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Everything posted by SWISS_CHEF

  1. Sure, no problem. I know hunters too so PM me when you are ready to come and I will give you directions to our place in Zanco. What ever you do don't buy them in Alba.
  2. Was just at the Moncalvo truffle fest for the second year running and the numbers are way down, quality is ok but the prices are high. Nothing like last year and I am told 2004 before was even better. I am told the truffles will be chaeper in late November and early December then sky rocket for Christmas and drop off again until they run out.
  3. I'll share this, its from my blog Chez Edorovio: Going for the Gusto Before I begin, I would like to clarify that we only covered a small portion of the Salone del Gusto in Turin and that any opinions you are about to read are purely from the perspective of one that is barely half informed. But this condition has never prevented me from offering my 2 cents worth in the past and I don't see why I should tempt fate and alter my methods this late in my game. Mel and I headed down to Italy on Friday with a couple of raging colds and the bitter reality that we probably wouldn't be able to taste or smell a good deal of the delicious things that we expected to encounter at the SdG, so we decided it would be in our best interest to punt as long as possible and delay our arrival until the last moment. At the SdG this year, the last moment was Monday. Armed with nothing more than an English version of the program and a pocket full of cash we headed towards Turin. Our traveling companion was Patrick, an Australian from Sydney, well versed in Aussi wines but newly initiated to Italian. He was eager to learn and ready for the culinary challenges of the day, he made a good companion and patiently listened as Mel and I waxed poetic about Piemonte. We made it to the exhibition with a bit of luck, some guess work and Patrick's relatively good memory of a another friends sat-nav from their visit on Saturday. The event was remarkably poorly marked from our approach, in fact we were not even sure if we had the right building and parking lot, but because of all the activity we felt something had to be going on and we hoped it was the SdG. As luck would have it, we were right and in no time we found a parking spot relatively near the door and off we went. Gates opened at 11:00 AM and the lines were not bad at all. We were each 20 euros lighter and in the building by 11:20. Once in, we met Maggie and Enrico from London. Maggie had contacted me on eGullet and suggested we meet up. She is a New Yorker and free lance journalist who has written for the NY Times, Wall Street Journal and Decanter Magazine to name a few. Enrico is Italian, he grew up in London and currently manages a hedge fund, but his boyish charm is immediately relaxing and we knew from the start we were going to have a good time with them. Paolo arrived fashionably late and in typical Italian style, he was flustered after a heated discussion with a woman-friend about some sort of romantic escapade..... Italians are so passionate! So off we went to explore the Salone and the first stop was the Italian Market. Market is some what of an understatement…it was huge. There were hundreds of stands and thousands of things to learn about and sample. It was pretty clear right from the beginning that we were going to have to pace ourselves or we stood the potential of suffering burn-out, not to mention serious drunkenness. There was row after row of various salumi and meats. Baked, bottled and preserved objects of every description. Chocolate took on every form and was mixed with every conceivable kind of fruit, nut, herb or other unusual condiment. Nothing was out of the question. Some pretty smart people had been thinking long and hard to come up with flavor combinations...some successful and some not. We tried taste after taste of DOP salamis and cheeses, unusual digestives, ice creams and liquors. There were whole hairy legs of wild pig being lovingly sliced by elegant men and women using delicate thin- bladed knives. There were big, fat butchers piling slices of whole roasted suckling pig on to fluffy buns with their thick little fingers. Honeys of every description were available to sample, some as light as chardonnay and some as black as a Guinness on a dark night. Everyone was happy, and numerous fat gluttons sat breathlessly on the benches at the end of the aisles gathering the strength to waddle up another row of food stands. The place was positively buzzing, but in spite of all that I could not help noticing a few things that were amiss.... where was the slow-food? Almost without exception everything was convenience food. The kind you slice and eat or pour from a jar or perhaps unwrap and dip in your coffee or pull the cork from and drink. It was very rare to see one thing that was fresh that you had to cook. Additionally there wasn't much "gear" available either. For me, gear is essential! Where were all the knife companies? Where were the guys that make the really heavy copper pots and peppermills? Ok, Berkel was there and they had some really bitchin’ hand-crank slicers, but all-in-all I think I expected the market place to be geared for the chef, but it was really more geared for the eater: preserved meats and bottled things were certainly the order of the day...it was mostly the hamper stocking material you see in the basement of exclusive stores on the high street. Stuff you might give as a gift, not stuff you really use as a cook. Ok, ok, I'll quit bitching and move on to the "Enoteca" ...there was wine everywhere! I'm not sure, but I think there were nearly 2000 different wines on offer. The system worked like this; you pay 4 euros to get in and they give you a nifty wine glass with the slow food emblem etched on the foot where it should say Reidel, you also get 2 euros worth of tickets. Wines cost between 1 and 4 tickets