I just got back from the THE YEAR OF THE DRAGON WINE DINNER CHINESE NEW YEAR BANQUET AT ORIENTAL GARDEN with the oldest wine shop in America: Acker Merrall & Condit. I’ll report on this later as I had 16 amazing wines that are worth mentioning.
I am tired though because I had a very long week-end supporting the cause of Martha’s Table and D.C. Central Kithchen.
Jan came all tha way from Martha’s vineyard and she is the reason why I am here,
Joan invented everything,
Alice leads the way!
-over 350 people for the Sips at the Newseum
-roughly 400 people for the Suppers with 20 homes and 40 chefs
Everything else is people getting together to share ideas about how to help those in need, how to experience better nutrition and how to be more useful and nicer to one another and…to eat and drink well.
This is my third year in a row and now I feel home. Indeed, I have been fed breakfasts, lunches and dinners just like home! I have seen hundreds of people coming to help in any way or form and then sharing a meal together: on the way back to New York I travelled with Liz and Jeffrey, two of the volunteers that silently made all this happen.
The Long Week End in Pictures:
First came the unveiling of Alice Waters portrait at the National Portrait Gallery,
The Sips at the Newseum
Two weeks ago I asked Benedetta over the phone: would you like to come to D.C. to cook with me?
I didn’t even finish the question and she was already at the airport! I like how Benedetta answers to proposal so enthusiastically!
Italy at Your Table goes to Jackson Hole – Wyoming…tasting with bears!
by Filippo Bartolotta
Actually, this is not a bad way to come home: Montevertine Pergole Torte 1988 at Cibreo restaurant in Florence.
I am invited to join a Florence Market Walk with a couple of serious food nuts!
I get late into town because of road works and I didn’t manage to have breakfast yet. Jet Lag is having the upper hand. After many days of americano I now am in desperate need for an Espresso.
Lucky for me the best chocolate place in Florence is opened -Roberto Catinari- and I can have chocolate and coffee at once. Now I am getting in the mood for food:).
So we taste some delicious Sao TomÃ¨ chocolate and we head for a truffle sandwich at Procacci. The wheather is nice. We decide to go to the Central Market for a cheese, balsamic vinegar and extravirgin olive oil adventure! Ah, says Jeffrey, we have to try the bollito panini! I paused and looked him and Laura: you guys are serius about this? Tey look at me with joyful eys and nod. Ok then let me tak you to Nerbone to have bollito and lampredotto -the third stomach of the cow- panini. They both looked at me a little scared: the third stomach? Donâ€™t worry is like a very soft and tasty pastrami!
Now this how I usually finish the market walk mornings but today. My guests deiceded to go for a proper Florentine lunch at Cibreo to savour some delicious plates with a serious Sangiovese.
So I had to sacrifice myself for a series of wonderful Fabio Picchi (Cibreo owner and chef) bites and signature dishes such as: the florentine trippa â€“ a cold tripe salad with celeryâ€¦so light and refreshing-; a cold pappa al pomodoroâ€¦a classic gentle tomato soup-; a spicy fish soup to die for; and a divine cod mouse with leeks. The service warm, smiley and pleasant, the wine? Pergole Torte 1988. This is a pure 100% Sangiovese from the heart of Chianti Classico with suade leather, tobacco and classic cherry and violets Sangiovese action. Lots of definition and an earthy complexity. Not bad a welcome back!
The best thing to come back though is always the kids.
I still them from school and summer camps to spend a loving afternoon together and now on my way to the Caserta, direction Amalfi Coast, to taste a few hundred Taurasi, Fiano and Falanghina for the Espresso Italian Wine Guide. Giampaolo Gravina, one of Italy most senior taster is waiting for me.
So this is my coming back home. But last night someone coplained about not keeping a steady peace with my blog so I have to do a bit of re-cap! SIC!
After the ViniToscana week in New York City. showcasing the best Vernaccia di San Gimignano and Chianti Colli Senesi I moved to rap up the Italy at Your Table Road Show 2011 in Jackson Hole – Wyoming.
