venerdì 30 maggio 2014

Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano? This is the big dilemma!

Would you imagine to eat a yummy plate of spaghetti with fresh tomato without a wipe of parmesan cheese over it? And what about some fresh home-made potato gnocchi with Bolognese sauce (what we call "ragù")?
In the recent years, following the new trends, parmesan cheese has also become the king in aperitive buffets, accompanying chips and olives while enjoying a glass of good wine, especially if sparkling.
Parmesan cheese has entered into our daily routine as an essential ingredient, always present in our tables, most of the times grated and ready to be served to complement our "first" courses (pasta, risotto, gnocchi). And what about Grana Padano? Definetely it's less famous abroad than his brother despite they are very similar and they are both PDOs "certified" (protected denomination of origin).
Being from Veneto region I am used to it but to be more aware of what means eating Grana Padano instead of Parmigiano Reggiano I have decided to visit the "foreign territory" to upgrade my "foodies" culture.
That's the reason why I have decided to visit a Parmigiano Reggiano producer, Colla Spa (they actually produce both cheeses: for more information visit their web page, curious to see with my eyes the full production process and understand the main differences of this cheese compared to the Grana Padano. I have joined the Gourmetteria team and, as usual, we enjoyed so much.
And now it's the time to share what I have learnt.
The technical process followed for the production of Parmigiano and Grana is basically the same.What makes the big difference is the seasoning process and the cows nutrition.
The milk from which the cheese is produced comes necessarily from two milkings in the Parmigiano, one takes place in the morning and one in the evening (for Grana one milking would be allowed even if the pratice is to make two as for Parmesan). The milk generated from the cow in the evening is left 15 hours resting, reaching a 1.5% of fat. This milk is then mixed with the one produced the morning after which is fatter; this blend stabilize the fat at around 2.4%. This % is slightly lower in Grana Padano, for which the cheese making can develop throughout one single day from one or two milkings of partially skimmed milk that take place in the morning and the following one in the same evening, giving birth to a slightly less fat product.
In any case both of them are more suitable to keep us "fit" than mozzarella cheese, against most common belief that the latter is light and ideal for diets!
What about cows "meals"? Parmigiano cows are more spoiled! They eat only green forage and grass hay. The Grana Padano ones can eat also fermented forage that requires the addition of a natural preservative.
The minimum seasoning for Parmigiano is 12 months and it can reach up to 36. His younger brother has a minimum of 9 and a maximum of 24.
Last but not least, Grana Padano can be made in five regions north of the Po River in northern Italy - Padana basically means the Po River valley - while Parmigiano-Reggiano can only come from the cities of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna and Mantua.
Grano Padano is less saulty than Parmigiano with a more delicate flavor that makes it more ideal when it's used as a complementary ingredient.
My recommendation? Eats the one you like most and ... enjoy!

mercoledì 28 maggio 2014

Good night with Ayuverda spirit

Ayurveda is an ancient Indian philosophy inspiring in the ‘art of living wisely.’ Ayurveda is at the very heart of Pukka, so why not trying it?

It's all about living life to the full!

Love tea is a unique blend of fragrant herbs with fantastic soothing properties. Drink Love tea to help you feel cherished and well nourished, night and day.

• Rose and lavender warm the heart
• Elderflower and chamomile relax and soothe
• Marigold petals are beautifully balancing

domenica 25 maggio 2014

Moreno Cedroni and onions

Who is Moreno Cedroni? If you surf few minutes you soon step into his web page and discover that he is the
2 Michelin stars chef that has brought an avant-gardist spirit to the Italian cuisine. He opened when he was 20 the restaurant La Madonnina del Pescatore in Senigallia, he introduced an innovative way of reinterpreting raw fish, bla bla bla... And now I stop to copy from Internet and I tell my story. I met him in Prague. Un-interesting to say I was there for a business trip and I had the luck to share a nice dinner with him, guest of the Kenwood stand at the Prague food festival. He came to make some shows and cook in front of Czech people, the Italian language translated by a blondie girl. Very funny!you know, when you cut onions they do not make you cry in reality but THEY are crying 'cause you hurt them when you don't cut properly... And if Cedroni states that you can't do anything else rather than believe him. I have tried his "ravioli alla carbonara" and some saulty focaccia with a Corallo chocolate mousse. I will definetly visit his restaurant to discover more!and more!and more!

martedì 20 maggio 2014

Champagne Charles de Casanove: family of glass makers?

