Tag Archives: Italian wine merchants

Brooklyn Pizza Pie or Kansas City Barbeque?


Brooklyn Pizza Pie or Kansas City Barbeque?

By Filippo Bartolotta

Now, looking at this picture one might think that we are back in Italy, having an amazing pizza!

Well, this picture can be misleading. Cos’ it is true that Benedetta looks like she is traveling back in her childhood happiness with that pizza pie; it’s true that that is one of the best ten pizzas I have ever had in my life, but…we didn’t have that in Italy. I guess it was one of those time-suspended magical places of the world. Still today I can’t believe how good that pizza was.

It’s true that most food experiences are influenced by our own specific mood, the people we are with and the general atmosphere around us, but once you get a slice of that wonderland soft/crunchy deliciousness anyone will be taken into a new sensorial journey.

So, I must understand that as an Italian, when Aj -two years ago- asked me if I wanted to go for a pizza in Brooklin I wasn’t that excited. But AJ has been perusing his goal to introducing me to the slice of paradise and well last month I made there with Benedetta, Franco, AJ and a bottle of Taurasi Mastroberardino 1973 -I know there’s a plastic cup in the picture…that’s all we had:) and it wasn’t too bad!-

Domenico DeMarco is the owner and Pizzaiolo at DiFara’s. An Italian born in Caserta, just a little drive away from the land of Taurasi: he loved the wine from his land!

Trust me, Di Fara is worth a trip to Brooklin 1424 Avenue J. www.difara.com

Grazie Domenico for your dedication! Grazie Margaret for your smiles!

This is the real soul of our Road Show: from the top Michelin star restaurants, to the casual Pizza places and from the most beautiful homes to the simplest barbecue take out! Life isn’t only a one way road.

Talking about barbecue my mind wonders straight to Kansas City-Missouri, to Gina and Kevin.

I was greeted at the hotel with a very tempting Kansas City barbecue. Nothing better then taht after a few hours flight and an hour run!

For the second year in a row Gina and Kevin have joined Italy at Your Table. Each time it was meant to be a private little party and each time it turned out to be a public serious event! This time we ended up at the Classic Cup Cafe Plaza.

We got to Kansas City during the day and the temperature was pretty ok, but as the night fell we were all back in winter. Benedetta was a little puzzled by the bronze wild boar statue -the symbols of Florence’s “New Food Market of the 16th C”.

Some snow mountains in DownTown Kansas City.

After setting up the main part of the event Benedetta and I decided to take a walk to stroll a little around town, but we soon had to give up for the severe temperature! So back inside to check the wines: time for some vino!

Making the last minute adjustments on the menu and the pairings with the chef.  A lot of you know my point of view on matching food and wine: what ever goes with your tasting buds is the right choice! But one someone is in charge of the good results of an entire dinner party, it is paramount to make sure that the right food is served with the right wines and that is when it can get a little complicated. When the sommelier and the chef though are open to dialogue it is possible to turn a regular dinner into a memorable event. From the feedback we got, this is exactly what happened with Chef Michael Turner and I getting together!

Now we are in troubles though as Classic Cup wants to organize a three days ItalyatYourTable public event!

Gina and Kevin: are we ever gonna be able to have a quite dinner together?:)

The Italy at Your Table Selection.

Michelangelo's Bacchus made by the Frilli Gallery over a replica from the original Pietro da Barga 

A little passion in the game:)

To go back a step on serving the right wines. The difference between opening a bottle of wine to serve to a couple of friends and opening 12 different fine wines to serve to forty wine lovers is another thing. Making sure the temperatures are right, the wines get the right amount of oxygen -not too little, not too much- and checking for bottle faults, not just on your face corkiness but above all the slimy cork taint that dries the palate of the wine or makes it too silent.

In general be bold with super young structured Reds: double decant it and do not worry about oxygen and serve it never above 64 F. It is the case of wines like Arnaldo Caprai Sagrantino di Montefalco “25 Anni” Riserva 2005. Different case for older vintages. Back in NYC I was invited to attend a Bordeaux tasting where a clear example of how oxygen can destroy your precious liquid.

George is an Aussie Surgeon who lives in NYC and loves wines. Great attitude, opened mind and a lot of milage with his tasting buds and yet as excited about it as day one! So back in the Big Apple, George put together a serious flight!

