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!
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!
Finally we got the wines delivered at Ed Calvert Wines: D.C. best wine and gourmet shop.
Thanks to Mr. Ed Sand we managed to have all our wines delivered on time for the charity.
Now is time for Liz and Benedetta and Anders and all the volunteers to take them to the 14 houses and it’s 24Â°F!!!
Today we had lunch at Paolina, Frank Ruta’s place! Â Perfect place to catch up again with Jan Buhrman of the Kitchen Porch!
Great to see Jan again with her never ending energy and positive mood. Joan Nathan and Jan have been friends for many years. Today we all meet up again for the great Charity event. But of course with all the thousand things to do Trillion-Tasking Joan and Jan turned up a little later, so I have been temped by a Sazerac drink by the very kind bartender: Old Overholt Rye, Syrup, Bitter, Absynth. Just what’s needed in this weather conditions.
Before the 14 dinners and the Sutarday Sips we are going to be having a Shabbat dinner at Joan’s place. Christopher Lee, chef at Chez Panisse, is cooking right now as we speak!
Jan Buhrman, Joan Nathan, Christopher Lee.
Jan is doing the vegetable stew and looking for an oyster knife! Meanwhile Joan is preparing the Challah and I got to help with that:)
David Gerson’s with the Challah bread
Everyone is doing something while waiting for Alice Waters to arrive.
Meanwhile we try the soft delicious fluffy challah!
Italy at Your Table “storage place”:)
Martha’s Table Head Quarter!
This are the menus for Sunday, but today is all dedicated to Saturday Night Sips…
To see the full list of the Sunday night Suppers Menu with Italy at Your Table Wine Pairing,
I look forward to seeing our 250 guests tonight at Greg Nelson and JosÃ¨ Cunningham residence to take everyone for a Fine Wine&FoodÂ journey Â to Italy’s most delicious regions: click here for a full view of them: http://www.lebaccanti.com/blog/?p=2218
The Gourmet Pit Stops of our Journey Tonight wills start with:
-Then we move to Venice withÂ Graziano Pra‘s wonderfully oily and floral Soave
– Half an hour drive and we are in Rome&Juliet’s home: Verona. WithÂ Romano Dal Forno ultimate luscious, cashmere dense Amarone and Valpolicella.
– Going west we will taste one of the world most famous wines: Barolo. And not just any Barolo, but Luciano Sandrone‘s Le Vigne – a true long lasting artisan gem, made in Langhe, near Torino
– An hour drive north of Langhe, still in Piemonte isÂ ProprietÃ Sperino. Luca De Marchi makes Italy’s Nouvelle Vague Nebbiolo with the silkiest touch.
-Let’s move down to Modena for a Balsamic vinegar Pit-Stop: the extra dense Balsamic vinegar of Modena by theÂ Gran Deposito Aceto Balsamico Giuseppe Giusti.Â This isn’t just your regular vinegar, but Modena oldest one, started in 1605.
– Now is time to head towards Tuscany to visit one of Florence most important art galleries: the Galleria Frilli. Here Â Anna Marinelli will welcome you with her enthusiasm to her sculpture art studio opened in 1860.
– Still hanging around Florence, only 20 miles away in Chianti, there’s Isole e Olena with Paolo de Marchi’s Cepparello: Sangiovese to it’s best!
-Another few miles south, going towards Siena is Fontodi producing a wonderfully dense and modern Sangiovese: the famous Flaccianello.
-The journey still heads south of Siena to Montalcino, forÂ Castello di Romitorio wonderfully crafted Brunello by Sandro Chia.
– From Montalcino, the coast of Tuscany is only 30 miles. Near Suvereto is the outstanding Petra winery making a classy Super Tuscan: Petra IGT.
-From Suvereto, we get the boat to Elba Island for the new Pier Mario Meletti Cavallari’s project: Fattoria delle Ripalte, releasing a savory Red dessert wine to die for.
