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Martha’s Table and D.C. Central Kitchen Charity Event


Martha’s Table and D.C. Central Charity Event

by Filippo Bartolotta

Martha's Table Logo

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.
DC Central Kitchen
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!

Jan Buhrman, Joan Nathan, Filippo Bartolotta, Alice Waters, Christoper Lee
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 Josè 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.
The Italy at Your Table Selection is available at Italian Wine Merchants. Collectors may purchase just a few bottles or the full ItalyatYourTable case of: Bellavista, Graziano Pra, Romano Dal Forno, Luciano Sandrone, Proprietà Sperino, Castello di Romitorio, Isole e Olena, Fattoria delle Ripalte, Fontodi, Feudi di San Gregorio, Petra and Arnaldo Caprai; then Modica chocolate Bonajuto, the Gran Deposito Aceto Balsamico Giuseppe Giusti and Galleria Frilli art works.
Alice Waters and Filippo Bartolotta
Alice Waters and Josè 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.
Josè is thrilled by our wines and seems to be liking also the Bonajuto's Modica chocolate and the Giusti Balsamic vinegar.

Josè Andres and Filippo Bartolotta
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, Josè 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.

Robert Egger
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

Nycci Nellis
I spent the whole morning with them and other guests among them Aviva Goldber of The Six O'Clock Scrable.
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
Fabio Trabocchi
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!

Jeff Buben and Roberto Donna
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!
Thanks everyone for the great support!

Italy at Your Table goes to Washington D.C.


Italy at Your Table goes to Washington D.C.

by Filippo Bartolotta

Leaving the Big Apple is never easy. On my last day I caught up with Miriam and her “future husband” for a China Town Dim Sum lunch. Miriam has being traveling with LeBaccanti in a couple of trips: Amarone Tour, Friuli and a Truffle Hunt in Barolo Land. Miriam and her mum are some of the most adventurous eaters I ever met. Dim Sum is China Town is very comfort-food and we decide to go for it.

Then we take a stroll towards Chambers Street to check some Italian Wines and Benedetta and I head off for an Italy at Your Table event on the Upper West Side with George and Chris “the Aussie Surgeons” and the wine platoon friends.

In a miserable rainy New York city day, it’s great to recover in a warm beautiful New York house.

Kathy, the dog, greats us with a big smile and I start the wine operations while waiting for George and Chris to turn up.

But sure enough George opens the door and we start immediately to decide together the order of the wine tasting.

We had out 12 golden Italian Fine Wines from italy at your table to have guests traveling from the Lower East Side -even better from Brooklyn-  that is Modica in Sicily to The Upper West Side -that is the foot hills of the Mount Rosa Alps!

The Italy at Your Table Selection is available at Italian Wine Merchants. Collectors may purchase just a few bottles or the full ItalyatYourTable case of: Bellavista, Graziano Pra, Romano Dal Forno, Luciano Sandrone, Proprietà Sperino, Castello di Romitorio, Isole e Olena, Fattoria delle Ripalte, Fontodi, Feudi di San Gregorio, Petra and Arnaldo Caprai; then Modica chocolate Bonajuto, the Gran Deposito Aceto Balsamico Giuseppe Giusti and Galleria Frilli art works.

What a wonderful night that was finishing with a last glass on the roof terrace overlooking New York city.

As mentioned it was a little bit sad leaving New York so we made sure to have say good-bye with a wonderful Magnolia Bakery pink cheese cake, which chef Luciano Zazzeri loved!

I also have to say how wonderful our friends and partners Italian Wine merchants have being looking after us and giving us a wonderful office space to work, making us feel home while away.

Some more accounts on the New York pit stop will get there soon with the Dinner at AJ’s with Luciano Zazzeri as the Chef!

Meanwhile though we are already in Washington DC for our second year helping raising money for the Marhta’s Table Charity! This is a great honor for  us as not only we get to help for a great cause, but we also get to spend time with the best people in town. Starting with Joan Nathan who is the true engine behind the scene, in the next few days I’ll introduce you to the whole Martha’s table team.

Italy at Your Table is here to pair our Italian Fine Wine and Food selection to the 14 menus of the 14 houses which hosts the fund raising dinner event.

Alice Waters, Joan Nathan and Josè Andres have being putting their minds together to Benefi Martha’s Table & D.C. Central Kichen.

LeBaccanti Tours has offered to match all the menus with our products.

Last night I started to do my first event at Equinox where I held a tasting for chefs, journalists and press to talk about the matching food and wine of this great event.

Joan Nathan and Filippo Bartolotta

Meeting at Nora’s for some more wine chats!

Catching up again with Sanders, the head of the volunteers getting ready to deliver the wines and foods at the 14 houses:

Full details of the D.C. Charity will be soon disclosed, now I have to go or lunch…





By Filippo Bartolotta

This morning we woke up early despite the heavy Beverly Hills night to go to the farmers market near Main Street in Santa Monica with Private Chef Kelly Thompson and Barbara.