Château Cheval Blanc 1989

Château Cos D’Estournel 1986

Château Ducru-Beaucaillou 1986

Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse De Lalande 1983

Château Gruaud Larose 1982

Château Le Gay 1982

Château Latour 1961

Château Rieussec 2001

Fonseca Porto Vintage 1963

But a dear friend of his was kind enough to bring a little surprise: Château Haut Brion 1989.

We tasted all the wines blind and Haut Brion which was meant to be the wine of the night instead didn’t have any nose. I had that wine a few times and, although I am not the biggest Bordeaux fan, it is an amazing creation. We learnt that our friend was advised by the seller to open and decant the wine the night before the event! That killed it. I am sure you are wondering what was considered the best. Well everyone had his favorite. I was among the ones who all in all preferred Cheval Blanc 1989. This wasn’t meant to be the greatest vintage for this wine but the balance was perfect, the fruit all there, the touch delicate and smooth and with a great length and drinkability. Rieussec 2001 is one of the best Sauterne ever, packed with Saffron action!

The morning after the big night I went for one of my last ItalyatYourTable run in the big city on the high-line, before putting together the last few events and then pack-up and go back home.

I was bound to exercise a bit as the following evening I had to hold an Italian Fine Wine Evening with our friends and partners Italian Wine Merchants. So a little sushi, when good, is always a great way to charge your batteries!

Some awesome sushi at Sushi Yasuda

Here is Kevin F. Sippel, Chef at Italian Wine Merchants making his wonderful plin ravioli like the real thing in Piemonte!

An ItalyAtYourTable event at Italian Wine Merchants.

Now a lot of people are asking me where in the world I am now these days.

So here is a clue of my last two most recent locations? Guess where I am now and you’ll get a free wine tasting!

My best landing ever in NYC!!!

Home, sweet home.

Still out in the cold of the Big Apple for a stop at my favorite coffee shop?

Or in the beginning of spring warmth in the Tuscan countryside attacked by two monkeys?

Yours Truly,



The Good Food Award-Italy at Your Table event.


The Good Food Italy at Your Table event.

by Filippo Bartolotta

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!!! 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  for other important events.

I will give a chronological account of  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: 1961 Faiveley Latricieres Chambertin

Then I had the craziest Italian Oldie ever tried in my life with George: Solaria Jovine Primitivo Passito 1958,  who got this special bottle from 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 the first US women owned and run 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 bourbon’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 the 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  “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, 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!

A light breakfast and ready for William Werner of The Tell Tale Preserve.

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 with 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 360° 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

Pairing by Filippo Bartolotta with:

Arnaldo Caprai “25 anni”, Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG 2005
Bellavista Franciacorta Cuvée Brut
Castello Romitorio Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2004
Dal Forno Romano Valpolicella superiore DOC 2004
Fattoria delle Ripalte Alea Ludendo, Aleatico dell’Elba DOC 2007
Feudi di San Gregorio Greco di Tufo DOCG 2009
Fontodi Vigna del Sorbo, Chianti Classico DOCG 07
Isole e Olena Chianti Classico DOCG 08
Petra Petra IGT TOSCANA 2006
Prà Soave Classico DOC 2009
Proprietà Sperino Uvaggio, Coste della Sesia DOC 2007
Sandrone Luciano Nebbiolo D’Alba Valmaggiore 2007
Acetaia Giusti Aceto Balsamico di Modena
Antica Dolceria Bonajuto Modica Chocolate

Next I’ll take ya’ll to Texas where everything is bigger.

This is for you Karee:)

Yours Truly,


PS: Meanwhile I’ll do some wine-yoga before hitting the road again:)


Italy at Your Table Road Show 2011


By Filippo Bartolotta, in Florence

Last night I went on the coast to meet with Luciano Zazzeri, Chef and owner of La Pineta.

America here we come again:)

For many the best seafood restaurant in Italy is La Pineta. It is an elegant, romantic shack on the sea. Luciano cooks the lightest dishes with the perfect balance with perfumes, textures and portions.

We went for the full menu which will be showcased at the Metropolitan Museum and we created the menu for AJ, our first host of Italy at Your Table in 2001.

Our Italian Wine And Food Road Show this year starts in Soho, Manhattan, New York.

We are setting off in a fabulous place, home to a very fine contemporary artist who also happens to have one of the best palates I have ever met.

We will go to the New York fish market in the morning with Luciano to see what’s fresh and good and our day will start right there…from scratch.

Last year I traveled with over thirty wine labels for three months across the country. This year I will be doing less events with only a very exclusive group of producers.

