Eating and Drinking in Lisbon

For a number of years Michele and I have been talking about going to Lisbon and this year we finally made the decision to go

We statyed at the Hotel Portugal and it was in a great location for walking and for transportation to restaurants and all the major attractions.

We asked friends do give us recommendations for restaurants and came away with a very long list.

Here are some of the places we really enjoyed:

The first night we went to restaurant Gambrinus, about a 10 minute walk from the hotel. This is an upscale restaurant with very good attentive service and it was a true dining experience.

Michele and I shared some fried calamari to start.

Then I had grilled lagoustines.

while Michele had the roasted hake baked with coriander seeds, garlic and olive oil.

For dessert, I had a typical cake called Toucinho do Ceu.

At the end of dinner I ordered a glass of 1978 Port , fantastic!

and then finished with coffee made in the restaurant’s unique style.

The next afternoon we went to The Wine Cellar for Port. The waiter, Ricardo, was very knowledgable and we had a long discussion about the different types of Port. Ricardo suggested a few and and I tried a glass of the 1985 Colheita. I liked this so much I bought two bottles to bring home.

Ricardo suggested an unfiltered  single vineyard vintage port 2012 for Michele. This was  the first time I had a single vineyard unfiltered port, it was very good but needed much more time to develop.

We also tried the 20 year old tawny. 

We had some excellent aged sheep’s milk cheese with the Port.  It was accompanied by quince jam.

The next afternoon we went to a restaurant Bica Do Sapato about 1 mile from the center along the water with a great view. It is partially owned by the actor John Malcovich. The service was friendly and the wine person was very knowledgeable.  

I started with fried Calamari, but it was done in a completely different style from the previous day.  It was accompanied by chopped tomato and onion salsa. 

Michele loved her starter: roasted figs with toasted sheep’s milk cheese on toast, drizzled with a fruit sauce.  

She followed this with had giant red shrimp.  They were tender and very tasty.

I had roasted cod on a bed of creamy beans cooked with peppers and bits of pork.

The wine person suggest this wine and it was perfect with the food.

For dessert I had almond cake with figs and cream cheese ice cream.

Michele had quindim, a coconut pudding with passion fruit ice cream.

At Sea Me restaurant we sat at the counter and spoke with the bar tender about wine, food and Lisbon.


We shared one Tiger shrimp and two giant red shrimp, so that we could compare them.  The tigers were a bit chewy, but both were excellent.

Then we had roasted octopus with roasted potatoes.  The whole dish was topped with a generous amount of garlic sauce.  

The wine was an excellent combination with the food.

We each had dessert.

I had ice cream.  There were 3 flavors:  ginger, hazelnut and ginginha, made with a sour cherry liqueur that the Portuguese are very fond of.

and Michele had nut cake with ginger ice cream and almond crumble.

On the afternoon before we left we went to Cantinho do Avillez, one of several restaurants owned by the chef Jose Avillez.

We had 3 starters.

Tempura fried green beans, came with two sauces for dipping.

Little pheasant pies.

Melted sheep’s cheese with honey, and rosemary, topped with presunto ham.

We both ordered the giant red shrimp which was served in a Thai sauce with rice.  Once again, they were great.

We had the Pluma Reserva which had more body than the other whites we tasted.  It was a good match with the shrimp.

For dessert, I had the restaurant’s signature dessert,  A salty hazelnut mousse.


We really enjoyed exploring Lisbon and look forward to returning once more.








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Lugana — the White Wine of Lake Garda


I am fond of many wines that come from the area around Lake Garda and one of my favorites is Lugana.

For the last few years I have been going to the Lugana tasting presented by the Consorzio Tutela Lugana DOC and this is my report on this year’s tasting.

Carlo Veronese, the Director of the Consorzio Tutela Lugana DOC was the speaker. He gave a very interesting and informative seminar but I wish we could have been sitting down so I could have taken better notes.

The Lugana denomination is on the border between the provinces of Brescia (Lombardy) and Verona (Veneto) to the south of Lake Garda. The soil is mostly white clay and limestone, which is difficult to work. However the best grapes may come from the area close to Lake Garda, which has the most clay.

The temperate breezes from Lake Garda influence the microclimate positively; it is mild and fairly constant with little difference between day and nighttime temperatures.

