Best meals 2011: Le Calandre (Padua)

Imagining that 2012 wasn’t going to be our year of Michelin-star dining (and having just cashed a check for a song we sold to Gossip Girl), Tracie P and I treated ourselves to dinner at Le Calandre in early February…

It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments: for the one night where we hadn’t already planned where to eat, we dined at Le Calandre in Padua — a 3-star Michelin restaurant.

tagliolini di mozzarella

the texture of the julienned mozzarella released unexpected flavors from the plastic cheese

scampi tostati con “formaggio fresco” di latte di fave, radicchio di Treviso e mele

toasted langoustines with a “fresh cheese” of fava milk, radicchio trevigiano, and apples

battuta di carne cruda piemontese al tartufo nero

as instructed by our server, you wrapped the nuggets of raw beef in the shaved truffle, served on a piece of bark, and then dipped them in light beaten-egg sauce

cappelli liquidi di brodo d’oca all’arancia

these were cappelletti filled with an orange-goose broth, like soup dumplings

cannelloni croccanti di ricotta e mozzarella di bufala con passata di pomodoro

crunchy cannelloni filled with ricotta and buffalo mozzarella with tomato sauce

risotto di zafferano con polvere di liquirizia

saffron risotto with licorice dust

maialino di latte arrostito, salsa di senape e polvere di caffè

roast milk-weaned suckling pig, mustard sauce and coffee dust

proiezioni al cioccolato

dessert came with a mini-screening to complement the physical sensations

Many believe that Massimiliano Alajmo is the best chef in Italy today. He might very well be. Le Calandre was a fantastic experience… And for however experimental and avant-garde his cooking, the flavors were pure Italy… A stunning and thrilling evening, full of sensual surprises…

Nota bene: Le Calandre is not a cheap date (THANK YOU GOSSIP GIRL!). But you can order à la carte and there are a lot of very reasonably priced, wonderful wines on the list, like this Malvasia Secca dell’Emilia by Donati, one of my favorite producers. Natural and wonderfully stinky and crunchy, lees-aged, bottled fermented… Perfect with the wide range of flavors…

Magliocco, swordfish, and Gossip Girl

That’s the inimitable Shawnté Salabert, writer, voiceover artist, and song plugger for Sugaroo (my band NN+’s licensing agent). She’s the one who got our track “Catastrophe” (click to listen to preview) into Gossip Girl tonight. (Hey, I know it’s not Master Piece Theatre but if the teenage female American demographic digs my music, I ain’t complaining!)

“Catastrophe” is one of my favorite tracks: I wrote it in NYC with Céline Dijon back in 2007 (seems like a lifetime ago). Tonight’s episode also features another song I wrote and recorded with Céline in New York many years ago, when we played in another now unmentionable French band together. It’s called “Les Sauvages.”

I got to meet and thank Shawnté in person on Thursday when I went to visit the mother office and have dinner with my old friend and music biz veteran Michael Nieves, who cooked up a delicious swordfish steak, which we paired with a bottle of 2009 Terre di Balbia Balbium (I had tasted it earlier that day at a trade tasting and swiped the bottle from the rep).

This 100% Magliocco from Calabria, raised by Venica & Venica, is one of the most exciting wines from Southern Italy that I’ve tasted this year (and I’ve been tasting a lot of southern Italian wines recently for a new consulting gig).

From what I understand, some (or all?) of the grapes are briefly dried in the vineyard before vinification. I was blown away by the freshness of this wine, its balanced alcohol (a little higher than I like but nicely settled in the wine), and its juicy cherry and plum flavors and bright acidity. Extremely yummy wine, excellent with Michael’s roast swordfish steak dusted with paprika.

Thanks again, Michael and Shwanté: for the placement and the rocking piece of fish!

Feeling fat and stinky (and that’s a good thing)

Above: fat and stinky. I can’t say where it came from or who shared it with me (since it’s illegal in this country), but this Ami du Chambertin was fantastic yesterday evening at my buddy’s place. This week I’m feeling just like that cheese.

When I first moved to NYC and got a job as a magazine editor, one of the graphics guys was a Russian. Slava was his name, very talented dude and a good friend. Every time he’d see me laugh or smile, he’d say, “Jeremy, suck a lime.” In other words, stop smiling because unless you don’t something bad will surely happen.

Well, I’m throwing caution to the wind because it’s been a good week and I’m feeling fat and stinky like that cheese.

Found out yesterday that Nous Non Plus’ Fille Atomique (from …Nous Non Plus self-titled) will be featured on the show Gossip Girl on Monday (8 p.m. Pacific, check your local listings).

Our new album, Ménagerie, is being printed as I write this and will be out in January.

This week I’m finishing the final edits on my behemoth translation of a Guide to Italian Cinema for Princeton U. Press. I’ve been working on this book for a few years now and it’s great to see it come to fruition.

And this weekend I’m headed to Austin, Texas to hang out, relax, and listen to some good music during Austin City Limits. Maybe I’ll even get to dance with a pretty girl… I can just hear Slava saying it, suck a lime…

In other news…

I really like this post today by McDuff: one of the things I like about his blog is the way he balances the human aspect of our business with great tasting notes and informed background. I was just talking to some colleagues about Vajra last night and lo and behold, David posted on the winery today.

Italian Wine Guy is back from Italy and shared with me this updated list of the now 41 Italian DOCGs (a few new ones were added this summer). Alfonso, looking forward to seeing you this weekend in Austin, man!