Starting from the South of Italy, I’ll be presenting the wines of Feudi di San Gregorio, quite possibly the most beautiful winery in Southern Italy, located near the Amalfi Coast. This winery excels in making better and better wines each year, thanks to the vision and pragmatism of Antonio Capaldo.

Their main label with me on show will be the Fiano di Avellino Feudi di SanGregorio 2009: mineral, citrus, zesty and very polished with a great persistence.

Moving past Rome and then north again we meet the Arnaldo Caprai winery in Umbria.

Here Marco Caprai has managed to put Umbria back into the wine map with a stunning black fruit driven, austere, tobacco and tar driven Arnaldo Caprai “25 Anni” Sagrantino di Montefalco 2005.

Then we get to Tuscany from Montefalco to the city of Montalcino in less than 2 hours by car. Home of the king of Reds and the Red of Kings is Brunello di Montalcino. We didn’t just go for a generic Brunello, but for a masterpiece, that one of the famous artist Sandro Chia of Castello Romitorio.

Brunello di Montalcino 2005 Castello Romitorio is a very red fruit driven wine with a lot of cherry fruit, licorice and spices.

Still in Tuscany but just an hour north, past the medieval town of Siena is Fontodi.

With it Chianti Classico Vigna del Sorbo: a very robust, muscular black fruit driven wine with a lot of tannic structure. Here Giovanni Manetti also makes a pure Sangiovese Flaccianello 2007: packed with suede leather, tobacco, prunes and a very smooth touch.

Three, four valleys north on the way to Florence  is Isole e Olena. This wine estate is synonymous with Cepparello. Paolo de Marchi is the owner and wine maker here releasing an uncontaminated elegant soft red fruit silky Sangiovese. Cepparello 2007 is better then ever.

Now it’s time for a little cultural entertaining stop in the capital of Renaissance. Home to the Uffizzi Gallery and the Academia, Florence is an intact architectural gem. Right in the heart of town is the Frilli Gallery, run by a family of artisans who still produce classical reproductions from the very same marble used by Michelangelo, casting bronze with the old Cellini’s lost wax process. Great place to see and touch great masterpieces and to buy original statues.

Moving west toward the Coast we have a couple of very different wineries.

In Suvereto, nearby of the most important Etruscan sites is Petra. A wonderful design cellar built by owner Vittorio Moretti on a Botta Architectural project. Petra IGT is a classic Super Tuscan Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The 2008 release is very elegant and refined with very tame and mature tannins, ripe cherries and black currant and a smooth finish.

Right in front of the Tuscan Coast is Elba Island, where Napoleon was confined.

Here Mr Pier Mario Meletti Cavallari has started of a very challenging endeavor: the production of red dessert wine from the indigenous Aleatico grape. The Aleatico Alea Ludenda of Tenuta delle Ripalte is a very juicy forest fruit wine with a lot of savoriness and Mediterranean spicy character. This is just the perfect match for Antica Dolceria Bonajuto Modica Chocolote.

Pierluigi Ruta is in the SE corner of Sicily and makes this ancient Atzec recipe. Once you try it it will be difficult to go back to your regular chocolate fix.

Let’s move north from Tuscany to for a pit-stop in Modena. Acetaia Giusti has been making Modena Balsamic Vinegar since 1605, they were practically the first family to begin this tradition.

Today they still make all sorts of Aceto Balsamico di Modena cooking the local grapes and aging the sweet condensed juice for many years in wooden casks to release a luscious, sticky and delicious vinegar which will help though out our road show in our various dinners.

From Modena I would make our way north to Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet, where one of the world most outstanding wines is made: Amarone Romano dal Forno. Luscious, dense black fruit, almost sweet, but then its almost salty. Rich and velvety with a never ending finish. If one can’t afford the luxury of this wine the Valpolicella Romano dal Forno is practically a stunning Amarone with a little lighter density.

Half an hour drive east on the way to Venice is Graziano , producer of one of Italy’s most famous White: Soave Classico. His Soave Classico Monte Grande is an oily, almond and white fruit mineral white with a lot of character and drink-ability.

Near Brescia, close to the Lake Iseo, is Italy’s most refined sparkling wine area: Franciacorta.

