¡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…

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…

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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Sicily, the Middle East, and Greece all in one plate at République

San Diegans, please come out and taste with me tomorrow at Jaynes Gastropub, where I’ll be pouring five wines, including Bele Casel Prosecco Colfòndo. Click here for details.

republique best restaurant los angelesI’m not the first or the only to be entirely wowed by Walter Manzke’s cooking. But HOLY CRAP this was good at République in LA last night!

That’s “yellow fin tuna, celery root hummus, blood orange oil, pomegranate, pistachio, mint, and purslane.”

It was like tasting Sicily, the Middle East, and Greece all in one plate. The purslane took it over the top for me.

massican best california white wineI was also very geeked to finally taste the Massica Annia, a wine that so many people are talking about these days.

It’s not hard to understand why it’s been such a hit among the “in” crowd: freshness, clarity of fruit, zinging but balanced acidity, and restrained food-friendly alcohol.

Beverage director Taylor Parsons, one of the top wine people is LA in my book, is now managing the restaurant as well and man, it continues to thrill me each time I visit.

Chapeau bas, Taylor! You’re at the top of your game and I’m loving every minute of it.

Ok, gotta run now and taste some more wine. Thanks for being here. Come out and taste with me tomorrow in San Diego if you’re in town!

Hallelujah! The new Lou in Los Angeles

lou amdur wine los felizAbove: the new Lou, the amazing Lou Amdur’s newly opened wine shop in Los Feliz (Los Angeles).

Yesterday, I braved two hours in grid-lock traffic to get from the westside of Los Angeles to Los Feliz to see Lou Amdur’s new wine shop. It’s getting tougher to get around in LA these days but I just had to make the pilgrimage.

Lou and his now closed and sorely missed wine bar/restaurant, Lou on Vine, have played a vital and vibrant role in the U.S. wine community and wine discourse (not to mention my own wine life).

And so, however pressed for time on this trip to California, I wasn’t going to miss a visit to the new shop, where the focus is on “natural and unusual” and value-driven, wholesome wines (I picked up a bottle of 2012 Nosiola by Castel Noarna for under $25).

lou amdur wine shop los angelesThe thing about Lou is that not only is he one of our community’s leading and most meticulous tasters and taste-makers, he is also one of the most tender-hearted human beings I have ever met.

During the short time we visited yesterday, he told his co-worker and me a story about a guest at the old Lou on Vine that brought us both to bittersweet-tasting tears with the narrative’s denouement.

I wish I had more time today to share our conversation and my impressions of his wonderful new shop. But I’m so slammed with work that I’ll just point you to his site and blog where it’s easy to get lost in the rabbit hole of his curious mind and sensitive palate.

Now it’s time for me to get back to the fleur de sel mine. Thanks for reading. Check out Lou’s shop next time you’re in LA.

Chi Spacca in LA, I really liked it

chi spacca esquire magazinePosting in a flurry this morning from the road in LA, where I poured my client Bele Casel’s Prosecco Colfòndo last night at DomaineLA.

After the tasting, which was super fun, a group of us — food and wine professionals and music trade folks — headed to the newish Chi Spacca across the street on Melrose (at Highland).

I really liked this latest Silverton-Batali-Bastianich concept, a pseudo-butchershop and salumeria affair: there were no celebrities, you could hear your dining companions speak, and the food was simple, pure, and wholesome.

I was geeked to find Ca’ Lojera Lugana del Lupo (from Turbiana or Trebbiano di Lugana) on the list at a reasonable price. Paired nicely with the delicious focaccia di Recco, a favorite dish among restaurant trade people, I learned.

Ok, gotta run and taste… Thanks for being here.