‘GRAND CHOCOLATE’ PANETTONE… IS COMING! Check for Brera Milano 1930

In on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of  extraordinary composer and good food lover  Gioachino Rossini,, the prestigious Milan pastry shop Giovanni Cova & C,  also distributed in the US under the label Brera Milano 1930,  pays homage to him, dedicating his panettone to his works. Renewed collaboration with Archivio Storico Ricordi also for next Christmas-2018.  The idea of ​​celebrating the 150th anniversary of the death of Maestro Gioachino Rossini stems from the meeting of Giovanni Cova & C., an icon of craftsmanship in the Milanese patisserie, and the Archivio Storico Ricordi, custodian of the works of the greatest Masters of Melodrama , and represents the opportunity to continue the cultural journey that unites music with Italian confectionery excellence. The Ricordi Historical Archive is the most important private music collection in the world. Here are preserved the immortal musical works of great artists who have left an indelible mark on the musical culture. The Archive, founded in 1808, is the historical memory of the musical publisher Ricordi, acquired in 1994 by the German multinational Bertelsmann, which has since guaranteed its conservation and cultural development. Its prestige lies in the variety of preserved documents, which offer a complete view of Italian culture, industry and society. Hosted at the Palazzo di Brera in Milan, the Archive collects scores, letters of composers, librettists and singers, sketches and sketches, booklets

vintage photos and Art Nouveau posters. A sweet tribute to the most famous Italian opera Composers, such as Donizetti, Respighi, Toscanini, the incomparable Paganini, or the great Rossini of which this year is the 150th from hid death ,
To enrich the Ricordi Line the 2018 cake will be dedicated Rossini with the Panettone GranCioccolato (Grand Chocolate) covered with lozenges of dark chocolate and chopped hazelnuts and enriched with thick drops of dark chocolate, greedy in the recipe and precious in the wrap wanted for the occasion with the reproduction of the autograph score of the work L’Italiana in Algiers of Maestro Gioachino Rossini honored in his 150th anniversary also in the famous portrait of Vespasiano Bignami.
Panettone

Grand Chocolate
joins the range to offer to all the greedy of the magic ingredient an unparalleled combination capable of mixing the acidulous tones sourced from the yeast with the
moderate bitterness of a fondant 47% rounded in closing by the fragrant taste of butter. A cake devoted to a scrupulous selection and combination of first-class ingredients, from the first milk-processing centrifuge butter that arrives weekly from Northern Europe to strictly fresh eggs, from the flour mix selected in 80 years of mother yeast able to make the difference on a processing process of about 72 hours from the first delivery to the finished product. The hand wrapping gives an emotion capable of embellishing the Christmas table with an ode to the most extraordinary Italian musical culture, to be savored by capturing the aromas, for an experience of the five senses.

I tasted it, I loved it!

For more info
Panettone Grand Cioccolato
by Giovanni Cova & C
distributed in the US under the label Brera Milano 1930

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LJUBLJANA CASTLE, STRELEC RESTAURANT: WOW-FACTOR GARANTEED! By Philip Sinsheimer

No proper visit of Ljubljana can be complete without a visit to the fortified castle way on top of the hill dominating the city. Easily accessible by tram, it rewards any visitor with breathtaking views of the city as well as a cultural journey into Slovenia’s history.
Don’t expect lavish ballrooms, the castle served mainly a military role, but various sections of the high perched citadel have small museum like spaces to visit, from Slovenia’s tormented history to a more anecdotal marionette collection.

 

 

Let’s face it, the view is the main draw for many visitors, but for the happy few, a meal at the revered Strelec Restaurant with tables both indoors or outdoors is the perfect way to admire at length the city below and enjoy one of the best culinary experience they will get to experience in whole Slovenia. It is pretty rare actually that a touristic hub is granted with a fine dining experience thanks to the talent of chef Igor Jagodic who is seen as a true reference in Slovenian fine dining. To top it all, this comes at a very reasonable price with tasting menus going from 44€ for 4 courses to 77 euros for the top of the hill 9 course experience. This is quite incredible for a chef already saluted chef of the year, winner of Regional Restaurants official selection.
Those who want to be free to chose can also pick à la carte from various Slovenian specialties, as humble as a Kranjka sausage served in the pot with freshly grated horseradish and sautéed potatoes.

But there are also chef’s creations with elegant plate compositions :
crispy octopus with young peas and strawberries anyone or would you rather experience the matured beef with goose liver, poached egg yolk and vegetable bouquet?

 

 

The service is truly first class.
As we asked if we could change tables to enjoy fully the experience without the sound of loud neighbors, our question was met with a smiling “of course” and an impressive efficiency to make it happen seamlessly.I also noted not only the incredible wine list which will enable you to sample some of the country’s best bottles, but the quality of our server’s knowledge on the wines and his capacity to describe them to match both food and personal preferences. His help was so important, because, especially among the native grape varieties. Quite frankly without his guidance, I never would have tasted (let alone pronounce it!) this beautiful white wine, Vitovska Grganja 2017 by Boris and Alen Lisjak (have a picture of bottle held, very dark label though), coming from the Slovenian region facing the Italian’s Friuli-Venezia Giulia.The perfectly cooked high-quality beef sirloin slices accompanied by a medley of both raw and cooked vegetables found a perfect match once again with a couple of Slovenian red wines. Having so far mainly tasted whites, this came as a beautiful surprise. If you re not dazzled by the view, you may well become dizzy by these exciting pours. See it as an educational experience, the last tram is there to get down the hill sound and safe!
For more info Strelec Restaurant, Ljubljana Castle 

 

 

 

LJUBLJANA SLOVENIA, VINOTEKA MOVIA. IS ORANGE THE NEW WHITE? By Philip Sinsheimer

Let’s be honest, before I set foot at the beautiful Movia wine bar in Slovenia’s capital, I had never heard of “orange wines”. Have you? If not, the best thing is to do is go right now over there and ask for an orange wine tasting. For 18€, you will get a flight of 4 of them, beautifully presented and explained by the great staff, possibly Leonard, the charming and oh so enthusiastic young sommelier in the making.
I received a royal treatment from Borut, the manager of the wine bar, located on one of the most passing streets of Ljubljana’s center. It was 10 pm and all the tables outside were taken, so we started our tasting inside, historic looking bar with wood panels and huge counter. But, wherever we were, I know you’re burning to know what in the world are orange wines?
The short and simple answer is that they are NOT of course wines made out of fermented oranges! No, they are white wines with a dark and deep yellow hue, some leaning towards a true orange color. Why this color? Because of the way they are made. In short, white grapes are crushed and left to macerate and ferment leaving the juices in contact with the skins and pits. For how long? It depends, up to a year. The process is very natural in a way, often no yeast or other additives need to be added. Since when has this technique been done? Only 5000 years ago, approximately, especially in the Caucasus region and what now is Georgia (the country). But, it’s only 20 years or so ago that the process made a big come back. Here we are, Slovenia having been with Italy one of the wine countries at the forefront of this revival. So, if in doubt, you are in the right place and in good hands to discover the world of orange wines.
Ok, how do they taste like? Imagine a light, pale, crisp, light pinot grigio from Veneto… well, it’s about the perfect opposite of that: mature, deep, with tannins reminding red wines (because of the skin contact) and complex. These are serious, bold, sipping white wines demanding to be served cold, but not chilled, definitely not the type of wine you serve in an ice bucket by the pool. To go with them, Vinoteka Movia also offers various plates of delicacies to round things up, including some gorgeous and perfectly sliced “pata negra”, the king of Spanish cured hams, but also local charcuterie, cheese and Italian mortadella, for example. Now, orange wines are not for everyone. Some may actually be turned off by their semi-oxidized aromas: instead of appreciating expressions of honey, tropical nut, cooked apple and hazelnut, they may think this wine has passed its age or has been left opened on the counter for too long, thus this wood varnish and linseed oil smell and flavor.                      It’s alright, no panic… You are entitled to your taste, Borut won’t hate you or eat you up! He is prepared with about every type of wine you may like in the house. And yes, all of them Slovenian wines. Go for a flight of white wines, red wines or a mix of both with a tasting of various Movia wines, Movia being a very large producer located in Ceglo, on the western side of Slovenia, close to the order with Italy. Trust me, Slovenia is THE “under-discovered” wine country. The diversity of the terroirs and wine styles may be actually their obstacle to global recognition, because it is quite difficult to any non-Slovenian to decipher what’s written on a bottle: what refers to the area, what to the grape varietal, what to the producer?         With its fantastic staff, so attentive and knowledgeable, the quality of the pours (and of the gorgeous glasses used), I can tell you Vinoteka Movia is THE place to go for both newcomers to the world of orange wines and Slovenian wines in general, and aficionados who already know a thing or two on the matter, ready to be wowed and ask for more!

For more info Vinoteka Movia

 

 

LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIA, SVETI FLORIJAN: RESTAURANT AND MORE!

Welcome to one of the most recent addition to the up and coming Ljubljana dining scene! Sveti Florijan is one of a kind, as it as actually more than a restaurant. The creators have given a lot of thought into this multi-area venue where one can come to spend time at the wine bar featuring an eclectic selection of wines, 95% of them being “natural”, with basically no additives. Many of them are Slovenian, but shelves make place to some bottles from neighboring Italy, Austria and Croatia. If you feel in love with one of them, you can buy a bottle to take home along with a few goodies, the space serving as a wine shop as well as a delicatessen. Latecomers may bypass the bar area and head downstairs to what appears as a cozy jazz and cocktail nightclub, with a little scene for musicians to perform on given nights. Early and latecomers alike would really miss big if they were to bypass the restaurant which occupies the largest part of the ground floor, across from the wine bar. The atmosphere is warm and inviting.: small tables are an invitation to a romantic tête à tête, while larger ones welcome groups of friends wanting to spend an intimate, joyful moment. Cleverly, the choices are limited, so diners don’t spend hours picking, but are invited to jump in and have the party begin. The weekly wine list is composed of 6 references and the menu limited to 15 dishes, including desserts. It feels more like a homey private club than a restaurant per say.

The order was taken by a hip young man who appears more like a warm and friendly adviser than a waiter per say and the dishes are brought to your table by kitchen crew members, in our case the chef Matija Kostanjevac in command that night.
This absence of formal separations between front and back of the house gives a fluid sense of true hospitality.

We started off with the daily amuse-bouche made of a crisp chip, tender smoked trout and a touch of cool homemade sour cream. A perfect match with the 2016 Cattunar malvazija crisp white wine.

 

Another seafood appetizer came in the form of a tuna tartare mixed with a few diced strawberries, deftly seasoned with a hint of curry and the acidity of buddha’s hand citrus. Early on, you realize there is a lot of thinking going behind each creation, but one can also feel emotion and personality being involved here.

 

The rabbit pâté came to the table and revealed itself to be a homemade mousse of hare liver, sweetened by onion, butter and apricot. Lovely on great bread, no fuss, just great flavor. The slow cooked octopus with buckwheat, squid ink and tomato ragu was also a dish expressing heartfelt cooking, rather than any form of cerebral creativity.

The sweet touch came in the form of a sheep’s yogurt with white chocolate and raspberries, almonds and a dash of cardamom, a symphony of color, texture and flavor without unnecessary complication. Elegant, yet relaxed, thought through, yet soulful,Sveti Florijan has a truly unique offering in town. One feels that, from one evening to the other, it could be a totally different experience and it’s probably the case because, each patron here is left free to shape his evening as he sees fit.

