This is our first newsletter for 2005. I wonder where the time went! Spring is a time of renewal and new growth. In this newsletter there are new items you may not have ever known about and some you may have. Part of writing this newsletter is to also inform you of new finds and new products that may make your gastronomic experience more fulfilling. I hope you find them to your liking.
Two New Olive Preparations from California
Maurice Penna, owner of M & C P Farms, Orland, California, supplies Corti Brothers with several olive preparations. The very tasty and different Late Harvest olive blend which we offered several years ago, is but one. Now Maurice has produced two new products which are just in time for your spring entertaining and summer table. They are: California Kalamon and a unique Dry Land Sevillano.
Kalamon is the varietal name of the cultivar used in Greece’s Peloponnesus to make Kalamata olives. Although the name of both the olive preparation and the cultivar are used synonymously at times, it is more proper to use the cultivar name outside of Greece. Kalamata is the place from which the olive preparation takes its name. As far as I know, these are the first California Kalamon Olives to be prepared for the table. Penna Farms have spent a lot of time producing these olives, having to first plant the cultivar and then produce the cured olives. These are a new California product and you, our customers, are tasting them first.
Differing just slightly from the Greek cure, Penna Kalamon olives are not cut, are not very vinegary nor salty, but are crunchy fleshed, with the same round, tart flavor of the Greek version. Very fleshy, these are olives one can sink one’s teeth into!
The second preparation is Dry Land Sevillano Olives, picked as tree ripe fruit from the sevillano variety and cured. What is unique about them is that the fruit is dry farmed and picked ripe. Normal California olives for table production, especially this large sized fruit, are irrigated and picked green. Dry farmed fruit has a more intense flavor and consistency to its flesh than do sevillanos picked green, used to make the largest size of canned olives. Here size is not the important factor, but flavor is. Not exactly Castelvetrano (Sicilian) style nor Spanish style, the lactic fermentation cure of these olives is appropriate and delicious, maintaining the textural integrity of the fruit and leaving a distinctive flavor. Since these sevillanos were harvested tree ripe–black in color–their cured color is almost amaranth, a faded red-purple.
Both of these olives have never been produced before. Both are really worthy additions for your spring, summer, and later entertaining. If they are well liked, Maurice might continue producing them. Here’s your chance to be a culinary arbiter.
These are the two ports which are bottled for us by Cockburn, Smithes in Porto under the Martinez Gassiot label–a sister company to Cockburn.
XSR 120 Finest White Port Wine 750ml (#9002)
We have offered the XSR 120 Finest White Port ever since it was found in the Cockburn lodge by Kevin Hamel, my one time assistant, while he worked for Cockburn in Porto. This is a wine which we sell under its lodge lot number XSR 120. There are but 16 pipes of this wine which was already very old when the inventory of the firm’s wines was made by John Smithes in 1970. Not much is sold. In fact we are the only customer. It is a wonderful old wine, made just like red port, but from white grapes.
Golden in color, with just a hint of amber and a rich unctuous body and aged fragrance, XSR 120 is a wine once tasted not easily forgotten. A sweet white port–normally white port is made as a dryish wine–XSR120 is perfect for dessert or as dessert. Served just slightly cool, it is a simply delicious vinous treat. Sold out.
Savino Fine Tawny Port Wine 750ml (#9003)
Savino Fine Tawny is a 12-15 year old tawny blend of two pipes made up for two uses: one, to be drunk at the Cockburn lunch table as the “house” tawny; and the other to be sold to Corti Brothers as our “house” tawny. Nicely matured, (the base wine is Martinez 20 year old tawny) Savino has a good balanced fruitiness with backbone “grip” to it and is easy to drink. This is the style of tawny that is pleasurable drinking both as a dessert wine or in the port trade fashion, chilled, as a delicious warm weather aperitif.
A Well Kept Coffee Secret: Bali Arabica“Shinzan”
Corti Brothers is not a specialist in coffee, but occasionally we find a unique example which is excellent, buy what is available, and offer it to our customers until sold out. One such coffee that has just come our way is an arabica coffee, from the Island of Bali, from aged beans, and usually reserved for the Japanese market where most of the best coffees end up. The economic crisis there has freed up some stock.
Bali "Shinzan" is from small holder farms who grow arabica plants as opposed to the more typical robusta. The arabicas are grown at an altitude of 3,500 to 4,900 feet. Mount Agung, the highest and most revered peak on Bali, rises 10,308 feet and is the “Shinzan” or god mountain, in Japanese. Our coffee is grown near the mountain, hence its name. Part of Indonesia, Bali is 90 miles long, located between Java–another famous coffee area to the west– and Timor and other islands to the east.
For this premium coffee, the beans are washed and sun dried, then aged for at least one year as green beans. Custom roasted light-medium for us by Jeremiah’s Pick Coffee Co. of San Francisco, this roast level enhances the sweet flavors of this full bodied coffee. Our Shinzan is from the 2003/2004 crop. I think you will be impressed with its quality.
Corti Brothers Bali Arabica Coffee "Shinzan" $10.99 per 12 oz bag (#9004)