30/50HL. The wine is bottled in April/May during the most favorable moon phases. There is a long bottle aging before release. The wine has hints of red fruit, notes of aromatic herbs and a touch of spice.


Carpineto 2016 made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso and the vineyard is at 500 meters. The sedimentary soil has a galestro frame with clay accumulations dating back to the Eocene era–15 million years ago. There is a medium length steeping on the skins with temperature controlled fermentation. The wine is aged in big barrels for 3 years and in bottle for at least 6 months. The wine has hints of cherry, raspberry, strawberry and a touch of licorice and a note of vanilla.


Castello Romitorio 2016 Made from 100% Sangiovese. Vine Training is spurred cordon. The grapes are carefully selected by hand on the sorting table both before and after destemming. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with an initial time of short maceration on the skins of 15 to 20 hours. This is followed by up to 24 days of maceration at a higher controlled temperature. Separation of the skins from the must starts around day 22 once the fermentation has finished. Once the must is obtained natural malolactic fermentation is allowed to occur. The wine ages in oak for about 24 months and then in bottle for about 12 months before release. The wine has hints of cherry, pomegranate with a touch of leather and a note of herbs.


Col D’ Orcia 2016 on the Sant’Angelo hill over looking the Orcia river facing south-south west at 300 meters. Particular clones of Sangiovese are used. Manual harvest with grape selection both in the vineyard and in the cellar. Fermentation is on the skins for about 18 to 20 days at a controlled temperature in 150 HL wide and shallow stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged for 3 years in 25-50 and 75 HL oak casks from Slavonia and Allier and 12 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of small ripe fruit, and plum jam with toasted and vanilla notes.

IMG_5033Castel Giocondo 2016 (Frescobaldi). Made from 100% Sangiovese. The soil is galestro, clay and Pleocene sands. Manual harvest takes place with a careful selection of the grapes in the cellar. Fermentation is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature with frequent pump-overs, during the early stages. The wine was aged in wood containers. The wine is released after five years, which includes some time in the bottle. The wine has hints of ripe red berries and floral notes with spice and balsamic undertones.


La Gerla 2016 made from Sangiovese-Brunello biotype. The vines are 25 years old and the training system is spurred cordon. There is a manual sorting of the bunches and berries in the cellar. The bunches are destemmed and the is a soft pressing of the grapes. There is prefermentative cryomaceration. Fermentation is at a controlled temperature. Maceration on the skins for about 15 days. Aging is for 24 to 36 months in oak barrels- 50 to 100HL with 2 decanting per year. The wine is in bottle for at least 6 months before release. The wine has hints of red berries, tobacco, leather, and cinnamon and notes of violets and iris.

IMG_5040Le Chiuse 2016 made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso The grapes were hand harvested the last week of September. By gravity, the grapes, which had been destalked and softly crushed, went into thermo controlled steel tanks. Fermentation using natural yeasts and maceration lasted for 22 days. The wine went into steel tanks and then in the spring into 20HL Slavonian oak barrels for 26 months. Then the wine was reassembled into large steel tanks and bottled in March 2020. The wine has hints of small fruits, blueberry, black currant and cherry with notes of spice and violet.

IMG_5050Palazzo 2016 made from 100% Sangiovese grosso. The estate is in the southeast area of Montalcino at 320 meters. The soil is mostly galestro (marl), some small areas are sandstone rocks and clay with skeletal layers. The vines are 36 years old. The grapes are hand harvested the first two weeks of October and sorted in the winery. Vinification is in concrete tanks. Spontaneous fermentation takes place without adding yeast. Maceration lasts for 24 days with delicate pumping over, all taking place under temperature control. Aging is for 40 months in Slavonian oak of 5 to 10HL and another 6 to 8 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of red berry fruits, walnuts and spice with balsamic and floral notes.

IMG_5030Poggio Antico 2016 made from 100% Sangiovese. The average elevation is 480 meters and the exposure is south/southwest. The soil is rocky and calcareous. Harvest was from September 27 to October 12. Fermentation is for 8 to 10 days followed by 25 days of maceration. The wine is aged for 30 months in 40 HL Slavonian oak casks followed by 18 months in bottle before release. The wine has red fruit aromas and flavors with hints geranium.