                             A CHAT WITH THE CHEF

 

Matija, where have you previously working? 
Many different venues in different European cities, including a long period in Berlin.
How would you define your cuisine?
I would say contemporary European Slovenian, you will find different influences, from Austria to Italy, Croatia, Hungary. I like to mix the real fresh products that I found in the Ljubljana  market to European accents, creating a contemporary Slovenian menu.
You left the kitchen to chat with us, is that common?
Yes, I like to interact with the costumers, and, time permitting, seat at their table, perhaps have a glass of vine with them.
The most popular dishes here at Sveti Florijan? 
The octopus or the beef tartare.
If you were invited as chef guest at the TV Master, what would you prepare?
(smiling) I would snob the event, and serve a hot dog or fish and chips… 

What always in your refrigerator?
Some bottles of
Union beer and A bottle of Swedish Hernö gin!

For more info
Sveti Florijan

MY BEAUTIFUL, GOURMET WEEKEND IN LONDON !

HERE MY STEPS. TAKE A LOOK!
Everyone wants to visit the UK’s busiest city, but aside from the main tourist sights, what is there to see? How do you get from one place to another in this huge place? Need an insider’s perspectiveI want to share a ‘ NON TOURISTY TOURIST’ perspective on what to see in the Big Smoke! If you want to visit the mainstream attractions like the London Eye, Tower of London and Madame Tussauds then, of course, you should go for it!
They’re lots of fun.
BUT………
There’s another fascinating side of the city that goes far beyond the usual tourist highlights. I want to share some quick tips that real Londoners enjoy to make your time there truly memorable!
Friday:
First things first, get accustomed to the TFL (Transport for London) website and buy an oyster card from your nearest station: it’s the most affordable way to travel.
You arrive early afternoon and want to see as much as possible this weekend! Head towards Greenwich to see the Cutty Sark ship, hire a Boris bike and cycle under the Thames. At the other side, enjoy the view and take a left towards Canary Wharf to get a sneak peak of all the city’s penguins (the crowds of businessmen in suits). If shopping and city life is your thing, the Canada Water shopping centre is your new best friend. Enjoy all of the main high street shops, in addition to some more fancy brands! The restaurant ROKA in Canary Wharf has a beautiful view of the city from a great height, and serves delicious food and cocktails.
If you prefer the scenic route, continue along the river you’ll reach some cobbled streets (difficult for cycling: it’s going to be a bumpy ride!) with quaint English pubs before arriving at St Katherine Docks. Dock your Boris bike somewhere and catch your breath before the evening adventures begins. There aren’t many places I’d recommend more highly than Frank’s bar in Peckham on a warm evening to really appreciate the atmosphere of London. Opposite the station lies a formerly disused multi-story carpark, which now hosts Frank’s Bar on the roof! Affordable drinks (for London) and a view over the whole city!
For my first night in the city, I went exotic and choose a great restaurant in Portobello.
Outdoor, a flashing red neon sign says Japanese Gastropub, just below a mysterious face of a mysterious woman. Is she a geisha? Is she crying or praying? Let’ s go inside. Previous doubts ended as soon as I found myself embraced by UKAI’s cosy and warm atmosphere . A welcoming bar to the front and an open kitchen restaurant in the back. It looked loke a nice mixing of Japanese design with Italian flair and some traditional British pub features black and white photo portraits give an art gallery feeling, while Japanese artwork and foliage painting decorate walls and ceilings the rooms adorns the walls; furnished with causal wooden tables and filtered by an amber lighting that warms up the rooms.

 

The big surprise was to briefly chat in italian with the head chef Alex Verros or should I calling him Alessandro, as he’s Italian born, like me.

Alex, who previously worked at Roka and Nobu, told me about his passion of mixing different cultures and ingredients, like his native land North Italian truffles, to South Latin accents, to British influences, not afraid to combine simplicity with complexity. I started with a warm, inviting and comforting wonderful salmon miso soup, served with tofu, seaweed and spring onion. Then I beg Alessandro to surprise me. And he did. Between his choices, my favorite were the kampachi salad, with thin slivers of tender cobia white fish, drizzled with yuzu truffle and rocket, a dish that Alessandro likes to pair with galapeno and the prawn tempura maki. From the menu, I would like to mention also some signatures dishes as the truffle white tuna tataki, the lobster tail tempura and his ceviche, where Japanese flavours meet South American tradition. In addition to a generous choice of sushi, sashimi and nagiri and of course the beef robata dishes that Alessandro loves to cook in person, lighted by the fire grill fireworks .

 

 

 

 

Impossible not to ask such a nice host a souvenir picture…
‘Let’ do it at my robata grill, said Alessandro, it is my favourite spot in this place’ ‘Certamente!’, I enthusiastically answered, and, both risking a fire attack, I shoot the pic.
A hot moment of an unforgettable dinner.For more info
UKAI
240 Portobello Rd, London W11
Phone: +44 20 7792 2444

Saturday: Grab brunch or food from every country you could think of at Borough Market (get off at London Bridge station) and wander around the stalls and old backstreets. Head down the steps on London Bridge and walk left along the river, passing lots of cute English pubs, the Globe Theatre and the Tate Modern gallery (many free exhibitions for lovers of the creative).
Stop by the National Theatre mid-afternoon for any last-minute discount tickets, or sit and enjoy the view of Big Ben or the London Eye from the South Bank. There are often pop-up bars or street performers there too!
Now you can carry on over the Jubilee Bridge towards Trafalgar Square and the West End. On sunny days I would highly recommend taking a left turn before Covent Garden and checking out St James’s Park, where you can find most people in London enjoying the weather and nature. If rainy England is sticking to its infamous title, head towards the National Gallery: free entrance and some of the most breath-taking paintings and sculptures you’ve ever seen!
Covent Garden is the perfect place for an evening out. From Sushi to Greek, Burgers to Quinoa, the choices are endless. There is also the option of trying out an old English pub or one of the trendy new bars the city is popular for. If you’re planning a late night, Oxford Circus is only twenty minutes away by foot, where you can party until your heart is content!
DINNER TIME!
I choose Tredwells, a Marcus Wareing restaurant and winner of AA’s London Restaurant of the Year.
Great location, excellent service and a breathtaking menu signed by the charming Chef Chantelle Nicholson, Tredwells showcases the very best in British seasonal produce  Located in the trendy Seven Dials area, right in the heart of Covent Garden, the venue boasts two bar areas serving seasonally inspired cocktails, cementing Tredwells’ reputation as one of the best drinks venues in Seven Dials. the restaurant sets over three floors, while the mezzanine and lower ground floors are available for exclusive hire.

Potato and rosemary bread, salted whey butter

 

 

I went for lunch, tried several of Chantelle proposals and found them all perfectly cooked and pleasantly tasting, starting from the beginning with a great potato and rosemary bread with salted whey butter till the end, indulging in a delicious fig mousse.

 

 

 

I noted, and photographed my choices and my recommendations.
After lunch, I meet with Chef Chantelle, obviously in her kingdom,the kitchen, and chatted oh her life, her love for cooking and her first solo cook book Planted.

Where your passion for food comes from?
It’s all because of the love of my New Zealand garden, so rich of herbs and vegetables and my two aunties who were great cooks Probably since that tender age I wanted to be a Chef, but…story of my life, I went to university to become a lawyer.
So you forgot your culinary passion?
Not really , while studying, I got a job at the local café, waking up at 6am on Saturday mornings to bake muffins, then proudly becoming a kitchen hand in the restaurant of a small hotel that also had a garden…
A garden? Here you go…
Yes, my passion for fruits and vegetables was there again, learning about seasonal food, how they grow, and the ecosystem of the garden. I remember picking up herbs super early in the morning…

Slow cooked lamb belly, beetroot, brioche

What happened to the lawyer?
Well, I passed the bar in my law exams and ready to become a layer , but the still enchantment of the kitchen was always in my head…Coincidentally I enrolled the amateur cooking competition Chef Search, run by Gordon Ramsay. I made it to the final six, and was offered to work at The Savoy, London.

Sweetcorn mousse, cornbread, pickled mushroom

After that?
I have co-authored Marcus’s cookery books and in 2015 worked with him consulting on the movie Burnt. Then Marcus Wareing asked if she’d join Pétrus, his two-starred restaurant, as a junior sous chef in 2006, followed by The Gilbert Scott in 2011 and from 2014 I was in charge of as group operations director of the entire range of Marcus Wareing restaurants. Now I am back to my passion: cooking! I am proudly the chef patron at Tredwells created by the genius of Marcus Wareing.

Swiss chard pancake, turmeric, coconut, cashew

Your new book ‘Planted’
Is not a book about veganism, it is about tasty dishes, made without animal products. You will find recipes for a plant-based cooking, focusing on plant based cuisine that deliver taste and creativity. I like to celebrate produce, seasonality and food that taste good.

Gloucerstershire pork collar, bacon jam, peas, broad beans, courgette

Chantelle, what will I always find in your fridge?
Vegetables, vegetables, vegetables and a bottle of a great New Zealand Chardonnay!

for more info
www.tredwells.com

Sunday:
The perfect day for a relaxing walk around the local parks. Check out Dulwich’s Horniman Museum, a small childhood favourite of mine with beautiful botanical gardens, before riding on the banana bikes through the peaceful Dulwich Park. Then take a well needed rest and sit in the garden of the Woodhouse pub, sipping your ale (if you dare) and enjoying your roast dinner. If you still have time after doing all of this, then firstly, congratulations; you’re super efficient! Brick Lane, Camden and Liverpool Street would be my next recommendations. If there’s a day to spare, you can’t pass up the opportunity to go to the Harry Potter Studios cast some spells!
SUNDAY IS …. Brunch time!!!!
I discovered Trangallán.
It’s a word from Galicia, Spain for a kind of bohemian artist.
This so called ‘gastro-cultural space’ certainly has that bohemian feel, with its shabby chic-flea market furniture contrasting with rich glass chandeliers and vintage objects all around. The menu changes frequently boasting imaginative dishes revealing a good deal of skill and creativity. Add an easy-going welcome from the stuff and the super cool owner–chef, who came at my table to say hello while sipping a delicious 2016 Albarino Igrexario de Salar and snacking some succulent Manzanilla olives.                                                        I followed his suggestions and went for a very traditional tortilla made of eggs and potatoes. Perfectly browned on the outside, still tender within and served at room temperature. I asked if that is the way that tortilla should be served, medium warm not hot. They told me that is a Spanish tradition to cook tortillas in the morning and let them rest till the meal so, yes, the temperature should be room temperature, Good to know. Then I tasted a more winterish dish of judion, a butter beans & piparras, followed by a perfectly roasted octopus with saffron potatoes and wilde samphire.                                  If you’re looking for a ‘not so commun’ tapas restaurants in North London, or Spanish food in Stoke Newington then you must try this cool venue.
For more info
Trangallán  
61 Newington Green, Mildmay Ward, London N16

Monday
Smart move. I took a  day off from work and reserved a late afternoon flight!
Yes I wanted to enjoy London and … I had London at my feet!

London. I happily experimented the OXO TOWER restaurant located at the eight floor of the OXO Tower. Relaxed atmosphere, good service and … the view. The menu boasts dishes so-called ‘contemporary British’ with European accents spanning from Spain with a gazpacho with sardine paté, to Italy with bresaola paired to a watermelon carpaccio. I tried a rich yet delicate soup of Scottish langoustines, spaghetti style chopped squids, tomatoes, fennel, and lobster- It tasted rich yet delicate, not too spicy or garlicky (I hate too much garlic…) Notably the langoustines were nicely straight, not curvy at all, My very nice Italian born waiter, told me that the secret is simply to put them in the freezer for about 40 minutes.When you take them out, the shell will be solidified, you would easily break it and extract the langoustine in all its fullness and horizontality. As a main dish, I followed Guido’s suggestion and opted for a John Dory fish, served with lobster, celery puré, oil and herb sauce with little white beans.

 

 

I must say all the ingredients were in perfect fusion and the broth maintained its freshness thanks to the acidity of the vegetables. I paired with a very fruity Albarino Atlantico white wine from Galicias, excellent!

