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Alexander van Dülmen

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Italy

Hisa Franko, Restaurant, Staro Stelo (3rd report)

Hisa Franko, Restaurant, Staro Stelo, Kobarid, Slovenia

8 points

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What should one write when one is utterly speechless from so many impressions and experiences? Sometimes it is said that a good meal or great wine brings one closer to heaven. Seen in this way, Hisa Franko is truly a temple – where one of the greatest goddesses cooks: Ana Ros. Now I do not want to pay limitless homage to her, but I have been to Kobarid again – this time with my partner Stephan Wagner – and it was simply most heavenly, absolutely everything that we ate and drank.

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Venissa, Restaurant and Vineyard, Marzzorbo (2nd review)

Venissa, Restaurant, Marzzorbo, Italy

4,5 points

Returning after ca. three years to Venice, I revisited the restaurant Venissa. Maybe my expectations this time were simply too high, due to my amazing initial experience there (see here: Venissa, Restaurant and Vineyard, Marzzorbo), but it was a real disappointment: in terms of both atmosphere and cuisine much poorer – and simply too expensive.

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Veritas, Restaurant, Naples

Veritas, Restaurant, Naples, Italy

5,0 points

Maybe you travel to Naples with false expectations, but unfortunately, the image of the city is bad. Trash, mafia and a pretty dirty bay with high pollution. Much of this is probably even true; otherwise it likely would not have stuck as Naples’ reputation over decades. Indeed, the city looks dirtier than other Italian cities; the area around the huge harbor is rather run-down. Perhaps the story of Naples’ tramway mirrors the chaotic, but perhaps not even scandalous condition of public services in this Southern Italian city. Because the street in front of the tram depot is under construction (according to different internet resources – including Wikipedia – the size of construction is only 40m long), not one tram has driven in the city since 2016!!!! This is crazy, isn’t it? I can imagine that the Neapolitans are quite used to this, they don’t trust politics – and for good reason – and if there is something behind all this that is really powerful,  it is the Camorra. You can be sure that they earn on every little “error.”

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“P”, Guccione

“P”, Azienda Agricola Guccione, Perricone, Red-wine from Italy

5,5 points

Uh, this one is sour. Really sour. This is, frankly speaking, the first reaction upon tasting this wine. But you could probably also just call it: “I wasn’t expecting that.’

“P” by Francesco Guccione is an extraordinary, if not an unusual, wine. Not a wine for beginners, as I provoked on Instagram when I posted a photo of the label. P stands for the Perricone grape variety, also known as Pignatello, which, as far as I know, only grows in Sicily. Find out more about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perricone.

The wines of Francesco Guccione are perhaps the most radical organic wines from Sicily, where you can find some “world-famous” organic wine producers, such as Occhipinti and COS. Everyone who read my last post about COS (Zibibbio in Pithos, COS, 2016), knows about my friendly acquaintance Joanna. When we spent a very nice evening in the wonderful garden of Bar Sabadi at Modica, she introduced me to Francesco Guccione’s Trebbiano, which is truly wonderful – such a fantastic wine. Because of this, I decided to order two or three bottles of each of his wines, and I tasted “P” in recent days.

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Fresco, Restaurant & Pizzeria, Naples

Fresco, Restaurant & Pizzeria, Naples, Italy

2.5 points

The very beautiful receptionist Valentina at the highly recommended Hotel Excelsior advised us to have dinner at a place close by called Fresco — saying that there was not only excellent pizza, but also many other good things. Asked if she would go there with her family, she said yes. Our experience there ended up being rather disappointing, unfortunately, and maybe Valentina has not been there for a long time or maybe she has no family – who knows.

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Zibibbio in Pithos, COS, 2016

Zibibbio in Pithos, COS, 2016, white wine from Italy

7,5 points

Until now I have not written about COS, although I am a big fan of this winery. Not only because of the great wines of Azienda Agricola Cos, but also due to the presence of Joanna Dubrawska, who for many years was not only responsible for marketing and sales for COS but could also introduce wines in a very special way. She left COS a few months ago and is now working somewhere in France. Behind the winery are actually three founders, C. O. S. is a reference to their surnames.

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Kupra, 2008

Kupra, 2008, red wine from Italy

7 points

In June 2015 I wrote about Marco Casolanetti’s famous Kurni. If you are interested in Marco’s wine-making, and if you don’t know Kurni, please have a look here: Kurni, 2008

When I visited Marco – probably it is now perhaps even eight years ago – he also introduced me to his second wine, Kupra. Since he produces only 400 to 600 bottles of this wine per year, you would think that this is the little brother of Kurni, also because Kurni is so prominent. Actually, this would be wrong: first of all, Kupra is not made from Montepulciano, but rather from a grape called Bordò, a kind of a clone of Grenache. Secondly, it should be higher quality than Kurni, which is ambitious to say.