IMG_5043These are big wines, and I was very happy to have the opportunity to taste some of them with our meal.  For starters, we had Crostini of sauteed Chicken Livers with Vin Santo, Rice Balls filled with Ragu and Peas and Escarole Pie.

IMG_5047The first course was homemade ravioli with ricotta and eggplant filling and tomato and tomato sauce.

IMG_5048Grilled Rack of Lamb with roasted fingerling potatoes and sauteed spinach was the main course.IMG_5045

One of the wines I drank with lunch was the Rosso di Montalcino Collemattoni 2018. I recommend you drink the Rosso while waiting for the Brunello to be ready. Both the 2016 and the 2015 will need at least 10 before they are ready to drink.

IMG_5051The dessert was a Fruit and Cream-filled Tart with Almond Gelato.

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Celebrating with Champagne

Sometimes only Champagne will do. It was Michele’s birthday and friends invited us to their house to celebrate.

IMG_4943The Champagne was Dom Perignon 2010 made from equal amounts of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The grapes come from five Grand Cru villages and one Premier Cru village. This is an elegant and complex Champagne with hints of melon, tropical fruit, and mandarin orange with a hint of jasmine and a touch of spice.

On other recent occasions with these same friends they also shared the 2008 and the 2009 Dom Perignon. The only difference was that the 2010 has not developed any of the “brioche” aromas but it was fresh and wonderful.

IMG_4940With the Champagne we had crostini with piquillo peppers and marinated white anchovies.

A few days later, Michele and I celebrated with:

IMG_4975Krug NV Grand Cuvée 168EEM Edition made from 45/55% Pinot Noir, 15/20 Pinot Meunier and 25/35 Chardonnay–the percentage depends upon the vintage. They blend about 120 wines from 10 or more different vintages and it is aged for at least 6 years in the cellars. All of their Champagnes are aged in used small oak barrels. They are all prestige cuvees made from Grand Cru and Premier Cru villages and are aged longer before release. The overall rating for the vineyards is 98% with Krug’s own vineyards rating 100%.  This is a Champagne with hints of dried citrus fruit, gingerbread, hazelnuts and almonds, a note of honey and a touch of brioche. It had a very long finish and a memorable aftertaste.

IMG_4968With it we had smoked salmon with creme fraiche.

IMG_4971Sauteed soft shell crab on the pan

IMG_4972on the plate

Michele was very happy as these were two of her favorite Champagnes.


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The Leopard at des Artistes

The Leopard at des Artistes is undoubtedly one of New York’s best and most beautiful restaurants.  But until recently it had not been open for lunch, which Michele and I usually prefer for dining out.   However, the restaurant’s schedule changed and The Leopard at des Artistes is now open daily for both lunch and dinner.  Michele found Chef Jordan Frosolone’s menu, whose cooking we had previously enjoyed when he was the chef at 10 Corso Como very appealing, so we arranged to meet a friend there.   It was a beautiful spring day and everyone was seated outside.  The scene was so perfect, it could have been a cafe on the Via Veneto.

IMG_4961We, however, love the inside of the restaurant where we can be surrounded by the famous murals by Howard Chandler Christy, so we asked for a table indoors and had the dining room all to ourselves.  Owner Gianfranco Sorrentino, who also is the owner of Il Gattopardo on 54th Street, stopped by to say hello.


IMG_4955Polpette di Carne-veal and beef meatballs with ricotta and parsley.  Tender meatballs in tasty tomato sauce.


IMG_4956Sformato di tartufo nero-Black truffle custard with Parmigiano-Reggiano, grilled asparagus and lemon.  Delicate custard tasting of cheese with a black truffle crust.

IMG_4957Insalata di granchino-Crabmeat, peas, croutons and Mediterranean sumac.  The flavors of spring captured on a plate.

IMG_4965Brunello di Montalcino 1990 Lisini made from 100% Sangiovese. The are 3,300 plants per hectare in the old vineyard and 5,400 plants in the newer vineyard at 300 to 350 meters. The grapes are hand harvested and a selection takes place. Fermentation and maceration is in stainless steel with skin contact for 20 t0 26 days. Aging is in large Slavonian oak barrels of 20 to 50 ha for 42 months. The wine is aged another 6 to 8 months in bottle before release. This is a traditional Brunello with hints of red and black fruit, blueberries and rasperries and a touch of violet. It was drinking extremely well.


