Best Piedirosso I’ve tasted this year and the world’s craziest sandwich

It’s been more than a month since I returned from Apulia where I sat as a judge in the Radici Wines festival, celebrating the indigenous grapes of Southern Italy and I still haven’t caught up on all the great wines I tasted during the event. Here’s another one…

The wines of Paola Mustilli first came to my attention back in 1998 when I was writing about wine for La Cucina Italian in New York. I cannot conceal that I’ve been a devoted fan ever since and I was thrilled that I finally got to meet her in early June at the festival, where the first two days included “speed-dating” with producers (although some of those têtes-à-têtes proved to be a little awkward when the wines were less than satisfying or the enologist decided to lecture on “how wine is made”).

I guess I’m thinking about her Piedirosso because when I landed in sunny San Diego this morning and saw the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, I got a craving for this wonderful wine — grapey and slightly chewy, with clean berry and red fruit flavors, sturdy acidity and judicious alcohol. The day I tasted with her she served it slightly chilled and it was perfect. And when I wrote home about it, Tracie P responded with a note of enviable nostalgia, reminded of how she used to enjoy this relatively inexpensive wine during her years on the Amalfi coast. Piedirosso is such a fantastic, user-friendly grape, so versatile and flexible, and when it’s done right, its downright delicious.

The wine was definitely a highlight of the festival for me, as was Paola’s Falaghina, which really stood out for its faithfulness to the variety. Overall, the flights of Falanghina were disappointing (and I got into some hot water after Jancis suggested that I mention my impression in my address to the conference). There were a few solid entries for Falaghina but even those tasted yeasted and spoofed to me. Paola’s really stood apart and I cannot recommend it highly enough to you: it was bright and clean with the white fruit aromas and flavors that I look for in real Falaghina (not honeydew and bubblegum that you find in the tricked out bottlings).

One of the other highlights that day was what I have dubbed the world’s craziest sandwich.

The food at Alessia Perucci’s Masseria Le Fabriche was exceptional and the meals rigorously traditional yet equally and wonderfully creative. But, standing nearly 2 feet in height, no one could quite figure out how to consume this brioche stuffed with prosciutto and cheese. It was a sight, nonetheless, to behold!

In other news…

Vai Sotto! Taste with me “down under” tomorrow and Thursday nights at Sotto in Los Angeles where I’ll be pouring wine on the floor and chatting with guests both nights.

Get this woman some unyeasted, unmaloed Falanghina STAT!

The other day, when I was having lunch with BrooklynGuy in Brooklyn (of all places), we chatted about my life Texana and the wonderful “humanity” I’ve found here, even in places coastal dwellers wouldn’t expect in this mostly red state. At a certain point, he stopped me, looked me in the eye, and asked with a smile: “you’ve really fallen for Texas, haven’t you?”

Anyone who follows my blog knows that I love my wife dearly, I love my life Texana, I love my Texan family (from cousins Joanne and Marty to Mrs. and Rev. B) and I love Texas. But Texas has a problem.

Texas does not allow out-of-state retailers to ship to Texas. Technically, it has to allow them to ship here. But the big wine distributors’s shime-waza on the Texas legislature has allowed them to create a logistical obstacle, making it virtually impossible for out-of-state retailers to ship here (I’ve written about it, with documentation, here).

As a result I cannot get my beautiful wife (above) the unyeasted, unmaloed Falanghina that her heart calls out for. Please read her most recent post where she plaintively writes:

    So here we are back in Texas, and my heart calls out for the real thing. My DoBianchi brought home a shiny white ball of Mozzarella di Bufala and a bottle of Cantine del Taburno Falanghina, but, alas, I am still searching for an unoaked/unmalo-ed/non-acidified yet certified stateside version. I won’t give up. I can survive on the fumes of my memories just a little longer.

Get this woman some unyeasted, unmaloed Falanghina STAT!

In other news…

Yesterday, we officially launched a new project I’ve been working on, also close to my heart, a blog I’m writing for Houston restaurateur Tony Vallone.

We’ve been working on it for a month and I’ve really come to look forward and cherish our weekly hour-long chats where we talk about a day in the life of an Italian restaurateur in America. Check it out. I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.

Buona lettura, ya’ll!