 

As a side dish, a kale salad, sprinkled with a powder of beets and pumpkin seeds and seasoned with a Caesar dressing.Delicious finale: English strawberry and basil mousse.
Not to mention the spectacular sunset view that made my dinner unforgettable.

 

For more info
https://www.harveynichols.com/restaurant/the-oxo-tower/

For reservations
Call 020 7803 3888 or
email oxo.reservations@harveynichols.com

Finally ….. here the best list of the two M I am crazy about …
MUSEUMS …AND MARKETS!

British Museum
Imperial War Museum
Bank of England Museum
Science Museum
Design Museum
Maritime Museum
Sir John Soane’s Museum
Natural History Museum
Queen’s House, Greenwich

Victoria & Albert Museum THE BEST!!!!!!
MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC
Royal Academy of Music Museum
YOU WANT MORE ???
Museum of London Docklands
RAF Museum
Horniman Museum & Gardens
Science Gallery London
Grant Museum of Zoology
YUMMY….
The Chocolate Museum

MARKETS, MY PASSION!
Borough Marketk ( my fav…)
Leadenhall Market.
Brick Lane Market.
Columbia Road Flower Market.
Camden Market.
Greenwich Market.
Portobello Road Market.
Brixton Village and Market
Old Spitalfields Market.
Mercato Metropolitano

LJUBLJANA FOOD TOUR: A MUST TASTE! by Philip Sinsheimer

You just don’t realize how lucky you were when your join the guided 3,30-hour food tour organized by VisitLLjubljana.com managed by the Tourism Office of Ljubljana until you experience it.          

They offer numerous guided city tours  including the Historical City Centre and Ljubljana Castle revolving around history, art and landmarks, whether on foot, bicycle or on a boat cruising the river.

There is no other way to sample the incredible diversity of Slovenian food in so little time and in such a fun and well-paced way.
Slovenia is a small country yes, but it counts no less than 24 gastronomic regions.

Ljubljana, reminding me of Paris in a way, is pretty much in the center of the country and, as a capital, has attracted many food vendors and restaurateurs to benefit from the largest concentration of population (and tourists) of the country. But, right off the bat, let me tell you that, at no point, do you feel shepherded to a pasture of touristic traps you would have found on your own. The choice is balanced between food shops and restaurants, clearly very carefully picked.

Also, it isn’t a gorging party:
at the end of the tour, you feel satiated, without ever feeling over full!. As all good cooking requests, things started with the sourcing of ingredients: the market!
And Ljubljana is blessed, right in its center with a human sized, yet substantial farmer’s market, with one section dedicated to only certified organic vendors. I had noticed on my way to the tour some beautiful chanterelle mushrooms, as well as yellow broad beans that I had never encountered before. Lucky enough, I was able to find them again and was met with the most charming smile the seller could have shared.

Then, we got to visit the permanent covered market, a beautiful building along the riverbank. That was like entering a world of its own. Gorgeous charcuterie, cheeses, breads (got a loaf of this dark and dense bread, yet moist and oh! so tasty). A separate section is dedicated to fish, perhaps for temperature and odor control. Whatever the reason might be, I was really impressed by the display of fish available and the absence actually of any strong fishy smell. Slovenia is known mainly as an inland country, but it does have a little bit of coast on the Adriatic Sea and they sure know how to source the best of what can come out of it. Everything looked so fresh, a real temptation for any cook.
But carrying fish on ice for the rest of the tour was NOT going to happen!

 

 

We met our lovely guide Simona in Ciril-Metodov, the cobblestoned main street. She took us at Klòbasarna, where we had the first tasting: a warm smoked sausage form the Carniola region just South of Austria, in other words at the Northern end of Slovenia. Made of the finest pieces of pork, this sausage neither greasy nor too dry, just hit the spot accompanied by a light red wine, a little horseradish and mustard which I loved.

 

 

Simona took us in more that 7 venues, specialized in different specialties, from the syrups and the honeys of Dobrote-Dolenjske,  to the traditional cake prekmurska gibanica homemade at
Gujzina

I won’t be going in the detail of all the things tasted, either in gastronomic shops or in restaurants… I want you to go and experience it for yourself. Besides beef tongue, fried chicken, honey (Slovenia is Europe’s largest producer per capita), my heart will go for this humble dish of mashed potatoes with sautéed onions and bits of bacon that we tasted at a very special restaurant, Druga Violina, where all the members of the staff suffer from some form of disability or another. It felt really good to contribute to this effort to support the community and, let’s be frank, it also tasted soooo good, just by itself. With influences coming from all neighboring countries (Italy, Austria, Hungry and Croatia), tucked between sea, plains, forests and mountains, the small country of Slovenia is rich of diversity and, if this three-hour tour cannot cover everything, it sure serves as the best introduction one can hope to taste in this timeframe!
Tours priced at 52€ everything included,
To make a reservation
For more info www.visitLjubljana.com

GRAND HOTEL TOPLICE, JULIJANA RESTAURANT IN BLED, SLOVENIA

Slovenia. Bled, about an hour North of the capital Ljubljana to the North-West of Slovenia. Rather than the town it is the beautiful lake that gives the name Bled, famous among the European elite as early as the 1930’s with the construction of a luxurious hotel providing  natural hot spring source knowned for health benefits.I am talking of the Grand Hotel Toplice, a venue that boasts a rich history, a magical location, gorgeous alpine and lake views and sumptuously comfortable, elegantly styled rooms.

 

Each of the rooms and suites at Grand Hotel Toplice has its own unique character and are traditionally styled with beautiful parquet floors, rich furniture and beautiful paintings with many of the rooms benefiting from breathtakingly beautiful lake views. The hotel has been recently renovated and restored to its former glory and is one of the best hotels in Slovenia as well as being a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World collection.

 

 

 

 

 

It has hosted many eminent guests and is frequented by celebrities such as  Vivian Leigh, Arthur Miller, Pablo Neruda, King Hussein of Jordan, Paul McCartney and…me, with my best friend-chef-writer Philip Sinsheimer, graciously hosted by Sava hotel and resort group that manage the venue.

Starting from the impeccable reception. the hotel boasts luxurious accommodation, few restaurant, a bar  and the enchantment of Lake Bled. All rooms and suites are individually decorated in an enchanting and traditional style, lavishly equipped with an excellent range of facilities, a relaxing thermal swimming pool and benefit from different saunas, wellness services and a solarium among a private lido, where Philip (expert swimmer) dived in the limpid lake water while me (lazy man…) was indulging in a relaxing sunbathing. We dedicated the morning ( when the light is best) to row to the island where the minuscule baroque chapel.I was anxious to hear the bells rings, because  I knew about the legend wich narrates that around the year 1500, the leaseholder of Lake Bled at the time, Hartman Kreigh, disappeared. People said he was killed. Sad for the events, the Lady of the Castle collected all of her precious golden jewellery to be melted down and casted into a bell for the chapel on the island of the Lake, so that the bell would toll in remembrance of  beloved companion. They say the bell has a magic power, when it rings, you should make 3 wishes and wait for them to become real.  We did 99 steps and finally we arrived at the church, where the view is really breathtaking and, yes, we waited for the bell… Not sure my wishes are becoming a reality, we ll see….

A true wish coming true was the  splendid dinner we were invited for dinner at Julijana Restaurant where Chef Bertoncelj prepared a great dinner.
I leave Philip the privilege of writing about it, since he is a chef and a food blogger.

                                  GRANDE CUISINE BY THE LAKE
This historic landmark now called the Grand Hotel Toplice, operated by the Sava hotel and resort group, has managed to preserve the relics of the past with grand salons adorned with memorabilia pictures and bring all the comfort of modernity at the same time.This delicate balance between past was brilliantly reflected in the cuisine of the executive chef Simon Bertoncelj and the whole crew under him. Having dinner at the gastronomic Julijana Restaurant, especially if the weather allows to eat al fresco facing the lake is a moment of bliss: the quality of service, attention to detail and classic decor evoke a certain respect of classical elegance. This doesn’t constrain the cuisine to old classics, and the chef’s creativity and modern techniques seem to find their place very naturally in this elegant environment.

The mise en bouche consisting of a delicately baked oyster and a buttery giant shrimp had all the signs of what you can expect in a palace restaurant: prime quality ingredients simply treated. This seafood opening was in synch with the view of the water even though it wasn’t the sea. As I were to learn later by the chef, unfortunately, as beautiful as it is, the lake doesn’t often yield the quantity of fish needed to take place on the menu.

 

The mushroom cappuccino with porcini had the depth of flavor one can only get in top notch restaurants, served piping hot but adorned with the freshness of a few micro greens scattered on top rather than the old habit of a dollop of cream and a few chives. Fresh too was the vitello tonnato inspired salad, bright and lively. Here, as in all the great restaurants experienced in Slovenia, the wine list paid homage to the country’s fine wines, such as the 2017Verus Chardonnay from Stajerska, the western part of the Podravje region in the North of the country. At last a chardonnay that can showcase both concentration of flavors and freshness in the palate with a mere 13° alcohol content.The shining fish course was a thick and moist turbot filet, perfectly cooked and adorned by a beautiful composition of vegetables and foamy grapefruit sauce. Here again: classic base and modern composition. Though generous, nothing was heavy, and the beautiful matured saddle of veal served pink with a herb crust was still welcome.

To finish, the iconic Bled Cream Cake, which recipe goes back to 1953 and is secretly kept by the Sava hotels group. The result was up to the legend. Even though I really do not have much of a sweet tooth, and I have had my share of mille-feuilles in France, this raised version of the classic with just two layers of perfectly crisp puffed pastry holding a firm custard covered by a layer of lighter whipped cream is to die for…

Chef Simon Bertoncelj, who has worked under the commands of Gordon Ramsey, seems rather poised and discreet, but if you really want to find out, he opens his kitchen to a guest table of 2 to 6 people for a 7-course menu cooked and served, right before their eyes…and ears!

For more info
Julijana Restaurant
Grand Hotel Toplice
Cesta svobode 12, 4260 Bled, Slovenia
+386 4 579 10 00

Contact

Cesta svobode 12, 4260 Bled, Slovenija

Reception

+386 4 579 10 00

Reservations

+386 4 579 16 00

 

 

LJUBJANA, MONSTERA BISTRO:HIP MEETS FREEDOM AND GOOD TASTE by Philip Sinsheimer

Engaging bearded chef with tattooed forearms, check. Sleek modern space with minimalist wall and plate aesthetic, check. Local sourcing and seasonal inspiration, check… All the basics of a trendy, hip 2018 restaurant seem met at Monstera. Could it be anywhere in the world? Absolutely not, you are in Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia and chef Bine Volčič makes sure that his vision is not an empty box, a mere concept, but yields to a unique experience. Why ? Because, beyond the trends, he has done everything possible to be and remain a free chef. Let’s step in… The restaurant is in the center of Ljubljana, one quiet street away from the riverbank where tourists abound . The place is small, really small, elegant, but humble… Especially when you get to learn the chef’s accomplishments which could have led him to seek grandeur, instead he chose intimacy. In case you didn’t realize, you’ve just entered the restaurant of a celebrity chef who has participated in four seasons of the Slovenian version of Master Chef.
His pedigree is flawless, determined to become a chef as soon as 7 years old, he jumpstart his professional ambitions by a formal training at the Cordon Bleu school in Paris, leading him to work at some of the French capital’s most prestigious restaurants (Apicius, l’Arpège…) and work for such big name as Joël Robuchon. Back in Slovenia, he ends up running the restaurant of a 5-star hotel in Bled. Add to that a TV boost and you have the perfect recipe for the rise of a flashy, expensive gastronomic restaurant. No, not for chef Volčič! What all this brought him: freedom, absolute freedom! Rather than slapping his name on top the bistro he opened two years ago, he chooses the rather risqué name of “Monstera”. No monsters to be found here, but a personal wink to the exotic plant that was so prevalent in 1980’s, when Slovenia was part of communist Yugoslavia. This mundane decorative plant has its secret: an unsuspected fruit with aromas of pineapple, kiwi, strawberry and banana, thus the scientific name Monstera deliciosa and nicknames such as “fruit salad tree”. The metaphor behind the restaurant’s name: behind the unassuming appearances, there can be hidden treasures and a symphony of flavors. OK, now, how does that translate itself onto the plate? We are getting hungry here! Don’t look for a long menu to pick from, there is none. The menu changes every few days, at the chef’s will, composed of two appetizers, two main courses and two desserts, with vegetarian options. The dinner goes free-style with a 5 or 7 course tasting menu and you are in the chef’s hands, which was our lucky experience.