IMG_4958Mafalde Sucamele-Braised lamb, artichokes and glazed lampascioni onions — Tender chunks of lamb in a tangy sauce with mildly bitter lampascioni, onion-like wild hyacinth bulbs.

IMG_4959Lasagna Ennese-Pork ragu – Marsala wine, Piacentinu cheese – Handmade pasta noodles layered with rich pork ragu and a saffron flavored sheep’s cheese from Sicily.

IMG_4966Rosso di Torgiano DOC 1985 Lungarotti 70% Sangiovese and 30% Canaiolo. The soil is clay and sand of medium depth with limestone subsoil. There are 4,000 vines per hectare and the harvest takes place in September/October. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with 18 days maceration on the skins. It is aged for 12 months in oak casks and lightly filtered before bottling. This is a wine with red fruit aromas and flavors, hints of black cherry and a touch of leather and spice with a very pleasant finish and aftertaste.


IMG_4964Tiramisu– Classic mascarpone tiramisu

IMG_4962Zabalone– Zabaione al Ramandolo with mixed berries


Chocolate Mousse with Berries and Cream

IMG_4960The Leopard at des Artistes

1 West 67th St. NY, NY



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In Memoriam: Pio Boffa by Tom Maresca

May 1, 2021 by Tom Maresca

Below is an article on the passing of Pio Boffa of Pio Cesare wines by Tom Maresca. Like Tom, I knew Pio for almost 40 years and on a number of occasions Tom and I would visit him in Alba or see him in NYC. I remember Pio telling me that he enjoyed visiting New York because he was able to get more business done over breakfast here than in a month in Italy.  Michele and I will always remember having dinner at his home in Piedmont outside of Alba.  Many of the dishes were topped with white truffles, which we savored.  But Pio said that he was sorry we could not stay longer because the truffles would be even better in a week or two.  We were, too.

Here is my friend Tom Maresca’s tribute to Pio Cesare.  I could not express me feelings better.  

Tom’s Wine Line. 

Another melancholy post, another great loss to the Italian wine world.  Just a few weeks ago, Pio Boffa, the owner and driving force of the Pio Cesare winery, died of Covid. He was a very young and lively 66, and his totally unexpected death came as a great shock to everyone who knew him.

Some of my colleagues have already posted fine memorials of Pio, notably Alfonso Cevola and Tom Hyland, but I needed a little time to adjust to his departure. I will keep this contribution short and personal.

Pio was one of those people you couldn’t imagine ill, much less deathly ill. It had never occurred to me that I might outlive him.  He seemed to have inexhaustible founts of energy. He ran the winery with constant attention to seemingly everything. He travelled frequently (some of us thought continuously) non-stop to all parts of the world, creating or strengthening markets for Piedmont wines wherever he went. He would step off a plane from Hong Kong one evening, return to Alba in the morning, and host a tasting dinner for journalists and retailers that day, all with apparently undiminished energy and a genuine and infectious enthusiasm.

I’ve known Pio for more than 40 years. We regarded each other as friends – but then, almost everyone who dealt with Pio for more than ten minutes regarded him as a friend: he was simply that kind of guy.  He was deeply Piedmontese in character, so much so that, for instance, the Pio Cesare winery remained faithful to some no-longer-fashionable wines, like Grignolino, of which it must be the last important producer. (If you don’t know Grignolino, you should: It’s a whole other face of the Piedmont, and Pio’s version of it is lovely.)

For all that, I thought of Pio as one of the most Americanized of all the Italian producers I knew. He had a kind of directness that isn’t all that common among winemakers (or anyone else with a product to sell). I loved to interview him about vintages and cellar techniques and the sorts of things that the Consorzio and other winemakers usually gave you very careful, very guarded answers to. Pio just told you the truth as he saw it: he was a no-bullshit guy. Whether that’s typically American, typically Piedmontese, or atypical of both, I’m not sure.