Here Vittorio Moretti has made one of his dream come true: producing a refined sparkling. Cuve Bellavista will be traveling with us as our welcome wine. Every evening will be opened with this splendid Franciacorta, made from Chardonnay grapes in a traditional sparkling wine method. That means that for at least three years the fermented grape juice will be in contact with the yeast to add complexity, texture, flavor and of course bubbles to the wine. As a result the Bellavista Cuve Franciacorta has a round palate enriched by a soft mousse which leads to a lime and white fruit aromatic caress and lingering refreshing savory finish. I look forward to begin the journey with Bellavista

Moving all the way to west near Turin, is one of the world most important wine regions: Langhe. Barolo is the king here, made with 100% Nebbiolo. The cuisine of the area is famous for its rare and expensive white truffle and Barolo is the best match for it. Luciano Sandrone Cannubi Boschis 2006 is one of the best crus that came out during my tastings last year: a very austere, structured, licorice and leather Barolo with a quinine element and a floral touch right at the finish. The entry level Valmaggiore Nebbiolo is one of the best way to get to know this wonderful Italian variety.

Last bu not least is Lessona, Proprieta  Sperino. Produced by the young Luca de Marchi, this is an Italian style Pinot Noir. It is in fact Nebbiolo 100%, locally called Spanna and produced in the Northern part of Piedmont. It is like drinking a softer and sweeter style Barolo with a very savory, velvety contrast and plenty of super juicy red fruit.

And this year the U.S. Italian Wine Authority is going to be our partner to make sure that all those thirsty friends of ours can find the right way to get hold of our delicious wines: Italian Wine Merchants with Sergio Esposito and Karlsson making our project a step more concrete!!!

So this is Italy at Your Table 2011 US ROAD SHOW in a nutshell.

We will start from NYC on the 12th for ten days with an appointment also at the prestigious Metropolitan Museum. Then we will move to Washington DC for our annual Charity Event: The Martha’s Table Sutarday Sips and Sundays dinners. Here we will meet again with Alice Waters and Jose Andres and another 10 of America’s best chef to support a great cause: last year we’ve raised over $100.000.

Of course I am excited, thrilled and anxious to be on the road again in the US with the best Italian wines and foods alongside the best discerning gourmets on the planet. I’ll be visiting their homes, from the Big Apple, to Saint’Antonio, from Washington to San Francisco, from L.A. to Kansas City.

Who is behind all this? I couldn’t make this dream come true without Vanessa. Her patience, thoroughness and precision made a random idea a business model and a REAL project.

Benedetta is the logistic and co-ordination mind to make all this come into place: the ingredients for the Metropolitan, the invitations for the Napa Valley Reserve, the press events and above all the supporting of myself:) Good luck Bene!!! Also Carrie and Corinna from the office making all the necessary arrangements, Tour organization, translations and support…thanks to all of you.





by Filippo Bartolotta

I thought this summer I had had the chance of a few days of holiday, but between the tasting days for the “Espresso Guide on Italian Wines” and a wine and food show with the US main entertaining network I got stuck in Chianti.

So I decided to enjoy work as much as possible, making the most out of it. And when the attitude is positive good things come your way. And so it happened that after our ItalyatYourTable.com US RoadShow we have been asked to show a few Americans a couple of segments of an authentic Italian Food and Wine Experience.

So we immediately said yes and went for it. This meant a couple of months of story boards, logistics, wineries, chef and gourmet shops to coordinate for the US Tv.

It was also my first TV show and I enjoyed every single minute of it. Lisa and Gary -the executive producers-, Lary and Carlo -the producers-, Jim -the sound man-, Douglas -the camera man- and Michael -the conductor- helped making this an amazing experience making me feel part of the team. This show has been running for decades and I am very flattered I have been asked to be part of it. Very soon we will let everyone know when it will be aired.

Meanwhile some pics of this amazing adventure which will be broadcasted to over 2,5 million Americans twice!

So let’s start the day with Rome’s best coffe: Caffè Sant’Eustachio.

Here from the 1930’s over 4000 coffees a day have been served with their own coffee beans toasted on location to brew the naturally sweet and creamiest espresso in town.

Granted our caffeine fix, now is time to buy the ingredients for our cooking class at La Terrace, Sofitel Restaurant.

First thing first then with our Gourmet Market Walk of Rome in Campo dei Fiori, where we try and buy the tomatoes for the Amatriciana, garlic and herbs for our sea bass and some fruit. Claudio’s kiosk is the most reliable of all!

Considering that the main courses of our cooking class were three ancient Roman pasta sauces -Gricia, Amatriciana and Carbonara- the main ingredient had still to be purchased: guanciale  -a non smoked beacon with a little more fat to add up sweetness to the sauce- and pecorino romano (salty hard sheep cheese) Best bet for this is the gourmet heaven Roscioli in via dei Giubbonari.