The occasion was the annual charity wine auction to support the Grand Teton Opera House where some of the world greatest musicians and some of the youngest talents can express themselves in a glorious theatre over 6500 feet right under the Teton Peack. Tired of the one too many a flight I decided to go check the Mountain out arriving at almost 11000ft asl.
After the huslle and buzzle of the New York hot city life, I enjoy the contrast of being so high up in the sky in such a clean and crystalline air all bymyself before my tasting went live.
The only thing I had to worry here were just some cuddley mummals!!!
Jokes aside this is a beautiful land full of elk, gigantic moose, mountain lions and…bears.Â I mean this is crazy for me. If you go by a basball hat here theyâ€™ll ask you things like:
would you like a â€œbear sprayâ€? What I say? Yeah you know…with the snow still up there some bears are coming down the valley. What I say? Yeah they usually mind their own business though.
I remain silent and I ask if they instead sell guns! No, sir. Also the hunting season is not on yet! I was kidding I say, just kidding!
I move along without sprays or guns and the Teton Mountain welcomes me really softly…on top of the peak there’s the world’s best waffle!
As you know I always get very excited about America. The energy, the ability and will to go ahead with ideas and projects and the make it happen actitude. So Jackson was a confirmation of my ideas and on top of this getting there is a spectacular landing!
This year we filed an incredible amout of phenomenal winter tasting events.
The Jackson Hole event was another masterpiece of team work between LeBaccanti Italy and The Grand Teton Musica Festival. This year Prince of Luxemburg was the main host of the Gala Dinner at the Four Seasons, showcasing the best of Haut Brion with its lusciously smooth Haut Brion 2005, the profound earthy and black currants Haut Brion 1998 and the austere and structured Haut Brion 1995 plus a selection of the second lables of Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion to match the dishes ofÂ Chefs Jean FranÃ§ois Bruel of DANIEL, New York City and Michel Richard of Citronelle, Washington, D.C
Before the empowering wine auction a Champagne reception was offered to the many attendees while the silent auction was taking place.
At the end of the evening we reached over $100.000, which is a lot for a small year like this year, LeBaccanti Wine and Holiday lot sold for $ 7.350!!!
I am nothing but extremely proud of this wonderful results, for which I have in turn to express my deepest gratitute to all LeBaccanti members â€“Vanessa, Benedetta, Carrie, Corinna and Jessica- and to the 2011 ItalyatYourTable Team:
Dal Forno Romano
Fattoria delle Ripalte
Feudi di San Gregorio
Isole e Olena
Antica Dolceria Bonajuto
Gran Deposito Aceto Balsamico Giuseppe Giusti
Galleria Frilli Firenze
Also I would like to thank Jeffrey Berenson without whom all this couldnâ€™t happen, Allan Tessler and Gerard Yvernault for their generosity and pass-part-tout approach and of course Chip Scott -Director of the Jackson Hole Wine Auction-; Director of the Musica Festival; and Amanda, Luke, Jac and sommelier Anthony Puccia of the Four Seasons Teton Village.
Of course I made sure before leaving Jackson to have people tasting our â€œgoodsâ€.
So right before the innagural concert of the Grand Teton Festival, an Italy at Your Table Fine wine tasting was held at the Four Seasons. I was almost a little nervous to open again my twelve magical wines in such an amazing environment, but the wines didnâ€™t let me down. Infact after the winter they are actually showing even better then ever and people are just overwhelmed. One comment was: I am a disappointed! I say, why? And he goes: I canâ€™t believe that all the 12 wines were sooo good. Not even one that I didnâ€™t like!
1800 is cocktail hour at the commnos in Teton Village before the concert.
This is what was played under the inspirational direction of: Donald Runnicles.
Among the great musicians: Sarah Chang and pianists Brian Connelly and Jeremy Denk.
I couldnâ€™t ask for more. At this stage, after being uplifted by the wonderful music and the ItalyatYourTable wine selection. But I did get more a really succulent Buffalo steak at the Snake River Grill in Jackson!