Some early, formative years in California – I believe working with Robert Mondavi – influenced him importantly. He retained from that experience a life-long love of oak, which shows most clearly, I think, in his cru Barolo Ornato, of which he was very proud. For me, with my aversion for wood flavors in wine, it was a subject of frequent disagreement with Pio. He would listen to my objections patiently, and equally patiently explain to me why I was wrong. He knew exactly what he was doing with Ornato, and he believed in it passionately, and I usually saw reason (as he phrased it) enough to grant that, except for the oak notes, Ornato was indeed a superb Barolo.

For all his pride in Ornato, Pio was traditionally Piedmontese enough that the wine he probably lavished the most attention on was his classic Barolo – what others were starting to refer to as their base wine, the traditional blending of Nebbiolos from different vineyards and different communes. Not Pio, though: If you click on the label image to enlarge it, you’ll see the bottom line says e non chiamatelo “base” – and don’t call it “base.” He always insisted that it was a classic – as was he.

Addio, Pio.

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Pizza Margherita Variations and More at Ribalta

One of the first restaurants we went to this month for Pizza was Ribalta. In fact we went twice. This post is about both visits and we sat indoors both times.



Eggplant Parmesan — A classic version

unnamed (2)BonPanzerotti — Neapolitan potato croquettes, crisp on the outside and filled with melting mozzarella and bits of prosciutto


The panzerotti are irresistible

THE PIZZA — We had three variations on Pizza Margherita

IMG_4864Pizza Pala — Light and airy crust with tomato, basil and mozzarella, baked in a slab.

unnamed (2)Mag PizzaPizza Margarita — Regular Neapolitan style pie

unnamed (2)Pizza meatPizza Margherita with prosciutto and arugula

IMG_4877Monte di Grazie Rosso 2011 The wine is made from 90% Tintore di Tramonti from very old ungrafted vines and 10% Piedirosso. The Tintore di Tramonti grows almost exclusively in the Monte Lattari Valley. The grape is harvested at the end of September, which makes it an early ripener for this area. This indigenous red grape variety belongs to the Tienturier family. Tienturier means dyed or stained in French. The flesh and the juice of these grapes are red in color. The anthocyanin pigments accumulate in the grape berry itself. The free run juice is therefore red.
This is a complex wine with earthly aromas, red fruit and a slight hint of black pepper and spice with good acidity that makes it a very good food wine. It was the perfect combination wth the food.


Filed under Monte de Grazia Winery, Monte de Grazie Winery, Pizza, Pizza and Wine, Pizza Restaurants, Ribalta, Uncategorized

Pizza: Tradition and Innovation

All through last winter and spring we rarely ventured out of the house.  The one food we missed the most was Neapolitan-style pizza fresh from a smoking hot oven with a crisp and blistered crust while the center remains soft.  So when our friend Ernie suggested we come to his home for pizza made in a Roccbox pizza oven, we were happy to oblige.


The Roccbox oven is very small and portable and bakes one pizza at a time. It uses propane gas and reaches a temperature of 900 degrees, so hot that the pizzas can cook in just a minute or two.  Ernie’s son Jason and his wife Deborah were the pizzaioli that day and their pies were excellent.

Last Sunday, Jason invited us to his house for an afternoon of pizza and wine.  With fond memories of the summer’s pizza party in mind, we accepted.  He uses the same type of pizza oven.

IMG_4860We started with Roses de Jeanne Champagne–100% Pinot Noir from the 1.5-hectare lieu-dit of Val Vilaine. The production is very limited. Cedric Bouchard. This is a single-vineyard, single varietal, and single-vintage, zero dosage Champagne, organic farming, low yields and harvesting at the right moment. Only free run juice is used and fermentation is in stainless steel with indigenous yeast. There is no filtering, fining or cold stabilization. The wines are bottled with no dosage under less pressure. This is full-bodied Champagne with hints of fruit, spice, lively acidity a touch of pear, a note of dried flowers and a long and lingering finish.

IMG_4833Deborah made the pizza dough according to her special recipe

IMG_4845Bramaterra 1979 made from 70% Nebbiolo, 20% Croatina and 10% Vespolina. Tenuta Agricola Sella. The production area is in Northern Piedmont. The vines are 48 years old, the exposure is Southwest, the vineyard is at 300 to 350 meters the training system is guyot and the soil is volcanic in origin and reddish brown in color. Harvest takes place between September 22 and October 12. After the grapes are crushed, fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with pumping over and delestage. There is 30 days maceration for the Nebbiolo and 16 for the Croatina. The wine is aged in 10 hl Slavonian oak casks for 28 months. There were hints of faded roses, leather, blackberries and a hint of spice.