The Turbiana grape, aka Trebbiano di Lugana, is the main grape in many of the wines. The Trebbiano di Lugana is not the same as Trebbiano found in other parts of Italy. It has a different profile with better structure, weight and aromatics.  Carlo said it may be related to Verdicchio.

The law allows up to 10% of non-aromatic white varieties but most producers make the wine from 100% Turbiana.

Types of Lugana

The Basic Lugana wine accounts for almost 90% of the DOC production.

Lugana Superiore was introduced in 1998 and the wine must age for at least one year after the grapes have been harvested.

Lugana Riserva, was introduced in 2011 and is the natural evolution of the Superiore. It must age for at least 24 months, of which 6 months can be in the bottle.

Lugana Vendemmia Tardiva – Carlo called it a different more experimental Lugana that lacks the sweet viscosity of a traditional passito. It is made from late harvest grapes that have been allowed to remain on the vine till the end of October/early November (the grapes are not dried).

Lugana Spumante can be produced by the Charmat or Martionotti Method in an autoclave or as Methodo Classico with refermentation in the bottle.


Le Morette Lugana DOC “Mandolara” 2017 made from 100% Turbiana grapes from the La Mandolara vineyard on a narrow strip of land on the shore of Lake Garda. The training system is guyot, double and short modified and there are 3,500 plants per hectare. Harvest is by hand in the second half of September. After a very soft crushing, vinification takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and the wine remains in the bottle for at least one month before release. This is a fresh fruity wine with hints of apple and peach and a touch of bitter almonds in the finish. The name of the wine comes from a particular protected species of wild ducks which nest in Lake Frassino.  The ducks are the symbol of the farm.

I had visited the winery last year with Vignaioli Veneti, an organization of over fifty of the Veneto’s top producers, and really liked their wines. We also tasted the 2012 and 2009 vintages of this wine, which proved that Lugana wines can age.

CàMaiol Lugana DOC “Molin”2017 made from 100% Turbiana. Carefully selected grapes come from the oldest vines of the Molin vineyard. The process of cryomaceration (leaving the grape must in contact with the skins at a low temperature enables the wine to obtain a greater structure and a more refined aroma.

Selva Capuzza Lugana DOC Riserva “Menasasso’ 2011 made from 100% Turbiana from a selected plot within the Selva vineyard. The grapes are harvested a few days after the vintage and the harvest is manual.  Vinification takes place in stainless steel and barriques. This is a full rich wine that is showing no sign of age with a hint of apple and peach with a touch of vanilla.

Perla Del Garda Lugana DOC Riserva “Madre Perla” 2011 Made from 100% Trebbiano di Lugana from the San Carlo and Casalin vineyards. The soil is morainic, calcareous clay and stony and the training system is Guyot. Hand picked and selected grapes are cooled in a refrigerated room. The grapes are soft pressed in vacuum tanks. Cold static decantation and fermentation take place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. There is no malolactic fermentation. This wine had hints of lemon and pear with notes of almond and hazelnut and was showing no signs of age.





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10 Corso Como NYC

10 Corso Como, a restaurant/café, adds a taste of Milan style to New York’s South Street Seaport district.

Gianfranco Sorrentino, owner of some of New York’s top Italian eateries (Il Gattopardo, The Leopard at Des Artistes and Mozzarella and Vino) recommended we try 10 Corso Como and introduced us to Jordan Frosolone, the chef.

We scheduled a lunchtime visit and arrived early so that we could browse in the store and art gallery connected to the restaurant. A stunning exhibit of photos by the great fashion photographer Helmut Newton was on display. Next we wandered through the adjacent shop, the place to go if you are in the market for designer sneakers, clothes and home décor.

The restaurant itself brought back memories of Milan. With large bright windows facing the quaint cobblestone streets, the interior was all done in cool, calming shades of black, white and grey.

Jordan Frosolone

The friendly and outgoing Chef Frosolone, a Sicilian American and Chicago native, greeted us. We talked about the concept behind 10 Corso Como, and his approach to cooking. The menu is straightforward, with none of flights of fancy so often found on Italian menus in this country. A family of Italians visitors at the next table voiced their approval to the maitre d’ as they enthusiastically ate their way through several courses.

