Better ask a who??? A sommelier! What’s a sommelier and why you better ask him?!
Let me first explain a bit this category. Since I maintain a food blog in Florence, I’d like to interject expert voices from time to time on this complex yet highly sought out matter. Experts to me are those who work blood, sweat and tears in what they do like chefs, sommeliers, bakers, farmers, artisans, culinary instructors (not the touristy type) and OG food critics like Ruth Reichl (an expert in expressing both soul and poignancy). Because I muse about these topics and lead wine tours in Tuscany, I wanted to provide a platform to ask experts their opinions. Also to have an excuse to drink more…you know for “research.” Continue Reading →
I was recently in the French part of Switzerland and my full intention was to write all about it first thing upon my return. As the wonderland of Florence has it, that post will have to be next on the roster because there are a couple really cool events happening this week that you can’t miss if you’re in town: Artisan Party on Thursday July 23rd and a Gourmet Vertical Wine Tasting on Friday July 24th.
Lost in Florence is joining forces with a few very talented, local contemporary artisans in Florence to host a Summer Pop-Up Party at the stylish, chic La Serra studio space in Florence. The artisans present will be MK Textiles, Tinka Loncar and Officina Lab.
The details: Thursday 23 July 2015: From 7pm, we will be celebrating summer over a crisp cocktail, mingle with the artisans and check out their handmade goodies all on the gorgeous historic Palazzo Pandolfini secret garden. RSVP via the facebook event page.
The 2nd event you can’t miss in Florence this week is another Gourmet Vertical Wine Tasting Event in Florence presented by the Winemaker this Friday July 24th at 9pm
I have exclusive invites for a small handful of my readers (and pals) to join my table for a Vertical Wine Tasting presented by an Umbrian Winemaker at my favorite wine bar in Florence. Included in the tasting event are 6 wines and each wine will be paired with a generous array of finger foods such as gourmet crostini, truffle panini bites, organic artisan cheeses and local meats such as wild boar fennel salumi. This is not an event to miss if you are a serious food and wine lover visiting Florence. You will be at a private wine tasting at one of Florence’s most revered wine bars, served by the city’s best sommeliers and surrounded by locals (no tourists, except us:) Since I speak 3 languages (English, Italian and Wine), I’ll be able to translate and guide you through the whole tasting event in leisure.
Wines presented: Grechetto (white wine), 3 different “vertical” vintages (i.e. wines of different years to demonstrate contrast) of the Brecciaro line (Ciliegiolo di Narni) and ending with a vertical of 2 vintages from his “old vine” Vigne Vecchie Riserva line (also Ciliegiolo di Narni). All wines from Umbria, the nearly undiscovered “green heart” central region of Italy.
As with previous events, I have the privilege from my favorite wine bar in Florence to invite a few of my readers to join my table for this private vertical wine tasting event. This is a private event with only local attendees from the wine industry and personal contacts of the wine bar owner. This is great way to experience something different on a Friday night in Florence…with me as your date!
I look forward to seeing you in style (and taste!) this week in Florence.
Staying cool in the Florentine summer,
The Curious Appetite
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I live in Florence and summer has indeed arrived. Except for today. Which is why I am not a sweaty mess and why I can even stand to be near my computer. It’s so funny to see my friends in Seattle through the social media webs wearing light spring jackets and here I am pushing the envelope basically trying to see how much I can get away with notwearing and pondering how sheer I can really get away with because I feel like I am going to die if I wear anything other than a gel pack of ice. I am exaggerating, after all I could be in Cairo where it’s like 110 degrees. Anyways, I digress as usual.
I am very weary of red wine in the warmer months in Florence, not only because to me red wine says cozy sweater and fireplace recounting the days I spent backpacking through Europe saving baby kittens from olive trees, but because most shop keepers are infuriatingly aloof about how they store their wine on the shelves. A wine shelf near the door is a horrible idea. And unless it is a super market, or a very smartly designed shop (that is not ever in direct sunlight) or has the luxury to invest in air-conditioning I don’t trust poorly stored red wine to be anything but vinegar or acidic grape juice at best.
Apart from that, I honestly can’t fathom consuming something that isn’t cold. I recently had a dilemma where I wanted to make an eggplant parmigiana but didn’t want a red wine. In normal weather circumstances, I would usually go for like a Negroamaro from Puglia or a Barbera from Piedmont for a baked cheese, vegetable and tomato dish like an eggplant parmigiana (or even for like a cheesy lasagna too) but I wanted to figure out how I could pair with some white wines. So I went to the wine shop at Eataly on a Sunday to stare at all the bottles hoping my food and wine pairing classes would flood my memory. Here is what I managed to pick out after many minutes scratching my head and having a lot of “oh yeah!” moments:
I wanted to stick to a white wine from Southern Italy because I am obsessed with gastronomic identity, meaning to pair local wines with the local cuisine. In theory, an elegant white wine from the Langhe (in the Northern, Slow Food capital region Piedmont) such as Marin by Fontanafredda could have sufficed just as easily as a rich, aromatic yet balanced Sauvignon by Bastianich from Friuli. But I wanted to go down south where the dish originates. You should still try these with something cheesy or creamy like risotto, the traditional Piemontese vitello tonnato (which is boiled veal in tuna mayonnaise) or anything with seafood, of course.
In the end, this is what I found and which I suggest for a baked cheese and tomato dish like Eggplant Parmigiana:
COS Rami Sicilian White (as early as 2012) This is a very unconventional winery which specializes in local, indigenous grape varieties and abides by biodynamic production methods. The particular grapes showcased in COS’s Rami are Inzolia and Grecanico.
But what I ended up choosing was a Sicilian Viognier by Calatrasi & Miccichè. This would be good also with a chicken dish in a cream sauce or a creamy mushroom risotto- perhaps not exactly Sicilian foods but just to give you an idea what Viognier could also match well with.
I picked this because Viognier tends to be a richer white wine, what I like to call a greasy wine which give a nice full mouth watering start and long finish but not too fruity or aromatic, with just a tinge of petrol on the nose which for me is also why I call it greasy. This was a great wine pair for a saucy, creamy ricotta filled Eggplant Parmigiana which I proudly made, by grilling (not frying) the eggplant, and whipping up the tomato sauce from scratch with heirloom umami rich tomatoes, garlic, herby olive oil from the most recent fall’s pressing and fresh basil.
In my posts regarding food and wine pairing, I don’t go into the tasting notes too much because I just want readers to know what’s good in my opinion and to find out for themselves. Wine is all about opinion. And these are my suggestions that you can take or leave. This is my blog and this is what I think.