Mother, wife, lover, partner: happy anniversary and thank you for the best years of my life…

jeremy parzen wifeTracie P, my goodness, we’ve been married for 6 years!

Today, January 31, marks the day that we were wed in La Jolla. Happy anniversary, my love, and thank you for what have been — by far and beyond — the best six years of my life.

As I was mulling over what I wanted to write in my happy anniversary blogication to you, I started to think about the word best, the superlative adjective, an absolute used to describe something that surpasses all others like it.

These years have been the best: our coming together, our engagement, marriage, and first home; our children and the business that we have built together.

Now that Georgia P is 4 and Lila Jane is 2 and a half (and no longer a toddler), a new chapter of our lives is beginning to unfold.

In the wake the frenetic, hectic, and often exhausting but always exhilarating early years of child rearing, you and I are beginning to take evenings out again. We’ve begun to travel a bit — two days here, three days here. And we’ve begun to have a little more time to ourselves at home.

These years certainly have been the best of my life — until now.

“Until now” because I know that we have many “best” years ahead of us, too. They won’t surpass those that came before them, no. They will be remembered, I am sure, side-by-side with years past, like time in a bottle, as rich and as rewarding and as fulfilling as the first chapters in our book of life.

As I look back today on the last year of our life in marriage, I remember that even the toughest moments of the last 12 months have been eclipsed by the joy that you bring into all our lives. And I know that I can face any challenge or adversity that may lay ahead because I have you by my side, the best partner I could have ever hoped for and the most beautiful woman I could have ever dreamed of.

I love you Tracie P — mother, wife, lover, and partner. Happy anniversary!

Wilted grapes: Corvinone at La Dama destined to become Recioto

wilted grape amarone reciotoReally interesting tour and tasting yesterday at La Dama in Negrar with grower and winemaker Gabriele Dalcanale.

Organic farming and native yeast produce grapes with brilliant aromas and electric flavors.

The winemaking leans modern but shows a focus, clarity, and transparency that stand out in this appellation.

I loved the 2011 Recioto. One of the best wines I tasted yesterday.

Punta di vitello al forno, where have you been all my life?

punta vitello al forno recipePosting in a hurry this morning as Alfonso and I head out to our first appointment of the day from our hotel in Parma. Tonight we’ll be sleeping in Montalcino and then on to Verona for the Amarone debut event.

But I just had to share this image of a punta di vitello al forno, a classic dish served to us last night by my friend Alessandro Ceci who hosted us at his home.

It’s a veal breast that has been stuffed with a filling similar to that used to stuff anolini, the classic filled pasta served in Parma in stock (akin to Bologna’s tortellini or Reggio Emilia’s cappelletti).

The ingredients for the stuffing are exactly the same although the prosciutto is omitted.

Alessandro’s mother explained to me that she stuffs a capon’s stomach with the mixture of bread and cheese and then cooks it in the beef and capon stock that she will use to serve her anolini.

“The stuffing gives some of its flavor to the stock,” she explained, “and the stock gives some of its flavor to the stuffing.”

Punta di vitello al forno, where have you been all my life?

What an incredible dish!

Mandatory pairing: Lambrusco.

That’s all I have time for today. Stay tuned… And thank you again, Ceci family, for an extraordinary dinner and super fun evening. What a great way to begin our trip!

Miami, a truly extraordinary food and wine experience for people like us

baccala croquettes recipeLet me put it this way: as soon as I walked in the door, back home from my trip to Miami to lead a Franciacorta Real Story tasting there last week, I told Tracie P that I need to take her there. The food and wine experience was that good.

Those are the baccalà croquettes (above) at Heath Porter’s Uvaggio wine bar and restaurant.

My recommendation? Run don’t walk. Really, superb…

roussanne from savoie savoyHeath blew me away with the wines “he just happened to have open by the glass,” from the esoteric and geeky (Japan’s native grape variety!) to classic and homey (my night ended with COS Ramì).

That’s a Roussanne (above), known as Bergeron in Savoie, France, where Domaine Jean Vullien produces this excellent wine.

The only thing I liked more than the food at Uvaggio was Heath’s chill attitude and the way he expanded my wine knowledge exponentially and thoughtfully with a single flight of by-the-glasses. I can’t wait to take Tracie P there…

wolfe wine shop wolfes miami coral gablesAnother stellar discovery for me was Jeffrey Wolfe and his Wolfe’s Wine Shop. He had been recommended to me by our mutual and semi-virtual friend Jaime Smith of Vegas (who never misses a beat when it comes to connecting the right people, btw).