Meanwhile, we enjoyed perusing the mostly Italian wine list. Charles selected a bottle of   Grignolino D’Asti from Crivelli.  We asked the chef to choose the menu for us.

As a starter, he sent out a plate of very fresh tuna carpaccio with artichokes, capers and mint dressed with good olive oil.   The salty crunch of the capers were a nice counterpoint to the tender, buttery tuna.

The next course was a thinly shaved artichoke and fennel salad with Parmigiano Reggiano,

and an eggplant tortino with melted mozzarella.

Two pastas came next. The freshly made agnolotti in a butter sauce were filled with delicate La Tur, a creamy cheese from Piedmont, and the chef personally shaved some first-of-the-season white truffles over the top.

There was also spicy spaghetti with hot pepper and grated bottarga, completely different in style from the agnolotti but just as satisfying.

For our main course we shared a simple yet elegant steamed branzino fillet

accompanied by garlicky sauteed spinach served in its own plate as they do in Italy.

Our dessert was a classic tiramisu, beautifully presented in a double walled glass

and a salad of very fresh ripe fruits.

With restaurants such as 10 Corso Como, expect South Street Seaport to become the new dining destination in New York City.

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Pinot Grigio from the Triveneto Vineyard

The Consorzio Delle Venezie DOC Pinot Grigio has united for the first time two regions, Friuli –Venezia Giulia and the Veneto, along with one autonomous province Trentino, to promote Pinot Grigio from these areas in NYC and around the United States.

I attended the event at the Italian Trade Commission offices.

Albino Armani the President of the Consorzio was the speaker. He said “The United States represents our main market which reaches around 37% of the total of our export, followed by the UK (27%) and Germany (10%). “

Albino Armani

He continued, “The new Della Venezie DOC was created in 2017 as a result of the history and the culture of generations who have built day by day the great ‘Triveneto Vineyard.’  It came from the need for producers to manage, protect and promote the complex and versatile production of Pinot Grigio, one of the most representative grapes of the supra-regional area.”

The new delle Venezie appellation is the largest Pinot Grigio area in the world and 85% of the Italian Pinot Grigio comes from here.

The Region goes from the Alps, and Lake Garda right to the Venice lagoon, the Adriatic Sea and the Collio hills. This is a great diversity of extraordinary terroirs.

Beginning with the 2017 harvest the entire Pinot Grigio production from the administrative territories of Trentino, the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia has been certified as DOC.

The whole area is referred to as the Triveneto Vineyard. 

The Delle Venezie DOC wines are: Pinot Grigio also frizzante

Pnot Grigio Spumante (V.S. and V.S.O. categories)


Pinot Grigio Grapes

Pinot Grigio is a complex and versatile grape variety found in the Venetian area in the 1800’s.

Today Pinot Grigio is the main exported grape variety in Italy and fourth most cultivated.

There were 72 Pinot Grigios at the tasting and here  are four examples. The wines are very well priced — all under $20.

The Wines

Kris Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC 2017 the grapes for this wine come from the appellation’s three permitted regions. The soil is clay, silty-loam and gravel. The exposure is southwestern, elevation of 330 to 1,320 feet and there are 2,600 to 3,600 vines per hectare. Harvest takes place in September. The wine has citrus flavors and aromas with hints of tangerine and a touch of apricots and almonds.

Ca di Altre Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC 2017– the north-east facing vineyards are located in the Colli Berici hills. The soil is calcareous and of volcanic origin, the training system in guyot. The grapes were harvested, de-stemmed and crushed. Maceration on the skins for 4 hours before the grapes are gently pressed. Cool fermentation took place at 15 to 16 degrees C in order to retain fruit flavor. The wine does not see any wood in order to preserve the grape’s varietal character. This is a well balanced medium bodied wine with citrus aromas and flavors and floral notes.

Seiterre Pinot Grigio delle Venezie “Maso Bianco” DOC 2017 Selected grapes harvested by hand and fermented at a controlled temperature. The wine remains on its own yeast in stainless and is bottled in the spring. This is a wine with ripe fruit and hints of peach, melon and a touch of spice.

Monteci Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC 2017 There is a soft pressing of the grapes. Fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and remains on the lees in stainless steel tanks. The wine is bottled four months after the harvest. The wine is fruity with hints of peach and citrus fruit with good acidity.

