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BOOK REVIEW: Breaking Bread In L’Aquila by Maria Filice

When Maria Filice conceived this cookbook remarkable for its beautiful practicality she had love, simplicity and knowledge in mind.

Love for the people living in the L’Aquila Region of Abruzzo, love for her late husband, Paul Piccone, who introduced her to their homey gastronomy, love for her guests past, present and future and love for ample, complete and delicious food.

Simplicity in a book eminently utilitarian for all cooks and chefs, be they absolute beginners trying to please their loved ones or veteran chefs in search of inspiration back to the basics.

Knowledge to be acquired about traditional ingredients, new taste combinations and forgotten wines for perfect pairing with her recipes.

This cookbook ought to be left open at all times on the kitchen table of all Italian food lovers, and all food lovers for that matter.
Preceded by an eye-opening introduction on her entertaining philosophy and the wines of Abruzzo, Maria’s work has been organized along the seven days of the week with a full Italian meal suggestion for everyone of them.
Actually, more than a meal, she is taking her guests along a daily feast from the Antipasti, through Primi Piatti and Seondi Piatti to the Dolci via a detour through a Contorni.

I do not wish to reveal all the secrets of her book, but I cannot help recommend my own biased selection:
-Antipasti: Insalata di Mare e Servita nel Radicchio (Seafood salad in a Radicchio Cup)
-Primi Piatti: Pasta e Lenticchie (Pasta and Lentils)
-Primi Piatti: Minestra di Farro (Spelt Soup)
-Secondi Piatti: Scaloppine al Vino Bianco (Veal Scaloppine in White Wine)
-Secondi Piatti: Pollo Arrosto con Aglio e Rosmarino (Chicken with Rosemary and Garlic)
-Contorni: Fritto Misto di Funghi (Sauteed Mushromms Madley)
-Dolci: Torta di Caffe (Coffee Cake)

I wrote this review at the counter of Il Paladino, one of the very best Italian Restaurants in all Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. When I mentioned the wines of Montelpuciano to my friend chef, he just went to his cellar to show me a couple of the bottles he had on his wine list (some more expensive of the same name are kept away from the list for special guests!)!
It certainly piqued his curiosity when I told him the reason of my query. Consequently, we went through Maria’s book together all over again at ease (I had chosen a quiet time of the day!) and he was so impressed by the direct approach of the recipes and the accompanying photographs that he requested me to keep the book long enough for him to consult!

Not only this cookbook will help you make your friends and family discover the pleasures of a great regional Italian gastronomy, but the net profits of its sales will be donated to help the victims of devastation caused by the earthquake which recently struck L’Aquila.

For direct purchase consult Maria Filice’s own website at www.telospress.com/foodandfate

Robert-Gilles Martineau

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Warren Bobrow, Bread + Butter, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Think Twice, Frank Fariello, Mangantayon, Hapabento, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Tokyo Terrace, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles,Lexi, Culinary Musings, Wheeling Gourmet, Comestiblog, Chronicles Of A Curious Cook, Bento Boutique, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World, Palate To Pen, Yellin Yakimono Gallery, Tokyo Terrace, Hilah Cooking, More than a Mount Full, Arkonite Bento

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Italian Restaurant: Lunch at Il Castagno (’10/02/28)

Service: Excellent and very friendly
Facilities: clean
Prices: reasonable
Specialty: Central and south Italian-style cuisine. Home-made pasta. Very reasonables prices
no-smoking-logoentirely non-smoking!

I’ve heard that some countries are suffering from unusually unclement weather (snow drifts in the US and floods in Western Europe), and here we are assailed by sudden chages in temperatures going as far 13 degrees Celsius within 24 hours.
Last Sunday was not a day for sport and I decided to do some work at the office as the Missus is away working for an orthondontist (Sunday is the busiest day).
As usual I felt ravnous at lunch time and decided to have some proper food at neighbouring Il Castagno, a very reasonable and extremely popular Italian restaurant.

They have eminently drinkable wines at very reasonable prices, and I always end up drinking a couple of glasses in spite of the early hour (that is for drinking!).

A bit strange picture as you can see my fist holding the glass in side the glass!
Wine: Chianti, Villa Puccini Riserva, 2004. Grapes: Sangiovese+Cabernet Sauvignon+Canaiolle.
Solid and and pleasant Chianti

I opted for the full lunch set menu.
The antipasti misto consisted of Carrots, large white beans and red onions salad, Squid ink Crostini, Quiche (bacon, onion, potato and cabbage), home-made smoked salmon and pickled lotus root. A very global dish!

now, the pasta dish was worth the visit for itself!
Il Castagno serves exclusively home-made fresh pasta, a luxury in Jpaan!
These particular pasta were tagliatelle (comparatively narrow) in Gorgonzola and Radicchio (a variety of Trevise) Cream sauce. Perfectly balanced and the right quantity. As for the taste, I start to understand why so many local expats have started patronizing the place!

The dessert plate consisted of blanc mange, Apricot Cheese Cake (another specialty expats are running for!), strawberries and Neburu Orange (popular Japanese variety) Sherbet/Sorbet.

Coffee and home-made Italian mignardises!