When I walked in to get ready for our Thursday night Franciacorta tasting, they were sipping Foradori and chewing the wine fat.

Wolfe’s is one of those wine shops where people like you and me immediately feel at home. If you like Lou and Domaine LA in Los Angeles, if you like Chambers St. Wines in NYC or Boulder Wine Merchant, this is your and my kind of place.

And the coolest thing was the general level of wine culture shared by both the staff and the guests at Wolfe’s. Nearly everyone grilled me with questions about Franciacorta and the individual wines we poured. There didn’t seem to be anyone who was just there to get their drink on for free on a Thursday early evening.

Jeffrey, I can’t thank you enough. I hope it was as good for you as it was for me.

best cuban sandwich miamiMany of the people I interacted with conceded that this little strip on Coral Gables’ Miracle Mile is an anomaly in Miami and that it’s not reflective of the overarching wine scene there.

But add the local cuisine and party scene to the mix and you have a wine and food destination that really can’t be beat, at least in my book.

That’s the Cubano that I ordered at the bar at my hotel (above). When I arrived, I needed to get online right away to finish a rush translation job and I was bummed that I didn’t have time to go to Calle Ocho for something a little more groovy.

But, man, this sandwich fired on every cylinder. From the classic Cuban bread (that you just can’t seem to get unless you’re in this part of the world) to the quality of the ham and the assembly.

versailles little havana miami best bakeryThe next morning, I had an early breakfast at the famous Versailles (above), where everyone speaks English fluently but Spanish is the language de rigueur. I love the sweet cadence of Cuban Spanish, so much more genteel than my Poblano- and So. Cal-inflected and extremely modest command of the language.

Jugo de naranja just sounds so sexy in Cubano!

seared wahoo recipeLastly, as I was looking for good wifi in the vicinitly of the Ft. Lauderdale airport (where I flew in and out of), I literally stumbled on to this awesome fresh fish market and deli called Finster Murphy’s.

Reminiscent of one of my favorite places in my hometown of La Jolla, El Pescador, I had to go for the seared Wahoo. Gorgeous and super tasty.

I can’t think of better way to end the trip before heading to the airport, which is literally around the corner.

That’s a mouthful of a post and all I have time for today: I just landed in Italy where I’ll be visiting a handful of estates in northern and central regions and attending the Amarone vintage debut in Verona. Stay tuned… It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it.

He ain’t heavy: uncle and brother Tad, thank you for coming to see us in Houston @tadsethparzen

tad parzenBrother and uncle Tad, there are so many things that I want to tell you and share with you.

But right now I just want to thank you for bringing your family to Houston to spend a long weekend with us last weekend. That meant the world to me, Tracie P, and the girls.

Thinking about the time we spent together in Texas, so many songs from our childhood and adolescence brim in my mind. But today, I’m thinking of another song. This one, every last word of it, is for you…

The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows when
But I’m strong
Strong enough to carry him
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

So on we go
His welfare is of my concern
No burden is he to bear
We’ll get there
For I know
He would not encumber me
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

If I’m laden at all
I’m laden with sadness
That everyone’s heart
Isn’t filled with the gladness
Of love for one another

It’s a long, long road
From which there is no return
While we’re on the way to there
Why not share
And the load
Doesn’t weigh me down at all
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

He’s my brother
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother…

Slow Wine Tasting February 1 in Austin (public service announcement)

From the department of “rocket science”…

slow wine tour 2016 usa“Forgive me if this is a bit impertinent,” wrote Alder Yarrow on the Slow Wine magazine website on January 8, 2016, “but the tasting in San Francisco is less than 20 days away, and there is no reference anywhere on this web site, or elsewhere on the internet about where consumers (never mind the trade or the press) could buy tickets if they wanted to actually attend…”

Alder, one of the leading wine writers in America today and a pioneer among wine bloggers, was lamenting the fact that the PR firm who is supposedly promoting the upcoming Slow Wine guide tour of the U.S. has done virtually nothing to raise awareness of the events.