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Tasting and Learning about Grappa at the Distilleria Marzadro

The Marzadro Distilleria in Trentino was one of the distilleries Michele and I visited on the Hello Grappa Tour in May..  I had met Alessandro Marzadro in NYC a few years ago when he was giving a seminar on his family’s distillery. I was very impressed by his knowledge and his grappa and was looking forward to meeting him again at the distillery.  His aunt, Sabrina Marzadro,  founded the distillery in 1949 and Alessandro is the third generation to work in this family run distillery. The distillery is located in Trentino

Alessandro told us that at one time, grappa was only drunk by farm workers especially in the cold weather to give them energy before they went into the fields to work. It was a morning drink taken between the hours of 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM. He made the point that grappa was only made by the farmers in Northern Italy. Southern Italy does not have a tradition of grappa because it is too warm. It is only recently with the popularity and often high prices for grappa that grappa has achieved that wineries in Southern Italy have their grape pomace (vinaccia in Italian) turned into grappa. He said the grappa was first called acqua vita, water of life, and the people of Trentino have always embraced the art of distillation.

Producing Grappa

Up until about 20 years ago all grappa was what Alessandro referred to as traditional grappa, that is, made without being aged in wood. It was clear in color and the flavor reflected the grapes that it was made from. Now many grappas are aged in new barriques and for the most part they are dark in color.  In many cases the wood flavor has taken over.

Alessandro said that grappa made from white grapes has more aromas and is easier to drink than grappa made from red grapes, although grappa made from red grapes has more taste. If you are going to introduce grappa to someone for the first time it is better to chose a grappa made from white grapes as it is easier to drink.  Alessandro said that you must start with the best raw material. Trentino makes great wines so this is not a problem. Knowledge and experience are also needed to produce a great product.

In 2005 they built a new distillery which is organized in such a way that it makes it easier to understand how grappa is made.

Alessandro said that in the distillery there are 100 days of work, 24/7 from September to December. The freshest selected pomace is distilled each day. The distillation takes place in alembics using the traditional discontinuous bain marie system (steam distillation), which is part of the Trentino culture. He said that the first part of the production called the “head” tastes bad because it contains too much methane (he said it tastes like nail polish) and is therefore discarded. The last part is called the “tail” and contains too many impurities and is also discarded. The discontinuous method produces small amounts of high quality grappa.

The alembics are handmade out of copper and are excellent conductors of heat. Therefore the particular fragrances and aromas of the pomace (a solid raw material-grape skins) are enhanced to their maximum. In order to keep everything uniform, the whole system is computerized.

The pomace waiting to be made into grappa

Alessandro pointed out that the continuous process of grappa production in giant stills produces large amounts of grappa. He said that this type of production, which he does not use, produces commercial grappa that is not of a very good quality.

After distillation the traditional grappa is left alone. The grappa that is to be aged is placed in barrels of different sizes ranging from 225 liter barriques to 1,500 liter barrels, and even larger.  Alessandro pointed out two of the biggest barrels I have ever seen in any winery or distillery.

The barrels are made different types of toasted wood, including oak, acacia, cherry and ash. Alessandro said they use wood from all over the world.  Some new barrels are from a barrel maker who also produces barrels used for balsamic vinegar. They also have barrels that were used to age port.

The Grappa

Grappa Anfora Grappa aged in Terracotta.

Amphorae made from a blend of different types of clay from the Tuscan towns of Montelupo and Impruneta are also used for aging some of the grappa. This type of aging achieves the micro-oxygenation which is twice what you would find using barrels.

This type of grappa ages 10 months in 300 liter amphorae.  Alessandro said it enriches the Grappa’s elegance and softness, giving the characteristics of aging with out the classic flavor of wood. It is made from a blend of the pomace from grapes indigenous to the Trentino region: 80% Marzemino and Merlot and 20% Chardonnay, Müller Thurgau and Moscato.

Grappa Moscato in Purezza 100% Moscato. Carefully selected marc from Moscato grapes from the areas of Vallagarina in the municipalities of Calliano and Besenello. Distillation is carried out in a bagnomaria, bain marie or steam pot still, typical of Trentino. This is a full soft, elegant and aromatic grappa with notes of the Moscato grape.