The objective was the get the freshest food for a surprise LeBaccanti Saint Valentine’s day at Bryan Adams Studios.

We were after strawberries, chocolate and Parmigiano to use our 25 year old Malpighi Balsamic Vinegar and then fresh vegetables and salads for our Pasolini dall’Onda Extravirgin Olive Oil.

Before getting there I have some time for a little vegan snack while we head to Kelly’s place to prepare everything.

KELLY THOMPSON works as a private chef around the L.A. Area. This is her phone number  229-347-3107

Kelly tossed some fresh asparagus on the grill for a minute, we washed the salads and roots and off we go to the Studios.

We get there right before lunch break. Unload the car and set silently everything up.

Bryan was working at his computer, while splendid Nia Vardalos was having some coffee.

We laid everything out in a split second while the wines were getting served: Grattamacco 2001, Bindella 2006, Proprietà Sperino 2006, Terra al Sole 2004, Montevetrano 2005, Cecchi Chianti Classico Riserva di Famiglia 2005, Tenuta Friggiali 2004, Castell’in Villa Poggio delle Rose 1998.

Meanwhile Barbara and Kelly were finishing off the last touches with the Aceto Balsamico and the Extravirgin Olive Oil.

Vally comes to great us with her calm smile and Mr Adams turns up nice and easy and goes directly for the Extravirgin Olive oil, I was about to talk to him about Laudemio and with a perfect italian accent he goes: hoo yeah…I know Laudemio very well, and the Balsamic Vinegar!

He prove to be incredibly tuned in with high quality Italian gourmet food. Then he sips a drop of Brunello Terra al Sole and a drop of Uvaggio and goes back to work.

Now it was for us time to leave not before having Bryan taking a picture with us though!

What a great start of the day! Usually good starts always bring good rest of the day.

We managed a half an hour beach time, lobster roll -at Lobster in Ocean Ave with some Vernaccia di Sangimigano and catching up with computer work before the big event with Kelly and Van and their great friends.

Their house in Santa Monica has a pretty big garden with all sorts of herbs and vegetables, an outdoor kitchen and a brick oven where Van was making sure that Kelly’s Pizzas were nicely done. I was putting the wines in the wright order.

Here is where Italy at Your Table Santa Monica took place. Three round tables with white linen, six glasses per person, twelve great Italian wines, Kelly great cuisine and a lot of fun.

We started with Il Palagione Vernaccia di Sangimignano Hydra 2008 which everyone loved  and carried on with our Grattamacco 2001, Montevetrano 2006, Caprai Selezione 25 anni 2003, Proprietà Sperino Uvaggio 2006, Cepparello 2006, Barbaresco Punset 2001, Tenute Friggiali 2004, Bindella 2006, Castell’in Villa Poggio alle Rose1998, Amarone Latium Campo Leon 2005, Collemassari 2004, Meletti Cavallari Aleatico Tenuta delle Ripalte to finish everything off.

It was a great night where we travelled from Florence to Montalcinio; from Siena to Montepulciano; from Bolgheri, land of the Super Tuscans to Langhe -land of Barolo and Barbaresco- from Amalfi Coast, Capri, Revello and Positano di the land of Romeo and Juliet: Verona; and from Montefalco land of Sagrantino to the Island of Elba for the sweet/non sweet Aleatico.

A trip that is difficult to forget, a trip into Italy true wine Dolce Vita for a very romantic pre-trip to Italy starting right here in Santa Monica.

Van got us a cab while sipping a drop of one of his favorite Armagnac Francisc Darroze Les Piéces Oubliées 15 ans. He told me a great story of the same producer but 45 years old Armagnac as the best spirit of his life. I wondered what that could have been in considering the 15 ans was sooo the smooth and gentle.

I love Italy at Your Table, my wines and my very sophisticated and yet laid back hosts!


Italy at Your Table once more in San Francisco


Italy at Your Table once more in San Francisco

by Filippo Bartolotta

After Quince Restaurant it is time to go for a private event with our friend and client Miriam. She came along for a trip to Venezia, to Verona and the Amarone wine region as well as the Collio and Carso regions near Trieste and the  Croatian border.
Miriam and her mum are two of the most omnivore people I have ever met in my life. I thought I was bad, but…

Radikon Stanko

It is great when I take guests around italy and the fully appreciate every single bit of the experience. Miriam is getting more and more serious about her Italian wine collection and appreciation and so are her lovely friends who bombarded me with tons of questions: It’s terrific when I have such an interested crowd.
Like always we begin our private events with one of Italy most forgotten and yet most classy White: Vernaccia di Sangimignano.

Many years have passed since the dilute/cheap Vernaccia was sold as a souvenir in Sangimignano. Now Vernaccia is back on track with its centuries of traditions and quality.Wineries like Panizzi, Cesani, Guicciardini Strozzi and Palagione are making this appellation more and more important every year.

Now with the new President of the Consorzio Walter Sovran and the new director Letizia Cesani it looks like the Vernaccia di Sangimignano is going for an even more radical change towards the quality path.

