Parzen Family Passover

Seder plate.

Wow, what a trip to celebrate the Passover and read the story of the Exodus and think about all the folks who are fighting for their freedom in the Middle East???!!!

Gefilte fish from Ziggy’s in Houston.

Tracie P and I had eight persons at our dining room table for a seder, which I led using this haggadah posted for all to use by the Jewish Federations of North America.

I roasted a leg of lamb for the main course.

Mama Judy taught me how to make her matzoh balls and her charoset. And I made my own horseradish sauce to serve with the gefilte fish and the lamb.

We drank three orphaned bottles from the Hippie Six-Pack — a gently sparkling Cortese and a still Barbera by Valli Unite and Tony Coturri’s Sandocino.

The Barbera by Valli Unite is one of the best wines I’ve tasted in 2011 and it is simply SINGING right now. Cannot drink enough of it. All of the wines were made using native, ambient yeasts… definitely not kosher for Passover (and we obviously don’t keep a kosher kitchen) but it was interesting to contemplate the role of yeast in the religion of Natural wine and Passover. If humankind’s use of yeast is the rational distortion of nature (as Lévi-Strauss interpreted it), Passover is the festival that removes yeast from our lives, instructing us to banish yeast from our homes. A rational distortion of a rational distortion? Of course, the Passover seder could not be complete or completed without wine. And so yeast is inevitably and invariably part of the ritual. (The best source for kosher for Passover wines, btw imho, is our favorite wine writer and one of our favorite people in the world, Alice Feiring.)

Three generations sat at our dining room table for our first Passover seder. As I led the seder and read the words, “It is because of what G-d did for me when I came out of Egypt,” I thought about the generation of my family who fled Eastern Europe at the turn of the last century, before the Russian revolution, to make a better life for their children in the U.S. For all the headaches and troubles we deal with on a day-to-day basis, we sure have a good life and we sure are lucky to have each other.

Hag sameach, ya’ll!

Do Bianchi Hippie Wine Six-Pack LIVE at 2Bianchi Selections!

Above: Savio, Ottavio, Alessandro, and Alessandra (first names only, please) of the Valli Unite cooperative and agriturismo in Piedmont.

There are so many great wines from Italy available today in the U.S. Nearly every week I taste with this or that importer or distributor and discover a wine that I didn’t know about. Such was the case when I tasted a few weeks ago with my friend Amy Atwood in Los Angeles, who always has killer wines in her bag. She turned me on to a biodynamic cooperative — a hippie commune, really — called Valli Unite. Here’s how the Valli Unite (united valleys) describe themselves:

    Nestled high up in the hills surrounded by green and fruit bearing trees, fields of vines and fruits, a center village consists of a cluster of stone and brick buildings covered with green — this is home base for 25 people who live and work together. Food, wine and labor is divided equally. Each has his/her own role, working the land, tending to the animals or cooking in the kitchen to sustain an alternative lifestyle that was originally designed by Ottavio as a way for himself a few other local farmers to survive in an industrializing world. After 30 years of commitment to the land, nature, and one another — Valli Unite is going strong…

And when you taste their wines, you taste the freshness and purity of fruit that only chemical-free winemaking (freed of the yoke of industrial winemaking) can deliver.