-Going inland in Umbria, near Perugia in the beautiful town of Montefalco is Marco Caprai of www.arnaldocaprai.it winery. He make one the most consistent and longest leaving central Italy elegant Reds: Sagrantino di Montefalco.
– Our last wine comes from the most beautiful winery in Southern Italy:Â Feudi di San Gregorio. In Washington DC we will taste the mineral and zesty Fiano di Avellino, made just off a few miles the Amalfi Coast.
-This will be the end of our Italian Wine and Food journey withÂ Bonajuto ‘chocolate from Modica: one of the purest and most crystalline artisanÂ chocolate experience.
All this will happen in a few hours Down Town in Washington D.C.
Among the million ways one could rap up a wine and food event in the Bay Area, I can’t think of a better one thenÂ Chez Panisse in Berkley with Alice Waters.
And this dream came true after Alice an I spent some time together in Washington at the Martha’s Table Charity event and at the White House where we spent a whole Monday morning between the kitchen and the great green garden revolution so much wanted by Michelle Obama.
So with a succulent prawn burrito with guacamole and jalapeno sauce, Barbara and I get on the Bart train to Berkely.
Alice invited me during Joan Nathan‘s birthday party: you have to go to Chez Panisse, Filippo!
Five minutes later the sweetest and most efficient P.A. ever met –Sarah Weiner– makes it happen and with one phone call I have an Italy at Your Table evening booked at Chez Panisse! Â Grande Sarah. thanks!
Jonathan has been working for nearly 26 years as the wine buyer and sommelier at Chez Panisse.
He has been insisting on having me there at 1500. I didn’t quite catch why till I entered the restaurant:
a full classroom of people were waiting for me to learn more about Italian wines: it was Alice Waters’ collaborators!
The wines where all laid out, glasses on the table and everyone staring at me.
I looked at Barbara a little perplex, then I see Master Chef Jean Pierre MoulleÂ waiving towards me while looking at some of our labels. Jonathan cracks open a bottle of Vernaccia di Sangimignano Panizzi 2008, he hands me a glass and I kick off.
I must admit that I was coming out of the blue sky and got a little paralyzed Â thinking I that I was right in the hear of American food Revolution started right there thirty years ago with Alice Waters! Jonathan somehow put me right on track opening a second bottle of Vernaccia -Panizzi EvoÃ¨ 2006. A macerated style with an almost salty palate. Â Everyone loved this wine and I begun to enjoy my time at Chez Panisse.
From here we jumped to Italy at Your Table reds, going from the minerally juicyÂ Uvaggio-ProprietÃ Sperino 2006 to the red berry crush and cherry packed refreshing Chianti Classico Monsanto Riserva 2006 and the thick, leathery, earthy, meaty and gun flintyÂ Arnaldo Caprai Sagrantino 2003 Selezione 25 anni; then its time for a compare and contrast dense, sweet and lusciousÂ Tenute San Leonardo 2004 and Montevetrano 2005.
Everyone is taking notes while sipping Italy away
Jonathan is contributing with his fantastic knowledge and passion to the tasting right till the end, making the while day at Chez Panisse the smoothest and most enjoyable experience possible.
Also Messieur Jean Pierre joins in with participation when we open the savoury sweet dessertÂ Aleatico dell’Elba 2006 of Tenute delle Ripalte.
This has been our only dessert wine of the entire Road Show making everyone’s mouth salivating!
After the training session is time to go back to work and soÂ Cal Peternell and Benedetta Vitali go to finish off the evenings preparations
Barbara get Italy at Your table wines and products ready with the Malpighi Traditional Balsamic vinegar and Pasolini dall’onda Extravirgin Olive oil. Guests arrive promptly at 1900 and Chez Panisse Dinner is featuring some of Benedetta Vitali best dishes.
Benedeta that night show what a tremendous woman she is. starting early in the morning all the way through to the evening and then haning out with us till late at night despite in the morning we all had to depart for LA! Che donna!
Meanwhile I receive the picture of my sweet little Daphne who seems to be growing at a faster peace while in New York!