Trulli yours, New York: 97 Barolo Massara and Ben’s new movie

October 26, 2012

best apulian pugliese restaurant

Last night found Alice, Paolo (in the photo above, left), and me at the table of New York restaurant maven Nicola Marzovilla (above, right), whose landmark I Trulli Enoteca e Ristorante has been one of the city’s culinary standbys since the late 1990s (when I first moved to New York).

We were joined by my good friend Ben (above, center) whose new movie, Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters, will be shown at the great cinema d’essai, Film Forum, starting October 31.

(Click here for the trailer and click here for screening info and see the synopsis of the film below.)

Nicola’s been returning to his roots, he said, as we enjoyed his mother’s cavatelli with broccoli raab and orecchiette with rabbit and tomato. He’s running the kitchen these days and the menu has returned to its original mandate of classic Apulian (Pugliese) cuisine with flourishes of Sicilian and Sardinian.

We also got to taste Nicola’s new wines, including the amphora-aged rosé from Sangiovese grown on Nicola’s small property in Impruneta (not far from Florence). I loved this wine, bright and fresh and very food-friendly.

But the show-stopper was this 1997 Castello di Verduno Barolo Massara. Surprisingly tight and ungenerous with its fruit, it showed beautifully as it opened up, with notes of spearmint on the nose and dark earth in the mouth (it reminded me in style of the great wines of Giuseppe Mascarello).

Congrats, Ben, on the new film (I saw it in Austin at SXSW, where it was one of the most talked about films in the festival) and congrats, Nicola, on the new wines…

Now it’s time to get my butt back to Texas… There’ll be more New York stories coming just as soon as I get my feet back on the ground and wrap my arms around my girls… thanks for following along…

*****

Gregory Crewdson’s riveting photographs are elaborately staged, elegant narratives compressed into a single, albeit large-scale image, many of them taken at twilight, set in small towns of Western Massachusetts or meticulously recreated interior spaces, built on the kind of sound stages associated with big-budget movies. Ben Shapiro’s fascinating profile of the acclaimed Berkshire-based artist includes stories of his Park Slope childhood (in which he tried to overhear patients of his psychologist father), his summers in the bucolic countryside (which he now imbues with a sense of dread and foreboding), and his encounter with Diane Arbus’s work in 1972 at age 10. Novelists Rick Moody and Russell Banks, and fellow photographer Laurie Simmons, comment on the motivation behind their friend’s haunting images. But Crewdson remains his own best critic: “Every artist has one central story to tell. The struggle is to tell and retell that story over again – and to challenge that story. It’s the defining story of who you are.”


Some best bubbles and life beyond Prosecco…

December 29, 2009

Above: I took this photo earlier this year atop Cartizze, the most prestigious growing site for Prosecco, where the cost of land per acre is higher than in Napa Valley. In 1998, Tom Stevenson wrote that Prosecco is “probably the most overrated sparkling wine grape in the world” (The Encyclopedia of Champagne & Sparkling Wine, reprint 2003).

Xenophobe and racist Italian agriculture minister Luca Zaia has infamously and nationalistically asked Italians to drink only Italian sparkling wine for their New Year’s celebration this year. His campanilistic call comes in part as the result of a backlash from last year’s nationalized television controversy when the announcers of RAI Uno opened Champagne during a televised New Year’s eve event.

Of course, Zaia is also infamous for the favoritism he’s shown for his beloved Prosecco this year. He even created the Prosecco DOCG, placing the humble Prosecco grape in the pantheon of the top classification, before Common Market Organisation reforms took effect this year.

Above: Italy produces such a wonderful variety of sparkling wines, from the humble yet beloved Prosecco to the often regal, zero-dosage Franciacorta. Franco and I tasted an amazing array of sparkling wines last year together at Ca’ del Bosco.

Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE Prosecco. And I love the place where it produced and the people who produce it. Just ask Alfonso: he remembers well how I guided us to Valdobbiadene from Trento earlier this year, without ever looking at a map, my Trevisan cadence getting stronger and stronger as my beloved Piave river and its tributaries came into earshot. You see, many years ago, I made my living traveling along the Piave river, from Padua to Belluno, playing American music for pub crawlers.

Above: One of the best champagne-method wines I’ve tasted in recent memory was this Franciacorta rosé by Camossi. Structure, toasty notes and fresh fruit flavors, bright acidity and fine bubbles, an excellent pairing for all the lake fish, smoked, pickled, and roasted, that Franco, Giovanni, Ben, and I ate one fateful night in Erbusco.

