Sunday, January 29, 2012


Yesterday I spent a good part of the day with wine maven Robbin Gheesling of VineyardAdventures sampling some of Italy's fine wines at the Luca Marroni 2012 wine show. Each region was represented by about eight or ten wineries and we did our best to make the rounds of the wines that have been selected to appear in the Luca Marroni 2012 Annuario dei Migliori Vini in Italia.
The guide is a tome featuring hundreds of wines, written in Italian, and well worth the purchase. Among the local wineries, we enjoyed the Falesco wines the most. Located in southern Umbria / northern Lazio, Falesco ( boasts an array of fine wines. I particularly enjoyed the Tellus and have for years, as did Robbin. The company recently changed the Tellus bottle to a shorter, stouter bottle...very appealing.
Another plus of this event was the tastings of local food products. The best by far was a panino made with pane casareccio and stuffed with crunchy, flavorful porchetta from nearby Ariccia. Porchetta is the true destiny of the pig; so simple but incredibly delicious. It was a divine accompaniment to quite a few of the wines we sampled. Try it out if you find yourself near Ariccia:

Thursday, January 26, 2012


This centro storico restaurant's simple and spartan ambiance is what makes it elegant. For example the lighting: bulbs on wires hanging in staggered arrangement from the ceiling.
The food is tasty, mostly Roman fare, often classics revisited or with a simple variation. Galletto with red peppers...
Creamy carbonara with homemade tagliolini and shaved Parmesan. So creamy it seemed as if each serving was made with half a dozen yolks.
Our pecorino antipasto came with three different homemade jams: crunchy red onion and clove and persimmon were the tastiest.
Fruit & crostata for dessert.
The restaurant owner has opted to not have a website and as Osteria is always full, well, who needs one!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Eve Cenone

The classic Italian New Year's Eve celebration is simple and mirrors how Italians celebrate everything: with great food. We ate well, very well, and sampled just about everything on the Cenone menu at Frantoio
Cenone, from the word cena or dinner, simply means big dinner. It's a meal that can have as many as twelve courses although we stopped at eleven. We started off with grilled wild white shrimp with Castelfranco radicchio and a lemon vinaigrette and crispy prosciutto. Next we had an asparagus veloute' soup with Dungeness crab meat.

 Soup was followed by an endive salad with pear, Toma Piemontese and roasted walnut vinaigrette.


Our first pasta dish was home made ravioli stuffed with Maine lobster and shrimp, and a lobster bisque sauce.


Our second pasta was strozzapreti with lamb ragu', artichoke and pecorino romano. We also sampled the risotto with butternut squash, fresh black truffle and Parmigiano.

We shared three main course dishes. First we had grilled American kobe beef flat-iron steak with brocolli rabe all'aglio e olio, truffle shoestring potatoes and beef jus.

 My favorite dish was the roasted Petaluma duck breast with basmati rice, roasted baby beets and balsamic sauce. 
Cotecchino and lenticchie are a must on New Year's eve so we also had the roasted organic pork loin with Italian cotecchino sausage, braised lentils with root vegetables and whole grain mustard sauce.

No Italian New Year's eve meal is complete without panettone so we had the panettone with warm marsala zabaglione. We also tried the home made vanilla bean gelato profiterole with banana and chocolate sauce.