Posts Tagged ‘risotto’

Pinch This

May 21st, 2009

May 21, 2009

Alle LoggeStarted the morning the same way most mornings here in Montalcino would start for me, and that was downstairs at the winebar/internet cafe.  It is such a great convenience having it just outside the front door.  Almost as convenient as having it inside the apartment, but with better coffe.

We were meeting up today with Ceylan Tumgoren, who runs the winery at Casanuova delle Cerbaie Winery in Montalcino.  When we ran into her this morning, she wanted to sit with her mom for some coffee first, so we took the opportunity to walk over with my parents to a church that was currently being restored.  My mom has taken great pride in this little town and all of its events and undertakings.  You pinchcould see the pride in both of my parents faces as they discussed this church, its sinking, the art that was hanging, and the statue of peter that was here.

Rather than squeeze 6 in the car again, Lisa and I rode with Ceylan while the Volvo was behind.  We learned a lot about Ceylan on this car ride.  Her mother lives in New York and is divorced.  Her father is from Turkey.  To go along with her American citizenship she also held citizenship of Ireland.  She worked for a wine distributor out of NY called Zachy’s.  She then spent time working for a vineyard in Bordeaux France before moving to Montalcino where she has been for almost 2 years.  She speaks fluent French, Italian and some Turkish.   She told us how it was first a tough transition having an American work ethic while working with Italians because a coffee break would sometimes last 3 hours.

Lisa Likes Wine We arrived and we walked amongst the grape vines as she told us some of the history of the winery and some of the patterns of growth.  She told us about Brunello-gate(tangent:  I’m really tired of something controversial being called blank-gate.  Watergate was the name of the office complex in the Nixon controversy.  It had an actual reason of being called “gate.”  However, now everything gets labeled “gate” and its flat out annoying.  One recent example was when the Patriots were caught cheating, it was labeled “spygate.”  For an inconclusive list of many others read here).

One for you, two for meShe also told us about pinching the grapes  and how they do not want too many grapes growing on any particular vine because then all the energy of the vine is spread out through larger numbers, rather than focusing all its strength and flavors on a smaller number of grapes.  We walked up and down some vines, pinching the vines. 

two for meWe then went into the barrel rooms where we were gonna taste some of the wines that were in the middle of the aging process as well as some fresh wines.

In order for a wine to be classified as Brunello, it must be 100% sangiovese grape, grown in the region of Montalcino.  It must age in the barrel or vat for a minimum of 5 years.  If it is bottled after 2 years it is called a Rosa di Montalcino.  If it is less than 2 years it is called “Tabalo” or table wine.  I can’t imagine the patience that goes into a bottle of Brunello.  Not only do you have to grow the vine for a certain number of years in order to yield fruit, but then once you do you have to wait 5 years for it to properly age.

We tasted some of the wines that had been in the barrel for 2 years, and others that had been longer.  On one taste she immediately said “this one is ready to be moved out of the barrel” and she took note to make sure that got done immediately.  To me it just tasted like wine, as I am not sure I would have noticed it was ready to move.

Straight From The BarrelsIt was a great experience and I really enjoyed the first hand tour and imparted knowledge.

We made our way back to Montalcino and I spent some time posting to this site while at the internet wine bar.  We then all went to St. Antimowhere we spent time at a 30 minute service of Gregorian chants.  It was a really pretty church whose history dates back to the late 8th century.  After the beautiful service, we walked around the grounds and made our way back to Montalcino.   


Back in town, we walked around, ate some gelato, and then had dinner of wine and bruschetta, and then risotto with chicken.  All very delicious as we watched the moon come up over this beautiful valley.

Our conversation started toward Bridge and how my parents play often with Kathie.  We then spent 20 minutes trying to give me a bridge lesson and playing a hand.

Time for bed.


The Italian Sausage And The Trek For Ta-Ta’s

May 14th, 2009

manarola_sm9 hours of travel yesterday, today we had planned what eventually became a 7 hour hike.  That is right, we are officially crazy.

The Cinque Terre is a series of 5 towns that are right on the west coast of Italy, built into the cliffs and walls of the Ligurian Sea.  Each town is really beautiful, full of pastel buildings,  right on the water.  It is my goal to touch the water in each town.

Today we woke up and caught the 930 am train back to town one of the five (we are staying in town 4, Vernazza).  We were going to do the hike that connects all 5 towns.  We started in Riomaggiore at about 10am.  We walked through the town and touched the water at the bottom, and then started the walk on the via del amore.

guvano_smOur first walk was about 20 minutes of length,from Riomaggiore to Manarola on the edge of a cliff over looking gorgeous blue water.  It was really pleasant. In Manarola we sampled a couple of different focacia breads.  One with olives, and one plain. The walk between Manarola an Corniglia was about 45 minutes.  In this  town 3:  Corniglia, we had to walk up 400 stairs as this town is high above the water on the cliffs.

In Corniglia we enjoyed a slice of pizza and some more bubbly water and enjoyed a gorgeous view off of a precipice.

We knew from our guide book, that there was a nude beach somewhere near Corniglia.  I wanted to give it a try.  You can call it an attempt to be european, you can call it an attempt to swim in the town, you can call it an attempt to site italian ta-ta’s.  Whatever you want to call it, it was well worth it (though, only 2 of those 3 came true).

