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Everything posted by SWISS_CHEF

  1. Did you know truffles are found in Switzerland? Here is the video
  2. I agree with Pierre, I have done this very thing on several occasions and I am never able to appreciate the subtle flavors after a few days of binge eating. I always have to eat salads for a day or two to just to regain my composure. It took me a several trips to France before I was truly able to appreciate a baguette, Camembert and a bottle of Beaujolais in a park, with my wife, watching the people go by.
  3. If ever there was a place to scrap your guide books it must be Italy. I have stumbled into some pathetic restaurants masquerading as “haut cuisine” in France but that seems to hardly ever happen to me in Italy. Perhaps it occurs more in the large Italian cities but in the countryside you are almost always assured of carefully prepared, hand-made food especially if the place is posing as an elegant restaurant. Even pizza is handmade in wood-fired ovens 99% of the time. Even though I recommend restaurants in our region here on eGullet, they are not really miles and miles better than their competition. Standards are high across the board. I suppose, if you come to Italy once in your life and have a huge wad to blow and have to eat at only the most cutting-edge places, that’s fine, but where is the adventure in that?
  4. We are headed back down to Zanco on Sunday. I will post the news from my truffle hunting neighbors on Monday.
  5. Hi David, Really glad you like it. Giorgio is a good cook and Da Maria is starting to get quite a reputation. I think he is going to put Zanco on the map! See you in 2010! Ed
  6. I agree with Judith and Rina, how old were the Italian truffles? I wouldn't be at all surprised if people preferred the fresh Oregon truffles. Truffle freshness only lasts a week maybe 10 days. Wait too long and you have little that anyone would consider interesting. Sounds like Oregon is trying to drum up some business. I have seen commercials on CNN touting Croatian white truffles too. I suppose everyone wants a piece of the pie. There is also something fishy about the picture of Charles Leflave... He is examining a big black truffle next to a hazel nut bush: ( there are millions of these bushes in Piemonte). My friend Anselmo tends a big field of these bushes near our house and he digs up big black Italian summer truffles all the time. I think the picture of Charles is in Italy not France.
  7. LOL! Well when you see the lines of tour buses in Moncalvo, you will think they are selling potions for ever-lasting life! It's out of control! By the way kids, 30 month old Parmesan tastes pretty flippin fantastic grated on your pasta too, and it's a LOT cheaper than truffles! What is it about expensive stuff that makes people so crazy?
  8. After three years in Piemonte and countless evenings in pizzarias, I hold the following to be true: 1. If you are standing at a bar, you can eat pizza with your hands. 2. If you are sitting, use a knife and fork. 3. If you do order wine with pizza it is usually by the carafe and not the bottle, unless you want to show off. 4. Beer is perfectly acceptable and somewhat vogue at the moment (but I resist this because there are more winemakers in Italy than beer brewers and I think we should support the winemakers because their market is shrinking) 5. Bottled water is ALWAYS on the table. 6. For pizza I never tip more than 1 euro for the whole table.
  9. (anyone know how I can make this picture larger?) ←
  10. Sorry I'm back in Switzerland for the next few weeks so I won't be able to update you. I am sure Rina will have some news.
  11. Rained all evening yesterday and is still raining this afternoon.
  12. Still no rain but this morning (Oct 26th) lots of fog. Bus loads of tourists this morning in Moncalvo for the truffle fair but with one exception, I have yet to hear that anyone is finding truffles locally.
  13. Went to Tre Colli (Montechiaro) for my wife's birthday last year on a suggestion of a friend who knows the owner and made the reservation for us. In spite of all that it was average at best, also we were the only customers in the place. Don't let the fancy web page and stickers on the front door fool you. There are much better places in the area to eat.
  14. Hi Rina, We went yesterday and again it was lovely but I have to confess that we have only tried the luncheon specials. Portions are modest but so is the price of 12.50 each with mise-en-bouche, wine, mineral water, assorted breads and coffee included. Certainly I would not go there and order the luncheon special if I was looking for Piemonte's best dining experience. We just find it a really great value. We commented that we usually pay as much in a simple pizzaria and at Piola you can enjoy the luxuries of a calm and inspiring atmosphere as well as elegant crystal, linen and china. Additionally, the red wines served have both been remarkable and second glasses were only 2 euros each! Ciao, Ed
  15. Great story, your problems were clearly caused by a lack of Punt e Mes, well know since Roman times to clear your head and straighten all the curves in the road. By the way, we have discovered a new jewel in the Asti restaurant crown: Piola & Crota http://www.piolaecrota.it/ that has a great 12 euro lunch, with wine included! Very elegant place and a top-drawer female chef to boot. It was formerly known as Barolo and Co. I was at Da Maria yesterday and in the woods below Villadeati they had just found what I would guess was a couple of kilos of a mushroom called "familiole" a small brown mushroom with a head about the size of a silver dollar that grows in bunches. They cut off the stem about a centimeter under the cap and throw the lower half away. ciao4now, Ed