Again with Champagne. Again with friends. In my opinion is the best wine to drink with good people because it's just relaxing with its light deep fragrancy. Last week I tried the Vieille France, of Charles de Casanove. We bought this bottle during our trip in Champagne in a small wine boutique and we waited for the right occasion to drink it.
This Champagne is made as both Vintage and Non-Vintage (NV). We drunk a Vintage 2004 bottle, 40% Chardonnay and 60% Pinot Noir.
As usual, when I drink something new I can't wait for looking into the web some story about it and from what I get I understand if it's the wine which suits my personality. Honestly it's 50%. I didn't like so much their web page and how they approach the consumer. It looks somehow commercial. But I found the story and their long tradition interesting to communicate. In 1811,Charles Gabriel De Cazanove, a young man from a family of glassmakers, founded his own Champagne House in the heart of the Côte des Blancs. It was his son, Charles Nicolas, who contributed most to the growth of the brand, applying his botanical knowledge to the fight against phylloxera.
On the death of Charles Nicolas in 1903, his sons Franck and Joseph passed the business on to the following generations.
Nowadays, Maison de Cazanove is a special partner to the “Comédie de Reims” theatre and it is associated with artistic projects, cinema and music.
I looked into the web some reviews to understand if my sensations of creamy notes of butter and brioche were right and .... I found this interesting video which I recommend:

Enjoy and ... Drink it!

venerdì 16 maggio 2014

Angel or devil?

This is a Guess model of shoes that I loved as soon as I saw them be cause of their perfect balance between class and transgression. Guess is not one of MY brands. It reminds me my disco nights style during my teens years.
But this pointed toe shoes made me lose control.
The tiny belt to lace the shoes around the ankle decorated with small studs has an angelic and at the same time rebel note!
Ideal with jeans, better if stretch and ripped and with a short provocative and posh dress to minimize the effect.

giovedì 15 maggio 2014

Genuine winemakers: Klinec

If you have the chance to make a trip to Slovenia, just after crossing the border of Italy have a stop over at this homestead, located in the Brda region, in Medana village. They cultivate with a biodanimic farming philospoy local grapes variety in more than 5 hectars. Their wines mature on its lees in cherry, acacia, oak and mulberry barrels. During my lunch at their cosy restaurant (I had the fortune to eat outside with a wonderful view of the vineyard) I have tried Ribolla, locally called "Rebula", a wine with a good acidity well balanced by a fruity taste. Its plain yellow colour well reflect its "maturing" phase on the nobles lees and the lack of filtering practices. Useless to say they add just a minimal dose of  sulphur dioxide, always in line with their respect for nature and organic principles.
We bought some bottles to bring at home and drink during relaxed evenings (no special occasions needed), in order to try all the grapes types (so vicious we are ;-) ).
One of those is the Quela of 2007, a blend of Merlot (60%), Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, matured in cherry wood barrels. I have to say it's not an immediate wine. At the beginning is quite difficult to recognize its perfumes, but when its bouquet starts to emanate all its elements you can recognize (for my nose) cherries, prunes, some toasted notes, chocolate. It's quite persistent and it's perfect with "well-aged" cheeses.
I am curios to try all the other ones and also to retry the Rebula.
The people here are charming with their simplicity. Aleks and his wife run the business in such a genuine way that as soon as you arrive there you feel like at home. Then you start to drink and chat with them and you confirm your first impression. We visited the cellar and we just sat down enjoying the sunshine and learning again that "Passion in life is everything".

domenica 11 maggio 2014

The Mascareta in Venice: "no se brut se no se fa el rut"