Grappa Invecchiata Morbido Barrique “La Trentina” made from the marc of the Moscato, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer grapes. It is aged for several months in barrels previously used for aging Le Ciciotto Luna Stravecchia Grappa.   Alessandro described this grappa as aromatic, gentle, soft, delicate and captivating.

Gewurztraimer “Giare” 100% Gewurztraminer. The mark is distilled in a bagnomaria still. Aging is for 36 months in 1000 liter oak barrels. This grappa has a very light tinge of color from the barrel aging. It is very aromatic, intense and delicate at the same time with all the aromas of the Gewurztraminer grape.

Le Diciotto Lune Riserva Botte Porto   Alessandro said that this was a second special edition of the Grappa Stravecchia. Riserva Botte Porto comes from an additional aging period of 18 months, in a limited number of selected barrels previously used to age Port wine. This extra refinement highlights the sharper Grappa-wood contrasts and the Port barrels add a fruity scent. It is aged for 36 months: 18 in small barrels made of different woods and 18 months in Port barrels. Made from the skins of 70% Marzemino, Teroldego, and Merlot and 30% Chardonnay and Muscat. There is some controversy among the producers over putting the word Porto on the label. This an intense and fruity grappa.

Espressioni Aromatica Alessandro said the barrel aging is part of a continuous effort to enhance the results achieved by careful distillation. Espression by Andrea Marzadro, the master distiller,ly contains the best results achieved in the aging room for the year. It is crafted by individually distilling the marc from Gewürztraminer and Müller Thurgau in a bagnomaria and blending them before aging. It ages for 4 years in 500 liter oak barrels. The grappa is aromatic, fruity and smooth with a hint of wood.

Affina- Riserva Ciliegio made from the must of Lagrein and Pinot Noir grapes, which are gently pressed and then distilled in a bagnomaria. The resulting grappa is aged for 10 years in small cherry barrels. The wood used to make the barrels (prunus cerasus) is aged for at least 26 months, while the curvature of the staves is achieved using the steam bending method combined with a light toasting. It is soft, elegant and complex.

As I was at our first meeting, I was once again very impressed with Alessandro Marzadro and with his grappa.


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Grappa Cocktails and Grappa Smoked

I like grappa. I often drink it after a meal as a way to relax and to help me to digest. Sometimes I put a little in my espresso, for what Italians call caffè corretto. I drizzle grappa on my lemon granita and other ices and pour it over fruit salad and cake.

Michele often cooks with grappa. A number of years ago Michele and I wrote an article for Gourmet Magazine called “Cooking with Grappa.” Grappa with chocolate is a great combination. The grappa chocolate cake appeared on the cover of the magazine along with a citrus fruit salad. She also included recipes for quails with grappa, pasta with shrimp and grappa, and so on.

Last year we were invited to participate in a choice of two grappa press trips organized by Hello Grappa. On tour A we would visit two distilleries and on tour B there were seven distilleries. Because of our schedule we could only go on tour A. We visited one distillery in Tuscany and one in Piedmont. It was a wonderful trip, very well organized, and we enjoyed tasting, drinking and learning about grappa. You can read more about it at Hello Grappa

This year we participated in Tour B and we visited 6 distilleries:

Umberto Bonollo – Conselve and Mestrino (Trento)     Bottega – Bibano di Godega (Veneto)

Bepi Tosolini – Udine (Friuli Venezia Giulia)                  Castagner -Treviso (Trento)

Marzadre – Nogaredo (Trento)                                             Bertagnolli – Mezzocorona (Trento)

These are all family run distilleries, some going back as far as 4 generations.  As part of an effort to introduce grappa to a new audience, the producers on this tour emphasized aged grappa and grappa cocktails.  In this article I will talk about the grappa cocktails that we sampled.

Grappa Cocktails

At lunch in Padua with Elvio Bonollo from the Bonollo distillery we tried a couple of aperitifs made with grappa Gra’it.

This is a clear grappa aged in large Slavonian oak casks with just a hint of the wood. It was especially made for mixed drinks and was a “lighter style grappa,” we were told. It is made from the skins of seven different grapes: Prosecco (Glera), Moscato d’Asti, Nebbiolo (Barolo), Nero d Avola, Corvina (Amarone), Sangiovese (Brunello) and Aglianco (Taurasi.