 

The opening was a homemade buckwheat cracker (hello gluten-free eaters!) covered by beautifully tender, lightly marinated red trout, an “eye catching” half-globe of lemon jelly and a touch of smoky mayo (pic). Wow! Simple, creative, light, delicious .Among the other things tasted were a beautiful deer carpaccio (locally sourced of course, forests and mountains aren’t far), charred cauliflower, wild flower and herbs. Bingo!

 

 

In honor of neighboring Italy, a couple of beautiful tortellini (pic) with a creamed porcini mousse and a genius tarragon oil, a wink to the French ubiquitous herb which traditionally used in Slovenia in sweets such as the potica rolled pastry.

As dishes come along, were invited to taste some fantastic “natural” Slovenian wines,  meaning made from grapes organically, hand-picked grapes, fermented with no added yeast and no added sulfites. The unfiltered Marof Sauvignon from the Prekmurje Eastern region bordering Hungry, was outstanding in its depth and minerality. For the amateurs, there is also a local craft beer, of course, and homemade herb and fruit syrups to pair with pure Ljubljana water.

Certain of the chef’s creations are really off the chart, such as this combination of tempura of jerk marinated tripe with fork tender grilled octopus (pic), served
with a combination of the two ingredients cooking juices.

The finishing touch came with a fruit forward dessert with an unforgettable ice cream with a distinctive almond flavor that came from integrating in the tiny “nut” inside the cherry pits.

 

Genius!

 

 

This is a no waste restaurant which goes along with ecological responsibility, but also serves as a creative incentive and flavor boost. Vegetable peels, for example, are dehydrated and then turned into a seasoning powder.

Don’t judge a book by its cover, the saying says. As tiny and unassuming as the restaurant can appear from the outside, Monstera will elevate you to high spheres and get you to taste the unmistakable freshness of freedom at its best. Reserve now!

MONSTERA BISTRO
Gosposka ulica 9, Ljubljana, Slovenia
+386 (0)40 431 123
For more info
http://monsterabistro.si/en/

London.Trangallán: the truth about tortilla…

Trangallán is a word from Galicia, Spain for a kind of bohemian artist.
This so called ‘gastro-cultural space’ certainly has that bohemian feel, with its shabby chic-flea market furniture contrasting with rich glass chandeliers and vintage objects all around. The menu changes frequently boasting imaginative dishes revealing a good deal of skill and creativity. Add an easy-going welcome from the stuff and the super cool owner–chef, who came at my table to say hello while sipping a delicious 2016 Albarino Igrexario de Salar and snacking some succulent Manzanilla olives.                                                        I followed his suggestions and went for a very traditional tortilla made of eggs and potatoes. Perfectly browned on the outside, still tender within and served at room temperature. I asked if that is the way that tortilla should be served, medium warm not hot. They told me that is a Spanish tradition to cook tortillas in the morning and let them rest till the meal so, yes, the temperature should be room temperature, Good to know. Then I tasted a more winterish dish of judion, a butter beans & piparras, followed by a perfectly roasted octopus with saffron potatoes and wilde samphire.                                  If you’re looking for a ‘not so commun’ tapas restaurants in North London, or Spanish food in Stoke Newington then you must try this cool venue.

For more info
Trangallán  
61 Newington Green, Mildmay Ward, London N16

LONDON, A HOT DINNER AT UKAI

Outdoor, a flashing red neon sign says Japanese Gastropub, just below a mysterious face of a mysterious woman. Is she a geisha? Is she crying or praying? Let’ s go inside. Previous doubts ended as soon as I found myself embraced by UKAI’s cosy and warm atmosphere . A welcoming bar to the front and an open kitchen restaurant in the back. It looked loke a nice mixing of Japanese design with Italian flair and some traditional British pub features black and white photo portraits give an art gallery feeling, while Japanese artwork and foliage painting decorate walls and ceilings the rooms adorns the walls; furnished with causal wooden tables and filtered by an amber lighting that warms up the rooms.

 

The big surprise was to briefly chat in italian with the head chef Alex Verros or should I calling him Alessandro, as he’s Italian born, like me.

Alex, who previously worked at Roka and Nobu, told me about his passion of mixing different cultures and ingredients, like his native land North Italian truffles, to South Latin accents, to British influences, not afraid to combine simplicity with complexity. I started with a warm, inviting and comforting wonderful salmon miso soup, served with tofu, seaweed and spring onion. Then I beg Alessandro to surprise me. And he did. Between his choices, my favorite were the kampachi salad, with thin slivers of tender cobia white fish, drizzled with yuzu truffle and rocket, a dish that Alessandro likes to pair with galapeno and the prawn tempura maki. From the menu, I would like to mention also some signatures dishes as the truffle white tuna tataki, the lobster tail tempura and his ceviche, where Japanese flavours meet South American tradition. In addition to a generous choice of sushi, sashimi and nagiri and of course the beef robata dishes that Alessandro loves to cook in person, lighted by the fire grill fireworks .

 

 

 

 

Impossible not to ask such a nice host a souvenir picture…
‘Let’ do it at my robata grill, said Alessandro, it is my favourite spot in this place’ ‘Certamente!’, I enthusiastically answered, and, both risking a fire attack, I shoot the pic.
A hot moment of an unforgettable dinner.For more info
UKAI
240 Portobello Rd, London W11
Phone: +44 20 7792 2444

London, discovering Seven Dials. TREDWELLS with an interview with Chef Chantelle Nicholson

                                                              London.
Welcome to Tredwells, a Marcus Wareing restaurant and winner of AA’s London Restaurant of the Year.
Great location, excellent service and a breathtaking menu signed by the charming Chef Chantelle Nicholson, Tredwells showcases the very best in British seasonal produce  Located in the trendy Seven Dials area, right in the heart of Covent Garden, the venue boasts two bar areas serving seasonally inspired cocktails, cementing Tredwells’ reputation as one of the best drinks venues in Seven Dials. the restaurant sets over three floors, while the mezzanine and lower ground floors are available for exclusive hire.

Potato and rosemary bread, salted whey butter

 

 

I went for lunch, tried several of Chantelle proposals and found them all perfectly cooked and pleasantly tasting, starting from the beginning with a great potato and rosemary bread with salted whey butter till the end, indulging in a delicious fig mousse.

 

Fig leaf panna cotta , peach

 

 

I noted, and photographed my choices and my recommendations.

 

After lunch, I meet with Chef Chantelle, obviously in her kingdom,the kitchen, and chatted oh her life, her love for cooking and her first solo cook book Planted.

Where your passion for food comes from?
It’s all because of the love of my New Zealand garden, so rich of herbs and vegetables and my two aunties who were great cooks Probably since that tender age I wanted to be a Chef, but…story of my life, I went to university to become a lawyer.
So you forgot your culinary passion?
Not really , while studying, I got a job at the local café, waking up at 6am on Saturday mornings to bake muffins, then proudly becoming a kitchen hand in the restaurant of a small hotel that also had a garden…
A garden? Here you go…
Yes, my passion for fruits and vegetables was there again, learning about seasonal food, how they grow, and the ecosystem of the garden. I remember picking up herbs super early in the morning…

Slow cooked lamb belly, beetroot, brioche

What happened to the lawyer?
Well, I passed the bar in my law exams and ready to become a layer , but the still enchantment of the kitchen was always in my head…Coincidentally I enrolled the amateur cooking competition Chef Search, run by Gordon Ramsay. I made it to the final six, and was offered to work at The Savoy, London.

Sweetcorn mousse, cornbread, pickled mushroom

After that?
I have co-authored Marcus’s cookery books and in 2015 worked with him consulting on the movie Burnt. Then Marcus Wareing asked if she’d join Pétrus, his two-starred restaurant, as a junior sous chef in 2006, followed by The Gilbert Scott in 2011 and from 2014 I was in charge of as group operations director of the entire range of Marcus Wareing restaurants. Now I am back to my passion: cooking! I am proudly the chef patron at Tredwells created by the genius of Marcus Wareing.

Swiss chard pancake, turmeric, coconut, cashew

Your new book ‘Planted’
Is not a book about veganism, it is about tasty dishes, made without animal products. You will find recipes for a plant-based cooking, focusing on plant based cuisine that deliver taste and creativity. I like to celebrate produce, seasonality and food that taste good.

Gloucerstershire pork collar, bacon jam, peas, broad beans, courgette

Chantelle, what will I always find in your fridge?
Vegetables, vegetables, vegetables and a bottle of a great New Zealand Chardonnay!

TOPINANBU,  ROASTED AND CARAMELIZED PUY LENTILS
WITH ZHOUG SALAD AND SPICED PLUMS
Ingredients for 4 people.
1.5 kg of artichoke flakes
1/4 bunch of thyme
50 g of non-dairy butter
250 ml of non-diary milk, that is, without milk and derivatives.
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Puy Lentils 280 (if you don’t find Puy, you can use normal green lentils)
2 bay leaves
1 clove of garlic
1/4 bunch of thyme
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/4 bunch of finely chopped parsley
80 g of pitted prunes, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
1/2 nutmeg, finely grated
1/2 teaspoon of mixed spices.

For the zhoug sauce
1 bunch of coriandol
1/2 bunch of parsley with flat leaves
1 green pepper, dried and diced
1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds, toasted and finely chopped
1 cardamom pod, finely chopped
2 finely chopped carnation chods
1/2 teaspoon of agave
2 cloves of garlic peeled and finely pressed
50 ml of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of table salt
Put all the ingredients in a blender with 2 tablespoons of water. Blend until it forms a thick paste.

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 180 ℃.
Place the artichokes in a pan with the butter, the thyme and season with salt. Put in the oven for 20-25
minutes to obtain an intense and crunchy golden color.Rubal every 10 minutes to even out the color. Remove half of the artichokes and mix with the milk to form a thick cream. Season to taste. For lentils, rinse well in cold water. Put in a pan with 1 liter of water, bay leaves, garlic and thyme. Season well and bring to the boil. Boil for 20-30 minutes until cooked. Drain, discarding the herbs and garlic, then mix with olive oil, salt, pepper and parsley. For the plums, place them in a medium saucepan with the spices and cover with hot water. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes then dip them in a blender, or use a stick blender to create a thick paste. Season with salt. To serve, divide the puree into 4 bowls. Add the sliced ​​lentils and artichokes. Season with zhoug and parsley.


Ingredienti per 4 persone.

1,5 kg di carciofo a scaglie
1/4 mazzetto di timo
50 g di burro non caseario
250 ml di latte ‘non diary’ cioe’ senza latte e derivati.
Sale marino e pepe nero appena macinato
Lenticchie Puy 280 (se non trovayte le Puy, potete usare delle normali lenticchie verdi)
2 foglie di alloro
1 spicchio d’aglio
1/4 mazzetto di timo
2 cucchiai di olio d’oliva
1/4 mazzo di prezzemolo finemente tritato
80 g di prugne snocciolate, tritate grossolanamente
1/2 cucchiaino di cannella in polvere
1/2 noce moscata, finemente grattugiata
1/2 cucchiaino di spezie miste.

