¡Oh Tierra del Sol! Suspiro por verte

¡Qué lejos estoy del suelo donde he nacido!
inmensa nostalgia invade mi pensamiento;
y al verme tan solo y triste cual hoja al viento,
quisiera llorar, quisiera morir de sentimiento.
¡Oh Tierra del Sol! Suspiro por verte
ahora que lejos yo vivo sin luz, sin amor;
y al verme tan solo y triste cual hoja al viento,
quisiera llorar, quisiera morir de sentimiento.

Dispensa Pani e Vini: an extraordinary meal, once again #Franciacorta

perch crudoIf pressed to reveal my favorite restaurant in the world, there would be many that could come close but none that could touch Vittorio Fusari’s Dispensa Pani e Vini in Franciacorta.

I wish I had time to recount my meal and conversation with Chef Vittorio in its entirety. But for the time being, these images will just have to do.

That’s a sturgeon pâté atop a tench tartare on a bed of raw tomato, above.

best caviar russiaLombard sturgeon caviar over potato purée in savory pastry.

Did you know that Brescia province is one of the world’s top producers of caviar? It’s a fascinating story that I’ll share when I have more time.

barone pizzini rosato franciacorta bestThe 2010 Barone Pizzini Franciacorta Rosato sang in the glass last night. This wine is going to be a big hit for my friend and client Silvano Brescianini, the winery’s GM.

best spaghetti recipe italySpaghetti with green beans and cured coregone (fresh water European white fish), simply stupendous.

The thing about eating Vittorio’s food is that it’s so thoughtful and so wholesome: you feel great the next day even after over-eating.

Thank you again, Chef Vittorio and Silvano, for an unforgettable evening.

Do you know the way to Valdobbiadene? That’s where I’m heading next…

Tongue, tripe & stuffed cabbage at old-school Osteria della Villetta #Franciacorta

tongueSuper fun lunch yesterday at the very old-school Osteria della Villetta in Palazzolo sull’Oglio, which lies on the very western edge of Franciacorta.

That’s the thinly sliced and delicately dressed tongue, above.

tripeThe tripe was tender and rich with flavor.

I didn’t get a good photo of the cabbage stuffed with finely ground pork but it was another highlight.

best cheese franciacortaThe aged stracchino (with the dark rind in the middle) was off-the-charts good.

Spectacular meal at Lido 84 on Lake Garda

roman garum recipeReally blown away by Riccardo Camanini’s cooking last night at Lido 84 on Lake Garda just outside Salò.

Those are cheese-stuffed pasta “buttons” (above) swimming in eel garum (the fermented fish sauce adored by the ancient Romans).

cardoon soup recipeWarm cardoon purée with shaved salt-cured anchovy.

sous vide leek recipeGiant leek (I believe cooked sous-vide) with snails. One of my top dishes of the year.

cannoli recipe largeLoved the presentation of this giant cannolo.

Riccardo’s cooking is brilliant. And his staff world-class.

Gotta run. Thanks for being here…

Great Sunday lunch at Genuisì on Monte Orfano #Franciacorta

franciacorta geographyI really loved our long Sunday lunch yesterday at Genuisì on Monte Orfano, which overlooks Franciacorta (you can see the village of Erbusco in the foreground in the photo above and Lake Iseo beyond). Here’s what we ate…

casoncelliCasoncelli stuffed with prosciutto and herbs.

orechietteOrecchiette with broccoli florets and Bagòss, a local crumbly cheese, a “north-south” fusion dish.

risottoRisotto with radicchio and sausage. The cinnamon in the sausage really took this dish over the top.

barbarescoAlways a thrill for me to settle in with a new vintage of Produttori del Barbaresco. It was my second chance to taste this wine. I think it’s going to be a great one for the winery.

horse steakHorse steak dressed with olive oil, flatleaf parsley, and lemon.

Best hamburger recipe (ever?) and rocking show @BrothersPontiak #Brescia

From the department of “so much time and so little to eat”…

best hamburger recipePosting in a super hurry today from the road in Franciacorta…

Just had to have a burger and beer at Bar Torre d’Ercole in Brescia on Saturday night.

Here’s the thing: they’re now making there burgers with dry-aged Chianina and roughly 10 percent ground uncured pork belly in the mix.

Definitely one of the best burgers I’ve ever had.

Italians are hamburger-crazy these days and I wasn’t surprised when I was wowed, once again, by the burger at Torre d’Ercole. Brescia province has always been an epicenter for beef, I’ve learned.

pontiak italyAs fate would have it, my friends, the Brothers Pontiak, were playing Brescia that night and so we caught their super-packed show.

I don’t know how they do it but they tour with Steve Albini’s backline while in Europe. How cool is that?

They have a huge following in Italy and the show was awesome.

That’s all I have time for this morning. Stay tuned…

On the road again…

innsbruckAbove: Innsbruck, Tryol (Austria) as seen from the air. When I was in my twenties, the view would have thrilled me. Today, it makes me pine for my family.

The unbridled curiosity of youth took me to Europe in my twenties when I spent a decade alternating school years between Los Angeles, Padua, Pisa, and Rome. There was always a scholarship or fellowship (including the Fulbright) that delivered me across the Atlantic and there was always a summer gig in Proseccoland that fed me when the grant money ran out.

A decade in New York followed and so did the yearly trips to the old world. Those were years, too, when I regularly hit the road with rock bands. Back then, I’d drive to Cleveland or even Detroit from the east coast in a straight shot with a van-load of drums and guitar amps.

Today, the thought of departing for Europe fills me with unease.

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Wine highlights from last week in California

jeremy parzen prosecco col fondoThanks to everyone who came out to my Bele Casel tastings in California! And special thanks to Jill at DomaineLA in Los Angeles and Jayne and Jon at Jaynes in San Diego for hosting.

Prosecco Colfòndo is always a great excuse to get together and reconnect. It was super fun to taste with you.

Of course, I tasted a lot of wines while out in California. Here are some of the highlights.

praesidium 1998 montepulciano abruzzo bestThe 1998 Praesidium Montepulciano d’Abruzzo was stunning, fresh and bright in the glass with evolved tannin. So glad to see these compelling wines in California.

gatti prosecco col fondoIt was also great to see that Carolina Gatti’s Prosecco Col Fondo is now available in my home state. There are now a handful of Col Fondo wines in the U.S. and the number continues to grow. Hers fall on the crunchier side of the category and I love them (she’s also the sweetest lady and very active on social media).

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