But there are so many wonderful sparkling Italian wines beyond Prosecco (Sommariva and Coste Piane are my two favorite expressions of Prosecco available right now in this country). Franciacorta is the first obvious destination but there are so many other producers of fine sparkling white wines made from indigenous and international grape varieties: champagne-method Erbaluce from Carema in Piedmont (Orsolani), Charmat-method Favorita from Mango in Piedmont (Tintero), champagne-method Pinot Noir from Emilia (Lini), Charmat-method Moscato known as Moscadello di Montalcino from Tuscany (Il Poggione), a rosé blend of Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir from Langa in Piedmont (Deltetto)… Those are the first that come to mind but there are many, many others. Sparkling wines are produced in nearly every region of Italy, from the sparkling Chardonnay and Pinot Noir of Trentino and South Tyrol to sparkling Ribolla of Friuli and the sparkling Verdicchio of the Marches. Once, I even tasted a sparkling Nerello Mascalese from Sicily that had been vinified as a white wine (but I can’t recall the producer… please let me know if you know one).

Above: Hand-riddled magnums of Chardonnay for Ca’ del Bosco’s Franciacorta.

Why do we feel obliged to drink something sparkling on New Year’s eve, anyway? I’m sure the answer lies somewhere between the royal court of Britain, the Czars, Napoleon’s vinous invasion of Russia, and some enterprising Germans who set up shop in Champagne in the 19th century.

Tracie B and I still haven’t decided what we’re going to open on New Year’s but I’m sure it’ll be something good.

On deck for tomorrow…

Best Champagne and other French sparkling values by guest blogger BrooklynGuy.

And in the meantime, please check out Tom’s post today on “classy sparkling wines.”


Keeping the world safe for Italian wine

August 7, 2009

Above: Franco Ziliani and I tasted some fantastic Franciacorta together last September in Erbusco (before Tracie B convinced me to shave my mustache). Franco has been a great friend, a mentor, and an inspiration. I am proud to be his partner at VinoWire. Photo by Ben Shapiro.

Just keeping the world safe for Italian wine… that’s what we do around here.

It was one helluva way to wake up this morning in sleepy La Jolla — where Botox trumps micro ox — to find that the editors at Decanter.com had decided to publish our post on recent developments in Montalcino and subsequent reports by the Italian media.

I’m glad we got a chance to set the record straight and that I can drink my Vino Nobile tonight with Tracie B at Jaynes knowing that the world is safe for Sangiovese (or maybe we’ll drink the 2007 Selvapiana Chianti Rufina, which is showing gorgeously right now).

In other news…

If you’re planning on attending the San Diego Natural Wine Summit this Sunday at Jaynes, please email the restaurant to reserve. We’re almost at capacity and we’ll have to turn people away if they don’t have tickets. Click here for details and to reserve.


Ending on a high note: a swig of Bolly to wash it all down

February 11, 2009

bollinger99

Above: Bonnie Day (Emily Welsch) and Jean-Luc Retard (Dan Crane) at the end of our sold-out show in New York on Monday night. Official Sponsor Bollinger (our only endorsement… no Ibanez guitars here!) provided us with a few bottles to end NN+’s “tourette” on a high note.

Touring is never easy and we were all pretty beat by the time we got to NYC for the final show of our tourette, as it was dubbed.

me_ry

Above: Me (Cal d’Hommage) and Maurice Chevrolet (Ryan Williams) in the green room before the show. Ben Shapiro, seated between us.

Yesterday our new record Ménagerie hit number 22 on the college radio charts. We’ve never debuted so strongly and I can’t conceal that I am thrilled at the response to the record.

crowd

Above: A view from the stage at the show. Thanks everyone for coming out on a Monday night.

A hearty thanks to everyone who came out. Check out JT’s take on the show (thanks for the shout-out, man!).

cavatelli

Above: Cavatelli with broccoli raab at Centovini in SoHo.

Tracie B, Prof. Harry Covert (Greg Wawro) and his lady Eileen, and Ben Shapiro and I convened at Centovini in SoHo for a light dinner (much needed after saucisson lyonnais!) and 2006 Pelaverga by Castello di Verduno before the show. Times may be tough in the NYC restaurant world these days but Nicola Marzovilla’s mother Dora’s cavatelli are always a winner in my book. The 06 Pelaverga had a richer mouthfeel (more corposo, you would say in Italian) than in previous vintages I’ve tasted. I like the way that winemaker Mario Andrion is making it even more rustic in style. A great food-friendly wine that will pair well with a variety of dishes.

Thanks everyone for visiting Do Bianchi, all the well wishes and the kind words about the tourette. Tracie B and I are back in Austin and tomorrow I’ll start posting about our enogastronomic adventures.

On deck for tomorrow: “The Best Pork Store in New York City.”

Stay tuned…


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