Vernaccia isn’t a spicy, aromatic and on your face wine, but rather an elegant, gentle and mineral White with a surprising aging potential. Most people, even among trade members, believe Vernaccia is good for the first two years, but I had a vertical tasting of over thirty years old Vernaccia which were so crisp, clean and delicious that I strongly recommend you buy now to enjoy the crispiness and store it to get complexity and minerality.

The price point of this wine is amazing: it starts under the $10 to get to max $25. When I first did the tasting with my friend and colleague Master Italian wine expert Ernesto Gentili -simply the greatest Italian wine expert today- we were gobsmacked about the quality we found. The tasting was so successful that later on there have been a series of comparative tastings with the best Whites in the world, including Grand Cru Chablis and Puilly Fumè.

And I am so glad that the great majority of our Italy at Your Table are enjoying this wine so much. For that matter everyone is enjoying our full wine list.
This time we had for the first time Gigi Rosso Barolo Arione 2005. This is an old School tough Serralunga Barolo which needs a little time to open and show its true amazing floral and truffles complexity.

It was also the first time for the very structured and leathery/earthy Brunello di Montalcino Col d’Orcia Riserva Poggio al Vento 1999. A great classic from an underrated vintage.
So the evening was a blast, I had a lot of fun I think I talked flat for three ours and then we carried on for more tasting and nibbling with the Prosciutto di Parma and the Malpighi 25 years old Balsamic Vinegar.

Why is there such a huge demand for Italian Fine Wine Tastings? Because the Italian wine scene is getting more and more complex and interesting by the year with over four hundred grape varieties it is just a delicious wine heaven. And Americans are eager to learn and share that for me this is becoming the best environment ever to teach.

I love this job, I love to teach and I love to share my passion and my knowledge with hungry wine lovers. Italy at your table is becoming a great hit. Anyone can organize a wine tasting but LeBaccanti with Vanessa, Barbara, Carrie and Valentina doing all the leg work in the back office to support me during my travels and evenings is just another thing. So why do so many people sign up for LeBaccanti wine tastings events wine tours and holidays? I think because people don’t want just to have something to drink, they want to have an experience, they want to have information, they want to increase their knowledge and possibly while having fun.

So this is what LeBaccanti Tours does: organizing made to size wine and food experiences, wether one wants to organize a Wine Challenge Evening for friends and business partners or the greatest Italian Gourmet holiday.

Grazie Miriam for having us!

Now it is time to rush to Palo Alto for an event at the Barton’s. Richard and Megan Barton are friends of some friends of ours in Chianti: Enzo and AnnaGloria Corti. The Cortis live in a beautiful Tuscan House in Chianti, not too far away from were we live. They rent a wonderful Renaissance Villa Castellare di Senigi: http://www.castellaredesernigi.com/eng

This is an authentic Tuscan Villa with authentic antiques furniture and the most spectacular location possible. The Cortis are partecipating to Italy at Your Table giving away seven nights for ten people to one of our guests of thi Road Show. At the end of our tour we will have a draft and the winner will get this amazing and very generous prize.

So my dear Italy at Your Table wine lovers, do not forget to send us your email for the final draft!

Prior our event in Palo Alto we stop for a quick bite at The Ferry Building were we had to do some shopping at the farmers market.

Fresh sea food and then indulging in a delicious chocolate cup cake!

We got to the Barton’s in less then an hour drive with Leigh being our Captain of the expedition. The house was kissed by the sun with fresh flowers all over the places and a stunning setting.

Like always Benedetta Vitali would start preparing dinner around 1430 while we set up for the evening and get the wines ready.

This time we start with nibbles and some wines are served :

Fratelli Revello with their very thick and yet fresh and round single vineyard Vigna Giachini 2005 which was a very big hit of the night.

I enjoyed this evening as it was very “active” in the kitchen an in teh dining room.

Being with a great Football Champion like Harris Barton the day after the game with the Saints dishing out their first victory ever in the Super Bowl was quite something!

Photography by Michael C. Hebert

And here is Richard and myself: of course…I am the big guy:)

The morning after Athena woke us up really early . . . as I mentioned I would have liked to attend a yoga class to relax and gain some energy. She told me about a Bikram steam room Yoga Class: www.bilramyoga.com. At 0730 -more or less, right in my favourite street in San Francisco: Dolores. This is a palm tree roller coaster to be done with a crazy cab driver, possibly mexican!
So at 0800 we are in a 100°F room with another 7-8 people sipping water and waiting to kick the lesson off.
Amy, our sweet teacher looks all ready and smily…Barbara and I instead a little worried to pass out during the class.
It has been one and a half hour of empowering sensation, great stretching and body and mind cleansing. This was a super start of the day. Thanks Athena for persuading us to do it!

After such a demanding workout session we were bound to be hungry! So nothing fits the picture better then a Mexican authentic grill with my favorite: shrimp Burrito and Guacamole!

I have been loving these San Francisco days sooooo much! And this making me into a better taster indeed!
Everything has its price though as we had to gobble down our burrito to avoid being late for Alice Waters…