Friday, January 23, 2015

Sarah Fiorini from Fattoria Poggio Alloro

This month my "Italy Uncorked" feature in the Bostoniano was fun to write and tell the story the story of Sarah Fiorini whom is part of the family that owns Fattoria Poggio Alloro located in San Gimignano, Tuscany.  Sarah is also the author of a recipe book called "A Family Farm in Tuscany".  She shared her beautiful story of the struggles of her grandparents and how their family came about producing wine.  I had the opportunity to sample some of her family's wines along with their homemade olive oil produced on their estate as well.
In the same evening I met Paul Turina of Due Fratelli Imports whom rediscovered his family's italian heritage hailing from the Lake Garda region of Lombardy.  He now imports his family's wines and promotes them including some interesting indigenous grapes of the region.

Follow along to Italy Uncorked to read the story on Fattoria Poggio Alloro's Sarah Fiorini.

A Family Farm in Tuscany cookbook

Have a great weekend!  Buon weekend!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Anteprima Amarone 2011 vintage

As many of you know I started off this Italian wine blog close to 2 years ago in efforts to further my own knowledge of the wines of Italy and to help educate others and promote the wines of a country that I hold very dear to my heart because of my own heritage.  Thanks to the Consorzio della Valpolicella of the Veneto region I have been invited to attend the “Anteprima Amarone” event starting next week based in the heart of Verona.  This will be my 3rd time visiting this wonderful city and since not having been there since 2009 I look forward to going back to explore the city itself and furthermore the wonderful wines of this region.
Amarone wines
Amarone is one of the most highly regarding wines in all of Italy and has worldwide recognition for it’s elegance, structure and richness.  The Anteprima Amarone event is to present the newly released 2011 vintage.  Amarone was granted their DOCG designation in 2010 and it’s a wine produced from grapes of varying percentages including corvina, rondinella and molinara as well as corvinone.  What makes this wine unique is the appasimento process, which translates to drying of the grapes that is typically done on mats or crates for about 100-120 days.  This allows the grapes to lose about 30-40% of their water and become more concentrated.  Amarone is then aged for years in different ways and depending on whether it’s a riserva it will be aged longer.  The variations in terroir, varities of grapes and aging process is what allows the uniqueness of every producer and their style of Amarone.
Michele Castellani appassimento process
Appassimento process of Michele Castellani winery
I will be discovering these varieties at the Anteprima Amarone at the event Saturday January 31st and February 1st at the Palazzo Gran Guardia in the center of Verona in Piazza Bra.  There will be presentations followed by a tasting of 64 Amarone producers paired with local Veronese cuisine.  Leading up to the event I will be participating in some winery visits and winetasting followed by luncheons and dinners at the following wineries:
·         Albino Armani
·         Cesari
·         Guerrieri Rizzardi
·         Cottini  - Monte Zovo
·         Tenute Ugolini
·         San Cassiano
·         Tenuta Chiccheri
·         Massimago
·         Corte Sant’Alda

Michele Castellani Amarone winery
Land of Amarone at Michele Castellani winery
There will be no shortage of material in coming weeks and lots of wonderful stories to share, which is what I love the most, in addition to some incredible wines.  So get ready to join me next week as I travel through the Valpolicella region and share with you the prized wine of not only the region, but the world!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Classico Pignoletto from Colli Bolognesi & Emilia Romagna Delights

Today we explore the region of Emilia Romagna in all aspects including food, wine and travel. I'm sharing with you my trip to the Emilia Romagna and including a wine typical of the region that I had at a recent wine tasting at one of my local wine shops. 

You may not be familiar with Emilia Romagna by name, but I'm sure you've enjoyed many of the culinary delights that this region provides the world with including pasta bolognese, prosciutto di parma, parmigiano reggiano, salami and balsamic vinegar (aceto balsamico tradizionale). 

If you are a wine drinker you probably have heard of Lambrusco from here. If you love cars how about Ferrari, Lamborghini, Ducati and Maserati? What about even a Gelato Univeristy?  I'm in! Everything mentioned originates from the Emilia Romagna region. Now you can say you know Emilia Romagna even if you haven't ventured there yourself.
Irrigation canals in Emilia Romagna
Landscape and Irrigation canals, brughi, of Emilia Romagna
Barilla factory in Emilia Romagna
Barilla Factory in Parma
My journey through the Emilia Romagna
I have visited Emilia Romagna a couple times now with my most recent trip a year ago.  I based myself in Parma for a few nights and explored parts of the region trying to take it all in, but definitely could have spent more time there. There is nothing like eating in a region for the food in which it is known for. 