each glass and you can buy as many additional tickets as you like for 1 euro each. If you are lucky you will find a free table and if you are really lucky there will be a big basket of bread on the table. If you are really lucky AND really smart you will have bought some salami and cheese in the Market Hall, which you will immediately whip out of your bag and start cutting up.... like we did (no one minds). If you follow my prescription, 90 minutes later you will emerge from the enoteca with rosy cheeks, a full belly and the niggling urge for a nice grappa to wash it all down. Truth be told, I had a great time. SdG is a great place to be a food tourist. You can wander and forage for days and you don't even get accosted with sales material because the people behind the counters are too pooped to bother. We spent 6 hours there and I really don't think we covered 1/3 of the event. But I do have to wonder if Carlo Petrini really had this kind of massive-mega-marketing in mind when he began Slow-Food?
  4. The region around us in Monferrato is famous for truffles. There is a very good truffle fair in Moncalvo every year. The prices are lower than Alba and the quality is higher. Alba is well know to us as the place where the tourists buy truffles. Be careful there are loads of truffles from "other places" that are sold in Alba as being local. This is much less true in Monferrato. Large truffles cost a lot more than small ones but taste the same. I have a good friend that has started a little gastro tour company and he does truffle hunts in Monferrato and will get you top quality truffles from his friends that hunt. See www.buongustotours.com Tell Paolo I sent you. He speaks English very well. By the way, we wrap them in dry paper towels and put them in plastic boxes like you get from a deli. We always eat them right away, because they die very quickly. A three day old truffle is starting to fade already. After 10 days you have wasted your money and all you will have left is a shrunken little stinker that is completely worthless. If you buy one fresh truffle and wrap it like I said...leave it in the car while you go shopping... you will come back to a smell that will almost knock you over. Trust me, I did it! Good hunting
  5. We are planning a "little do" in the Monferrato (Asti and just north) the day after Salone del Gusto on Tuesday Oct 31. Nothing is finalized, but some pretty interesting people should show up. If anyone is interested in attending, contact me off-line for more details.
  6. It is called Torrone and if you ever get a chance to try the pudding made with Torrone it is a must!
  7. Perfectly put. American prosciutto....ha! I remember that...a big gob of shredded ham stuffed in a plastic bag by a 16 year old kid who couldn't give a shit. Our prosciutto is sliced by Gilberto (the best butcher in the Monferrato) on his 80 year old Berkel hand-cranked slicer, one loving slice at a time and layed in neat rows with sheets of wax paper to seperate the layers. When we open the package at home it perfumes the whole room. That is prosciutto! We would rather do without than have it any other way.
  8. I have only eaten downstairs. Piedmontese cuisine is still too new to me to even consider experimenting. The Agnolotti are simply the best I have found in my year of sampling...but I have to say Da Maria in Zanco makes them just as delicious but with a little less pizzaz than Duomo. Have a great time Matthew! If you find yourself with a little extra time and want to see the Monferrato drop me a line! Ed
  9. By the way may I suggest Piazza Duomo in Alba in front of the church. A limited but focused menu from a very concerned kitchen.
  10. Hi Matthew, We found the town of Bra rather boring. Except for Boccondivino, which knocked our socks off when we first came to the Piemonte...not sure we would be as impressed today...in fact, I am sure we wouldn't. Because of Slowfood Boccondivino has become one of the most famous restaurants in Italy and from all this publicity, one tends to be brainwashed into thinking that Boccondivino is heads and shoulders above the rest... but that is simply not the case. It is really a pity you have overlooked the Monferrato. Have a great time anyway! Ed
  11. We are working on a project now in Piedmont but we hit a bit of a snag because of a support wall we didn't expect. We have found a good local mason and fixed a price so we begin work on October 15. I can't wait to post before and afters. Here is a little taste of the before: (yes that is just cold running water in the sink)
  12. Jst did a short article about the famous Cuneo peppers on my blog. You can buy the seeds here.
  13. Hi Matthew, Have you considered the Monferrato? I have a house in Zanco just North of Asti and it looks like Tuscany but with the Alps as a back-drop. The wines are great and half the price of the Langhe. Have a look at my foodblog on the area. I strongly suggest Tenuta Castello di Razzano they have just finished turning the castle into a hotel and it is fantastic. Suites are 120 euros a night for 2 people. Their wines are fantastic and the family is wonderful. There are loads of fantastic restaurants in the area. It's just the next village over from us so pop in and say hi! Ed Our village:
  14. A foodie is anyone interested in food. The diversity and complexity of foodies must be as endless as the all the recipes of all the cuisines of all the world!
  15. With a name like Du Bois I would have thought you were a shoe-in. The French should be spitting on your shoulders!
  16. It's just another American fad...didn't you guys do this in the 20's with alcohol? Relax, you can always move to France where they view things like this much more logically!
  17. Why do you think I moved to Europe? With cheap wine and Cuban cigars, I can't think of a place closer to heaven! Now if we could just work on the price of gasoline! PS: In Italy, grappa starts at €4.50 a bottle!