Mauro Lorenzon is simply crazy . Many people start to know him after his participation to the last episode of the Italian Masterchef TV program but I have heard about him much before and few years ago I went to visit his restaurant in Venice which is pretty much an "Osteria" (=tavern) rather than a real restaurant. I came back again yesterday evening and ... What to say?it's pretty much an experience rather than a dining moment...
We entered and we sat at the table in front of the counter facing a wall full of wines. We relied on him and went through the whole menu' of the day, starting from the famous "sarde in saor", to go on with fish risotto and go on and go on... Food was great; also it's peculiar that they cook the rice in a huuuuge pan in the room where you are sitting and they then serve it to all the people. But food is less important there. There it comes first Mauro who with his gags and aphorisms entertains you all the night long telling you stories and serving you litres and litres of wine. He opened I can't remember how many bottles of Italian autochthonous wines, from Prosecco up to Ribolla from Gravner producer. All naturals, without sulphites, biodinamic.
"I have no cash but only liquidity" is one of his preferred phrase, with liquidity referring to all his wines bottles.
And then many other that unfortunately I can't translate in English because they are in Venetian dialect and would lost of sense...
But even if you do not understand Italian you would enjoy and laugh with this character wearing always one shoe different from the other one.
It's a unique experience, to do it undoubtedly but maybe not too many times if you want to avoid your liver insurgency!

Kosher wine from Venice

Do you know what Kosher wine is?
I didn't before I start to be involved into a project of Kosher products. I am not a Jewish, I need to say. But getting to know their world I got fascinated, especially about the relationship they have with food. They have rules to follow, both in WHAT they eat and in HOW they eat. When I say HOW is because all what they eat need to follow Kosherut principles, need to be "idoneous". I am not going to enter into much detail, it's a too vast field and honestly I am not an expert about. But I would like to focus on wine. What's Kosher wine?
To be considered kosher, a Sabbath-observant male Jew must be involved in the entire winemaking process from the harvesting to bottling. All ingredients must be kosher. When kosher wine is mevushal (מבושל—"cooked" or "boiled"), it will keep the status of kosher wine even if subsequently touched by an idolater.
Mevushal wine is frequently used in kosher restaurants to allow the wine to be handled by non-Jewish waiters.

The process of fully boiling a wine kills off most of the fine "must" and can alter the tannins and flavors of the wine. Therefore, great care is taken to satisfy the legal requirements while exposing the wine to as little heat as necessary.
Recently, a process called flash pasteurization has become more common. This method rapidly heats the wine to the desired temperature and immediately bring it back to room temperature with minimal effect on flavor.
If you are curious to see with your eyes what this process is about, just visit the webpage and you will find a super interesting video on that!
Banco Rosso is a company founded in Venice by an Italian guy, whose branch is located in the heart of the Jewish ghetto area. Their kosher wines are really interesting products. They have white, red and sparkling! All process is certified by the Head of the Venice Jewish community, a young man with lots to teach. I had the luck to meet him few times and I have learnt a lot about a new world which was completly unknown to me!
Unkuckily he will leave Venice very soon for a new mission around the world!

giovedì 8 maggio 2014

A wine deliberately downgraded: Menti brave wine producer!

