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THE WHITE HOUSE FOOD PROGRAM

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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 69°F Santa Monica for 25°F Chicago!

While thinking of that I still have super memories of the indestructible and multilayered  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 17° 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  (maybe) too low yields and hotter vintages. The point though isn’t about alcohol but about balance.

A 7,5° old or young vintage  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, Proprietà 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 Castellì’inVilla and the super sweet and densely persistent Barolo Revello VIgna Gattera 2003.

Lain put all this together for her friends and her 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 and 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 leathery Castello di Banfi 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 points 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 the 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  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!




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PROSCIUTTO DI PARMA DOP PRODUCTION METHOD

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PROSCIUTTO CRUDO, RAW HAM - PRODUCTION METHODS

The raw pig thighs or hams are salted by hand and stored in cold cells for three or four weeks, after which the excess salt is wiped off and the hams laid aside for ten to twelve weeks more. The salt having by then penetrated uniformly into the muscle masses, the hams are washed in tepid water and hung up to dry in well-ventilated rooms. This marks the beginning of the preageing phase. After several months they are taken down and beaten into the traditional round and flattened shape with wooden bats. Areas of muscle tissue not covered by skin are now covered by a mixture of ground-up fat, salt and pepper to form in time a species of artificial skin that will keep the meat moist and fresh. Then begins the final ageing in cool, nor overly ventilated rooms: hams are hung up for not less than ten months, and for some type for two years.

The raw pig thighs or hams are salted by hand and stored in cold cells for three or four weeks, after which the excess salt is wiped off and the hams laid aside for ten to twelve weeks more. The salt having by then penetrated uniformly into the muscle masses, the hams are washed in tepid water and hung up to dry in well-ventilated rooms. This marks the beginning of the preageing phase. After several months they are taken down and beaten into the traditional round and flattened shape with wooden bats. Areas of muscle tissue not covered by skin are now covered by a mixture of ground-up fat, salt and pepper to form in time a species of artificial skin that will keep the meat moist and fresh. Then begins the final ageing in cool, nor overly ventilated rooms: hams are hung up for not less than ten months, and for some type for two years.

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EXPERIENCE ITALY AT YOUR TABLE

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EXPERIENCE ITALY AT YOUR TABLE

A trip to Italy featuring sustainable

food and wine

Benedetta Vitali and Filippo Bartolotta, Italian masters in cooking and wine respectively, are coming to America and bringing with them the Italian culture of fresh local ingredients, traditional foods, seasonal eating and pairing of healthy food with good wine. They will be hosting events throughout the month of February to highlight Italy as THE place to go to experience enogastronomic travel and to learn about healthful sustainable eating. You will spend the evening immersed in Italian food and wine culture with a slideshow, Italian music and tons of tips for planning your next trip to Italy. The knowledgeable and entertaining duo will serve up fresh, authentic Tuscan cooking classes accompanied by hand- selected fine Italian wines, and take you on a journey to Italy without ever leaving the premises.

Each event will be tailor-made and will include either a cooking demonstration or hands-on cooking class. The cooking portion will highlight simple, delicious dishes using local, fresh ingredients. The wine portion will include wine tasting games and activities as well as more traditional wine tasting know-how and information about organic and biodynamic wines in Italy.

The festive atmosphere will be complete as your hosts take you on a virtual vacation to Italy, and help you to start planning a visit to the undisputed king of food and wine culture. What better way to get inspired for your next vacation than to hear about a spectacular biodynamic vineyard in the Chianti or a restaurant in Sicily that serves up the freshest catch of the day.

Make a Reservation!

Let us know if you are ready to discover authentic Italy by creating fresh tagliatelle pasta with ragù, swirling your glass of Vernaccia di San Gimigniano, and taking a guess at the definition of the word “umami.” Events will be offered during the month of February on the East and West Coast. They will be booked on a first come, first serve basis so please contact ….. for more information today.

Filippo Bartolotta is a wine journalist, writing for major European and American wine publications such as Decanter Magazine and serving as the editor for the bestselling L’Espresso Italian Wine Guide (English version). He also teaches about wine at the prestigious University of Siena and hosts countless wine events each year in Italy and abroad. His unique, entertaining style creates the ideal environment for anyone to fall in love with wine.

Benedetta Vitali

is a chef and owner of the renowned Trattoria Zibibbo in her native Florence. Zibibbo has received high prise for its authentic Tuscan flavors in the NY Times, Gourmet magazine, Food and Wine and in all major Italian restaurant guides. Benedetta is also a published cookbook author. She loves to host cooking classes and share her knowledge of the Tuscan kitchen with others, always emphasizing fresh and locally purchased ingredients.

OUR SELECTION OF FINE ITALIAN WINES AND FOODS

Prosciutto di Parma Dop of the Prosciutto di Parma Consortium

Traditional Balsamic Vinegar from Modena Malpighi

Pasolini Dall’Onda Laudemio Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Arnaldo Caprai

Bindella

Boscarelli

Bruno Giacosa

Castell’in Villa

Castello di Banfi

Castello di Monsanto

Cecchi

Cesani

Cogno

Col d’Orcia

Collemassari

Guicciardini Storzzi

Fattoria di Valiano

Fontodi

Fratelli Revello

Gigi Rosso

Grattamacco

Il Palagione

Isole e Olena

Latium

Lunelli-Ferrari

Mauro Molino

Massolino

Montevetrano

Panizzi

Punset

Solatione

Tassi

Tenuta delle Ripalte

Tenute Friggiali

Tenute Nardi

Tenute San Leonardo

Terrealsole

Tornesi

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