Thursday, October 27, 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Ever get that funny feeling... you know, sittin' at home or on the subway when something inside begins to rumble. What are my insides telling me you might ask. Am I hungry? Yes, of course, but it's not that. Sometimes I shrug it off and say, Hey, it's just one of those days. Sometimes I take a walk, but still, I can't get no satisfaction.
(Above: Photo taken by custom's guard in Frankfurt, Germany)
Life is rich. A friend took me to Mexico and taught me how to travel. I don't know how I would have found it otherwise (not that I wouldn't have). I think we traveled together for a month and I spent a total of $1000 with flight. That's when I figured out that budget travel isn't just a catch phrase. Whether it's Thailand (where you can live like a king for two to three months on $1000) or Italy, traveling to another country is a real possibility. Life is rich. I won't miss any of it.
Over the next five weeks I'm going to post travelogue articles on EuropeUpClose.com that will focus on culinary travel through Croatia, Slovenia, and Italy. It's all about finding the best gourmet ingredients in those countries and eating the crap out of them. Just the other day I could have bought a decently sized white truffle for $30. What would that have cost in the U.S.? Probably the price of a plane ticket.
Check it: Eating the Adriatic, Dubrovnik Croatia
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Amazingly, every Plavac Mali and every Debit wine that I've had has tasted unique, and there really aren't many grand, sweeping generalizations to be made in regards to a Croatian wine-making style. That being said, I do find that the wines made with the Plavac Mali grape (relative to zinfandel) tend to be very dry and minerally. I would also say that they are more Old World than New World.
Wine production was controlled by the state when the Balkans were united as Yugoslavia. Tito did not allow individuals to make their own wine. Instead, cooperatives produced all of Croatia's wine. But everything changed with Croatia's independence in 1992.
I've been lucky enough to drink wines that are exceptionally balanced, and I really like the wines made by Milicic, Matusko, and Bibich. All three wineries distribute their wines in the United States. Wine Enthusiast recently provided the following list of distributors distributing Croatian wines to the US: Blue Danube Wine Company, Vinum USA, Oenocentric, Katharine's Garden, Empty Glass Wine Company, Tasty Wine Company and Dalmata.
As a last note, I highly recommend trying the wines made with each of Croatia's grape varieties several times. Usually, if I try a wine that is made with a grape that is new to me, say Petit Verdot, I give it two chances. If I don't like the wines either time, I tend to assume that I don't like the grape. In Croatia, however, winemakers are experimenting with different styles, and the wines simply are not consistent. I drank three wines made with the Debit grape before finding one that I liked. In short, I recommend withholding strong judgment until the country has had more time to weed out the less innovative and sincere wine producers. In my opinion, there are great wines being made using the Debit, Posip, and Plavac Mali grapes.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
There won't be any new Puglia recipes next week because I'm embarking on a 5-week culinary tour of Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia. If you'd like to follow along, I'll be writing a travelogue for EuropeUpClose.com, called Eating the Adriatic, and I'll be testing out my new travel-writing name, the Ravenous Traveler. Please follow along and send any questions or comments. If you want me to check something out in the small town of Rovinj, Croatia, there's a good chance I will!
Saturday, October 1, 2011
As always, the following wines can be found in wine shops in Portland, Oregon.
Cantine Rosa Del Golfo 2008 “Scaliere” Negroamaro IGT
Grape: 100% Negroamaro
Where to Buy: Liner & Elsen
Short Review: Smooth and surprising; great price
This wine is made just east of Gallipoli, Puglia, and it's truly complex. I'm using Karen McNeil's definition of complex: It's not complex because it has so many different components; it's complex like an artwork that you can't get out of your head but you don't know why. At first whiff, Cantine Rosa Del Golfo's Scaliere remains illusive. Memories of childhood somehow arise, and all descriptions fall short. This wine is excellent. It is interesting; more so than many $30-$40 wines. The nose has floral and citrus notes. There's dried date, cinnamon, cloves, and cooked blueberries. In the mouth, the wine's texture, structure, and finish are most present: medium bodied, soft as velvet, long finish. I love this wine, and the price is perfect.
Grape: 80% Negroamaro, 20% Malvasia Nera
Where to Buy: Trader Joe's
Short Review: Simple wine for complex people
I hesitate to review cheap, mass-produced wines from Trader Joe’s because I question their consistency in terms of flavor. However, I reviewed this wine back in 2008 (when it was $3.99) and I liked it then. It’s a good wine for 5.99, but I think it would be a great wine for 3.99. It's simple but stolid. The score is so high because of the price point (price and quality both get 50% in my wine rating system). Nose of raspberry and cherry pie. In the mouth, it's rich with a smooth, chalky/chocolaty finish; full bodied. Great with any marinara sauce or pizza.
Avant garde winemaking is alive and well in Portland, Oregon. "The scientific wing of the natural wine movement," Teutonic Wine Co...