Talk to you soon from Campania…No where but in the South of Italy can one eat such a succulent dish of pasta…
I know it looks like I have been a bit of a lazy bum, but let me assure you: it ain’t like that!
In the last six days we have travelled four times zones and held six Italy at Your Table events:
New York, San Francisco, Saint Antonio, Santa Barbara. Yesterday Benedetta and I decided to rent a standard car and drive on highway 101 and 1 to San Francisco. My standard Car:) just kidding!
We had to stop in Carmel as we ran out of batteries!!!Â This wasn’t too bad an idea though, as you can see by yourself:)
At last a little rest, fresh and clean Ocean walks and some time to work on the back office of Italy at Your Table. In a few days we have to be in Sonoma -with Lisa and Diana- and then at the Napa Valley Reserve Â for other important events.
I will give a chronological account of Â the Road Show trying not too miss all the great people, chefs, foods and wines I met! Meanwhile thank Aj for the great Falafel and the great wines in NYC, I still need to give a full report on the major 1960’s tasting of the Old-World we had together!
This is an example of what we have opened:Â 1961 Faiveley Latricieres Chambertin
Then I had the craziest Italian Oldie ever tried in my life with George: Solaria Jovine Primitivo Passito 1958, Â who got this special bottle fromÂ Italian Wine Merchants. Thanks George.
Then in Texas with Sandy, Bob and Aaron after our Italy at Your Table events we went rather wild, check it out: Chateau Mouton Rothshild 1959, which as a friend of mine would say…didn’t suck! Thank you…
I’ll write about all this pretty soon. Meanwhile I left you all in NYC last week on my way to SF for the Good Food Award Project with Sarah Weiner.
We got into town after a very early flight from NY.
After looking after Italy at Your Table products we made our way to Sociale to meet with Tia Harrison.
Over the phone Tia sounded a bit in a hurry and I almost had the feeling she was a little too busy to meet.
No wonder she sounded busy. Tia is the chef at Sociale and she is a one of the three owners of theÂ first US women owned and runÂ butcher shop AVEDANO. She is also the founder of the Butcher Guild, which I’ll tell you more in the next one.
We first look at each other and we go straight to discuss her dish for the event to be paired to our wines:
Caramelized duck pate profiteroles with bourbonâ€™d figs, rucola, house made fennel pollen mustard.
We both agreed that the dish was very good, but also a little too sweet for the wines and complicated for the guests of the show to prepare it back home. Tia answers the problem in a split second throwing some pasta in the water -it was 5pm- and transforming the duck pate in a pasta sauce. She added some white wine, rocket salad, Parmigiano and rocket salad and …
and I looked very perplexed! I mean I just walked into your restaurant and you make an Italian pasta with duck pate??? Gotta be kidding! No! She goes for it with no fear and the result is superb. We begin to have fun and we discover that we have an important friend in common: Dario Cecchini.
I tell I can taste the wine in the sauce. She says: yep, I did put some wine remember? I meant…
The day after a the W Hotel I thought she made an amazing pasta for our 70 guests!
She can read in my eyes that I want to see theÂ butcher shop so she tells me to wait outside to go see it:)
Tia is a “natural chef”, a very understated type of person with a great character, sense of humor and a sexy flair!
She is very proud of her butcher shop AVEDANO, run with her two partners: Melanie Eisemann, and Angela Wilson.
We have a tour of the shop with Melanie who takes us under her wing to taste Â “Tonno del Chainti” by Dario Cecchini made by Chris Arentz.
Avedano is a real butcher shop with no fake Italian-sounding or Italian-looking gimmick! They sell the best meat, make wonderful panini and give butcher master classes!
Melanie takes us with her 1970’s car to the Bart where we have a “deliciously dirty” Burrito on the Mission. Thank you Melanie for looking after us:)
We go straight to the XYZ Restaurant to meet with Paul Piscopo and try his cuisine.
Paul greats us very warmly with his Grilled acme batard, la quercia prosciutto,Â hot pickled okra & sieved egg.