I love natural and biodinamic wines. I love wines whose genuine people I met. So I have to speak about this one.
Menti winemakers started in '800 in the Gambellara village. From the grandfather, who started to grow grapes for himself, up to the son and grandson. The latter, Stefano, is such a genuine and nice guy that you would be enough satisfied to drink his wines just because of the good feeling you get staying with him.
On the top of that they makes great wines, from "durella" and "garganega" grapes, giving birth to white still dry wines, sparkling and some sweet ones (the traditional Vin Santo of Gambellara and the famous Recioto).
I am not going to write about their still white wines, neither of their sweet Vin Santo and Recioto. I am going to mention their sparkling one, 'cause I have a weakness for bubbles.
The "Omomorto" is a funny one. You know the meaning of it? It means "Deadman". I should ask Stefano why. It's 100% from the local variety of grape, "durella", grown in a volcanic area. Grapes are pressed and the juice produced is fermented using only natural yeast in autoclave. If you want to know more about it just visit their webpage, they are much more informed than me! Or just drink and experience it, even smarter!
What I would like to comment instead is their great motto and philosophy, which I totally support: "a wine deliberately downgraded". Facing difficult global economic situation, in order to cope with higher costs and keeping the will to offer their products at a reasonable price, the family decided to abandon the Gambellara Producers Association, in order to avoid the high costs due to the burocracy implied (for the certification of the harvest, the bottling and the sales processes), So they quit to produce DOC certified wines switching to simple "table wines". The company is made of Stefano's dad, now retired, Stefano himself and his mum, who is taking care of the accountancy side. They have been honest: "to keep a decent margin and in order not to upcharge consumer we have been obliged to cust some custs. In order not to compromise the quality we took the hard decision to cut all those costs related to the certification process required to become a D.O.C". After you met them, you know how much genuine this decision is and ... you admire them, because they have been BRAVE.
And you LOVE them, as much as you do with the nectars they produce.

A first class juice of Max and Raf

"An Italian food lover's paradise": all products fashioned by Max and Raf Alajmo for use in their restaurants. What else?
This Blueberry nectar made of minimum 50% of pure blueberry juice is I-DEAL to start the day! And it's also A DEAL! Blueberries are full of antioxidant! They are high in fibers and Vitamin C! They are tasty!
Those are even branded by Max and Raf Alajmo. When you go to eat at Le Calandre restaurant you understand that eating sometimes is not just feeding yourself but is living an emotion. Is something about aspect, perfume, colour, shape, movement and finally taste. Try to read their book, "Fluidità", and you will understand why.
And when you start the day with this philosophy it means you take it right!

martedì 6 maggio 2014

Di Prisco and its Falanghina

Located in Fontanarosa and run by the third generation of Di Prisco family in Campania region. They produce using modern technology but always respecting tradition and growing local indigenous grapes. They have become notorious for their high quality products and they export their wines also abroad.
I have tried the Falanghina IGT, made 100% with Falanghina grape, which is a quite antique grape of Greek origin.
The name for the wine appears to derive from the Latin "falangae" or stakes for supporting the grapes in a vineyard. Curious!
The wine has a plain straw yellow colour, with some golden glares which makes it shining. Useless to say its fragrance is completely fruity but at the taste it surprises you with a very mineral and savory character.
How to drink it?
1) just drink it, without food and without friends
2) just drink it without food, pouring it slowly while watching sunset with your couple
3) drink it with fish, they say
4) drink it with Burrata, I would say, this special milky heart of mozzarella which I simply love
5) if you are vegan!? Drink it to make happier your dinner of avocado salad and nuts (I am trying to be vegan for a month)!

domenica 4 maggio 2014

Prosecco sur lie Biondo Jeo

Today I speak about Biondo Jeo, another natural wine I have tasted which is made as it was by our grandpas. The grapes must stays on its skins for 12/18 hours and then it's poured into steel container where the fermentation with indigeneous yeast starts. Several pourings follow. During spring period the bottling takes place inducing a natural re-fermentation inside the bottle. The wine is not filtered after it.
The colour is not brilliant as we could imagine. It's slightly murky, it's shady. It's a vibrating plain straw yellow.
The taste reminds the bread crust.
The smell reminds mature fruit.

The family run company is located in Monfumo, in the Asolo hills. They welcomed us during a winter sunny holiday day and we had the chance to taste few of their wines even though they were not prepared for visits. Their cellar looks very artesanal. They produce wine in their 4 hectars and sell it locally mainly. And that's keeps it special.