Some of my notable moments of touring the region and countryside including my visit to the Museum of Prosciutto in Langhirano. This particular area is one of the biggest areas for prosciutto production and the entrance to museum is even free. It was interesting walking around and taking a look at the old tools and machines used in the production of prosciutto di parma.  The video demonstrated the process where they used to get the salt from one of the local towns and rubbed the bone with paste and all the meat. They would place the prosciutto on racks for 20-22 days horizontally and then rinse and wash it off off. From there they would hang the prosciutto to dry making sure there were windows that provided better air flow to quicken the process in drying out the meat. Refrigerated rooms later changed all that.
Strada dei vini e dei sapori - Prosciutto and Wine trail Emilia Romagna
All the delicious stops of food and wine in Emilia Romagna
Musei del Cibo Langhirano - Prosciutto museum Emilia Romagna
Castle of Torrechiara salami tasting
Fresh salami and a tasting in a shop at the Torrechiara Castle
Another notable moment, which I have discussed before on my blog was my visit to Acetaia di Giorgio, which is a producer of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. I strongly recommend reading that experience as the balsamic tasting was amazing!  This is by far well above your average balsamic that most of the public is familiar with and well worth the investment of a bottle or two!
Acetaia di Giorgio Aceto Balsamico di Modena
Tasting room of Acetaia di Giorgio
What is pignoletto?
I actually didn't visit any wineries when I was there, but I have a wine that I would like to share with you today that includes a grape that is indigenous to the region, pignoletto, and an important white grape to this wine region. Pignoletto Classico of the Colli Bolognesi is one of the 2 DOCG's of Emilia Romagna both being made from white grapes. The other is Albana di Romagna DOCG from the albana grape.  Pignoletto used to consist of wines that were made fizzy with a tinge of sweetness, but over time the wine has been revamped to now be produced in dry styles as well. The Colli Bolognesi is based around the capital of Emilia Romagna, Bologna. 

2013 Manaresi Classico Pignoletto Colli BolognesiI sampled the 2013 Manaresi Colli Bolognesi Classico Pignoletto, which was presented by a local Italian wine importer of the Boston area, Nick Mucci of Mucci Imports, whom specializes in promoting unique wines of Italy from small producers. The wine is produced from 20 year old vines that are hand harvested. This wine was an aromatic wine with a bouquet of green apple and pineapple notes.  Refreshing on the palate with good acidity.  A persistent finish with a hint of nuttiness.    

About Manaresi
Manaresi is a producer located in the town of Zola Predosa located south of Bologna owned by husband and wife team, Donatella and Fabio. The name Manaresi comes from the famous artist, Paolo Manaresi. His daughter bought the land, 20 acres (8 hectacres), in the 80's and built the vineyards and winery from scratch with their first wine production introduced in 2009.

This is a just a snapshot of this region, but don't stop there!  Join our other bloggers and their featured articles this month on Emilia Romagna.  

Cooking Chat – Wine Pairing for Bolognese Sauce Recipe
Food Wine Click – Prosciutto, Balsamico, Parmigiano; You Already Know Emilia Romagna
Curious Appetite - Food and Community in the Emilia Romagna
Enoflyz Wine Blog - A Taste of Emilia Romagna
Flavourful Tuscany – Emilia Romagna: lifestyle of joyful quality

Join us next month on Saturday February 7th as we travel to one of the most famous regions of Italy, my beloved Tuscany!  For additional Italian related blogs of food, wine and travel throughout the month stay tuned to #ItalianFWT. Ciao Ciao!

Sources: Mucci Imports

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

3rd Italian bloggers event featuring Emilia Romagna

We're here celebrating our 3rd Italian Food, Wine & Travel (#ItalianFWT) bloggers group and this month we travel to north central Italy to the region of Emilia Romagna! If you didn't get to join us last month we featured the Piedmont region and had great blogs to share. 

This group consists of bloggers that have a deep appreciation and passion for Italy whether it comes from their travels to Italy or their appreciation of the fine wines and amazing cuisine. 
Map of Emilia Romagna
The Emilia Romagna region is a region rich with some of the staples of Italian cuisine including prosciutto di parma, parmigiano reggiano and the traditional balsamic vinegar. This isn't a region well known for its wine, but it's best known for it's Lambrusco. Outside of food you have one of the oldest universities in the world with the University of Bologna, the Ferrari factory in Maranello and so much more.