  16. I don't know about September, I was in Switzerland the whole time, but I got a call from Giorgio this morning and he told me that he found a 100 gram truffle locally... seems odd though because we have not had any rain, just heavy clouds and fog in the last few days but maybe that is enough to give them a push. Maybe we are off and running. I will be in Zanco for another 10 days so I will report back on the situation.
  17. Oct. 17th I have just spoken to Giorgio and Roberto the two brothers that run Da Maria, the restaurant of their mother's name here in my village of Zanco. In operation since the mid 1950's with almost no change, Georgio and Roberto are a very reliable barometer of the truffle market because they are serious truffle hunters. When Giorgio tells me he has no truffles I don't ask second opinions because if Georgio and Roberto can't find truffles it is because there aren't any. There has been a lot of speculation and hope that 2008 would be a remarkable truffle year due to the wet spring we experienced but so far it just isn't so. I am afraid that the bulk of what you are seeing at the big truffle fairs of Alba etc. this year are imported truffles from other regions of Italy or Europe. Caveat Emptor because you are probably paying prices of 3 or 4 times what the imported truffles are actually worth.
  18. We were at the Moncalvo Truffle Fair today so I thought I would share some pictures. The price we heard today was €3,300 per kilo so thats $4750/kilo or $2160/lb This group weighs 1500 grams and because of the large sizes the market value is about $10,000
  19. Well yes, but Nokia is standardizing it in their new phones and some are already capable of reading it, so in a year or two all phones will be able to do it.
  20. I'm just back from the Salone del Vino conducted by Slowfood in Turin and I have discovered something interesting called e-WINE. photo from Torinowireless Using a special 2 dimensional bar code called a QR code. You can photograph the code with your cell phone and download endless information about the wine. Here is a sample of what the info will look like. Note: click on the pictures on the top right for more info about the winery, vineyard and food parings. They don't have press ratings like Robert Parker and Gambero Rosso but I am sure that will follow in the future. I spoke to Gianluca De Cantis and he says he will send me all the info in English. When I get it I will post it here. The label with the QR code:
  21. Sorry I didn't realize Mansinthe had been covered. I had originally posted it as a new topic but my post was moved to this string. As I mentioned, I don't drink absinthe because I don't like the flavor. My understanding (from articles like this one and this one) is that the new absinthe is a watered down version of the old. This is from one of the stories: "Where the old absinthes contained up to 100 mg of thujone per litre, Kubler keeps his levels well below the 10 mg legal limit." So it seems that some of the old absinthes contained 10 times the maximum limit of today's versions. The only interest for me is that it was Swiss invented and I am curious about the effects for the 100 mg dose of thujone. Certainly, if you enjoy the flavor you should pursue the subtleties. By the way, there is an absinthe festival every year in the Val-de-Travers. http://www.absinthe.ch/
  22. Hi Davy I have not noticed any restaurants either specializing in or braging about their vegetarian selection but vegetarian dishes are very much a part of the Piemontese kitchen so I suggest that you pick the restaurant you really want to try and see what they offer. I doubt you will be disapointed.
  23. I would call the theme "Distinctly Italian and mostly Piemontese". Very little foreign juice was on the floor but I got the impression that the few stands offering vino straniero were very popular. I mean after all, how much Barolo can you possibly drink? (I don't recommend answering that) What's hot what's not... big fat reds served by blonde women with large breasts seem to be all the rage. White wines and sweet wines are not. French Champagne was very hot. 2007 seems to be a good year according to all the wine makers but it depends on the grape. I have heard stories of big alcohol numbers like 2003. Barbera will be good, Nebbiolo less so because of the heat. Lots of whites just suck this year. Prices seem stable. Given the strength of the Euro they would be idiots to increase prices. If anything, they seem very interested in talking about big volume at low prices. General impression: Well it was my first time for this event. It was nice but not earth-moving. I got the distinct feeling that many of the major players were not participating (because of Slow Food?). I also got the feeling that they could have handled a lot more exhibitors but couldn't fill the rooms. There was an ocean of mediocre wines on the floor and things were rather unorganized. There was also a large section devoted to sweets. Lots of 40 euro/kilo chocolates for sale here. Funny thing: We almost ran head first into Paolo Massobrio. He looks just like he does in the books. I think he was lost too.

    Wine Tag: M

    M is for the Monferrato region of Piedmont, home of great reds like Barbera, Grignolino, Ruché, Freisa and Bonarda.
  25. We arrived about 11AM and there were not very many people there but by the time we left at 4PM the place was packed. This is a tasting seminar.
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