I wrote about this wine in our summer newsletter. I think Nebbiolo della Martinenga is the epitome of the variety Nebbiolo, showing the elegant, fragrant side of the variety. We have the only stock of this vintage available, having cleaned out the estate cellars. Nebbiolo della Martinenga is produced from the same vines that would make Barbaresco, but is vinified to make this gentler--more attractive to my mind red--than classic Barbaresco. I cannot conjure up a better wine for holiday drinking where a delicacy of fragrance and flavor is wanted rather than power and tannin. This Nebbiolo is red wine for rich dishes with creamy sauces--lasagne, cannelloni, ravioli, fonduta with white truffles, and even with Peking duck. You should experience this Nebbiolo to see that, while the variety can produce austere wines, its nature tends to finesse and pinot-like delicacy. When made that way, it is perfect deliciousness itself. We do not have a lot left, and have a small number of magnums.
Ball Club Wild Rice is hand harvested by two people in a canoe during the months of August and September, the 3-4 week window for harvesting genuine wild rice (Zyzania aquatica) in Minnesota. Ball Club Wild Rice is a pale khaki brown color, the natural color of wild rice. It is very different from the very hard, black wild rice normally seen on the market and whose black color comes from the parching of the seed.
Since Ball Club wild rice has just been harvested, it does not need to be soaked before cooking and will take about ½ hour to cook rather than the hour or more that the black form takes. It is delicate, yet intensely scented. If you have never enjoyed this kind of wild rice, Ball Club is a revelation. It makes a delicious and very North American addition to turkey or with game fowl. Once cooked, it is very handy to keep in the refrigerator, just to be re-steamed, and served with grilled or roasted beef, pork, or lamb as an alternative to potatoes or other starch.
Known as MAH-NO-MEN in the Anishinabe language, wild rice is a cultural staple, medium of exchange, and food delicacy. Traditionally harvested from wild growing plants, this is a far cry from the black, machine harvested, paddy grown “wild rice” normally found in commerce. The black wild rice has a following in Italy. They would be amazed if they had this quality.
Gourmet Magazine December 1940 - November 2009
The unfortunate, precipitous closing of Gourmet Magazine took the food world by surprise. What had been the stalwart in American food publishing disappears in its actual form, leaving us with a virtual structure. I must confess that Gourmet was responsible in great part for my interest and future in food. I dare say that it was also the same for a lot of you who read this newsletter.
How times have changed! If even during the terrible days of World War II, Gourmet continued publishing–and very thick editions at that–why did it just die? On the other hand, a slow, agonizing illness would have made no sense. Are we better off now than say in 1944? Comments have been made it was to too precious and snobbish. For whom? Isn’t what we are doing here and now too snobbish? There are those who dote on the term “foodie.” In other times, they would have been called “readers of Gourmet.”
Personally, I owe a great debt to Gourmet Magazine. I think all of us interested in food do. AVE ATQUE VALE
The Ultimate Italian Cookbook: Scappi's Opera
Here is a book I would like to tell you about since it is available from major book stores. The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi (1570), translated with commentary by Terence Scully, University of Toronto Press, 2008, 787 pages. ISBN 978-0-8020-9624-1
This is the first English translation of one of the most important Italian cookbooks of the Renaissance, if not the most important Italian cookbook ever. Written by the personal cook to several cardinals and two popes, Pius IV and Pius V, with 1,000 recipes and 27 copper plate engravings showing a typical Renaissance kitchen and equipment, it is a work not to miss.
Printed in Venice in 1570, at the end of Scappi’s career, this work led to others and is our vision of dining in the Renaissance. Scappi’s work is a mine of treasures; the recipes for sturgeon alone are amazing. What he has to say about olive oil is priceless. The recipes are pretty much doable today. One just has to be sensitive to the taste of the finished dish.
Another work to bring to your attention is Cooking from the Heart: The Hmong kitchen in America. I’ll bet you have never had Hmong cooking. Amazingly, this work created by two ladies--Sheng Yang from Sacramento and Sami Scripter from Portland, Oregon--is the only cookbook of this southeast Asian people, who, first had a written script devised for them only fifty years ago.
The Hmong come from the highlands of Laos and were helpful to American forces in Vietnam. A great number were re-settled in the U.S. and this book is an active record of their culture. That the recipes are delicious is an added plus. Food is culture!
Cooking from the Heart, Sami Scripter & Sheng Yang, University of Minnesota Press, 2009, 277 pp.
I enjoyed this dish prepared by Alex Ong, chef/partner at San Francisco’s BETELNUT restaurant, at a party for noted San Francisco restaurateur Cecilia Chang’s 90th birthday. While not exactly a “kimchi,” the fermented Korean condiment, it is extremely good. The recipe is as follows:
Asian Pears (nashi) peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes. This amount can vary depending on the number to be served. You might calculate half a pear per person.
Mix all marinade ingredients and let sit overnight in refrigerator. Toss the pears with the marinade and add sea salt to taste and 6 minced mint leaves. You can mix freshly peeled and diced Granny Smith apples or julienned green mango with the marinade also. Wonderful to accompany pork, turkey, or lamb. We had it with suckling pig.