It could be said that Italians know when the holiday season approaches because the traditional holiday breads, Panettone and Pandoro, begin appearing on store shelves. These two traditional holiday breads, Panettone with candied fruits and Pandoro without, make their appearance until the end of the holiday season which in Italian tradition goes until the second of February. Bardi Panettone and Pandoro have been our exclusive for some six years now and have won many admirers. Despite the Italian penchant for making them seasonal breads, I find they are in fact delicious after the holidays and have varied uses, not just their traditional ones of being enjoyed at Christmas, with a glass of frothy muscat wine. Bread pudding is one use and french toast, another.
Panettone, a buttery, raised dough bread with raisins and candied fruit, comes in several variations. There is the tall and low shape; we have one, Senza Canditi, without candied fruit, just raisins; the Veneziana with only candied citrus fruit and the Nocciolato, glazed with hazelnut paste. This year we have a special one, Fondente, perfumed with orange flower water and almonds and covered with fondant chocolate and chopped toasted almonds.
Pandoro, the Venetian specialty, has no fruit, is in a tall, star shaped form and is covered with powdered sugar. It is traditionally eaten at New Year with a glass of Recioto. All Bardi products come in a 1 kilo (2.2lb) size.Panettone Alto (Tall shape, candied citrus fruit and raisins, boxed)
Panettone Basso (Traditional low shape, candied fruit, raisins, boxed)
Panettone Veneziana (Low shape, only candied citrus fruit, gold foil wrapped)
Panettone Nocciolato (Low shape, hazelnut glaze, boxed)
Panettone Senza Canditi (Tall shape, only raisins, silver foil wrapped)
Panettone Fondente (Low shape, orange flower water, almonds, chocolate fondant, wrapped)
Panettone Pandoro (Tall, star shaped, just golden bread, no fruit)
NEW OILS FROM FALL HARVEST 2004: A Selection
In olive oil producing countries, the new harvest of oil in the fall is awaited with bated breath. There are always so many “what ifs?” As of this writing, not a lot of oils have been produced in most countries, California included. However, fall could not go by without our offering a new oil. I have selected two California oils and a new producer from Puglia, Cosimo Adamo.
New oil, “olio nuovo” is meant, like Beaujolais Nouveau, to be
used, not kept. It should be used while it has all of its pungency and bite,
to jolt us in winter with its fresh fruit character. New oil provides the zip
and punch needed with fall/winter dishes and gives them both flavor and unctuousness.
Extracted, lightly filtered, then bottled, this oil is meant to be used up
by spring, at the latest. Oil, normally after spending the winter falling (somewhat)
bright, is bottled in the late winter/spring.
Corti Brothers Ascolano Olive Oil, ascolano variety
I’ve coined this name to point up the more intense fruity character of this Tuscan variety blend. Reminiscent of Tuscan oil, I think it a good example of this fruitiness.
Vintage cognac is not a French invention. It is British. Yes, French cognac producers can have a vintage dated product, with rare exceptions it is probably young, since, until about ten years ago, there was no real mechanism for aging cognac in the region in bond so that it could be vintage dated.
Vintage means that the particular spirit is produced from wines made in that year and distilled, as is all cognac, immediately after fermentation stops; is barreled, put into bond, and not topped. Normally, in the Cognac region, distillates are “topped up,” that is to say the amount that evaporates from cask during aging is replaced with either the same or a similar distillate, keeping the cask full. This is done until the spirit gets old enough, and is then put into large glass demijohns.
Vintage cognac as devised by the British, is young distillate, usually from the best production area, Grande Champagne, shipped in cask to England usually a year or two old, and aged in damp cellars where the alcoholic content does not go up and the spirit does not darken with age. In drier Cognac region cellars, alcohol goes up in strength due to faster water evaporation and the cognac darkens. In damp British cellars, the cognac remains very pale and its degree of alcohol falls naturally due to alcohol evaporation, not needing the addition of water to reduce the strength as is done in the Cognac region.
Thus this cognac develops a great floral perfume with a unique, delicious, soft delicate flavor. In Britain, these cognacs are called “Early Landed” and are now becoming rare. In fact, with the acquisition of the old, early landed specialist family firm of Hine by LVMH, Hine began buying back stocks of its cognacs aging in Britain for bottling in France since this was the only way to have the vintage date on them.
For almost 30 years Corti Brothers has offered this Early Landed style of cognac. It is a real revelation to anyone who likes his brandy pale colored, dry, fragrant, and very long flavored. This is not your style if you like dark, full bodied, rich, pungent brandy.
In order to offer vintage dated, early landed cognac, Corti Brothers buys casks of young spirit and ages them until they fall naturally to 80 proof or 40% alcohol without adding water. We still have casks of 1982 Delamain Grande Champagne, aging in Bristol, England. Depending on how they taste, they will be bottled in the next year or two. This is not an exercise for the faint of heart. Nor do we pretend to be a “pro bono” business.
This said, here is your last chance to buy our current bottlings of early landed vintage cognac at their original prices. In 2005, the prices go up! Please take advantage of these current prices. Cognac with bottle age is really terrific. The late professor James Guymon, California’s only brandy expert, used to say: “I can’t prove it (scientifically), but I’m convinced that all alcohol improves in bottle.”
Hine Grande Champagne Cognac 1972 bottled 1992 (#8024)
Hine Grande Champagne Cognac 1977 bottled 2000 (#8025)
Hennessey Grande Champagne 1972 Dom.de la Bataille bottled 1994 Out of stock. (#8026)
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