Per la salsa zhoug
1 mazzetto di coriandol
1/2 mazzetto di prezzemolo a foglie piatte
1 peperoncino verde, disseccato e tagliato a dadini
1/2 cucchiaino di semi di cumino, tostato e tritato finemente
1 baccello di cardamomo, tritato finemente
2 chodi di garofano finemente tritati
1/2 cucchiaino di agave
2 spicchi d’aglio sbucciati e pressati finemente
50 ml di olio d’oliva
1/2 cucchiaino di sale da tavola
Mettere tutti gli ingredienti in un frullatore con 2 cucchiai d’acqua. Frullare fino a formare una pasta spessa.

Preparazione
Preriscaldare il forno a 180 ℃.
Disporre i carciofi in una teglia con il burro, il timo e condire con sale. Mettere in forno per 20-25
minuti fino a ottenere un colore dorato intenso e croccante.ruorali ogni 10 minuti per uniformare il colore. Rimuovere metà dei carciofi e mescolare con il latte, per formare una crema densa. Condire a piacere. Per le lenticchie, sciacquare bene sotto l’acqua fredda. Mettere in una padella con 1 litro d’acqua, foglie di alloro, aglio e timo. Condire bene e portare a ebollizione. Far bollire per 20-30 minuti fino a cottura ultimata. Scolare, scartando le erbe e l’aglio, quindi mescolare con l’olio d’oliva, sale, pepe e prezzemolo.Per le prugne, metterle in una casseruola media con le spezie e coprire con acqua calda. Portare a ebollizione per 10 minuti quindi immergerle in un frullatore, o utilizzare un frullatore a bastoncino, per creare una pasta spessa. Insaporire di sale. Per servire, dividere la purè in 4 ciotole. Aggiungere le lenticchi e i carciofi tagliati spicchi. Condire con zhoug e prezzemolo.

INFO
Tredwells
https://www.tredwells.com/
4A Upper St Martin’s Lane
London WC2H 9NY
Tel
+44 (0)20 3764 0840
Seven Dials
https://www.sevendials.co.uk/

 

Monday – Thursday
Lunch: 12pm – 3pm
Dinner: 5pm – 10pm
Friday
Lunch: 12pm – 3pm
Dinner: 5pm – 11pm
Saturday: 12pm- 11pm
Sunday: 12pm – 9pm

Tredwells
4A Upper St Martin’s Lane
London WC2H 9NY

for more info
www.tredwells.com

 

OXO TOWER, London at your feet and taste on your your table.

London. I happily experimented the OXO TOWER restaurant located at the eight floor of the OXO Tower. Relaxed atmosphere, good service and … the view. The menu boasts dishes so-called ‘contemporary British’ with European accents spanning from Spain with a gazpacho with sardine paté, to Italy with bresaola paired to a watermelon carpaccio. I tried a rich yet delicate soup of Scottish langoustines, spaghetti style chopped squids, tomatoes, fennel, and lobster- It tasted rich yet delicate, not too spicy or garlicky (I hate too much garlic…) Notably the langoustines were nicely straight, not curvy at all, My very nice Italian born waiter, told me that the secret is simply to put them in the freezer for about 40 minutes.When you take them out, the shell will be solidified, you would easily break it and extract the langoustine in all its fullness and horizontality. As a main dish, I followed Guido’s suggestion and opted for a John Dory fish, served with lobster, celery puré, oil and herb sauce with little white beans.

 

 

I must say all the ingredients were in perfect fusion and the broth maintained its freshness thanks to the acidity of the vegetables. I paired with a very fruity Albarino Atlantico white wine from Galicias, excellent!

 

As a side dish, a kale salad, sprinkled with a powder of beets and pumpkin seeds and seasoned with a Caesar dressing.Delicious finale: English strawberry and basil mousse.
Not to mention the spectacular sunset view that made my dinner unforgettable.

 

For more info
https://www.harveynichols.com/restaurant/the-oxo-tower/

For reservations
Call 020 7803 3888 or
email oxo.reservations@harveynichols.com

Call them CUOCHI (cooks) …not CHEFS !

Great party on October 13th,14th at the picturesque village Villa Santa Maria (Chieti) located on the top of the beautiful region of Abruzzo, Italy.
The patron of the village is San Francesco Caracciolo, born here in 1563, considered to be the patron of all the cooks of the world. As a matter of fact, in 1560 the Caracciolo family built the first cooking school, the idea was born from the practice of the hunters to challenge themselves in the kitchen as cooks and waiters returning from hunting. The goal was to train the court cooks and the nobles of the time. In Via Roma you can visit the museum where you can retrace the history of the school.
The 2018 FESTA DEI CUOCHI (Feast of Cooks) is celebrating this year its 40th anniversary and will boast the best of the local and international cuisines along with music performances,, meetings, show cooking and well-known Italian TV celebrities and of course the cooks who will prepare their best dishes in the central square of the village.
Here we are at an important birthday – says mayor Pino Finamore – the 40th anniversary of the Feast of Chefs! A satisfaction for the whole country and for all the Abruzzo that has managed to keep intact such a beautiful tradition. The long history that embraces Villa Santa Maria is an element of great culture, a heritage that we must carry forward and deliver to future generations, so as to celebrate many other birthdays! “.
As always, there will be the usual appointment of the “Open Doors” at the prestigious Istituto Alberghiero Giovanni Marchitelli, national excellence that is based in the Abruzzi area: this school, founded in the early 1900s, professionally trained chefs who bring the kitchen Italian around the world.
Do not miss the calendar of meetings and show cooking! At the Festa dei Cuochi there will be the last winner of the Masterchef program, Simone Scipioni who will prepare a recipe that is still top secret. Also scheduled a “Salotto del Gusto” with the nutritionist Corrado Pierantoni who will give an overview together with the beloved Rocco Pagano, former player of Serie A of Pescara, entitled “We train at the table”: a chat about the correct diet to follow and on the secrets that all athletes must respect to be always fit and full of energy. Following the inviting aromas of the kitchen of Sabatino Lattanzi, executive chef of Zunica 1880 Ristorante & Hotel: a show cooking in which will be presented a kitchen that will amaze and conquer all palates, even the most demanding.
Sunday, as usual, will start with a visit to the Istituto Alberghiero Marchitelli and demonstrations of the skill of the students followed by their teachers. At the same time, the main street of the town will be filled with stands, tasting tables and products all made in Abruzzo: a long corridor full of sweet and savory regional delicacies! In the afternoon there will be a particular …
Test of the Cook: four mayors of the area, two of the hinterland and two of the coast, will challenge each other by preparing a typical mountain recipe and a typical recipe of the sea; the winning couple will be chosen by a special jury, led by chef Pino Finamore, as well as mayor of Villa Santa Maria. Also on Sunday, you can attend an interesting meeting on the history and preparation of traditional recipes that see among the main ingredients the native wines of the region.I had the opportunity to participate at last year edition , had a great time and finally asked to ‘cuochi’ what would be the difference between a cook and a chef .The chef prepare complicate dishes that look amazing and appeal to the view…We, cooks, make our traditional dishes that just taste great!
Between the sponsors, the famous Pasta De Cecco, a world-renowned brand for the production of durum wheat pasta and the great Tollo Wines, one of the largest wineries in central and southern Italy, now a leader in numbers and quality for organic wines in a BIO variety of white, red and rosè.
see you at
LA FESTA DEI CUOCHI October 13th,14th
Villa Santa Maria (Chieti)
Italy

LET’S TALK ABOUT PORCINI MUSHROOMS!

Chef Stefano Maddalin, cadorino by birth, after 5 years of hotel school and various experiences around Italy, he is currently taking care of the restaurant La Žìria, located at the Hotel Monaco Sport Hotel, Santo Stefano di Cadore, in the province of Belluno,Italy.
I met him in his native village, a magical location in the heart of Val Comelico, ideal to spend the holidays in complete freedom, surrounded by wilderness of the majestic Dolomites Mountain.
Stefano showed up with a beautiful basket of porcini mushrooms just delivered minutes before.
Our conversation went obviously right to the ‘king of mushroom’ Let’s talk about porcini then.
Where to find?
Preferably in the fir woods.
How to catch?
Simply use your hands and a small knife. first digging the heart, then reaching the root and cutting with the knife.
How to carry at home?
Use a wicker basket, possibly with wide intercom, so the spores can pass through  the cracks and return to sow the ground.Never store them in plastic bags.
How to clean? Remove the earth with a small knife, then brush the remaining dirt with a small brush. Never throw them underwater because they get damaged.

 

How to cook?
As you prefer: deliciously raw in salads, cut very thin and garnished with fresh lettuce, cherry tomatoes or simply sprinkled with parmesan, salt pepper and lemon or the way I cooked them tonight, as a stuffing, with ricotta and onion

 

 

to fill our traditional casunzei, home-made pasta ravioli seasoned with poured butter and a little scratch of poina, typical smoked cheese from our territory.
A local dish to pair porcini ?
Typically cervo in salmì, dear slowly marinated and cooked with red wine and spices, to take away that wild taste, a common mistake is to sprinkle on some lemon, I don’t like that, I prefer to garnish or top with cocoa, raspberries or blueberries.
Let’s imagine that you are the guest of honor on the final episode of TV Master Chef, what would you create to impress the audience?
Well, I worked in starred restaurants, where the dished and the presentation could be very laborious, but personally I prefer the simplicity, a dish where the ingredients are synonymous of reality and they  are not disguised by other flavors.
So, what is never in your fridge?
Frozen foods, preservatives, I love my cuisine to be the most fresh, real and natural as possible.
A twist of your traditional mountain cuisine?
Canederli as a dessert. Canederli are bread dumplings and can be considered part of ‘cucina povera’ (cuisine of the poor), as they are made of simple and inexpensive ingredients: stale bread moistened with milk and bound with eggs and a small amount of flour. I sweeten them and topped with berries jam and elevated them to a tasty dessert.Text and photos by Cesare Zucca

 

 

 

 

PORTICO DI ROMAGNA. Chef’s Paradise.

