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The Berkshires: the land of local farms and sustainable agriculture

by filippo bartolotta

So Heading towards the land of sustainable agriculture and local farmers market and actually great food.

Leaving NYC in a cold sunny Friday morning to go north gives a nice feeling of freedom and peace. Maybe a little less when you have two little monkeys jumping in the back of the car:)

We get to Great Berrington after two and a half hours (and two cream cheese beagles) drive.

Everything is so America, like it can be seen in the movies: frozen rivers, forest and beautiful wooden houses with stars and stripes.

The roads were clear but with ice and snow everywhere.

Our house is a red big wooden place which seems to be nice and warm with the smoke coming off the chimney. We get in real quick as the temperature outside is way below freezing.

Milo is on top of the world while Daphne seems a little spaced out by the size, the snow outside and the super spaciousness of it all. During this trip Vanessa and I were expecting Daphne to be easier to accept the changes then Milo, but the little one hasn’t been adjusting as quickly as Milo, who instead seems to have changed his social behavior for the better.

We have time for a quick run in the cold -I come back with my legs almost falling apart for the ice- and hot shower. As I get off it Robert is there waiting for us, afraid of Davide Manzo from Trattoria Rustica who just told him that we have some problems with the wines.

It turns out to be that there was not any issues and it was all ok, just a matter of a sorting all the bottles out.

Davide is a Napolitan who built the coziest Italian restaurant on his own, running the show “solo” every night. He built an authentic Italian oven shipping all the bits from Italy.

When one first meets Davide has the feeling of being in a real Italian setting.

The truth though is that he is a very sweet guy with an amazing passion for Italian food and produce. Needless to say that his pasta has been the best in the US so far.

He put together a seven courses menu that everyone loved while I was conducting a Wine Journey to Italy with our selection.

Among Italy at Your Table  wine selection the Vernaccia di Sangimignano Cusona 2006 and Vernaccia di Sangimignano Palagione 2006 opened the evening right after Lunelli-Ferrari Perlè Brut served with Proscoiutto di Parma appetizers with a dash of 25 years old balsamic vinegar.

Right after this it was time for  Fontodi Chianti Classico 2007 with its fresh and fruity character was a blast with Davide’s stsrters.

Davide likes to finish all his dishes off into his brick oven, adding texture and flavor to everything,  The dense and dark fruit driven followed with the wild boar pasta dish.

Then again we carried on with the fruit concentration of Bindella Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2006 and travelled to Langhe with Mauro Molino sweet red fruit and smooth tannic structured Barolo 2005. At this point it was like being in a restaurant in Italy. People were almost speaking the language.

And like always we went for Italy at Your Table resident wines, which I have described many times and that always never fail to make everyone fall in love with.

Isole e Olena Cepparello 2006; Arnaldo Caprai Sagrantino di Montefalco 2003 -Selezione 25 anni-; Proprietà Sperino Uvaggio 2006; San Leonardo 2004; Grattamacco 2001; Collemassari Riserva 2004; Montevetrano 2006.

The day after we chilled a bit, we went for brunch in Pittsfield in a gourmet cheese shop.

LEBACCANTI guardian angels -Robert Morrison and Jan Burghamn- took us here for a lovely morning.

That same day we went to the Stage Coach -http://www.stagecoachtavern.net-

where Sara Dibben the chef cooked a lovely farmers’ market dinner:

Muse

Brodo & parmesan-leek ‘frico’

primo

fry bread with house-cured lardo

butternut squash pate & honey

insalate

winter spinach (tossed with) apple cider  & crumbled sausage (& topped with) fried ‘new layer’ chicken egg

pasta

Fettuccini tossed with chicken liver ragu

dolci

meyer lemon delight, strawberry conserve

25 year old Malpighi balsamic vinegar

Before the dinner we had a tasting of Italy at Your Table wines and Prosciutto di Parma while having a round table on Nutrition today and hoe the mediterranean and of course the Italian diet can help changing american way of living.

Italy at you table contributed to raise money for the Nutrition Centre Foundation www.thenutritioncenter.org-.

Peter  Stanton has been working all his life to raise awareness on this health topics and with the Nutrition Centre is helping a lot of people to improve their life style.

Dominic Palumbo supplied the organic sausages and gave talk on sustainable agriculture and also was a great baby sitter with Milo: thank you.

We also met Amy Cotler -who joined us- for dinner author of a book on local farms and foods: THE LOCAVORE WAY -

Amy is actively promoting a healthier and more sustainable way of life and we are working on an international project about this subject.

As mentioned this trip isn’t just about indulging in amazing wine tastings but in getting together with people to exchange ideas and to learn from each other.

I am holding almost a wine and food evening a night talking about Italian wines and foods and nutrition issues. But why are Americans so interested in Italian wines and food, in nutrition so much? Why is the White House working on a major food program?

The reason is energy. Life is all about energy, and food is the foundation, without it we do not function, with bad food we at best function badly and eventually we get sick.

People want to feel better and increase their energy levels. Good food from a good source is the most natural and enjoyable way to do it!

Boding with people about foundational values also makes us feel better.

I always have very open sessions where people have their say and share their experiences: this is a lot of fun, a lot of growth and a lot of great energy.

This is why Italy at Your table rocks: good wines and foods, good people and energy: it is a big snow ball, becoming bigger by the day,

Yours,

Filippo

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