IMG_4834Foccacia — We started with a white pizza sprinkled with sliced garlic and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.  It was delicious plain, and possibly even better with thin slices of mortadella or prosciutto on top.

IMG_4835Pizza Margarita — The classic pie and just perfect

IMG_4837Pizza with Pistacchios — After a couple of traditional pizzas, we moved on to some innovative ones, including this one topped with chopped pistachios, shallots and herbs.

IMG_4841Pizza with pastrami, sauteed shallots and cheese.  It reminded me of an Alsatian Tarte Flambe’.  Some guests added a dab of mustard, but I liked it without.

IMG_4840Chateaneuf-du-Pape 1995 Domaine Du Pegau made from 80% Grenache, 6% Syrah, 4% Mourvèdre and 10% other varieties. The soil is mostly covered with pebbles, clay and limestone mixture tends to iron and sand. There is a manual harvest with no destemming. Natural yeast causes spontaneous fermentation which takes place in concrete tanks. maceration is for 12 days in 50hl old oak casks for 2 years. This is a big complex wine with black ripe fruit,  hints of cherries and plums, black pepper, leather and a touch of meat. It was the wine of the afternoon and will last for many more years.

IMG_4850 2Pizza with salmon.  Lightly smoked salmon topped this pie, one of our favorites of the day.

IMG_4846Pizza with sausage and mozzarella — always a crowd pleaser.

IMG_4853Pizza Margarita with bufala mozzarella.  Instead of cow’s milk mozzarella, this Margarita was made with bufala cheese.

IMG_4843Barolo Riserva 1964 Giacomo Borgogno and Figli 100% Nebbiolo. The grapes come from three different cru vineyards: Cannubi, Liste and Fossati. The winery is located in the center of the town of Barolo. The wine is aged at least five years in large oak barrels. This is a wine produced with traditional and natural wine making methods. Long fermentation and pumping over by hand takes place. Today the Farinetti family that also owns Eataly owns the winery. I have always had very good luck with older vintages of Borgogno. This is a classic traditional Barolo with hints of red fruit, tar, tobacco, violets, cedar and a touch of balsam.

IMG_4856Banana Cream Pie by Deborah.  For dessert, we moved on to another type of pie altogether, an all-American Banana Cream Pie with a graham cracker crust and fresh whipped cream topping.

IMG_4859The pie did not cooperate when cut, so we ate it from bowls with a spoon.  Is deconstructed Banana Cream Pie going to be the next big thing?  I highly recommend it!

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Filed under Barolo, Borgogno, Bramaterra,, Chateaneuf du Pape, Domaine Du Pegau, Pizza, Pizza and Wine, Roses de Jeanne, Sella, Uncategorized

SLA Thai-Something Complete Different

A few weeks ago, our friend Ernie took Michele and I to SLA, a Thai restaurant near his home in Montclair, New Jersey. Ernie often speaks about this restaurant as one of his favorites and told us that it was very special because the owner and founder, Meiji Pattamasinghchai was taught to cook by a Thai food expert, her own mother who is a well known restaurateur in northern Thailand. In fact, the King of Thailand visits her restaurant whenever he is in the North of the country.

Today, Meiji’s brother Yanin and husband Paul, who are both trained chefs work together in the kitchen and devise their menu and daily special dishes. They pride themselves on sourcing the finest and freshest ingredients in the market every day.

SLA, which stands for Simple,Love, Authentic first opened in a nearby location about 6 years ago,

We started with some appetizers.

Gai Tod–Thai chicken wings with sweet chili sauce. The wings were irresistible coated in a sweet and spicy sauce.

Kanom jeeb–Thai steamed chicken and shrimp dumplings served with soy sauce


Gui Chai–Asian chive pancakes served with soy vinaigrette

Next, we moved on to some main courses.

