The best Prosecco tasting ever…

and the best tasting Prosecco ever…

In the canon of Italian wine writing, you often find tasters who express the emotion that a wine evokes. In Italian vinography, when a writer uses the descriptor emozionante, the term denotes that a wine was moving, thrilling, stirring, exciting…

Such was the case yesterday at one of the most extraordinary tastings that Tracie P and I have ever attended: yesterday, my friend Riccardo Zanotto, whom I first met back in 1992 when I was playing an American cover band in the Veneto, organized a “Prosecco Colfòndo” tasting with five producers of bottle-fermented lees-aged Prosecco — just for us.

Today, I don’t have the time to post my copious notes from the event but I will as soon as I have some downtime. In the meantime, as Tracie P and I head to Venice to celebrate our first wedding anniversary, I’d like to thank Riccardo and the other producers for what was truly one of the most thrilling wine events I’ve ever attended. In part, because I feel a deep connection to Prosecco, the land of Prosecco, the culture of Prosecco, and the people of Prosecco. In part, because the wines are truly OUTSTANDING. A remarkable and truly thrilling wine event for us.

Škerk: the next big thing from Carso?

When it comes to orange wine, “big” is a relative term… but when Tracie P and I tasted Škerk’s salty Malvazija last night with Marisa and Giorgio and Steve, we knew we were onto something big. We hear that Škerk is going to the U.S. later this month and is looking for an importer. There is no doubt in my mind that his labels will soon join the ranks of those produced by Radikon, Gravner, Zidarich, Vodopivec, Damijan et alia. Utterly fantastic wine…

We ate at Nane della Giulia in the historical center of Padua, a restaurant where I used to have a weekly gig (no kidding!) back in my student days. Tracie P had the radicchio in saor (above).

I had the grilled horse meat salami with white polenta and cabbage. Nane della Giulia isn’t exactly a restaurant “to write home about” but it was great to revisit this historic tavern. In another era, it was at the center of Padua’s rich goliardic tradition. And wow, so many great memories of my early years as a student in Italy.

The food was good and the restaurant packed on a Saturday night. Worth it if only for the nighttime stroll through the beautiful medieval porticoes that lead to this magical neighborhood, like a scene from The Name of the Rose

Headed today to Valdobbiadene to taste some Prosecco Colfondo: unyeasted, less-aged Glera… merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream!

How saor it is to be loved by you…

Sarde in saor, “sour” Venetian-style sardines marinated with onions, pine nuts, and raisins… and baccalà mantecato, creamed salt cod and fried polenta… at Il Calandrino, the bar annex of one of Europe’s top restaurants and home to its youngest 3-Michelin-star chef, Le Calandre, just outside of Padua.

Accompanied by Ca’ del Bosco’s NV Franciacorta Rosé… fan-friggin-tastic!

Le Calandre is a little pricey for Tracie P and me this time around (and our anniversary tomorrow in Venice is our “splurge” night). But we did take a peak at the dining room of this storied restaurant in the most unlikely of working-class neighborhoods in the outskirts of the city. So little time and so many great things to eat!

The baccalà lamps at Le Calandre’s reception. Who knew that stockfish could be so sexy?

Padua! Our first sip of Prosecco like a first kiss

Except for a tight connection in Paris, our trip has been seamless so far: we arrived this morning in Padua (Padova), checked into our hotel, and made a beeline for the legendary Bar dei Osei, a tiny hole-in-the-wall sandwich place in the Palazzo della Ragione.

I can’t even begin to express the thrill of tasting this first sip of Prosecco with Tracie P in Padua, where I spent so many years of my life studying and playing music! It was just a clean, bright commercial Prosecco but man was it sweet on her lips… like a first kiss…

Tramezzino tonno e uovo sodo (tuna and hard-boiled egg) and tramezzino con la verdura cruda (raw vegetables), the latter a specialty of the Bar dei Osei. Isn’t it wonderful how some things never change? Took me back literally 20+ years!

Glorious radicchio! Radicchio trevigiano, radicchio di Castelfranco, radicchietto

The signore were out and about doing their Saturday morning food shopping at the many vendors underneath the Salone, as the Palazzo della Ragione is known. You can always tell where the best stuff is to be found: just look for the lines!

She hasn’t had a chance yet, but Tracie P is excited about her first taste of sfilacci di cavallo cured, shredded horse meat.

O how I love the Veneto… We also made it to see Giotto’s Scrovegni Chapel, which I hadn’t seen since the restoration was completed. Even more stunning than when I first saw it all those years ago…

We open in Venice… Tracie P and I head to Italy!

We open in Venice,
We next play Verona,
Then on to Cremona.
Lotsa laughs in Cremona.
Our next jump is Parma,
That dopey, mopey menace,
Then Mantua, then Padua,
Then we open again, where?

Seriously, we do open in Venice: this morning finds Tracie P and me on our way to Italy. We land tomorrow morning in Venice and then head to Padua (yes, Padua, not Padova, as the city is called in the language of Shakespeare!) where I’ll be taking Tracie P on a tour of my alma mater, l’Università di Padova. On this trip, we’ll be in Venice, Padua, Valdobbiadene, Valpolicella, and Friuli. And then I’ll be staying on to lead a group of bloggers to the Colli Orientali del Friuli, the eastern hills of Friulian wine country.

We have a pretty amazing itinerary ahead, with visits to lots of groovy wineries and restaurants. And, our anniversary! We’ll be dining in Venice that night… :-)

See Tracie P’s post here…

WARNING: lots of yummy, stinky, crunchy, deliciously lip-smacking wine ahead… thanks for reading ya’ll! See you on the other side!

Old school eggplant “parm” with top Texas wine blogger

Managed to catch up last week with top Texas wine blogger Russ Kane and his delightful wife Delia for some old school eggplant “parmigiano” and a Texas vs. Italy vinous showdown at the legendary Patrenella’s in Houston.

Russ is a fascinating guy and his experience as a veteran technical writer in the energy industry gives him some interesting insights into the technical side of winemaking. And when it comes to the Texas wine industry, Russ is the MAN and his blog is the top resource in the field.

Patrenella’s is as old-school Italian American as they come, a kitschy Coppola movie set with all the classics of the gastronomic category. When I asked the waiter if they had spaghetti and meatballs, he rolled his eyes and said, “did you look at the menu?”

O yeah, and the showdown? Ubi major minor cessat: see Russ’s post here.