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Macelleria Popolare, Milan

Macelleria Popolare, Milan Street Food, Milan, Italy

5 points

valentina-lori-foto.1024x1024I am delighted to introduce you to another guest writer: Valentina Lori. She is born in Milan but lives since many years in Berlin. 

 

When I tell people I am from Milan, 90% of the time their reply is either, „Oh, I have never been there“ or „Oh, yes, I have been at the airport / at the station / on the freeway on the way to Florence / Rome / Liguria etc. “.

Fact is, Milano is not well known. It does not have the eternal appeal of Rome, the elegant charm of Florence or the unique beauty of Venice but it should not be underestimated. It is famous for its design and fashion industry but it has more to offer than fancy shops and a beautiful cathedral that took centuries to be completed. It has a few popular spots but also hidden treasures, unknown sometimes even to its citizens. It is also one of the very few cities in Italy where sometimes things really change.

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Brunello di Montalcino – Madonna del Piano, 1993

Brunello di Montalcino – Madonna del Piano, Valdicava da Vincenzo Abbruzzese, 1993, red wine from Italy

7 points

Drinking wine, enjoying wine is so often also an emotional experience. Particularly if it’s a good wine! There are these special moments in life when you know afterwards why life is so beautiful, sometimes so grandiose …. Berlin, one of “the” towns of the world, Friday night, finishing work late, hungry for a “platform” for the transition from a heavy working week to a weekend! Relaxation is needed, but you cannot simply decree this to yourself. Too hyper to sleep, but also too tired to sleep.

Music is another element of emotional cognition. Friendship, too. On a recent Friday night, I rang the bell of Nobelhart & Schmutzig after midnight – a nice welcome, without any attitude like “hey, we are just cleaning up, almost closed, it’s “nice” to see you, but…”. Crossed the cleaned public kitchen area, seated at the bar next to Billy, who asked what I would like. Red. I got Adrianna Occhipinti. Sicilian wine. Wine experts among readers know it, and probably also know that this is a very good wine. I need to write about it, as this is also one of my favorite Italian winemakers. More importantly, someone tries to describe your sentiment, combines it with their own, the wine is in the bottle, and it smells delicious – although you already know it, or is it because you know it?

The restaurant is almost shut down for the night, the rest of the staff leaving, saying good night. Reduced light, the blue reflection of the screen of your friend’s laptop and – excellent music! A conversation among friends is never something about only one subject but so many at the time. A mixture of private, professional, daily, but also long-term things, all at once, slowed down by every sip of wine.

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Colle Vecchio, Offida Pecorino, 2007

Colle Vecchio, Offida Pecorino, 2007, white wine from Italy

5,5 points

I never believed that this experiment would end well! Two or three years ago I discovered that I still had one bottle left of a rather typical – certainly not top – white wine from Cocci Grifone, vintage 2007. If someone had asked me – even five years ago, I would have said that this wine had very likely gone bad. I would have been wrong. And I was wrong. From the first nose it was clearly not off. But would it be a good wine? To my great surprise, the wine was still very good and, due to its age, had probably become something special.

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Visellio, Tenute Rubino, Primitivo Salento, 2006

Visellio, Tenute Rubino, Primitivo Salento, 2006, Red wine from Italy

7 points

I am actually surprised at myself — for giving this wine 7 points. For a Primitivo! But it’s an honest score. Many years ago, together with my team, we visited the Tenute Robino winery. What a noble name: “Noble Estate” – although it strongly contradicts the location of the winery. If you’d expect a charming, romantic estate somewhere in Apulian hills, surrounded by vines and olive trees — well, you’d be quite mistaken. Unfortunately, Tenute Rubino’s location is in the suburbs of Brindisi, which are really ugly. There are so many beautiful places, villages and towns in Apulia, but the worst are the suburbs of Bari and, even more so, Brindisi. Visually a killer, socially probably very problematic — and, like in the industrial areas of such cities, completely faceless and dusty. Although the building is quite modern and very functional, it lacks any flair. It reminds me of Cosimo Taurino (https://avdwineandfood.net/2015/06/01/patriglione-salento-2001-cosimo-taurino/), which I also visited some years ago – another unattractive place. But both produce good wine.

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Trattoria Da Dante Alle Piazza, Padua

Trattoria Da Dante Alle Piazza, Padua, Italy

4 points

This very classical Trattoria was recommended to me by the receptionist of Padua’s probably only design hotel, called Le Camp (http://www.lecampspa.it/). She is an attractive young woman from Padua, with some Romanian roots, and she told me that Trattoria Da Dante Alle Piazza wouldn’t be her place as it is rather conservative and doesn’t offer “light” food. Actually this was what I wanted to hear, since I was in the mood for a classic Italian pasta.

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