One Nam Thok Pla Tod–Crispy fried whole fish (or fillet) with issan dressing, bell pepper, herbs, diced scallion, lemongrass and roasted rice powder

IMG_4810Duck with Green Noodles

Pad See Ew-Flat noodles with chicken, black sweet sauce, and Asian broccoli

Ernie suggested we drink the Falanghina from Donnachiara. He always has a case or two on hand. It was the perfect combination with the food.

Beneventano Falanghina IGT Donnachiara made from 100% Falanghina The vineyard is the Torre Cuso, the best location for Falanghina. The soil is volcanic, chalky clay, the vines are 16 years old, the training system is guyot and there are 2,500 vines per hectare. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed before pressing. Cold fermentation is in stainless steel and there is extended maceration. This is a crisp white wine with citrus fruit aromas and flavors, nice acidity and good minerality.

Dessert was beautiful, and something I had never tried before.


Home made Purple Sweet Potato Ice Cream, topped with coconut sauce and fruits. Not only was it good to look at, it was also delicious.


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Filed under Donna Chiara Winery, SLA, Uncategorized

The Return of Our Pizza Group to Keste


It has been over one year since our pizza group has gotten together. Ed Mc Carthy sent out emails to see who was interested in going out again. He reminded everyone that our theme would be the same — Champagne and Italian red wine with the pizza. Five of us gathered at Keste Wall Street.

IMG_4773 Roberto Caporuscio, now the sole owner of Keste Wall Street, was expecting us and made a number of special appetizers to welcome us before we had the pizza.  He told us that he had been working on some new dishes during the long months on lockdown.  

IMG_4774We began with Meatballs.  Roberto told us this was his mother’s recipe and they were very good, firm textured and meaty.  


IMG_4778Panzerotto, a large fried pocket of dough filled with mozzarella and tomato.


IMG_4780At first I thought this was an arancini or rice ball, but Roberto told us it was a large burrata cheese, rolled in a batter and deep fried.  When we cut it open, small balls of mozzarella in cream tumbled out.  



A small timbale of lasagna came next.

IMG_4788Roberto’s Roman style pizza was crispy and light.

IMG_4781Champagne J. Lassalle Brut Premier Cru 2008 made from 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir The average age of the vines is 50 years and the soil is clay and limestone. Grapes are crushed in a traditional wooden press. The must rests for 12 to 24 hours to allow the juice to settle. Alcoholic fermentation lasts for 8 to 10 days. Malolactic fermentation takes place to soften the acidity. The blend of grapes changes every year. Secondary fermentation is in bottle for 6 to 8 weeks. Bottles are riddled in pupîtres and adjusted a quarter turn at a time for 6 weeks. The wine is aged 10 to 11 years on the lees. It is only made in great years, current vintages are 2007 and 2008. Disgorgement: December 2017 and the dosage is 8g/l. This is an elegant silky, concentrated complex wine with subtle citrus fruit and a long finish and very pleasing after taste. It was drinking very nicely.


Pizza Margherita — a classic and my favorite.


IMG_4797The Padrino — Pizza with spicy  soppressata, tomatoes and smoked cheese.

IMG_4799Pizza Montanara — the dough for this pizza is fried first, the toppings are added and then it is baked.  The result is a light and crispy pie.


Krug Rose NV it is a blend of 22 wines from 7 different years, the youngest is from 2012 and the oldest from 2006. Made from 40% Pinot Noir, 32% Meunier and 28% Chardonnay. The wine was completed with 11% traditional macerated Pinot Noir of the year from a special plot in Aÿ to add color and structure. Reserve wines made up 71% of the final blend. It is aged for 7 years. Ed Mc Carthy, the author of “Wine for Dummies” and “Champagne for Dummies” said this is one of his two favorite Rose Champagnes. There is elegant fruit, a note of spice, hints of fig, orange peel and a touch of gingerbread. I have to agree with Ed this is very impressive Rosé Champagne.


IMG_4800La Pastiera, a traditional Springtime dessert from Napoli.  This is a ricotta cheesecake made with wheat berries and orange peel. 


IMG_4801Pistachio Gelato — rich and nutty.

IMG_4802Caprese Chocolate cake and ice cream.

There were problems with the red wine but it did not really matter. We were all very happy to be out at Keste drinking Champagne at eating the Pizza made by Roberto


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