Sex in a glass, dick wagger’s wine, and an acidity lover’s wet dream

pasta aglio olio recipeSex in a glass, dick wagger’s wine, and an acidity lover’s wet dream.

These are three questionable phrases that I recently (and wisely?) elided from blog posts I was writing.

Well, “sex in a glass” actually made the cut and into the post. The other two were intended for a post I wrote today for the Houston Press about a new and progressive wine list in the most unlikely of places here in Houston (a log cabin, go figure!).

Aaaaa… just another day in the life of an average punter wine blogger for hire, folks!

Moving on to more serious subjects, I wanted to share a recipe for the dish above, which elicited a lot of queries on social media last night.

Basically, it’s an aglio, olio, e peperoncino to which I added a handful of freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley. We didn’t have any long noodles in the house last night and so I used the unconventional (sacrilegious?) fusilli instead.

Recipe:

Over low heat, gently sauté 2-3 cloves of garlic, a half of a handful of freshly and finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, and a generous sprinkling of chili flakes in extra-virgin olive oil.

After 3-5 minutes (and before the garlic begins to brown), remove from heat, remove and discard the garlic, and reserve the oil in the pan.

In the meantime, cook the pasta in generously salted water until slightly undercooked.

A few minutes before the pasta is done, heat the oil over low heat.

Strain the pasta and gently fold into the pan, sprinkling with more parsley and seasoning with salt to taste.

Remove from heat and serve.

domaine lucci lucy margauxAnother recent social media post (above) also drew a lot of questions.

The wine was the Domaine Luccy/Lucy Margaux 2013 Sauvignon Blanc Wildman Blanc from Australia (below), which had found its way to Camerata, my number-one hangout in Houston and the place where all the wine tradefolk congregate.

Camerata owner and wine director David Keck recommended it when I asked for something slightly oxidative but not too radical on a dreary and rainy night here in the Bayou City.

As David predicted, my buddy Nathan Smith (another one of city’s leading wine pros) and I were blown away by its vibrant fruit character in the wine.

Very cool wine, very cool story.

If you’ve made it this far into my post today, I thank you! And if you live in Boston, please come taste Franciacorta with me next Wednesday, March 16 at Wine Bottega in the North End.

Just another day in the life of an average punter wine blogger for hire…

George Martin, there is no one compares with you

I read the news today, o boy…

jeremy parzen blogDear Mr. Martin,

I hear your voice nearly every single day.

Whenever I load our family into the minivan and bluetooth my iPhone to the stereo, the first track that plays is the audio to the “Abbey Road” mini-documentary from the most recent release of the “Complete Beatles.” It’s the first because it begins with the letter a.

It’s become a ritual for our little girls, ages 4 and 2.

“I was quite surprised when Paul rang me up and said, ‘we’re going to make another record. Would you like to produce it?'”

That’s your first line in the piece.

Little Georgia P and Lila Jane don’t know who you are or why you were so special to their father.

But they know your voice and it only takes a minute or so of listening to the dialog in the documentary before the girls insist that “we listen to Beatles.”

From the first time I heard Paul count off “I Saw Her Standing There” to the countless hours of listening to “Abbey Road” and “The Beatles” (“The White Album”) on my Walkman as a teen; from the time my cello teacher taught me how to play an arrangement from “Eleanor Rigby” when I was 8 years old to the first time a tape engineer pressed record at my first real studio session when I was 19 (yes, I’m old enough to remember 2-inch tape!)… your work profoundly shaped my musical sensibilities and my interest in the recording arts.

Today, in the New York Times, the author of your obituary wrote that your work with the Beatles overshadowed your collaboration with other artists.

Not for me.

To this day, Jeff Beck’s “Blow by Blow” and “Wired” are among my favorite recordings, albums to which I return over and over again in times of emotional and spiritual need.

Once, at a session in LA when I was in my early twenties, I met an engineer who had worked as the tape operator at Abbey Road studio on the “Wired” sessions. To shake his hand, knowing that he was the one who pressed “record” when you said “roll tape,” was electric.

There are countless other unforgettable albums you gave us, each priceless.

We have a small recording studio in our home and our girls are already excited about the recording arts. It will be years before they understand what a “producer” does and before they know who you are.

But they know your voice well. And I’m looking forward to their lifetime of discovering your work and your magic.

Thank you for everything you did for us and everything you gave us. There is no one compares with you.

Roll tape… one, two, three, four…

Your devoted fan,

Jeremy

georgia in the studio

Vini Veri 2016: dates, hours, location, and my labor amoris

Click here for the fair information and details.

vini veri hours location cereaOver the last month, I’ve been Skyping frequently with Vini Veri founder and natural wine advocate Giampiero Bea (above).

I’ve always been a fan of his and his wines, wines that Tracie P and I enjoy together with gusto.

But our chats have given us a chance to learn more about each other’s lives and families: our conversations are punctuated by our children’s booboos and laughter as my girls vie for my attention in the early morning and his son flops in his lap, curious about the American on the other end of his father’s afternoon call.

This newfound and cherished intimacy has been the backdrop for a much more serious dialog about the present and future of natural wine.

Now that I’m a dad (with a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old), I have an even greater appreciation of the urgency of his mission. What world will we leave our children when we’re gone? It’s a question I ask myself all the time. And the answers will be as intimate as they are universal.

“Natural wine is not an abstract concept,” he said to me emphatically yesterday before work obligations forced us to end our call.