This is a very delicious crostini dish made with the simplest attitude and the best ingredients, like all Paul’s dishes. He loves to fetch for local products and to change the menu according to what’s available in the season and in the market. The Good Food Award Prosciutto La Quercia was just spectacular. I must say that this is a great competition to Parma Ham! Ye you hear it. This Prosciutto isn’t sold as a fake Parma but as a product with its own American trade mark. We also tried some option with the Gran Deposito Aceto Balsamico Giuseppe Giusti. The guest loved it to the point they were tasting it almost by the glass!!!
Paul during the show: he just rocked!
Although Benedetta and I were very shuttered at this stage we decided to go and say hello to our friend Charles Phan at Slanted Doors. We had a quick bite a beer and went straight to bed!
Morning after I managed to scroll some jet-lag off with a run on the marina. It worked!
William works in an immaculate, spacious and bright workshop not too easy too find. At first I thought we were given the wrong address as we just see a big grey wall! Then someone answer the bell and we go upstairs. We walk in the mega cooking studio and William is ready with stuff to try: Caramelized brioche withÂ red hawk cheese, cocoa nib and carrot.
Also William has been kind enough to compromise on the degree of sweetness of his dish to help the wine pairing. William is a very talented chef. His love for pastries gives him a full 360Â° spectrum which allows him to giggle like a kid in the playground. He looks for flavor blast, contrast and analogy, texture and length.
In doing so he has managed to switch a pan brioche dessert dish into a savory tantalizing appetizer. He is just a wizard.
William gives us a little present: a magical cappuccino fudge spread which made everyone in Saint Antonio fell in love with it!
Before heading back to get changed for the evening we go for a quick Dim Sum fix business lunch at Yank Sing in the Financial District. This was my friend Miriam’s tip! I love here: clean, serious Dim Sum no frills!
Benedetta making believe she is working:)
Our event finished with the fantastic Antica Dolceria Bonajuto’s Chocolate.
The wine pairing was perfect, the chefs helped a lot making sure it was all paired well. Everyone was impress the magic we made working together at miles distance from each other.
Like always, people ask me the Italy at Your Table food and wines we served at the Good Food Award Event.
Here is the list. You can buy the Italy at Your Table case at www.italianwinemerchants.com
I feel good! We have increased the donation of a 40% from last year: $140.00o to benefit Martha’s Table and D.C. Central Kitchen. And the overall spirit and participation was even higher!
What a great energy and how much love!
Sooooooo glad to be part of this. Our dinner last night with Roberto Donna
and Jeff Buben was a blast! Not only everyone had the chance to speak at
the table and to connect on the Martha's Table and DC Central Kitchen
issues but also the mood and the spirit were phenomenal and the matching
food and wine worked to perfection.
Although complex, this charity machine must be the most fun in the world!
I love the contrast between the super powerful international bonding and
cross-pollination ground and the very intimate nature of the final Sunday
Supper event, where only up to 30 guests per house share this experience.
This generates always new energy, new solutions to big problems!
My self and my team at LeBaccanti, Italian Wine Merchants, our wine makers and food producers are nothing
but proud to be part of this Washington D.C. family.
Let's get to the diary.
Like always it all starts from Joan Nathan's home. We meet there to work, co-ordinate, cook, share and taste food.
From the head quarters everything moves. So on Saturday night we all go to Greg Nelson and JosÃ¨ Cannigham for the SATURDAY NIGHT SIPS.
This two wonderful host live in an amazing house down town in D.C. and they are always very kind to offer their space for charity purposes.
But the best part of it is that they are totally committed to it. And so they run about preparing, dressing the tables and everything.
Benedetta and I get there in the afternoon to prepare our wines and foods.
We share the room with Graham Bartlett, Chef at Zengo. PS: Thank you for feeding us your great creations.
at 1830 the first guests turn up and by eight o'clock we have 250 people!
Everyone mingles and chats about the charity, nutrition issues, food and wine.
I believe with Italy at Your Table this year I got the best Fine Wine and Food Selection ever, and great artisan pieces.
Alice Waters and JosÃ¨ Andres turn up at our wine and food station to try Italy at Your Table selection.