In the wine-loving public’s interest, Giancarlo Gariglio, the guide’s co-editor-in-chief, has created this page for the Austin, Texas tasting, which takes place on February 1.

It includes a list of the wineries who will be presenting their wines (THANK YOU, Giancarlo!) as well a link to the Eventbright that allows you to register.

For the sake of expedience, here are the event details (including the new venue, which was recently changed by the organizers):

February 1, 2016
1-5 p.m.
Ironwood Hall
505 E. 7th Street
Austin TX 78701
Google map

I’m looking forward to catching up with Giancarlo when his crew visits Texas… And I hope to see you there and get the opportunity to taste with you.

And Colangelo PR, please keep up the good work!

Image via the Slow Wine Facebook.

A new Master’s program in wine culture (where I’ll be teaching)

Taste Franciacorta with me
at Wolfe’s Wine Shoppe
click here for details

pollenzo university gastronomic sciencesIt gives me great pleasure to share the news that the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo (Piedmont) is now offering a Master’s degree in Wine Culture.

And I am thrilled to be part of it: later this year I will be one of the instructors teaching “Wine Journalism and Wine Blogging.”

I guess my Ph.D. in Italian is worth something after all!

Seriously, I’m very geeked that my good friend Michele Antonio Fino (below), who teaches food law and policy there, asked me to be part of the program.

Other instructors include Michele (whom I admire immensely, especially for his command of Latin and his work in shaping food policy in Italy), Massimo Montanari (a pioneering Italian food historian and one of my heroes), Maurizio Gily (one of the leading enologists and wine writers in Italy today), Armando Castagno (one of Italy’s top technical tasters and one the Italian wine world’s greatest lecturers), and Alessandro Morichetti (my Italian blogging counterpart, who loves to stir the pot at Intravino, Italy’s most popular wine blog).

But these are just a handful of the Italian wine thinkers with whom students will get the opportunity to interact over the course of 500 hours of study.

Pretty cool, right?

You can read the complete overview of the program in English here.

Michele, the best part is going to be having the chance to spend some time with you on campus! We’re finally going to get to watch “Anchor Man” together!

E mi raccomando: proiezione in lingua inglese senza sottotitoli! Così mi spiegherai l’etimologia del toponimo “San Diego” (il mio loco natio).

michele fino pollenzo

Asshole wine blogger? Yeah, that would be me and proud of it.

benetton handcuffs adAbove: an image from Oliviero Toscani’s 1989 United Colors of Benetton campaign (via the Benetton corporate website).

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a nationally observed holiday in the U.S.

The commemoration has different meanings for different people. For me personally, it’s a day to reflect on love and hate, mercy and accountability, healing and division, what came before us and what lies ahead… We’ve come a long way but we sure have a long way to go. That’s the way I see it.

There couldn’t be a better day to stand up for and stand by what I believe in my heart and what I have written here on my blog, Do Bianchi — a diary of my life, my family, my work, and my thoughts.

Last week, I began receiving a tide of messages from wine trade colleagues informing me that a California-based importer of Italian wines had repeatedly made reference to me as “the asshole blogger” and “blogger stronzo” who has led a “conspiracy” against a Friulian winemaker (blogger stronzo means literally turd blogger in Italian, the equivalent of asshole blogger). The importer in question is now importing the Friulian winemaker’s wines.

I’m not going to post any links here to the importer’s blog or social media. And I’ve been told that he has subsequently removed the references to me.

But in case you’re wondering about the Friulian winemaker and in case you missed the firestorm that followed, here’s the 2013 post that provides the backstory. In the comment thread, you’ll find that the winemaker in question is very open about his political views and ideology. I’ll leave it at that.

One of my California-based wine trade colleagues wrote a Facebook post about the importer’s visit to his shop.

“I see a young colleague is importing said winemaker’s wines to the States again,” he writes in conclusion, “and he’s bitching via social media that those who ‘boycotted’ the wines are ‘assholes.’ I’m a big boy and am OK with my status as an asshole, but only ask that you refer to me as Dottore Asshole.”

Like my colleague, I don’t mind being called an “asshole blogger” when the epithet is used against me because of something I believe in and have written about here on my blog.

Amen. So be it. If being an asshole means standing up for and standing by what I believe to be right, then feel free to call me an asshole. I can live with that. I couldn’t and can’t live with not standing up for and standing by what I believe in.

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!


Dottor Asshole