Welcome to Al Vecchio Convento a so called Albergo Diffuso, which best can be translated to “Spread out Hotel”, situated in Portico di Romagna a medieval village , in the Appennine Hills between Florence and Ravenna in Tuscan Romagna.
In the kitchen you’ll find the men of the Cameli family: dad Giovanni with his two sons, Massimiliano and Matteo and the flamboyant mamma Marisa


Their cuisine is real, simple, never boring.
I tried a Matteo’s masterpiece:
a creamy tagliatelle alla canapa with basil, literally melting in my mouth.
Then the amazing crema di ortiche, a nettle soupy cream enriched with potatoes , onions and fresh herbs. The hotel is famous for his restaurant and the real , simple yet sophisticated menu, not to mention those Marisa’s cakes…
Experimenting a Albergo Diffuso means living the town the nontouristytourist way having as neighbors local inhabitants and letting yourself being absorbed by the relaxed rythm of local life. I met with Chef/Owners Matteo and Massimiliano Cameli, who not only manage the venue, but also promote the territory while organizing cooking courses that provide the Guests with the amazing discovering of the great local food culture  and learning how to make typical, Italian recipes such as home-made pasta, risotto, truffle, mushrooms, home baked bread and pizza while Massimiliano will take you on wine and gastronomy tours discovering local wine and olive oil producers,They organize horse-riding, trekking, cycling in the National Park, excursions to the Art-city Ravenna.and all levels Italian language courses, in the suggestive old Canon’s house, on top of the village, not to mention the exciting truffle hunts guided by Matteo and his dogs. Every year Portico hosts Chef Sotto il Portico. The event, organized by the Pro Loco Portico di Romagna in collaboration with Al Vecchio Convento, is a cuisine bonanza featuring a valange of international chef sharing their culinary creations with visitors. A festive meeting of different culture and tastes. In this year team Laura Verhust, pastry chef of Madam Bakster https://madambakster.be/ in Gant, Belgium prepared two vegan dishes, lemon avocado pie with almond crust and rusberry coulis .A warn rice pudding cooked in homemade almond milk, fresh vanilla and wild berries. Both no gluten, no sugar, no fat, no lactose, no butter, no eggs and…miracosly delicious. Argentine born Carlos Horacio Gimenez representing Ryotek Restaurant in Rykiavick, Iceland, served a shared tuna with avocado, picked melon, fresh coriander and amarillo pepper that he brought with him from South America. Omar Gallego from Barcelona cooked a crunchy taco with pork cheek cooked in red wine, coriander, tomato, garlic and ajoli. I wanted something easy to eat, easy to go, he said, that could perfectly go with a nice beer.
From Stockholm, Axel Zuber food scientist, restaurant Kitchen inspector of kitchens loves to cook , For his fifth time in Portico, he created a piatto per bambini a colorful dish for kids: kinda a homemade hot dog style sausage in a salted croissant happily paired to colored vegetable cubes made with vegetables.
Encocado de bacalao was the cod dish made by Marco Alvarez who likes fusion between dishes of different nationalities like Thailand and Ecuador. His dish was garnished with pea pureè, spicy coconut, corn sauce in Aonoriko seaweed crust.
Fabio Jesus, from Sintra, Portugal, works with known Bartlett catering. He prepared a Vino Santo and peach cheesecake, watermelon sorbet, fresh raspberry sauce and roasted white chocolate. You have a lots of different textures, says Fabio, a bit sour, a bit sweet, some alcohol… to party!

Stuli, from Iceland created a summery dish with a lobster and crabs patè floating in a dark green cucumber gaspacho
Was fun to check people s reactions. Some ‘experiments’ were much loved, some…less.
I am talking of Finland Mikael Mihailov’s spicy papaya salad, served with tomato-chilly foam,  caramelized nuts, nitro kaffir lime drops, crispy rice and dried vinaigrette with seaweed. Great intentions, nice presentation, interesting prospectives, but to me the contrasting ingredients were not going anywhere…Some Chefs became instantly popular, like Scottish Scott Forte his ,,, was super requested and pretty soon sold out…So I tried it the next day (there is a lunch time repeat) I wasn’t very impressed, perhaps because the heath of the day didn’t really suit the quite winterish dish.
Let’s go to my favorites!
Croatian Toni Milos, manager of Martinis Marchi restaurant located in a historic castle in Maslinica on the island of Šolta’s west coast, eenchanted the guests and me with his perfectly coocked octopus, pan roasted with leeks, red onions and served over arrugula. (I loved, I had it twice… To British George Gordon Brandford, now adopted by Vecchio Covento, goes my ‘Most Suprising Dish Award’. A vegan watermelon steak served with cucumber, gin granite and crispy tonic water. The watermelon slices were first carefully barbequed then ignated, to obtain an unknowen substancy. The technique was just amazing. I never tasted something like that. Bravo Gorgon!
Last but not the least!
Matteo Cameli
from Al Vecchio Covento. To me Matteo in more than a chef, he is a visionary and a poet. His challenging dish was a risotto al fienoI like to run in the morning, Matteo told me, in a very cold day, I had the vision and the comfort of a warm hay essence. I made it, distilled bio hay, added herbal essential oils to obtain a concentrated broth to be cooked with a 7 years old arlecchino rice, garnished by tasty crusty layer of burned goat , garnishing with wild herbs and flowers. I made it, I closed my eyes, tasted it and yes, the aroma of my fields in a sunny day was all there.
I tried his risotto. I rated 9, then I had a bite of those crunchy goat’s milk croutons and the my score went up to 10!
Beside the hotel activities, the venue offers various initiatives like Italian language classes, excursions, vistit to local oil and wine producers, exciting porcini and truffle hunts, cooking courses for the guests who are interested in discovering some secrets of the Italian food culture. It’s possible to do just 1 lesson or 2 or 3 or the whole cooking-week.
A venue, a village and a vacation to remember….
for more info
Al Vecchio Convento, Portico di Romagna, (Forlì) Italy

 

 

 

 

THE ORIGINS, THE SEARCH, THE TRADITIONS, THE SECRETS OF A REFINED CUISINE IN VENICE

INTERVIEW WITH CHEF DAMIANO BASSANO AT L’ALCOVA, VENICE
Damiano, originally from Salento, began his career in Paris and Strasbourg, followed by Spain and the United States. Traditional Italian flavors combined with unique touches are the distinctive elements of its cuisine. He loves experimenting and creating new combinations. Since two years he has been the as Executive Chef of the renowned restaurant L’Alcova, in the splendid Hotel Ca’Sagredo taking care not only of the restaurant and breakfast menu, but also the rich buffets of special events, such as the one tonight, for the presentation of the book ‘Women’ written by Uruguay born Milton Fernandez.

 

On these occasions, will your menu be inspired to the theme and atmosphere of the event?
Certainly. Today, as a tribute to the latin author, I prepared finger food with roast beef and lime, mini tacos and small empanadas that remind me so much of the tiny Pugliese panzerotti.

 


Let’s talk about fish.
Where do you shop?
At the Rialto market. I rely on seasonality and suggestions from my supplier.
From there I decide the menu of the day and make fish dishes that maintain the typical Italian cuisine, always keeping an eye to our international clientele, often with different tastes from ours.
Today, an elderly Venetian told me that this market is becoming increasingly scarce and less stocked. It’s true?
Unfortunately, yes, slowly it is reducing in extension and presence of sellers, a bit like the real Venetians that today are only around 50,000. Even the fishermen confirm that the fish choices have changed and the variety has shrunk. Delicacies like the schie … have become a memory. Today the request is primarily oriented on mussels, clams, sea bream, sea bass, king prawns, tuna, sword.. in other words ‘universally known fish’, available everywhere but preferred by tourists who generally fear experiencing tastes that they do not know.
Sad, right?
Yes, because I think it would be nice to let the customer try the local typicality. I find it genuinely useless to propose in Venice some American scallops, easily available even in New York!
Fruits and vegetables?
Amazingly good. We are supplied by the island of Sant’Erasmo, whose sale and removal was so successful that the Consorzio di Sant’Erasmo opened a sales outlet right here in Venice. We hope for good … too much success sometimes spoiled.
A fish that you love to cook but which you gave up, given the doubtful reception of the international customer?
I have no doubt; the spatula, which I would love to cook especially after my Sicilian experiences. Even my supplier told me ‘Damiano, the spatula is not so difficult to procure, but there is no request, I am sorry … pick up another fish’.
It reminds me a bit of the phenomenon of globalization. There are no artisan shops because of the large chains promoted by consumerism. So mothers or grandmothers who cook in a trattoria, are not there anymore?
Well, I find them when I go back to my Salento. There is still some small osteria without a specific menu. Grandma cooks daily 2 or 3 dishes according to what she found at the market. And they are all spectacular!
Do you cook at home?
Almost never, I prefer to go out with friends, I rarely make a salad and if I am really  in the mood, I make my favorite dish: spaghetti tomatoes and basil. I love simplicity!
Never in your fridge …
Prepacked mayonnaise and mustard.
Always in your fridge …
Cherry tomatoes.

 

The top dishes of tonight’s menu?
Spaghetti, zucchini and wild mint creamed with bottarga, then fresh sea bass sauteed with salt, oil and thyme and served on a summer panzanella with red onion and fresh gherkin.
So there is a touch of Mediterranean heritage in your kitchen for the Serenissima?
Of course, here I revive perfumes and tastes that I always keep in my heart, naturally adapting them to an international clientele of a certain level.
About the Mediterranean thing… try my semifreddo with basil and my apricot mousse with rosemary ….

DINNER AT THE ALCOVA, THE RESTAURANT OF THE LUXURIOUS HOTEL CA’SAGREDO, VENICE
Prosecco on the table, (with which I adopted with throughout the all dinner) and small varied sandwiches, including a delicious black fennel bread.                                                                 
As a starter a pie of beets, figs, almonds and mini melon balls. I’m not a big lover of sweet and sour, but I found it pleasant.

 

Here is comes a more determined and tasty stewed moscardino with polenta, a typical Venetian dish. As pasta dishes, I tried the spaghetti with zucchini and mint, creamed with bottarga. Honestly I found the flavors a bit ‘disjointed, perhaps not very connected, I definitely preferred spaghetti with cuttlefish ink served with crispy cuttlefish, al dente, tasty, light and not too saturated of fishy flavor.                                                                              Then a chef recommendation: fresh sea bass served on squares of a slightly acetate panzanella bread garnished with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and red onions.

 

The pairing with the panzanella didn’t really appealed to me, but I respect the intentions of Bassano, who’s Salento’s origins like to add to the menu a little of Mediterranean cuisine and the aroma of the local herbs, as in the grand finale:
a mousse
with basil and a spectacular rosemary semifreddo.
Fresh and refreshing, with an extra point to the rosemary!

 

Restaurant L’Alcova

Hotel Ca’Sagredo

Are you a pizza lover… but intolerant to lactose ?

So many of us cannot deal with lactose or have difficulty digesting milk and dairy products …Here the solution!
‘A pizza, the brand made in Naples that distributes homemade artisan pizzas at home and throughout Italy, launches a lactose-free pizza margherita, which can be consumed in complete safety without having to give up the unmistakable taste of Neapolitan artisan pizza margherita and a red pizza, or oil and tomato. Margherita pizza without lactose ‘A Pizza is prepared with lactose less than 0.01% soft wheat flour 00, water, tomato, extra virgin olive oil, salt, basil. It has a long leavening dough prepared by the skilled hands of the master pizza makers. The proposal for intolerant people is also enriched by the Pizza Rossa: one of the most traditional and traditional flavors, to be consumed as it is or to be seasoned with the most diverse ingredients according to personal taste.
These pizzas preserve intact the nutritional values, the taste, the taste and the fragrance of the True Neapolitan Pizza.
The distribution of ‘A Pizza covers the whole national territory through the express courier: the product is packaged in a special “frozen pack” that allows you to maintain the right temperature for 48 hours. In the main cities’ A Pizza is delivered within 24 hours of its shipment.
Enjoy your healthy pizza!

Making tasty dishes without salt, fat and sugar ?