The Gricia sauce: Guanciale and Pecorino Romano

Get some guanciale and cut it into little stripes. Cook it for 2 min. Through the pasta in the pan when ready and add up the Pecorino Romano to taste.

The Amatriciana sauce: Guanciale, Tomatoes and Pecorino Romano

This is a Gricia with Tomatoes. Gricia is more ancient as tomatoes arrived in Italy only after the discovery of America. So once the guanciale is crunchy add up the tomatoes for two minutes cooking and then one you stir the pasta with the sauce, add up the pecorino cheese.

The Carbonara Sauce: Guanciale, Eggs and Pecorino Romano

Fry the Guanciale for a few minutes, then prepare a few eggs (at least one egg yolk per person plus a full one), then pecorino cheese as much as you like on the pasta.

Stir the pasta on the frying pan and while you do that slowly add up the whipped eggs with the pecorino cheese and serve as soon as possible.

Before going to La Terrace at the Sofitel we had to purchase some sea-bass. So we go to Emiliano near Campo dei Fiori. This is a tiny little fish shop with fresh produce only. Emiliano is so proud of his product that whenever I happen to go go there he would show my the freshest fish and let me taste it there on the spot: authentic mediterranean sashimi! The Americans looked at my a little puzzled but happy to see how much I trust the guy:)


Now…time to go cook!

Our destination is the Sofitel in Via Lombardia, right in front of Villa Borghese next to Via Veneto, near the US Embassy.

Talking about positive moods, the Sofitel of Rome played a big part on our success with this project. Marie, the Director has been looking after us from day one, making us all feel at home. The Sofitle MyBed is so comfy making my-real-bed just a couch! ouch! Whenever I end up in Rome and I sleep at the Sofitel I know is going to be tough to sleep somewhere else for the next two nights! The main reason though why I choose Sofitel is related to the roof top restaurant LA TERRACE on top of the world. Sunset and sunrise are my two favorite moments there as rome seems to be talking to you then. Villa Borghese is right there, great for walks, jogging or resting in the park to get away from the city traffic. the rest of town is right there starting from Dolce Vita via Veneto one block south.

So La Terrace was our setting for the cooking class with Claudio and Luca.

Here we learnt how to cook all those traditional pasta sauces from Rome, dining al fresco with a glass of the crisp, floral and creamy fruit driven Luna Mater Frascati of Fontana Candida.

No better way to drink something made 15 km away from the immortal city, by one of the leading wineries of the nearby Frascati Area.

From Rome we got to north a couple of hours drive to Florence to the The Grand Hotel Excelsior.

One night of relax and then off to Chianti with a little pit stop in Barberino Val d’Elsa to buy Extravirgin Olive Oil at Il Canto di Baccio. This is a tiny cozy little shop were Danila, the owner, sells the organic products of La Spinosa Farm.

Once we got the Extravirgin Olive oil we launch ourself to Castello di Monsanto for a Wine Tour and a Pasta Challenge with Tina.

Here our Television learns how to make pasta from scratch with flour and eggs, some pesto -basil, garlic, pine nuts and extra virgin olive oil sauce- and Peposo -a veal stew with Chianti.

At the Castello di Monsanto we open a magnificent

Chianti Classico Riserva il Poggio 1982: Orange peel, licorice and leather with an amazing truffle and cherry finish. Smooth tannins track loads of refresching acidity.

With this stunning Sangiovese 100% Chianti Classico the group learned how to taste wine: what a wine to start the day and then we went ahead for the cellar tour.

The end of the morning was spent making pasta with Tina and having a great Italian lunch paired with Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva il Poggio 2004. Great match to see the same wine 25 years on. The 2004 was way denser and more extractive style with a lovely Sangiovese cherry touch and very slick tannic structure. I love this vintage.

PS: you can find these wines in the US at www.italianwinemerchants.com

The meal and the morning was finished off with the Cantuccini di Prato by Corsini Biscotti which went deliciously with the Castello di Monsanto 1995 Vin Santo.

Corsini Biscotti make also a chestnut flour and chocolate luscious cake called Polendina: a great surprise also for me. I had half a cake left from the photo shoots and my kids polished the whole tray the next available breakfast!

Finally at 1430 we made it for lunch eating our very own pasta. Thank you everybody, including Benedetta Marinelli who just joined LEBACCANTI, helping me with ITALYATYOURTABLE.COM. Welcome Benedetta in the crazy Baccanti world.

These were three amazing Italian days which soon will become a TV show. I’ll keep you posted!