Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Studio Vino… il perfecto!

Lunedi, 12-9-05

On Lunedi I had wine and olive oil tasting class. Really amazing! (I'll write soon about my past fine-settimana and settimana in a little bit). We walked from the Villa Rossa (mio scuola) at 17:00 to a fine wine shop on the via near the Duomo between its northern side and Piazza Santasissima Annunziatta.

To hold a wine glass, always hold its stem never the cup. The reason to not hold or touch the cup is two-fold: for one, touching the cup leaves fingerprints and this isn't pretty looking, and secondly, your fingers heat the wine if touching the cup. Heating the wine with your hand is usually unwanted but can sometimes be positive if your wine is too cold. And speaking of temperature: white wines go in the fridge, while reds should be kept at room temperature.

Roll the wines in the glass in front of something white so you can see the color best. Roll it in the glass to the light. Smell the wine. Look for different smells. In the first wine we had it smelled like pears and apples along with grapes. There are pears and apples grown in the region where these grapes are from, but the wine is pure grapes. One of the reds had a very woody and smokey smell and taste--the grapes for this wine were fermented in a particular region's oak barrels. The reason why cheese goes well with wine is because cheese has a lot of fat and wine contains alcohol. The fat coats the inside of the mouth and the alcohol washes it down. We had cheese with our white wine, and salami (Chianti salami and another variety) and raw bacon with our two red wines. Chianti is the region between Firenze and Siena. Chianti Classico is actually the name of the northern part of this region.

The term Chianti Classico refers to a specific recipe for wine, the region, and, of course, a feeling! The best wine holds the special light purple banner label with the DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) on it. True Chianti Classico has the black label of the black rooster. Why is there a black rooster on Chianti Classico wine? Florence and Siena have a fierce rivalry and in order to settle the dispute of where the boundary between the province of Florence and the province of Siena was going to be after the reunification of Italy, the decision was made to have a horseback rider from Florence and Siena ride from each city and where they met the boundary would be. To make sure each rider started at the same time, the riders would leave when a rooster cried at the break of dawn in each city. Of course, as I was told, Florentines are clever and smart, and they decided to starve their black rooster for three days prior to the race. And what happened? The rooster didn't cry at dawn, it cried four hours before dawn! And this is why, we are told, that the boundary between the provinces of Florence and Siena is closer to Siena than to Florence!

How does wine get its different colors? Does red wine come from light or dark grapes? Red only comes from dark grapes, but white wine can come from both dark and light grapes; reason being that the color in the wine actually comes from the colored skin of the grape. Ever peeled back the skin of a grape? What is underneath is light, mostly colorless grape flesh. By stripping away flesh from the grapes, varieties of wine colors can be achieved, including white from dark grapes.

I also learned a little about olive oil production. Olives, when picked off the trees are spicy and mostly unpalatable. To create the olives one buys that are soft and juicy, the olives are set in brine. Extra Virgin olive oil comes from olives that have been pressed just once--highest quality with the thickest consistency. Virgin olive oil has been pressed twice. And third press olive oil is even lesser quality. The reason people would even consider to press the olives more than once (when it lowers the quality) is that by doing so it can double the production. Fresh pressed olive oil contains all the stems and pits and skins; these then come out through filtration.

I highly recommend you come out to Firenze and Tuscana and taste some wines! I'm hoping to go wine tasting around Tuscana and Chianti! You can join me if you're in the area!


Anche, Lunedi notte I met up with my friend Tony Laidig from Santa Cruz (whom I also met up with on Sabato notte) and we went out to dinner. Mangiamo bene!! After quite a bit of wandering in an attempt to find a restaurant recommended to me, we finally found it and wow was it worth the curious, winding turns between Piazza della Signoria e Piazza Santa Croce!! We went to All'Aqua Alla 2 (grazie, Frank!) We shared Assaggio primi (sampler of five awe-inspiring, amazing pastas), e assaggio insalate (sampler of three incredible, mouth watering dream salads), e Florentine steak with orange on foccacia... oh my God, so amazing. While I'm a vegitariano in Stati Uniti, I told myself I could break rules while abroad... a very good idea... the steak was so tender and the orange and soaked to perfection, soft foccacia was a perfect meal! :) Bene!!

All'Aqua Alla 2's interior was also extremely beautiful; a nice aesthetic of clean and sharp with a touch of eclectic fun made from many plates hung on the walls, each with a different drawing or piece of writing scribbled onto it. While waiting in line the owner gave everyone a shot glass of wine to enjoy. And once we were finished, Tony and were kindly given a shot glass of Limonata to drink.

While we were finishing our meal a trio of special polizia sat down at a table near to us. The owner of the restaurant then offered to pay for their meal; and they accepted. The owner seemed like a wonderful man who works extremely hard to maintain his excellent restaurant.... a restaurant to inspire the senses and imagination… a restaurant for a future of food and relationships!

Since this was the first time eating out after the wine tasting class I had earlier that day, I took every moment to enjoy the wine, to swirl the glass, to smell the Chianti, to taste its sensual dark cherry-red touch, and to slowly eat with its refreshing zest down the sides and back of my palette. When walking back home from the restaurant with Tony, I remarked that I felt perfect after that meal. I wasn’t full as if bloated or that I couldn’t eat anymore. I was full in a naturally satisfied sense. Satisfied in the sense that I just felt excellent, and was where I wanted to be. Mangiare in Italia e tutto bene!

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