After hiking through some jungle like alleys in some thick green bushes, we finally came across some signs for Guvano beach.  We were high up a cliff, how were we possibly going to get to the water far below?  This path that the sign directed us towards, was narrow, and extremely steep.  One slip of the foot, and it was a long tumble. During one stretch, they had some wires that you could hang onto as it was that steep.

It took us about  30 sweaty harrowing minutes to reah the water below.  This beach was all rocks. The water was crashing on some rocks in the ocean as well.  The beach was occupied by one tan bald, well built man sunning in one direction, face down and naked when we walked by.  Over in another corner were 3 ladies that were clothed in bathing suits.

We found a little spot, and put our stuff down.  I dropped my clothes and laid out the way God intended.  Including us, there were 6 people on this beach, and sadly it was only the two guys that were going European style.  My trek for italian ta-ta’s continues.

beach_smThe italian man kept turning over, eventually facing himself directly towards us.  I didn’t fully trust him, and therefore unfortunately, had to keep my eye on him.  He was definitely trying to show off for the ladies (or was it me), and I decided to call him the Italian Sausage.

I put my clothes back on, and was readying myself to leave, when the other ladies got up and started walking off.  He started putting his clothes on.  So we sat down again and waited, and when they were all gone, I took off my clothes again and started frolicing in the waves.  It was refreshing and cleansing after all the hiking of the day.

Five or ten minutes later we began our hike back up the steep hill again which took us another 30 minutes up steep cliffs, stairs, even having to crawl in a couple of spots.  Once back to the trail, it took us a good nother 60 minutes to reach town 4, Vernazza. We were, tired, and my legs were even shaking from all this exercise.  This day was a tough workout underneath the italian sun.

cinque_smWe didn’t traverse the entire town of Vernazza, since this is the town we were sleeping in and had already explored it.  However, we did stop at Il Pirata (the much famed Il Pirata-at leas the owners “the Cannoli Brothers” would tell you).  Here we refreshed ourselves with some fresh granita:  half strawberry, half lemon, with a touch of cream on top.  Refreshing, delicious, and just what we needed before beginning our final 90-100 minute hike to town #5.

Most of these hikes have been up and down steep and tiny paths.  This final hike was no different.  It was so pretty though, with ocean and cliff on one side of you, green plants at our feets, and to the right there were miles of vineyards growing up the hills.  This is the italian coast.  The climate here is so nice that it can grow all sorts of plants from different climates.  We passed farfalle (butterflies), yellow and purple flowers, cactus, tall grass, and many more.octupus_sm

When town 5 arrived, I wanted to crash.  It was Montorosso Al Mare, and it was a long stretch of beach.  We got a gelato and tried to explore some of the town, but we were exhausted.  We walked around a little bit, but then plopped down on the beach.  I climbed into the water and I had now swam in 3 of the 5 towns, and touched the water in all 5.  After 7 hours of hiking, it was quite a cleansing experience.

We caught the train an went back to Vernazza where we showered (though, mine used all the hot water and left lisa with cold) and then started some new sweaty laundry.  We hiked up the hill near the water to Il Castelo restaurant.  We tried to make reservations for 90 minutes later so that we could finish the laundry.  The waiter did not recommend later for some reason (it later rained), and so we sat immediately.

vernazza_smWe ordered the antipasti mare which was a cold and a fried plate of seafood appetizers.  There was octupus, swordfish, prawns, mussels, anchovies, fried anchovies, and many other strange looking items, most with bones or eyes still attached.  All this to go along with, of course, some wine and a terriffic view.

After the appetizers, lisa ran back to the laundromat and changed our wash to the dryer.  For dinner was a large plate (for 2) of seafood risotto, and some pasta with meat sauce and pesto.  The seafood risotto was full of many more items that I had no idea how to eat.  Lisa didn’t have any risotto, and just when I was wishing there was someone to share it with, so it wouldn’t go to waste, the couple next to us from Quebec asked us how it was.  We shared it with them, and enjoyed some conversations.  They even demonstrated for us how to de-head and legs the prawns to get to the meat.

cannoli_smWe had a lovely time and as the rain started to go down, we walked up to the other side of town to Il Pirata and ordered 2 cannoli for take away.  Took them to our rooms, ate them, and slept peacefully.

The Man With The Rubber Glove Was Surprisingly Gentle

May 8th, 2009

May 8th


Met up with Lisa at the Saronno train station.  I was a little worried about meeting at a random trains top since we didn’t really know how big or small the station was.

As it ended up, she was waiting at one end of the train station for 90 minutes and I was at another end for 45 min before our paths crossed.  Though, it went surprisngly smooth.

wine_smWe took the train 40 minute’s to Lake Como.  Then we caught a boat that took us slowly town to town for 2 hours before we reached Bellagio.  The lake is really peaceful and beautiful.

We walked around all day, burnt our noses in the sun.

Then we had a really pleasant dinner on the waterfront:  a half bottle of Montepulciano wine, risotto with perch fillets, minestrone soup, beef filet and tagliatelle with meat sauce.  The risotto and the pasta were extremely delicious and the wine was very tasty.

A wonderful day.

This Week I'm Thinking About: Jeff Sieck