I loved it as they made it their room for a good part of the evening.
JosÃ¨ is thrilled by our wines and seems to be liking also the Bonajuto's Modica chocolate and the Giusti Balsamic vinegar.
Although hectic the Saturday Night Sips is maybe the most buzzing part of this charity and it helps getting more and more people exposed to the issues of the charity and to the great products and dishes brought to talk about this.
The topic moment of the evening though is without doubts the speeches of the souls and minds of this great endeavor:
Joan Nathan, Alice Waters, JosÃ¨ Andres.
They talk and inspire everyone, they stand and address issues that really counts and they give a purpose to all the efforts behind the charities.
I also appreciated a lot the unfiltered presentation of the founder of D.C. Central -Robert Egger who started this charity 20 years ago using the over 20 tons of food that would go to waste to prepare 4.000 meals a day, everyday!!!
It's late at night and for us time to go to bed as in the morning we have a Radio Show to attend: The Foodie and the Beast on Federalnewsradio 1500 AM, with Nycci and David
I met this lovely couple last year during the Sips but I couldn't go on-air as I had to go to Kansas City for an Italy at your Table event with Gina & Kevin!
This year Gina and Kevin are going for another round of Italy at Your Table and I look forward to it!
Nycci and David love Italy and...I can tell...they love their Radio Show...the best in town
Aviva came with her son Salomn to inspire ideas for quick and healthy dinners. Watch this space as Aviva and I will try to combine some Italian Insights to her great preparations!
I can't believe I was given the chance to open Italy at Your Table Wine and Foods throughout the show, but it was great.
The best part? When I was able to shave some Bonajuto's Modica Chocolate and Giusti Balsamic Vinegar on the super delicious Pink Berry Yogurt on Air with President Ron Graves calling form California! Then matching it with our soft and balance wines together with Ellen Grey from Equinox!
Finished the Radio Show we are off to deliver wines to five remaining houses or the Sunday Suppers.
I love this part, although not always easy for an Italian driving around D.C. I mean Downtown even a kid can do it as the streets go from 1 to 30 and A to Z!
Then if you get stuck in Chevy Chase it's like being in a forrest packed with beautiful fairy tale wooden homes, but the street can look pretty similar!
In the end we did it. We also managed to introduced the wines to our last chefs, among which:
Todd Grey from Equinox and Scott Drewno from Wolfgang Puck's Resors, cooking at the Benton's.
Then Fabio Trabocchi from Fiola Restaurant and my friend Nick Wisemann from Roadside organics, cooking at the Kelly's
Finally we made it to our "home" at the Fabry/Klein house!
Joan and Mike had me as a guest also last year and they have being all the more wonderful this time.
Quite proudly I managed to get 7/10 of Mike's jokes, the rests remain a big mystery:)
We go straight to prepare the wines.
Liz, Laura and Tim volunteering for the eveniging...THANKS
The two chefs of the evening were Robeto Donna from Galileo III and Jeff Buben from Vidalia.
This two great master Chefs were really cool! At first I though I was gonna get in trouble as they were seriously engaged by the preparations.
Then they see what kind of wines ad foods I brought with me and they begun to be more friendly. By the end of the night I was opening my wines while they were finishing off their dishes!
Roberto and Jeff have being competing all night with roberto saying the Jeff was stealing Italian recipes from him and turn them into french dishes:))
Jeff was telling Roberto to stay away from his dishes as he was scared Roberto was going to sabotage his creations!
What a night!
I finally managed to take out of the Kitchen and everyone applauded to the two stars of the evening: well deserved.
On a last note I have to say how impressive the matching food and wine went considering that we designed it separated by the big Ocean!
People loved the pairing and listening to the stories of our wine makers, food producers and artisans that I was reporting during the dinner.
Incredible as it might sound I discovered that the Frilli Gallery from Florence -one of Italy at Your Table supporter- made a few statues on the Washington Arlington Bridge.
This helped a lot for the guest to enjoy and appreciate Michelangelo's Bacchus made by the gallery over a replica from the original Pietro da Barga in the 16th Century!