De Tierra Merlot and Syrah 2002 from Monterey County
Since it is a very cool region in general, Monterey County was not famous for red wines, possibly excepting Pinot Noir. This has now changed with the advent of very fine, distinctive reds coming from selected microclimates in the county. In the Corral de Tierra, at the foot of Mount Toro, between the Santa Lucia Highlands and Carmel Valley, De Tierra Vineyards owned by Tom and Carol Russell, an important organic vegetable grower in the county, produces some fascinating wine from their own organically grown grapes and selected purchased fruit.
The home vineyard, planted in 1997 to merlot and chardonnay, is bowl shaped, a 6-8 degree sloping south facing site of very intensely planted vines. The merlot is trained to 6-7 canes with one cluster per cane. The winemaker, vineyardist, and winery architect is Lucio Gomiero, whose own Vignalta wines from Italy’s Veneto we have long sold. He is a great fan of merlot and his own merlot based G.E.M.O.L.A, has won Tre Bicchieri awards from Italy’s wine guide Gambero Rosso.
De Tierra Estate Merlot 2002 Wine 750ml (#9021)
Lucio’s production is simple, direct, and minimally handled, producing Merlot with concentration--a beguiling incense like scent and flavor--great flavor intensity with a hint of mocha coffee character and smooth body. 400 cases were produced from estate organic grapes.
De Tierra Syrah 2002 Wine 750ml (#9022)
Syrah is the other red wine produced at De Tierra. This is a very concentrated wine from 10 rows of vines in a vineyard in the Arroyo Seco area of southern Monterey County. A lush wine, with intense fruit character, this is a massive Syrah, fleshy, with sweet berry character, lively acidity, and varietal spiciness. 600 cases produced. De Tierra wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered. De Tierra wines are real mouthfuls without a lot of distracting tannin.
Pane Carasau or Carta da Musica, Sardinia's Most Famous Bread
The Italian island of Sardinia has one of the most fascinating cultures and gastronomy of Italy. Visitors are often won over by the very thin, crisp bread--more like a cracker than bread--called Pane Carasau in Sardinian or Carta da Musica, in Italian. It is a very thin, flat disk that is traditionally made in island’s north eastern province of Nuoro. Unless you went to Sardinia and brought it back, it never left the island. Now a baker, Giulio Bulloni from Bitti in Nuoro province ships some of his production to the US.
Pane Carasau, called Pane Carasatu by this baker, takes its name “carasau” meaning excellent. Its origins are the bread needed by shepherds which would last and be useful while out with their flocks. Pane carasau can be used as a plate; dampened, filled, and rolled like a tortilla; or dressed like pasta with a tomato sauce after being softened in boiling water or stock. This is called “pane frattau.”
One of the best ways of enjoying pane carasau is to heat it in a medium oven to crisp it again. Place it on a plate and sprinkle it with extra virgin oil and a bit of good salt. The preparation is called “pane guttiau” or drizzled bread. This is really delicious using new oils and as with potato chips, you cannot just eat one.
The production of Pane Carasau is very simple. Durum wheat flour mixed with water and a bit of leavening, either yeast or “biga” (the dough from the preceding day’s bake) is kneaded and allowed to rise, rolled out thinly and baked in a very hot oven. The disks of dough inflate, are removed, split along the edge into two pieces and then rebaked until crisp. To enjoy pane carasau, warm it. Otherwise is has a very plain taste. Warming brings out flavor and crispness.
Pane Carasatu Bread - 10 inch diameter 500g pkg (#9023) Sold out.
Pane Carasatu Bread -13 inch diameter 500g pkg (#9024) Sold out.
Special Pasta Shapes from Maestri Pastai of Campania
There are lots of pasta makers in Italy. Naples and its Campania region have often been considered the leaders in pasta making, at least in traditional dry pasta making. In Nocera Inferiore, a small town just south of Avellino, Maestri Pastai, Master Pasta makers, produce a series of pasta cuts typical of Campania. Some are long and others short; some with names that are common, others not. The pasta is very good, made with only semolina flour and cold water, kneaded slowly, and extruded through bronze dies, then slowly dried for up to 56 hours. All the cuts we offer are in 500g bags.
Maestri Pastai Capunti Pasta 500 grams. (#9025) Sold out.
A 2 inch cavatelli shape, for cooking with broccoli, rapini, or cauliflower and dressing with good oil and a hint of dry chile pepper.
Maestri Pastai Gramigna Pasta 500 grams (#9026) Sold out.
2 inch, pierced curved cut, for ragù Bolognese, or sausage sauces. It means “crab grass,” and looks like a node of it.
Maestri Pastai Fusilli Avellinese Pasta 500 grams (#9027) Sold out.
A thin, 2 inch twisted cavatelli shape, from Avellino. Use a meat sauce.
Maestri Pastai Ferretto Calabro Pasta 500 grams (#9028) Sold out.
A straight 21 inches long, with an S shape curve, originally made with a thin rod. A Calabrese pasta for dressing with a lamb sauce.
Maestri Pastai Pennette Rigate Pasta 500 grams (#9029) Sold out.
1/4 inch wide ribbed penne, 2 inches long. Deliciously unusual for macaroni and cheese.
Maestri Pastai Calamaretti Pasta 500 grams (#9030) Sold out.
½ inch wide rings, like squid rings. Make a squid sauce of garlic, parsley, white wine, olive oil, squid tentacles, briefly cooked. Add cooked pasta and raw squid rings at end to heat though.
Maestri Pastai Tubetti Pasta 500 grams (#9031) Sold out.
The classic ditali shape for pasta fagioli, macaroni salad, or mac and cheese.
A New Single Variety California Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Koroneiki is one of the major Greek olive cultivars and is the basis for a lot of very fine Greek oils, especially on Crete. Rarely planted in California, we have a first bottling of California Koroneiki from the northern Sacramento Valley. The oil is striking, both in color and flavor. Emerald green in color, this Koroneiki has a wonderful newly cut grass scent together with an overtone of green tomato both in scent and flavor. It has a fresh, green, leafy flavor, with a lightish, typical green “pungency” in the finish. A very good example of the variety.
California Koroneiki, OliOdessa Olive Oil, Napa 500ml (#9032) Sold out.
Two New Books for Your Library
The Art of Cooking, The First Modern Cookery Book, by the eminent Maestro Martino of Como, (#9033)
Edited by Luigi Ballerini, translated and annotated by Jeremy Parzen, U. C. Press. Number 14 in the Press series California Studies in Food and Culture, this may seem an esoteric item, but it is one of the bases of Italian cooking. Even if you don’t cook from it, the deliciously readable text is a mine of ideas.
I helped with this book, but it stands on its own merits as a compendium of what to do with olive oil other than using it as a food. Carol Firenze has done a fine job of gathering between two covers, folklore, history, family recipes, and scholarly works dealing with olive oil. If you are an olive oil fan, this book is a handy reference.