It is the very real “application of our conscience,” he said as he spoke of his dream of creating a natural wine protocol that will be recognized and embraced as cultural patrimony.

After much back-and-forth and many wonderful and colorful confabulations, he and I have agreed that in coming months, I am going to give him a hand in giving an English-language voice to the ViniVeri fair.

It’s a labor of love and I began today with a nuts-and-bolts post on the dates, hours, and location of the fair, as well as some other useful information.

The boilerplate is accompanied by my translation of Giampiero’s notes on this year’s fair and its themes.

There are a lot of technical issues to be ironed out in terms of the fair’s English-language media presence. We are working on it and in the meantime, I hope that my contribution will facilitate my American colleague’s attendance.

I’ll be spending a day in Cerea with Giampiero this year and we are organizing a TBD event where I will be participating as well. Stay tuned…

Balsamic pearls (wow!) and an Oltrepò Pavese Charmat-method that impressed me

perle balsamic pearlsThe mosaic of Italian food and wine never ceases to surprise, delight, and thrill my senses and sensibilities.

One of my most marvelous discoveries at yesterday’s Taste of Italy trade event in Houston yesterday (where I served as the organizer’s official blogger) was this new expression of traditional balsamic vinegar from Emilia-Romagna, perle nere or black pearls.

Silvia Rossi, who reps the balsamic producer Guerzoni from Modena province, turned me on to these small and flavorless gelatin balls that are infused with aged balsamic.

They’re generally served as condiments to finger foods, she said.

I loved the texture and the gentle burst of flavor. Definitely a “wow” for me and great to taste Guerzoni’s Demeter-certified vinegars.

oltrepo pavese wineA delicious organic Charmat-method Pinot Noir from Oltrepò Pavese was another discovery for me.

I’d never heard of or tasted Castel del Lupo but was wholly impressed by the transparency of fruit and elegance in this wine, poured for me by Federica Doglio whose family owns the estate.

As far as I know, the wine is not available in the U.S. and I wonder if it would land here at a by-the-glass price.

But I loved its freshness and balance.

All in all, my afternoon at the tasting was a lot of fun and it was great to see so many Italian food and wine producers so excited about Houston and the Texas market.

I’ll never forget when I told a close New York wine friend that I would be moving to Texas back in 2008.

“But what will you drink???!!!” she said.

I’m happy to report that my palate is doing just fine.

Buon weekend, yall!

jeremy parzen houston

The world’s biggest cotoletta alla milanese (Vinitaly restaurant recommendation)

Taste Italian wine, beer, and food products
with me tomorrow in Houston at Taste of Italy.
(last-minute registration welcome)

Taste Franciacorta with me March 16 in Boston at Wine Bottega.

recipe cotoletta alla milaneseMy good friend and winemaker extraordinaire Nico Danesi and my bromance Giovanni Arcari came down from Brescia to Verona to meet me for lunch on my last day in the city for the Amarone vintage debut event in late January.

It was a Saturday and every one of their favorite haunts within the city’s historic Renaissance-era walls was already fully booked.

And so they grabbed us a table at the Trattoria l’Altra Colonna, not to be confused with its sister restaurant Trattoria alla Colonna (colonna means column in Italian; l’altra colonna means the other column; I’m not sure where the name comes from). It lies just outside the city’s inner loop, as it were, and so it’s more of a workaday destination for locals than a hot spot for tourists.

Neither restaurant has a website (I’ve copied and pasted the addresses and telephone numbers below).

Both restaurants are famous for their signature dish, the oversized cotoletta alla milanese like the one in the photo above.

Technically, a true cotoletta alla milanese or Milanese-style [veal] cutlet is made with a bone-in-chop that is beaten, breaded, and fried.

The cotoletta at the two “Colonna” restaurants is actually more similar to the classic Wiener Schnitzel.

But there’s a twist: at both locations, you can add the toppings of your choice, like the “gigantic-size” cutlet topped with sautéed mushrooms and Fontina, above.

what do you call peperoni pizza in italyNico’s son got the alla diavola, i.e., devil’s style, topped with spicy salamino, what we in America would call pepperoni, although in Italy it’s generally a lot spicier.

His wife got a cutlet topped with arugula and cherry tomatoes (alla Californiana?).

While most Italian wine trade observers know or know of Nico, few in America do. But many Americans know wines that he has a hand in making, like Ciro Picariello, Pasini, Otella, and many others, not to mention the many Franciacorta wineries he consults with.

And of course, he and Giovanni make their own line of Franciacorta wines, Arcari + Danesi, which are now part of their SoloUva or “made using only grape sugar” line of classic-method wines.

But whenever we get together, he only ever wants to talk to me about movies, music, art, and literature. A voracious reader devoted to myriad genres and an insatiable consumer of pop culture, Nico possesses an intellectual metabolism that often leaves my head spinning (in a good way).

He can quote Wittgenstein and Dylan in the same breath ex tempore (that’s Latin for on a dime) and his knowledge of film is encyclopedic.

He also knows how to get a good reservation on a busy Saturday in Verona. The classic ravioli burro e salvia (ricotta stuffed, tossed in butter and pan-fried sage) were solid as well (below). Useful information, when you need a decent place to eat during Vinitaly.

Trattoria alla Colonna
Largo Pescheria Vecchia 4
37121 Verona VR Italy
+39 045 596718

Trattoria l’Altra Colonna
Via Tezone 1
37122 Verona, Italy
+39 045 591455

ravioli butter sage recipe