I met Marcello in Venice a while a ago, Back then he introduced me to his revolutionary concept La Cucina del Senza® a non salt-sugar-fat cuisine.
So, it is possible to make tasty dishes without the addition of salt, fat and sugar ?
YES! According to Lucia and Marcello Coronini, journalists, food critics and life companions and authors of the new book MANGIARE CON GUSTO E VIVERE 100 ANNI  EATING WITH TASTE AND LIVING 100 YEARS       Researches have selected different foods with substances able to improve the quality of life and lengthen their life. Several books have been written on the importance of these foods called smart, longevity or life saving, able to protect against diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems, hypertension, tumors, etc.
70 recipes carefully studied by the authors who inserted 80 LIFE SAVERS ingredients
into the dishes, a splendid marriage was born with La Cucina del Senza, eliminating fat, salt and added sugar, balancing the metabolism, disinfecting the body and helping to eliminate excess fat naturally, the use of life savers enhances the effects on health. Coronini himself lost 5.5 kg without going on a diet and his pressure has normalized.
Some lifesavers will surprise the reader like the coffee that you do not expect or the bargain that everyone thinks is rich in sugar, while in reality it contains only 4 g in 100, and then the caper that has incredible properties and to finish the dark chocolate and “authentic” mustard. In addition to that, you will find new ways of cooking that simplify and lighten the preparation
Here one of my fav
HUMMUS WITH BEETROOTS AND CHICKPEAS
Hummus is a vegetable sauce that has Lebanese origins and is widespread throughout the Mediterranean (Egypt, Greece, Syria, Turkey and Israel). This version, of a beautiful cyclamen color, contains ingredients with important nutritional properties. If not consumed immediately put it back in the refrigerator in an airtight container, it will be stored for a couple of days. The thaina sauce is a sauce made from sesame seeds.
INGREDIENTS AND HOW TO COOK

500 g of drained canned chickpeas
or 300 g of dried chickpeas
200 g of already cooked beets
100 g of thaina sauce
2 cloves of garlic
1 small red onion
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 tablespoon of spicy paprika  or spicy chilli powder
3-4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil of olive
1 lemon
1 tablespoon of thyme or parsley

Cook the dried chickpeas if you use them in water without salt added after have left them soaking for one night, if for reasons of time instead you have to use chickpeas in box, wash them under running water warm or immerse them for 3 minutes in boiling water (that will go away light taste of closed and you will eliminate the added salt); drain and remove them the external skin. Cut the beets into pieces and put them in the mixer with chickpeas, the thaina sauce, the private garlic of the soul, the chopped onion, lemon juice, paprika, cumin and oil. Add little with little water to give the right consistency: it must not be neither too hard nor too soft. Blend at intervals Sprinkle with fresh thyme or parsley. This sauce is perfect with bread croutons, hot wholemeal bread and paired with cooked vegetables.

MEET THE GRILLO AND CHOOSE HAPPINESS

The seasonal climatic conditions in 2017 were normal. Winter was relatively cool and dry as was Spring, leading to an early budding of the vines. Temperatures in the summer months were typical for the region, with the exception of a small four-day heat wave at the beginning of August when highs reached up to 44°C. The grapes were left thankfully healthy in spite of the spike in heat.

The plants had developed a balanced state between leaf and cluster due to the normal conditions throughout the year, so the grapes were sheltered with enough shade from the leaves to withstand the sun while still ripening very well. The aromatic and phenolic properties of the grapes were perfect

 

 

Today I choose Grillo Costadune Sicilia DOC 2017 

Grillo It is a white grape variety that is native to and widely diffused across Sicily, but particularly favoured in the Western regions of the island. It grows medium-sized clusters of spherical grapes that have a particularly thick skin. The vines grow best in high sun exposure and sandy soils, which helps it develop a high sugar content. Harvest generally takes place in the last two weeks of September. The wines end up with a higher alcohol level, a pleasantly wide range of aromas and great structure and minerality in the mouth.
A native white variety that grows in vineyards overlooking the sunny beaches of Southwestern Sicily. It is a wine with a typical Mediterranean character, intensely mineral yet fresh due to the medium textured calcareous soils and altitudes ranging from 80 to 200 m above sea level.Ageing takes place in steel for three months and then bottle for another three resulting in a fresh and mineral wine with strong notes of citrus and basil.  It hits the mouth with intense flavours of the seaside, fresh fruit and an underlying sapidity.
It is best paired with those spectacular sicilan grilled sardines, roasted vegetables, fresh cheeses and white meats.

 

 

 

 

for more info
mandrarossa.it 

 

WINE articles by CESARE ZUCCA

see full article

see full article

https://nontouristytourist.com/2018/10/17/bric-paradiso-roero-docg-riserva-2013-memory-of-the-sea/

see full article 

see full article

Today I take you to Tenuta Carretta one of the most historic Italian wineries, founded back in 1467 and located in the Roero area, in the South of Piedmont Region, Italy .The property’s vineyards also extend close to the Langhe, such as 2.6 hectares in Barolo on the prestigious Cannubi hill, from which the nebbiolo grapes destined for the production of the celebrated Barolo Cannubi, a wine of grand character, elegance and longevity.Thanks to the vines’ exposure to sun and to the particular microclimate, it is a wine of grand character, elegance and longevity, thanks to the exposure to sun and to the particular climate.

 

Not to mention the iconic 2010 Barolo Cannubi Riserve 100% nebbiolo grapes , with a  minimum refinement of 60 months, of which at least 36 in barrel and 18 in bottle. Enjoy its scent of roses, citrus notes, cacao and spices.

 

 

Yes, Tenuta Carretta is preparing to showcase their wines in the industry’s biggest fairs in Verona, Italy called Vinitaly,  the largest Italian wine show hosting the best winemaking all over Italy.
Verona, April 15-18, 2018  at Pavillion 10, Stand R4
Tenuta Carretta is a splendid winery that sets the stage of an amphitheatre of unique and evocative vineyards. They make up a part of the touristic ‘wine mosaic’ through which visitors can follow a guided trail through the vineyards Guided visits to the winery, the elegant Charme Hotel and a welcoming Enoteca – Wine Shop, make up the rest of the mosaic.I saved the best for last…
Two high-end restaurants where your dishes will take to meet  the royalties of the territory: the tartufo bianco di Alba ( Alba’s white truffle) and the porcini.

 

 

 

 

Did I made you eager for all that?
Well, here how to make a reservation to this  Paradise… Milan, April 6th Berlucchi from 7.30 pm at Mercato Duomo Davide Oltolini will host a wine tasting featuring the classic Brut, Rosee and Saten Franciacorta Berlucchi ’61,
and including the new Nature, with five exquisite dishes large tapas like,
spanning from cold cuts, to veggies, to cheeses that representing the Italian excellence in the world of gastronomy. The event will take place in the beautiful Franciacorta Lounge right on Piazza Duomo. Wine tasting and food 35 Euros.IMG_9345 copy


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The Non Tourist Tourist is famous for discovering hidden gems.
Last summer I discover a jewel into a jewel into a jewel…
The incomparable  Tenuta Venissa Resort located in the island of Mazzorbo, which is home to a vineyard that has been able to overcome the challenge of the high tide for centuries, giving rise to a wine with characteristics that are entirely unique.                          Matteo Bisol created not only an amazing five star resort, but also a unique wine nested in a unique bottle

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Text and photos by Cesare Zucca
Back in the 70′ the iconic Fiorucci New York store discovered that music could actually influence and improve the sales. screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-10-27-57“Never play slow music, told me the legendary store manager Enrico Baroni, the man who helped the Fiorucci empire to bloom. Slow rhythm makes costumers slowing down; they loose the excitement of a new purchase and easily get bored of the shopping adventure. In our store we play loud up-tempo music either pop or disco and most importantly without any interruptions. That causes a shopping rush and improve the appetite of buying”screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-10-33-41
The world famous Japanese wagyu cows, in order to produce the tender kobe beef…non only are pampered with massages, drink beer and sake, but also spend their days  lessening to Mozart! The body relaxes, the muscles stretch and they seem to enjoy the music vibrations.

Can music influence the aging process of wine?
In the magical atmosphere of the Podere Rocche dei Manzoni in the beautiful Langhe territory (in Piedmont region, province of Cuneo) resident wine producer Rodolfo Migliorini and  one of the most influential living composers, Italian Maestro Ezio Bosso. screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-09-47-47
Recently this extraordinary couple of creative souls and long time friends invited press, friends and all the people who in recent years have “filled rooms” of the company
The occasion was to introduce the brand new sparkling wine named Valentino Cuvèe 185th Door, an exclusive, limited production (only 1500 bottles and 150 magnun size) of the  spumante cuvèe made with classic chardonnay, pinot noir and locally rarely used pinot meunier. . During an informal press conference, Rodolfo and Ezio unveiled the convincing theory that music can actually influence the wine making process, from the vineyard to the final bottle.
Obviously many questions:

How a sparkling wine may get refined listening to music? Which kind of music?
Bosso selected among his works a “symphony for the wine”: a suitable composition to act during the wine aging process and to influence the second fermentation of yeast. Loudspeakers were installed in the vineyards and in the cellars. After a minimum of 4 vintages assembly, a percentage which varies according to the characteristics of each of them, 185th Door, during its life in the bottle, which lasts at least 8 years, is subjected to a measured musical stress and controlled to optimize the activity of yeast.“We are the first to have thought of applying the vibrations of music to a sparkling wine refinement process, says Migliorini, At first, we proceeded by trial and after 12 years this project is still in an embryonic basis. However, with the data collected during the trial I can say that thanks to the music the activity of yeast is faster and the product is improved.  Certain notes and sounds have frequencies that the wine seem to .. listen , enjoy and mature with a pleasant aging. In the coming years we will try to understand how to further influence the activity of the yeast, thus modulating the music according to our needs“.img_9277-copy

Why 185th?
What’s behind that door?
Ezio as a co-composer of this innovative method, loved have a very unique and personalized name: The ‘door’ is linked to the theme of ‘the rooms’ the common thread of his recent albums.The 185, takes us the alphabet where the R (Rodolfo) is the18th letter while the E (Ezio) is the 5th. Ezio continues “The sounds coming from a violin and  a cello, from a full orchestra or simply from my piano were able to pass through wood and cement of the barrels to create a chain of harmonies that reborn in a chain of wine.

FASHION    MARRIES GAVI DEI GAVI LA SCOLCA AT MAISON VERSACE
Milan, October 6th Vendemmia di Montenapoleone

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MANDRAROSSA WINEYARD TOUR 2016
A spectacular adventure in the land of Sicilyscreen-shot-2016-09-23-at-12-12-31

AURUM, In the name of gold 
Are you a wine lover? Do you like to discover new tastes while sipping a nice glass of white or red? Do you enjoy to end up a dinner with a sweet touch of dessert wine?
Or …do you indulge meditation?
Here several good reasons to visit the Euganean Hills, to get acquainted with the local wines, starting from the typical Fior d’Arancio, a very golden Moscato to a variety of whites with the typical straw-yellow color and jasmine scent, The hills produce Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon reds, the Chardonnay, , the Merlot, to my fav, the sparkling Serprino.
I forgot… most importantly, are you ready to discover a hidden gem in Italy? Breathtaking panoramas, art, culture and good food?
Already excited? Well, hold your glass…
On the panoramic outdoor of the Villa Beatrice, a former Convent founded in12th century, on the top of the hill, we tried the Quota 101 wines, I loved the Malterreno an authentic expression of the Euganei  territory.  Authentic and true. The grapes are hand-picked in September, when the sun has made them nice and ripe. Warm yellow color, scent of Summer, in the mouth it is velvety and well-structured.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next stop at Paolo Brunello’s Cantina Vignale di Cecilia,  located in Baone.

My fav was the white Val di Spie, an experimental trip in the world of sparkling wine, blinks its eye to the traditional natural fermentation in the bottle, while maintaining its natural yeasts, followed by the first born at Vignale, the red Passacaglia made with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Barbera boasting a long maceration as well as the handmade mixing of fermenting grapes.

