THE WHITE HOUSE FOOD PROGRAM…AND Italy at Your Table in CHICAGO
by Filippo Bartolotta
After a refreshing Thai meal with Van and Kelly we leave 69Â°F Santa Monica for 25Â°F Chicago!
While thinking of that I still have super memories of the indestructible and multilayered Â Amarone Qunitarelli 1990, offered by our friend Lana during her Italy at Your Table dinner (together with other amazing treats like: 1989; Masseto double magnum 2005 and Batard Montrachet Ramonet 2003)!
This is one of the few Amarones that I can drink abundantly despite the 17Â° in alcohol! This year I have discovered a new Amarone -Latium Campo Leon released for the first time with the stunning 2004 vintage. I checked the producers a bit an then I tasted their second vintage 2005, which for me is even more balanced.
The wine world is struggling with over alcoholic wines as a result of Â (maybe) too low yields and hotter vintages. The point though isn’t about alcohol but about balance.
A 7,5Â° old or young vintage Â German Riesling can be an iceberg of happiness as well as 17,5% Amarone della Valpolicella can warm the coldest soul in the most suave way!
And I am glad Latium Amarone was one of the wineries that joined Italy at Your Table in Chicago because after L.A. that’ is just the prefect medicine:)
The good thing about Chicago though is that we had a lot of good people around us starting with my old sommelier friend Elke Giresh who hosted us in her lovely apartment.
Elke and I used to work in London together eight years ago and she hasn’t lost her passion for wine not for one single bit! So I had the best sommelier I could have ever asked for during my Italy at Your Table events!
Chicago seems pretty easy to live in and to get around, everything is a ten minute/$10 cab ride and so we get on our first cab ride to “Drinks Over Dear Borne” a lovely small but extremely well equipped wine shop downtown. Here owner Kyle McHugh is running the show selling all sorts of different wines, great beer selection and spirits. A lot of different free tastings are offered to buyers every day and Kyle runs the most interesting courses and events.
This is were we got off from our first cab ride in town. Barbara setting everything up like always while I carried off tastings of various sorts to make sure the bottles are ok and to set the right tasting order.
This time together with Cepparello ’06, ProprietÃ Sperino Lessona ’05, Arnaldo caprai Sagrantino ’03, Grattamacco ’01, Collemassari 2004, Tenute San Leonardo 2004, Montevatrano 2005 we started with the creamy and zesty contrasted Vernaccia Cusona 2006 moving on to to the structured and austere long lasting Santa Croce 2003 from CastellÃ¬’inVilla and the super sweet and densely persistent Barolo Revello VIgna Gattera 2003.
Lain put all this together for her friends and herÂ wonderful family: every member of Lain’s family I met is packed with tons of atomic energy and smile which they are happy to give away to anybody; honestly they are pretty remarkably happy and love to create always the right atmosphere.
People tasted the evening away with Prosciutto di Parma DOP, Extravirgin Olive Oil Pasolini dall’Onda and the Traditional balsamic Vinegar di Modena. Very soon it got late and we all had to jump in cold and yet seductive Chicago for a few drinks before bed time.
Morning after is time to get over the late night with a very crispy run along the lake.
I am so glad and so lucky as most of my US pit stops have been near to the water. I loved running on river banks. sea or lakes!
I am also extremely glad I got my small Canon on time fort the road show as this way I have been able to prove you what an amazing list of great homes and hosts I have been encountering during this trip.
The day after is time for Ben andÂ Hayley. This young couple has travelled Italy via the best restaurants from north to south and ohh…they have a palate!
It seems as if their house were built for Italy at Your Table: open kitchen with great big table in front and light coming from the porch.
Benedetta sets off with the Pasta Challenge while I invite all the guests to grab the mineral and tropically smooth Vernaccia di Sangimignano Il Palagione 2008. Starting with this crisp Vernaccia and some prosciutto bites has made my life a lot easier as people seem to enjoy this immensely with or without food.
The wines seemed to be all good. The bold black cherry driven and leatheryÂ Castello di BanfiÂ Brunello Poggio alle Mura 2004 was one of the hit of the night.
This evening guests had to put together the dinner or otherwise it would have been a wine only night!
So everyone, its a go, go, go! Wash your hands, get rid of your rings and mix water and flower to make those delicious ravioli and spaghetti!
Starting the evening making pasta with friends is a thrill. Why does a Italian Cooking Class sounds so appealing to Americans?
It is all about bonding, sharing our bounty with people we love and more unconsciously dealing with one of life most important foundation: food.
By now everyone knows how much I love the US, how much I feel home over here and so I feel also entitled to have some thoughts on some hot topics, such as nutrition.
Eating and drinking is one of the most repeated action we do throughout a day. Food keeps us alive, but according to the quality and source of it we can also generate more energy, better well being, less disease and happiness.
Alternatively we can eat to be alive getting sicker and sicker hence taking more and more medicines and be less and less happy.
America has lost touch with the food that is eaten every day. People just feed themselves without knowing where the ingredients come from and very often without knowing the basics of cooking and nutrition. In other words the freshest and most organic product cooked over an open flame till it gets nice and brown is bound to be cancerogenic: you might as well go out on the porch and smoke a full packet of cigarets!
Also the best Extravirgin olive oil cooked till it smokes would loose all its beneficial properties, making omega-tree fat into saturated ones.
There is also a bigger issue with Americans that haven’t got enough to feed themselves and their kids properly. That is why we joined our efforts with Martha’s table to make a difference.
I believe the following five major pointsÂ should be introduced and taught to adults but above all to kids, exactly how we teach them maths and literature!
Italy at Your Table 2011 is going to look more into these topics always with a fun and entertaining way to teach and share.
These are the topics that I would like to pass onto Chef Sam Kass for theÂ FOOD PROGRAM of the White House.
1) Learn basic agricultural knowledge to be able to grow a personal home garden
2) Learn how to accesses fresh and local products, possibly from an organic source
3) Learn basic Nutritional knowledge: i.e. amount and quality Â of Carbohydrates/proteins and fat intake and food health properties
4) Learn ABC-cooking to avoid transforming good food into dangerous one
5) Learn how to avoid processed food as much as possible
5) Learn how to enjoy eating well
Watch this space as we will talk more about these subjects.
Meanwhile…dinner is ready!