Archive for November, 2009

Randall Grahm’s Greatest Adventure

Wednesday December 9, 2009
Dinner, wine tasting, book party and chat

Tasting: 2007 Le Cigare Volant (puncheon), ’07 Cigare (upright), ’08 Cigare Volant (normale), ’08 Cigare Volant (glass carboy).

Dinner: 2008 Ca’ del Solo Albari, ’04 Le Cigare Blanc, ’01, ’03, ’05 Le Cigare Volant, Large format bottle of Cigare (older vintage), ’07 Le Vol des Anges

Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard is currently all over the national wine press after the recent release of his book, Been Doon So Long: A Randall Grahm Vinthology, (University of California Press). Randall is variously described as a genius, wine’s bad boy, compulsive punster, dreamer, provocateur and the Willy Wonka of the wine world.  We find him also to be generous, endlessly interesting, totally original and a good friend. And, while he has already accomplished great things in his life, he is now beginning his greatest adventure.

Having learned many lessons in the wine world, Randall has come to believe that the most important pursuit for a winemaker is to make a wine that truly represents Continue reading ‘Randall Grahm’s Greatest Adventure’

Truffle Report #5 – What’s that smell?

Giorgio & Paola's house in Monti-in-Chianti

Giorgio & Paola's house in Monti-in-Chianti

The truffle dinners are now in full swing and going very nicely, but I wanted to provide a brief wrap-up of this year’s trip to Italy.

Monti-in-Chianti, about 10 miles north of Siena, has been the center of my activities since I began traveling to Italy (over ten years ago) to get truffles, and Giorgio Sacchini and his family have been my friends and guides from the beginning.

This was an extraordinary truffle year, Continue reading ‘Truffle Report #5 – What’s that smell?’

Truffle Report #4 with part of the menu revealed

Catania Fish Market, Sicily

Catania Fish Market, Sicily

It’s Thursday night here, and all the truffles for Oliveto’s truffle dinners are still in the ground; collection begins tomorrow morning. It’s cold, there’s been a good amount of rain, and the local truffle fairs have ended. Now, the truffles are for us. Truffle Dinners at Oliveto are booking up, so we’ve decided to extend them through Saturday, November 21st. I’ll bring home more truffles than originally anticipated to last us into the weekend. [see menu]

The second item on the agenda for this trip was to Continue reading ‘Truffle Report #4 with part of the menu revealed’

Truffle Report #3 with Aldo Vacca’s Vintage Picks

w & b truffles

Truffles are just now coming on, I encountered my first exceptional truffles last night, at the back door of Ristorante Antine in Barbaresco–I didn’t have to put my nose to it, it overwhelmed me from across the kitchen.  Prices remain very low, we won’t be able to set the price for Oliveto Truffle dinners until we actually acquire them, but they should be a bargain. Continue reading ‘Truffle Report #3 with Aldo Vacca’s Vintage Picks’

This Just In: Olio Nuovo is Here

olives on ground

New Olive Oils Air-Freighted from Tuscany and Sicily
on the menu this weekend

The olive harvest has begun in most northern hemisphere olive growing regions. The first cold-pressed oils are called “new oils,” with their very special and fleeting characteristic vegetal flavor and “heat” in the throat.  That profound vibrancy lasts only about two weeks before it subsides and the oil stabilizes as a mellower product.

Chef Canales has devised several menu items, with more coming, that will be exceptional vehicles for the new oils on the menu this weekend: Continue reading ‘This Just In: Olio Nuovo is Here’

Truffle Report #2 – Italy 2009

truffles on stump

It’s still ten days or so before I move from the “just looking” phase into truffle acquisition, but here’s what we know so far: the truffles this year are very good, but not plentiful.  Despite fewer truffles, prices are dramatically lower than they have been in recent years due to less demand and also many truffles coming from Continue reading ‘Truffle Report #2 – Italy 2009′

Truffle Report #1 – Italy 2009

A very healthy rain arrived in Tuscany about a week before I did, somewhat improving truffle conditions after another very dry year. The last few days have been beautiful, but we seem to be moving into another rainy period which is good timing for truffle hunting, as long as it doesn’t get too wet.

Here are some of Giorgio’s new recruits, five-week-old truffle dogs. They are already being given bits of truffle treats and seem to like it.

Continue reading ‘Truffle Report #1 – Italy 2009′