 

In the evening I met with lovely Elisa Dilavanzo, owner of Maeli Colli Euganei featuring the yellow muscat
from these amazing volcanic hills, where Elisa decided to “work towards the production of a wine that is rich in emotion whilst at the same time a worthy ambassador for this prestigious territory”.Sparklyn Moscato Giallo IGT
Muscat 85% Chardonnay 15% Destemming and soft pressing, maceration on the skins for three days, pressing, fermentation on natural yeasts without added sulphites. The wine is bottled on its own yeasts with in-the-bottle secondary fermentation using the original must following the time-honoured method.
Grand finale with a wide varIety of Zanovello wines, hosted by Mr. Franco Zanovello, President of La Strada del Vino and owner of Cà Lustra wines. I ended my journey with the iconic Passito, born in the year 1200. Only in the Euganean Hills that the 100% Fiori d’Arancio muscat grapes keep that strong Mediterranean character, cheerful and vigorous.
Intense aromas, thick and colorful skin, crunchy pulp,are the hallmarks of this archaic variety that likes bright and dry sites. It’s a farmer’s tradition to harvest the ripest grapes and let them dry on racks in the old barns with the dual aim of producing a strong sweet wine and rustic cakes for the spring-winter festivals. Its intensity and complexity allow it to enter the category of “meditation wine.”Believe me, no many other places on earth would enrich a meditation time like being on the top of one of those volcanic Hills, specially after sipping a glass of a delicious wine…
The team of the Raffles Siem Reap, engaged us to pay a visit to a real jewel., located in their sister property in Phnom Penh, I am talking of the historic a place that exudes the charm of old school luxury. Not only do the walls spoke of history but, the service evokes a tempo of another time, a pace where the demands of productivity are not part of the game. Not to say we waited a long time for our cocktails, we waited just the right time for it to be made to perfection!
The signature cocktail is the Femme Fatale,
created for Jacqueline Kennedy during her 1967 visit in Cambodia.The bar boasts a selection of 54 hand-picked gins and among the most recent offerings you can pair your libation with a spoonful of Giaveri caviar from Italy for a very friendly $5.We were hosted by the young French F&B manager of this legendary institution,
Thomas Bianco. Thomas had the barman create on the spot a cocktail combining ingredients I loved: bourbon, fresh lime and ginger juice, simple sugar and mint leaves. Shaken with egg white and served on the rocks with a splash of angustura bitters. What a treat! Thomas coined the name Tsin-Tsin for the cocktail in a heartbeat, combining the first letter of his first first name and the first 3 letters of my last name for an inviting chin-chin ring to it. It is now on the menu of the Elephant Bar, sealing in history the final touch of a night made of whimsy, fun and good taste.
Info for The Elephant Bar at Ruffles Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh  at
http://www.raffles.com/phnom-penh/dining/elephant-bar/

 

Moet Ice Impérial breaks the tradition and launches a new style, a genuine drink experience that mixes unexpectedly sparkles and ice cubes to strawberries, raspberries and lime. 
Moët & Chandon created more than 270 years of elegance and savoir fête  now blended harmoniously with an irreverent yet inimitable spirit of celebration. Moët & Chandon created more than 270 years of elegance and savoir fête  now blended harmoniously with an irreverent yet inimitable spirit of celebration.

                                            A glizzy white bottle with the inevitable black tie, golden label and silver reflections Moët Ice Impérial is perfect synthesis of the Maison’s values: elegance, glamour and pioneering spirit.An  ideal drink for exclusive summer excursion in the trendiest locations all around the world: from the beaches of Acapulco, Rio de Janeiro and Saint Tropez, to Los Angeles, to the magnificent Duomo Terrace in Milan

Yesterday I went to the picnic lunch at the Palazzo Monti della Corte , in Nigoline right in the heart of the Franciacorta region, one of the best producer of sparkling wine.

Tasting a Berlucchi Brut, one of the most recognized product of Franciacorta

Tasting a Berlucchi Brut, one of the most recognized product of the Franciacorta region.The territory of Franciacorta is a section of the Province of Brescia

The annual Franciacorta Festival will entertain again his visitors with a two days tour de force of exquisite food and superb wines.
Saturday 25 will be dedicated to the discovery of the territory, its wines,its products and its food. Photo N.Tirelli
The wineries will organize little events, guided tours and tastings during the day, while in the evening the best restaurants, diners, farms and the Strada del Franciacorta venues will offer their menu, dedicated to local food and wine culture


South Tyrol is waiting  for you. 300 cellars, 100 artisans of Italian taste. 150 international wine producers! Merano is hosting the annual WineFestival, an international wine&food bonanza,  one of the most exclusive places and occasions for all industry operators, where the recurring keyword is always “excellence”.In addition You will find the best Italian wines produced organically, biodynamically and naturally, the  Beer Passion experience, where the artisan flavour becomes beer, Consortium: the Italian protection consortia are presented within the Gourmet Arena, charity Wine Master Classes. where the revenues of which are given to charity and spectacular show cooking among,seminars and workshops for discussion on the future of wine in Italy and Europe.November 5th-10th
More info at www.meranowinefestival.com

Imagine: a secret bottle kept in the cave for years (sometimes more than 30). It’s the rich and velvety wine called sciacchetrà. This aged treasure resurges in occasion of a wedding as the greatest gift that the family of the groom could offer to the bride’s family. I had the privilege of opening a bottle than was more than 10 years old. It reminded me of a rich passito straw wine, sweet and liqueur-like.
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TERRACE TIME

Chiantigno Photo © Cesare Zucca 2016

Chiantigno Photo © Cesare Zucca 201

On the Rooftop of the Hotel, that is called “Terrazza Boscolo” by Dama, Sommellier Diana Zerilli will create two exciting drinks Chiantigno, born from the encounter between Chianti Colli Senesi Mormoraia,with Campari, Gin, Angostura, Rosmarine and Ice Tropical Wine, con Vernaccia San Gimignano Mormoraia,
with Honey, Mango, Ice.

The Villa Il Palagio perches elegantly at the top of a long steep drive, overlooking the distant Tuscan hills and the undulating countryside which has always had profound agricultural significance. Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 13.19.50The nearby medieval town of Figline Valdarno was known as the “barn of Florence” for its abundant corn supplies. Grains, wine, oil, sugar beets, peaches, apricots and cherries have long been grown here. Not only…Palagio has been the summer retreat for
Sting and Trudie’s family and friends for more than 15 years.Palagio produces an excellent red wine.
A blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvigon Biodynamic wine. Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 10.26.06Named after Sting’s song “Sister Moon”
this was the first IGT Toscano wine produced at Il Palagio.

MILAN EXPO 2015
Wine Pavillion, a true multi-sensorial experience. Tasting Settesoli.
Great surprise at Expo 2015!
I visited the Wine Pavilion boasts a wide array of communications tools, as it narrates the history of wine-production.The exhibit brings all five senses into play, with taste taking priority. Some of the best-qualified sommeliers are on hand to arrange wine-tasting experiences blending tastes with aromas.IMG_7903

I attended to the Cantine Settesoli tasting hosted by charming PR Roberta Urso.IMG_7871 copy

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My favorite wines?
Inzolia, a very reasonable price for a great white wine. Light and fruity, just the way I like it. Roberta suggested fatty fish such as halibut or dory with potatoes and cherry tomatoes to go with.
Grillo, with a distinct aroma of jasmine and citrus.To be served with grilled vegetables, medium seasoned cheese, legumes soups, raw meats.
The legendary Nero D’Avola with its ruby red, and a brightly intense taste, smooth and warm, with a distinctive scent of marasca, local red cherry, excellent with raw meat and grilled white meat.IMG_7892 copy

The Mandrarossa wines are the toprange of Cantine Settesoli.
They come from the careful selection of both the vineyards and the vines, together with the harmonious combination of local culture, traditional farming and winemaking technology.
The tasting ended up with an amazing finale.

The “meditation” chardonnay CALADEITUFI  calaMandrarossa Vendemmia Tardiva, produced in a small vineyard that slopes down toward the coast, between sandy dunes and wild vegetation. the breeze refreshes the grapes that are left to ripen on the plant.   Deliciously perfect as a  “solo” wine or ‘solo’ wine or accompanied by light cheeses, desserts, dry fruits. Settesoli is the largest wine company in Sicily, Twenty million bottles are made in a year and they are sold in 35 countries. “Settesoli is a stellar constellation, said proudly Cantine the general manager Salvatore Li Petri, each producer is a star”.

 
From Friday Feb 26th to Sunday 28th  “Wine Festival I am Romagnolo” where quality food and wine enthusiasts will enjoy local Sangiovese, Albana, Pagadebit *and more img_4542-copy

Try the wines of 30 wineries of Romagna, dozens of winemakers of the territories of Forli, Faenza, Cesena, Ravenna and Rimini
Purchase the cup,  and ticket “Euroromagnoli”, enjoy the guided tastings tours.
Entrance to the Festival is free.
Info at  Sono Romagnolo


Colomba is a traditional Italian Easter yeast bread. It is shaped like a dove (colomba in Italian), the symbol of peace and resurrection. Soft and fragrant, colomba is a generous cake with butter and eggs, filled with raisins and candied orange peel. Italian Easter yeast bread..The colomba could mean not only a peace message but also solidarity. Like in the case of the artisanal Colomba Arcobaleno (Rainbow Dove)  created by the Milanese sommelier Diana Zerilli  who supports gay rights and gay issues in Italy, such as marriage and child adoption. Her colomba is made with Sicilian Avola almonds, Calabria cedar, kneaded with Vernaccia Mormoraia, a traditional white wine from San Gimignano,d zerilli

Beside food, Diana passion  and expertise is (of course) wine. Twice a week, she gives classes and wine tasting at Hotel Rubens in Milan. Each class will introduce an Italian region, with its local wines and food.
March 10th Wines from Valle d’Aosta
March 17th Wines from Veneto and Diana’s Chiantigno drink tasting
March 22th Wines from Piemonte.Classes will continue in April, after Easter Holi days. Each class costs 35 Euros.zerillisommelier@gmail.com
To celebrate their wines, Villa Matilde owners Maria Ida and Salvatore Avallone, invited distributors, buyers, bloggers to spend a wonderful time in Cellole, in the Caserta Region, The location boasts a wonderful vineyard, a restaurant, a swimming pool, several bedrooms and, of course, good wines and delicious specialties from a traditional or revisited cucina napoletana. We were all invited and the Villa looked really festive.

 

During the all event, guests were invited to try the wines.I loved the golden and soft Falanghina Roccamonfina a  sophisticated fruity white that brings hints of pineapple, banana, yellow peach to rose and sage a great glass to star you meal , served with appetizer , light dishes, fish and white meat. Then the Mata Rosé, elegant sparkling wine obtained from one of the oldest and noble native Carnation vines, the Alleanic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


My special applause goes to Terre Cerase Rosè, (I have to confess:I had 4 glasses) with a floral the bouquet of morello cherries, black and red wild berries, plus delicate hints of spices, ideal with fish, poultry, veal and making an outstanding paired with bufala mozzarella. Last but not the list the reason why we all were there. We were graciously invited to Celebrate the king of the Villa, His Magesty Falerno del Massico, a red wine famous in literature and history is a blend of aglianico and piedirosso; the clusters are carefully quality-selected from the hillside vineyards on the San Castrese estate growing on the slopes of the extinct Roccamonfina volcano, in the province of Caserta. Showing a deep red, its intense, rich bouquet is brimming with fragrant sweet violets, cherries, blackberries, and raspberries, finely balanced in all teir components. The “Falerno Party” started with the Exclusive Ceremony of opening and tasting Falerno del Massico aging in Amphora:
What an entertaining show! Fabio Gennarelli (Wine Making Director) opened one of the “Phitos” the traditional clay Amphora used exclusively by Villa Matilde, followed by an a unique sensing experience: the Vertical tasting of Falerno del Massico Vigna Camarato spanning from 1995 to 2010.  A parade of eight glasses where every “millesime” was telling his own story. Not to mention the final dinner stuck between tradition and  innovation, created by the chefs of “Taverna del Falerno”and the “Grand Hotel Parker’s 5 Stars Restaurant”  pairing their dishes with the new Villa Matilde baby born: sparkling Spumante Mata Falanghina, with its warm golden reflections and a fine and elegant perlage, thanks to the long stay on yeasts. Just put your nose to the glass to feel delicate scents of ripe fruit mixed with hints of yeast and crust of bread. The taste is fresh, elegant and harmonious, with acidic and intense fruity notes typical of the Falanghina, which are accompanied by pleasing sensations.
A dinner that brought
the culture of food of Napoli and Campania.ending with a nice souvenir that anyone who is a little superstitious would have love it . A little red corn, mounted on a Villa Matilde cork, a traditional “Good Luck”
for the Neapolitan people.