Campari e Soda: time for a break

Man, I’m tired and it’s time for a break. Yesterday, before meeting friends for dinner after a long day of tasting and business meetings, I took time out for a Campari e Soda at the Bar Commercio (you can imagine the 1950s-era neon sign) on the outskirts of Lecce (yes, Lecce!) where I’ve spent the last two nights.

The bitterness of the Campari was tempered by a sweet, tangy slice of blood orange and the briny olives and lightly salted toasted almonds rolled around my tongue enveloped in the bright red bitters — an earthly however immensely rewarding pairing for one tired dude.

Today I head back to Venice and tomorrow to Austin. Alfonso was right when he told me, more than two years ago, that I would miss Texas more than I could imagine: more than ever, I wanna go home with the armadillo.

I’ve been on the road for nearly two and half weeks and I’ve been away from Tracie P for way too long. I can’t wait to wrap my arms around her and hold her tight again… One more longest night before I will see her again but one day closer to her sweet lips and loving embrace…

Thanks to everyone for following along here and at your visits and comments and encouragement have meant the world to me. I hope you enjoyed the ride.

There’s lot more to tell and there will be time for that, too. But now it’s time for a break…

See you in a few days…

Remembering our wedding day at Jaynes

After picking up Tracie P at the airport (on what was a no less than “Top Gun” gorgeous San Diego day), we headed to Jaynes for dinner: we hadn’t been at Jaynes together since our wedding day in January and so it was so fun to remember all the great moments! Tracie P had a Campari and soda to start (possibly her fav cocktail).

We opened some great bottles last night but one of the most fun was this bottle of 2006 Arnaud Ente Bourgogne Blanc, drinking so beautifully right now, a guilty-pleasure wine that Jayne and Jon carry on their menu and that we served, among others, at our wedding reception there. It’s one of those wines that prompts the question: why does new oak seem to work so perfectly in Burgundy when it fails so miserably in other wine-making regions we love? (With its wax seal, deep punt, and heavy glass, this wine has a very “naughty bottle” as Jancis Robinson might say.)

Thanks again, Jayne and Jon: you couldn’t have created a more perfect wedding reception for Tracie P and me.

And thank you Tracie P, for being such a beautiful bride, such a loving wife, and such a gorgeous and generous soul. What a wonderful memory and what an amazing day that was. You couldn’t make this adoptive Texas boy more happy. I love you…

Happy mother’s day, ya’ll!

Holiday cheer starts with Campari and blood oranges


When Tracie B told me she had a yen for Campari the other night, I headed to our neighborhood market and picked up some oranges, soda, and ice (she grabbed a bottle of Campari at our favorite local wine store).


Now, mind you, our California blood oranges are nowhere nearly as tasty as the Sicilian blood oranges that Franco loves to brag about. And he’s right: the tenderness and flavor of the Sicilian blood mesocarp are unmatched. But our California blood oranges (I believe the Tarocco cultivar) are still pretty darn good.

I sliced and strained a half of an orange into each glass over ice (we were joined by good friend Amy, who happened to be in the neighborhood, and so three was company, too).


Earlier this year, JT pointed out to me that my preferred formula for drinking Campari is called a “Garibaldi,” I’m assuming because it is a blend of products from Piedmont and Sicily.

Whatever it’s called, it’s delicious!

Tracie B and I still haven’t decided what sparkler we’re popping for New Year’s Eve but it’s that time of year again…

In other news…

sabato napolitano

I’m in Dallas this morning: Alfonso, who’s going to be the best man at our wedding (he introduced us, after all!), took me to get my suit fitted this morning by “SABATO the TAILOR” (that’s him, left). It seems like a long way to travel for a fitting but Neapolitan tailors — everyone knows — are the best in the world and considering the moment of the occasion, it was well worth the trip.

Thanks, Ace!

And in case you haven’t seen it, Tracie B did this adorable post on our wedding invites. I’m just crazy about her and it’s been so much fun getting ready for our wedding… the date is around the corner!

My new favorite cocktail, an aperitivo for a Manic Monday

Above: Lately, I’ve been drinking my Campari and Soda with a splash of orange juice. I’m sure this recipe has a name: does anyone know it? Photo by Tracie B.

It’s already been one helluva Monday morning and I’m still working on getting to the bottom of what happened over at on Friday.

I sure wish it were Sunday: yesterday Tracie B and I found ourselves in Houston where we had dined Saturday night at the newly opened winebar Block 7 (look for a post later this week) and we stayed overnight at the St. Regis (thanks to my nimble hand at Priceline).

Above: Tracie B and I love to photograph everything we eat and drink. The bartender at the St. Regis had fun with us and took this photo. She mixed our drinks perfectly to order.

It was fun to wake up to room service and swimming and we had great Mexican food for lunch with Tracie B’s childhood friend Talina at La Mexicana (highly recommended, super family friendly and just all around delicious).

Above: My eyes weren’t bigger than my stomach at La Mexicana. I couldn’t help but order à la carte: from 12 o’clock clockwise, 1 taco al pastor, 1 taco de carnitas (available only on weekends), 1 flauta (which I dipped liberally in creamy guacamole), and 1 cheese enchilada drowning in ranchero sauce.

Man, I wish it were Sunday. That was my fun day…

I have seen the Futurism: the Negroni

Above: A Negroni at Annies in Austin, the latest addition to the restaurant and nightlife scene here. Not bad for a snap taken with my Blackberry Curve, eh?

No one needs me to retell the story of the Negroni: the tale of Count Camillo Negroni and the cocktail named after him has been retold countless times (however apocryphal those chestnuts may be).

But what few remember these days is that the Negroni was one of the favorite cocktails of the Futurists, the avant-garde movement founded in 1913 by F.T. Marinetti (often called the father of the historical avante-garde). The Negroni — made with Campari, the quintessential Futurist bitters — was one of their polibibite or polybeverages, each intended to stimulate the idealized Futurist (in one way or another).

Yesterday evening, when I tasted a Negroni at the newly opened Annies Café and Bar on Congress in downtown Austin, I couldn’t help but think of the Futurist banquet I attended in 1993 at the Getty Villa in Malibu. (A few years later, I worked as one of the bibliographers of the Marinetti archive at the Getty’s Special Collections.)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how Futurism and the historical avante-garde were essentially self-destructive movements, like much of twentieth-century critical theory: by destroying its fathers (and mothers, for that matter), the historical avante-garde presupposed its own destruction by future generations.

But the cocktails sure were good…

The Negroni at Annies wasn’t bad (although it should have served with an orange wedge or orange zest). The Lousiana-style gumbo I sampled wasn’t bad either. Seems like they have a few kinks to iron out there but I’ll be back: I liked the feel of the place, the hipster mixology, and the old-time music they had going.