    Musar with Hochar

    I have never met Serge but I must be one of his (and Gaston's) older fans. I remember giving an interview to the Kansas City Star in 1989 and I sang the praises of Château Musar. It is a wine I have always loved and I can still taste the lovely '78 and '79 and their pronounced horse-stable noses. I also remember being lambasted by local wine gurus at the time. They seemed to feel it was too peculiar to praise publicly. I had one a couple of weeks ago and I still love it! Non, Rien De Rien, Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien!
  19. Yes I have it... I had this drink at my friend Sergio's at Cafe Gourmand in Geneva An outstanding and very unusual apero made with ginger and fruit juice. The spice from the ginger is surprising and you will almost think you are drinking a high-octane cocktail but in fact there is no alcohol in it at all. "COCKTAIL DE JUS FRUITS AU GINGEMBRE FRAIS" 200 gr. fresh ginger 6 oranges 1 small pineapple 6 mangos 1 lemon cane syrup to taste Pass the fruits through a juicer, add syrup to taste and leave to rest in the fridge for 6 hours. Serve cold in a champagne flute with a cub of ice.

    3 wines with dinner

    Hi Charles! Wow that menu sounds like a delicious blast from the 70's! Hope you cooked it all in the Nanopan! Kindest Regards, Ed
  21. Just wanted to add... I have been in France regularly since 1994 and I have noticed the prices of budget wines (not plonk) have been steadily rising at the grocery stores. It was especially noticable when they switched to the Euro. It 1994 my wine buying power went nearly twice as far. Cahors used to be 8 francs now it is hard to find one under €3.
  22. My Dear John, First, let me apologize to the other readers if this string is perhaps a little too personal and should be continued as a PM, but I think that this forum is nothing if it is not honest and open. Thank you , John for you very insightful response. It is indeed rare to find one so passionate and willing to articulate their personal opinions and knowledge so clearly and noticeably well thought out. Your comments have opened new doors for me and I have decided to take a less skeptical approach toward these “new” methods of wine making. As a wine merchant I am torn between my (perhaps archaic) scruples and the desire to bring smiles to my customers faces. Your comments have helped me put these laboratorial tweaks into perspective and perhaps it is better if we don't live in the static past. In the future I will endeavor to derive all the information I can from the winemakers I meet and log their procedures with the open mind of a scholar rather than a skeptic. I would like to extend an open invitation for you to visit us in Italy and come and sit with my Italian friends as we explore and discuss wine making in the Piemonte. I think you will find we compose a passionate, energetic and probably less opinionated than you might think, forum. I can assure you your insight would be highly esteemed. By the way my restaurant days are over. The only chance you have to eat my creations is to take me up on my offer to visit. And hopefully you will. Kindest regards, Ed McGaugh
  23. Hi John and thank you for your thoughtful reply. While I certainly agree with you about the end result, I have this niggling feeling sometimes that what I am drinking isn't really wine any more. Yesterday at the lunch with the wine rep, we drank a Bottle of Farnese Edizione Cinque Autoctoni made from Montepulciano, Primitivo, Sangiovese, Negroamaro and Red Malvasia grapes grown in different regions of Italy. I am also told the wine under goes vacuum evaporation (and the winery is quite open about the fact and leaves the machine out in the open for all the world to see). The bottle must be called "vino da tavola rosso" and legally can not carry a date but the winery puts a fake lot number of 2004 on the back label so you will know the vintage. Additionally, (I just find this tacky) they put the wine in an extra large and heavy bottle that weighs two kilos for a 750 cl bottle. It's kind of the Humvee approach to bottling. I think it appeals to a certain "kind" of customer. I find all of this just a little creepy and it is apparent to me that the winery is trying to bend the rules and pander to a single-minded taste, voiced by some of the more famous American wine writers. I am afraid that this path will lead to the homogenisation of wine and in the end all wine will taste exactly like Robert Parker wants them to. Gosh we haven't even started talking about chipping yet! Wine Greetings, Ed
  24. Hi JohnL, By "lately" I meant that I have been reading up on it lately. I was aware these things have been practiced for a very long time and I am also aware that the processes have been in debate for a just as long. What I am trying to understand is how common is this? I am currently importing about 600 bottles a month from Piemonte to Switzerland. I focus on tiny producers who (I think) are making their wine the old fashioned way, by hand and with love... are they enhancing too? Do I need to take off my rose-coloured glasses? They certainly don't/ won't admit to anything suspicious...I have asked. Their wines are really good and I frequently see wines at 14% and more and as black as tar. It makes me wonder, to what degree they are made in a laboratory? It isn't so much a moral issue for me, but I am selling this wine to the end-users and I just think it would be nice to know a little more about my products. As for the wine press... I agree they could do more. I ran most of the terms I mentioned on the Wine Spectator On-Line search engine and came up blank. I think the industry as a whole would be better off just coming out of the closet on this issue. Thanks for your input. Ed
  25. I have been reading a lot lately about Rectified Concentrated Grape Must, Vacuum Evaporation, Reverse Osmosis and and a host of other additives and processes to improve the taste of wine, but what I can't seem to grasp is the extent these processes are being used. I had lunch with a sales rep yesterday and he told me he visited to a major Italian wine maker and asked them directly if they used Vacuum Evaporation or Reverse Osmosis and they vehemently denied it, but later as he was looking for the toilets he stumbled across their vacuum evaporation machine in a side room. How will we ever know the truth?
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