What I love about it is that it's perfectly digestible! The motto is: drink how much you can!

sabato 3 maggio 2014

Simply cool

I find this model of Lotto Legend "Tokyo" snakers simply cool. It's a modern interpretation with a vintage note of the "historical" and typical running shoes of the '80 and '90, one of the most successful model launched by the company. The Tokyo
Shibuya model has the Hinomaru (Japan flag) symbol on the tongue.
Colours available are so many and it varies from aggressive up to more sober styles.
With a pair of ripped jeans, with jeans shorts or even with informal skirts you just feel at ease as you are.
And you can go and drink a Prosecco with the most invidiable "Nonchalance".

venerdì 2 maggio 2014

Austrian wines: Frauwallner volcanic Chardonnay

Wines that I love are normally those whose producer you hardly find in Internet. Are those made with organic method by simple people. Are those with not such big numbers. Wines that I normally love are Italian. Also French because I am passionate for Champagne. But if you are a real wine passionate you need to try (because you want) even wines you feel less emphatic with. You know what!? I don't have a great sympathy for Germans and Austrians. I feel them superior and sometimes "cold people". I feel they get on well with their Ice Wines, not because they are sweet but because they are made during winter season when the grapes concentrate all the sugar after icing. But for sure I am wrong: generalizing stereotypes would mean that I am narrow-minded, which I don't think so! That's why I have tried this Austrian wine and I wish to visit those places surely to discover an interesting world. The 

Frauwallner has been making wine for three generations. They grow grapes of the Styria volcanic vineyards area and the process is held with a nature-oriented approach. 

CLASSIC "f" = fine I fruity I finessig

This is their motto!

And their mission is to give pleasure!

What else?

I have tried the Morillon 2013 (Chardonnay). Elegant wine with fruity notes. Different from usual Chardonnay I have found the perfumes more oriented to the citrus ones that to exotic notes generally common to this grape variety.

It's a a balanced wine, sapid-savory, mineral. A plain body, 12,5% of alcohol, smoothed out by an elegant freshness. In my opinion is a good mate of fish plates. In this case, being a Chardonnay from a colder climate, less exotic and more citrus, is ideal for shellfish and in general more delicate flavors. 


giovedì 1 maggio 2014

Vincent Bliard: thank You

Third generation of Champagne wine makers in Hautvillers village, close to Epernay. In this small corner of the world you will find peace and at the same time a "vibrating" atmosphere. The word "crowded" here has no space to exist. The vibration is just inside. No cafeterias, no touristic places. Narrow streets, almost deserted, lined with those stone houses where genuine Champagne farmers spend their life between the vineyards and the cellar, to grow up since the very beginning a product that will be a pleasure for all those who are passionate about Champagne and nature. Hautvillers counts more (or less) 30 families of winemakers. Chardonnay, Pinot noir, and Pinot Meneur are the grapes they are dedicated to. No attempt to grow any other grape variety in the Champagne reason. And that is the reason of their uniqueness. They do the things, they do it well and they are happy with that and grateful to such a generous terroir.
Gong back to where I started from: Vincent Bliard, recoltant manipulant, those who makes wine from the grapes they grow themselves.
They started in 1970 to grow grapes with organic method, not making use of any synthetic material. The grandfather started with this natural approach which has then been carried out by the following generation. Now Vincent and Marie run the "business" if business can be called (Marie is in the kitchen, Vincent oversees the harvest). In their 50s they show such an energy which is the proof that doing something you love keeps you young and alive in the spirit.
We "knocked the door" as usual during a fresh August morning. Vincent was in the cellar. He welcomed us and we had the chance to spend an hour with him, very fluent in English, so communication was not preventing us from deepening our knowledge in what we believe is the finest art of the world.
About wines! Their Grand Reserve is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunieur. A mix of perfumes to the nose: apple and white peach, fruit. Fragrant and mineral. What you feel with the nose is then confirmed when you taste it. A plain, complete, well balanced wine. And about brut rose? Again long tirage process on the yeast. Again manual remuage on pupitres. Again an elegant wine with strong personality. Great great great. Here the white fruit leave space for red fruit delicate notes but also to some light citrus fruit scent. Chapeau!
A picture I took of Vincent and his father!