About this Blog

The blog focuses on the essence of wine and food, not how many points or stars it receives. The opinions are mine and should be taken only as that, an opinion not gospel.

Like many collectors, initially I was very much influenced by wine ratings. I purchased wines based on points, even if I had never tasted the wine. And it was much worse than that. I would drink a wine with a high rating, not like it, yet since it was highly rated I’d rationalize that I did not yet appreciate the wine, or that my palate was not sophisticated enough to understand the wine. How’s that for lunacy? As a result my cellar grew in all directions while my palate narrowed. By the time I realized the style of wine that I enjoyed, my cellar abounded with wines whose styles I did not enjoy. All of these wines were very highly rated, just not my cup of tea, or glass of wine to be more accurate. Fortunately I was able to sell many of these wines to those who either enjoyed them or wanted highly rated wines. Don’t misunderstand, I am not against wines with high ratings, in fact I own many. It is just that I now purchase wines based on the producer, the style and my palate, not the rating. Nor do I shun reading reviews. I very much respect Antonio Galloni, Alan Meadows, Eric Asimov and John Gilman and read their reviews routinely. I pay attention to what they write, not the points they award.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

MY 67th Birthday

This past Sunday was my 67th birthday. My children, grandkids, sister, mother, mother-in-law and of course my wife were all on hand to celebrate the day with me at the beach house we rented for the month of August in Lavallette, NJ. Mother nature obliged us with perfect weather to enjoy the special day.

Naturally we ate and drank very well the entire day.  A magnum each of 2010 Clos Sainte Magdeleine Cassis Rosé and 2010 Domaine Terrebrune Bandol Rosé were the perfect quaffs to beat the 90º heat.  Simply delicious, they were enjoyed by even the red wine drinkers in the group.  I wrote about these two gorgeous wines in my last two posts, so if you would like more information, please refer to them.  They are usually available at 56º Wine in Bearnardsville, NJ and Chambers Street Wines, NYC.

Diane's Taralli
Alas, the food was the real star of the day however.  Prior do dinner we enjoyed freshly baked Taralli that my sister Diane made. Taralli, an Italian snack food, common all over the southern half of the Italian Peninsula, they are similar in texture to a semi hard biscuit or a breadstick.  They are usually oval in shape and can be made with various condiments. My family family is partial to those made with ground black pepper fennel seeds. They are the perfect accompaniment to wine, either dunked in it or eaten alone.  Using my mom’s recipe, Diane has mastered this “betcha can’t eat just one” biscuit.

Shrimp cocktail and Maui Coconut Fried Shrimp from Runners Seafood Restaurant in Lavalette were served alongside the Taralli.  

Joe Leone Ravioli, my gravy
The main course was pasta of course.  No Sunday or birthday is complete without it.  My absolute favorite pasta is the homemade cheese Ravioli my grandmother Michelina DeRosa, rest her soul, used to make.  Large in size, yet light as a feather they simply had no peer in the ravioli world.  They key to this heavenly dumpling was the creaminess of the filling, which was made with fresh ricotta cheese, grated Pecorino Romano cheese, fresh parsley, eggs, salt and pepper.  Try as I might, my attempts to duplicate them have been less than successful.  Fortunately a couple of years ago I discovered the homemade cheese ravioli from Joe Leone’s in Point Pleasant, NJ.  They are as close to grandma’s in every respect.  They went perfect with the pot of gravy, meatballs, and gravy meat that I made.  

With the ravioli the ladies continued to drink the Rosé, while the guys enjoyed a 1997 Giuseppe Mascarello Barolo Riserva Monprivato Ca’ d’Morisso.  From one of Italy's top traditionalists this is the estate's top wine and is only made in top vintages and from a special parcel within the heart of the Monprivato vineyard.  I wrote about the difficulty of the 1997 vintage in Barolo in my last post as well as this particular wine.  It was the best of the wines from the vintage I opened last month, and was once again today.  A classic Nebbiolo with a great sense of place, a focused balance and elegant finish.    

A salad made with fresh Jersey tomatoes from my friend Gregorio’s garden, basil and cucumbers from my garden and red onions was the classic way to end this classic meal.

We finished with two homemade desserts.  My lovely wife Carol made one of my favorites, Banana Cream Pie.  It was fabulous.  My sister made a marble cake that was made with ricotta that was simply amazing.  It was moist, light and delicious.

It was a great birthday.  I am very fortunate to have such a great family to enjoy this special day with, for it is they who make it so special.  My thanks and love to each of them.


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