Elvio Bonollo said they chose the 7 best varieties to produce this grappa and unite them into one perfect blend.


30 ML/ 1 OZ Gra’it

90 ml/3 OZ Tonic Water

Garnish: fresh thyme


Fill the glass with ice. Add the Gra’it Grappa

and the tonic. Stir and garnish with fresh thyme before serving.


30 ML/ 1 OZ Gra’it

90 ml/3 OZ Pink Grapefruit Soda

Garnish: Pink Grapefruit Peel


Fill the glass with ice

Add the Gra’it Grappa followed by the

Pink Grapefruit Soda

Stir and garnish with grapefruit peels before serving

We enjoyed these before lunch on a warm day sitting outside in a picturesque square in Padua–Perfect!

At the Castagner distillery Giulia Castagner the daughter of the owner Roberto Castagner made us a cocktail to taste using their Casta Grappa. This grappa is made from 85% Glera grapes, which are white grapes used to make Prosecco, and it is 40 proof.  Giulia said the grappa is distilled 5 times to insure purity and is specially formulated for cocktails.

Giulia also said that the grappa they send to the US is much lighter and smoother than the ones they sell in Italy.


1/3 Casta

1/3 sweet vermouth

1/3 Campari

twist of lemon peel


Combine the ingredients over ice and stir.

One evening before dinner we went to the town of Conlgliano to taste cocktails made with grappa at a popular wine bar called DRY made with Alexander Prosecco Grappa by Bottega, which also produces Bottega Gold Prosecco DOC.


90 ml Bottega Gold Prosecco DOC

90 ml Alexander Prosecco Grappa

4 orange slices

4 lemon slices

15 grams brown sugar

Basil Leaves

Ice cubes

Muddle brown sugar, 3 lemon and 3 orange slices and 4 basil leaves in a glass. Add the Alexander Prosecco Grappa and stir well.

Add ice and Bottega Gold Prosecco DOC and stir. Garnish with remaining lemon and orange slices and a sprig of basil.


30 ml Alexander Prosecco Grappa

20 ml lemon juice

20 ml sugar syrup

Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Alexander Grappa Prosecco is made from the skins of the Glera grape. The grappa is produced during three distillation phases with different temperatures in traditional copper alembics – bain-marie –with indirect heating. The grappa is remains is steel tanks for almost 6 months before it is bottled. This is a grappa that can be enjoyed by itself in small sips.


Created and prepared by bartender Paolo Baldan

In a glass, blend 10 drops of ginger tincture with 1,5 oz of Alexander Grappa di Prosecco. Top with Cordial Lime, stir and serve.

Which was my favorite? For me, the choice is easy. I like a simple Grappa and Orange Juice:

Combine fresh orange juice with 2 to 3 ounces of grappa in a tall glass. Do not add ice. Great way to start the day!

At the Bepi Tosolini we tasted “Grappa Smoked.”  Lisa Tosolini, granddaughter of the owner, told us that this grappa is distilled by the traditional method with bain marie pot still.  This grappa is made from Friulian red grape skins and then aged in French oak barriques. The oak casks have gone through  a toasting process  with Kentucky tobacco leaves. This is a dry and intense  smoked grappa which tasted like  an aged single malt whiskey. This was a first for me and another new twist to what is being done with grappa.





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Enjoying Rome

Michele and I have been to Rome four times this year and every time we go we discover something new and interesting as we walk, eat and drink.

Crossing the bridge

I Claudius

The Ghetto 

Pasta all’Amatriciana At Checchino dal 1887- my favorite

Lunch with Daniele Cernilli (Doctor Wine) at Checchino 1887

Spaghetti ai Moscardini, a favorite of Michele at I Due Ladroni

Carciofi alla Giudia at Da Romolo alla Mole Adriano

The Furore 2016-perfect wine with seafood at  I Due Ladroni

Falanghina always ready to drink and enjoy

Daniele called this a “Great Wine”

A light lunch At L’ Angolo Di Vino

Speaking with the owner Massimo Crippa about Wineand aged Grappa

Great way to end our stay in Rome and leave for the Hello Grappa  tour.















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