We have a group of bloggers ready to share with you their insights into the region of Emilia-Romagna.  This Saturday January 17th will be our third event.  You can join us all day live on twitter Saturday at #ItalianFWT and make sure to check back at Vino Travels Saturday for a list of wonderful blogs to enjoy throughout your weekend.
Prosciutto di Parma
Here are our featured articles this month on Emilia Romagna:
Vino Travels – Pignoletto from Colli Bolognese & Emilia Romagna Delights

Cooking Chat – Wine Pairing for Bolognese Sauce Recipe
Food Wine Click – Prosciutto, Balsamico, Parmigiano; You Already Know Emilia Romagna
Curious Appetite - Food and Community in the Emilia Romagna
Flavourful Tuscany – Emilia Romagna: lifestyle of joyful quality
Enoflyz Wine Blog - A Taste of Emilia Romagna
Lambrusco di Emilia Romagna
There is still time to join before Saturday.  Please reach out to me at vinotravels at hotmail dot com.  Otherwise we would love to have you join us for next month's event and region to be announced Saturday!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Typical dishes and wine pairings from Puglia

Welcome to 2015 wine and food lovers! I can't believe it, but this is our 8th Wine Pairing Weekend. I'm not one for making New Years Resolutions, but this months Wine Pairing Weekend event's theme is just that so it made me contemplate what I would like to focus on this year in the world of wine. 

In efforts to become an Italian wine expert my focus at all times is consistently exploring each region and different grapes. Writing an Italian wine blog obviously gives away the fact that my new years resolution will be Italian wine related, but this year I would love to explore southern Italy more as its the area that I have traveled to personally the least so I'm more intrigued by the land, the food traditions and of course the wine. 

Southern Italy has made a lot of advancements in winemaking bringing back grapes that were almost extinct, lowering yields, introducing modern winemaking techniques. Italy as a whole can be overwhelming and it's almost impossible to be able to know all the hundreds of grape varieties grown throughout the country.

Puglia is a very flat and fertile land and best known for their bread production, olive oil and wine. Some of the best wine values are coming out of Italy and Puglia is definitely one of those regions. They are the highest wine production region in Italy alongside the Veneto region in northeastern Italy. In this region the majority of the wines you will find are red based that include grapes such as primitivo, negroamaro, uva di troia, malvasia nera, bombino nero, susumaniello, etc. For white grapes you'll see mostly bombino bianco, trebbiano toscano, verdeca, bianco d'alessano, etc.

Today I'm sharing with you a typical Pugliese dish including orecchiette with broccoli rabe known as orecchiette con la cima di rape. Today I'm replacing the orecchiette with another type of pasta as I actually had difficulty tracking down some orecchiette due to my lack of time. Due to the rich mineral soils in Puglia there are also a large amount of vegetables grown in this region such as eggplant, artichokes, fennel, tomatoes, etc. I also prepared as a side dish, contorni, a baked eggplant. All pretty simple dishes as a lot of Italian dishes can be, but full of flavor.  

I'm also recommending you take a look at another classic dish from Puglia, which would also be a lovely pairing with Primitivo from Marla's site, Bella Baita View, where she prepared homemade orecchiette made with braciole, which is a meat rolled in sauce.  As you'll see from her story it was prepared for a group of tunnel workers with some from Bari in Puglia that were helping to relieve some of the traffic for the 2006 Olympics held in Torino.  

You'll want to get the eggplant started first since it will take a little longer to bake in the oven for about 40-45 minutes.

Baked Eggplant

  • Set oven to 375 degrees
  • Slice eggplant the long way and brush with olive oil and salt
  • Top eggplant with a dusting of bread crumbs and then top with either fresh tomatoes or diced tomatoes. Retop with a dusting more of bread crumbs
  • Place in oven for about 40-45 minutes.
  • Optional to add some fresh mozzarella to the top and rebake until cheese is melted or else top with extra virgin olive oil

    Baked eggplant

Orecchiette with broccoli rabe / Orecchiette con la cima di rape

  • Boil pasta with salt added to the water
  • Saute garlic and oil in separate pan for preparation
  • Add the broccoli rabe to the boiling water with stems removed until softened
  • Remove broccoli rabe and add to garlic/oil mixture and saute together with cannellini beans
  • Add pasta to boiling water and cook to desired al dente time.
  • Remove pasta from water and add to saute pan and mixed with other ingredients
  • Top with fresh grated parmigiano

    Broccoli Rabi with Cannellini beans

    Baked eggplant from Puglia

Orecchiette con la cima

I chose to pair a primitivo with this dish, which is the most popular red grape of the region. I chose a value wine from this region that I had a tasting, which I got for about $12 a bottle. The wine is a 2011 Seratina Primitivo I.G.T. Primitivo for those of you don't know is actually related to a zinfandel and we're not talking white zin here folks, red zinfandel! This Seratina Primitivo was a fuller bodied wine paired with good acidity and deep blackberry notes. It had ripe fruit that showed well in the pairing with this dish ending with a nice finish. 

Orecchiette with broccoli rabi and Seratina Primitivo

Join the rest of the other #WinePW bloggers on their resolutions!

Sue from It’s Okay to Eat the Cupcake is pairing “Fiery Red & Icy White” - will the wine be red or white?

Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla has Argentina on her mind and is sharing “Empanadas Mendocinas + ’10 La Posta del Vi Ratero Malbec”.

Cindy of Grape Experience suggests starting the year with “Wine & Dine: Fontana Candida Terre de Grife 2012 Frascati & Slow Cooker Artichoke Dip”.

Shaina of Take A Bite Out of Boca is offering “Herb Marinated Mushrooms with Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon”.

William of Wild For Washington Wine is giving us “ A Resolution for Greek Wine, A Recipe for Avogolemeno”.

Martin from Enoflyz Wine Blog is shaking things up with “Skillet Kale Pasta & Seitan Pizza with Querceto Chianti Classico” 

Jade from Tasting Pour is pairing “Halter Ranch GSM and Duck with Cherry Sauce”.

Sarah that Curious Cuisiniere brings us “Chicken Cacciatore & Washington Merlot”.

Wendy from A Day on the Life of the Farm has a “New Year’s Wine Resolution of Prime Rib Roast with 2010 Cotes de Bourg”.

David of Cooking Chat Food is going Greek with “Greek Lamb Stew & Wine Pairing”.

Jeff from food wine click is focusing on “Wine & Food Resolution 2015: Italy Deep Dive”.

Michelle from Rockin Red Blog will be tempting us “My 2015 Wine Resolution: Diversity!”

And well, over here at Confessions of a Culinary Diva, we are focusing on the “Rhone Rangers & Paul Bocuse”.

Don’t forget to join us for our Twitter Chat on Saturday, January 10th at 8 a.m. using hashtag #winePW.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sensational Soave at Ribelle

This month I'm virtually taking you over to the Veneto region of Italy right from Boston.  Over this past month a new wine friend of mine, Jo-Ann Ross of Jross Wine, invited me to a “Sensational Soave” Master class held at Ribelle in Brookline, Massachusetts.  The class was taught by Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein and Giovanni Ponchia from the Soave Consortium, Consorzio Tutela Soave, in Italy.  The class consisted of a blind tasting of 10 different soave wines followed by an introduction and education on this particular area of the Veneto region of Italy.  The event was finished with 3 courses prepared by Ribelle and paired with a variety of soave wines from different producers.  Below are the delicious pairings from the event to make your mouth water.

Evan Goldstein
Giovanni Pocchia of Soave wines
First course

Yellow fin tuna crudo with tomato conserva, green tomato and furikake

2013 Cantina di Monteforte “Terre di Monteforte” Soave DOC

2013 Fattori Soave “Danieli” DOC

Second course

Orecchiette with littlenecks, black garlic, bok choy

2013 Fornaro Soave Classico DOC

2013 Suavia Soave Classico DOC

Third course

Chicken with buttermilk chawanmushi, endive and poppy seed

2012 Marcato Soave Classico Monte Tenda DOC

2011 Roccolo Grassi Soave La Broia DOC 

The soave wines that we tasted were very interesting as there was such a large variety of different styles due to circumstances such as some being aged in oak, different parts of the area where its produced that contains different soils, a couple were from older vintages and lastly a dessert wine, recioto di soave. 

Soave wine tasting

Attending this class and wine tasting is right up my alley as I love to explore the world of Italian wines through my blog , especially those that are unique.  I appreciate restaurants that can open up customers eyes through their recommendations to unique grapes such as the garganega grape that makes up the soave wine.  Many folks run to the common international varieties such as cabernet sauvignon, sauvignon blanc, merlot, etc. but there are so many impressive grapes within Italy that we have accessible here in Boston through wine shops and restaurants. 

Soave in the Veneto wine region
If you love white wines exploring the region of Soave in the Veneto region of Italy is a must.  You'll see from this article that it's a very versatile wine due to the variety of producers all making Soave in different styles.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year & Top 5 of 2014

Happy New Year!

Vino Travels Italian wine blog

I love the start of the New Year. A fresh start and lots of new ideas brewing for 2015. I started this blog almost a couple years ago and it has been such a wonderful journey. I have learned so much from the very beginning about the world of blogging in addition to wine itself. I'll be the first to claim I don't know everything about wine, but that's what this journey is all about for me and to share it with you. With hopes of passing my Italian wine certification program this year, sharing more interviews with winemakers to share their stories and traditions and reading more on all the other wonderful blogs on Italian wine, I look forward to the year ahead. I have lots of personal goals set for myself for this year with my blog and it's very motivating and encouraging for me to receive all the support from my readers. In addition to my blog to everyone for the holidays, I wanted to thank you again and wish everyone a happy and most important healthy new year. Welcome 2015!
Italian wine blog

I wanted to share with you my top, most visited blogs from 2014. Something to enjoy throughout this relaxing day.