IL CASTAGNO
420-0843 Shizuoka Shi, Aoi Ku, Tomoe Cho, 48 (along Kitakaido Street)
Tel. & Fax: 054-247-0709
Business hours: 11:45~14:00, 17:30~21:00
Closed on Mondays and second Tuesdays
Lunch: 1,260 and 1,860 yen
Dinner: 4,000 and 5,000 yen
A la Carte menu and wine list available. Wine by the glass ok
Reservations recommended.
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Warren Bobrow, Bread + Butter, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Think Twice, Frank Fariello, Mangantayon, Hapabento, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Tokyo Terrace, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles,Lexi, Culinary Musings, Wheeling Gourmet, Comestiblog, Chronicles Of A Curious Cook

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Cheese Plate and Wine Tasting at Gentil

Cheese Tray of the day (2010/02/26):
-Top row: Brie de Meaux (4 months, France), Gorgonzola Dolce (Italy), Bleu D’Auvergne (France), Raclette (6 months, Hokkaido, Japan).
-Bottom row: Chevre Noir (2 years, Goat Milk, Canada), Mont D’or (France), Petit Agour Basque (Ewe, France), Cream cheese and Rum Raisins creation by Gentil.

It was about grand time I paid a visit to Gentil, the oldest French restaurant (1964) in Shizuoka City.
It is a great and accordingly expensive restaurant, but if you confine yourself to a plate of cheese and a glass of good wine, it is actually great value.
Ms. Keiko Kubota is THE authority on any cheese in Japan and actually helps mature cheese she acquires all year long in season only.

As for wines, the pairings are just sublime.

As I had oredered the full tray and requested a white wine, I was offered the following:

A white from my country!

Alsace, France, Riesling by Jean Ginglinger, 2008.

Very clear and clean. Bright golden colour
Aroma: Fruity and sweetish, very natural, green grass, Muscat and apples.
Taste: Soft attack, fruity at first with muscat, but quickly taking a very tangy turn with green grass, green apples and peach memories.
Very pleasant and great pairing with cheese. Kept it own all the time in spite of the strong cheese.

Now for the plate!
All the cheeses represented on the tray at the top of this article are feature except one!
Can you guess them all?

The raclette came on toasts!
I will not bore you with the tasting of the cheeses. They are just all top in their own categories and seasonal. The only thing I will say is that start chasing them around wherever you live!LOL

You do need some sugar to balance all the salt ingested with the cheese!
Chocolate cake, Mikan/Orange jelly and Creme brulee (and sorbets!)

Instead of coffee, I opted for the sorbet/sherbet farandole:
Camomille & Milk, Rum Raisins, Maro-Blue/Usubeni Aoi Herb.
The little mignardise is a snow ball bicuit made with chocolate and caraway seeds.

Need I comment more?

Restaurant Gentil
Address:420-0031 Shizuoka Shi, Gofuku-cho, 2-9-1, Gennan Kairaku building, 2F
Tel.: 054-2547655 (Reservations advisable)
Fax: 054-2210509
Opening hours: 12:00~14:00, 18:00~last orders for meals at 21:30. Bar time 18:00~23:30. Closed on Mondays.
Credit cards OK
Homepage (Japanese)

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Warren Bobrow, Bread + Butter, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Think Twice, Frank Fariello, Mangantayon, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles,Lexi, Culinary Musings, Wheeling Gourmet, Social Culinaire, Sushi Nomads, Cook, Eat & Share, Gourmet Fury, 5 Star Foodie, Easy Does It Recipes, Oyster Culture, Once A Chef, All In Good Food, Cooking Stuff, Cheese Monger, Palate To Pen, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Citron Et Vanille, The Cheese Godess

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Wine Tasting in Shizuoka 3: Le Temps Des Cerises (Languedoc)

CERISE-2

As I mentioned in my previous tatsing I’m not ready yet to completely forget my roots. When there is good wine around, I see no reason to ignore it.
I thought it might be a good idea to taste the wines (within reasonability) available in this part of Japan!

This tasting also occurred at Lavigne in Shizuoka City!

Axel Prufer is a yaoung German vigneron who learned his trade before establihing himself in Languedoc, France in 2003.
He is an active member of a new type of winegrower belonging to the “Natural Wine School”.
This “Vin de Table/Table Wine” of his was conceived away from the higher appelations’ restrictions, but certainly has nothing to do with the legal Vin de Table! The alcohol content alone is a good enough indication. As for the price, although deserved, it would make vins de table inaccessible!
Incidentally the design on the label means “Spring has come!”

CERISE-1

Les Lendemains Qui Chantent
Le Temps des Cerises
Vin de Table Francais
Axel Prufer, Vigneron a 34260 Le Mas Blanc (Languedoc)
Grenache Grapes 100%
Alcohol: 13.5 proof degrees
Retail price (in Japan): 3,654 yen

Colour: Ruby red, very deep, clea.

Aroma: Strong, a little pungent, dry red fruits, green leaves

Taste: Soft attack backed by a little tannin.
Strong red fruits: Strawberries, raspberries, cherries, blueberries.
Very dry and soft.
Strong and short finish.
Taste lingering for quite long in the back of the mouth.

Eminently drinkable. Goes well with meat and heavy sauces.

LAVIGNE
420-0852, Shizuoka City, Aoi-Ku, Kutsunoya Cho, 17-2, 1F (2 minutes walk from JR Station)
Tel/fax: 054-205-4181
Opening hours: 11:00~22:00
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Warren Bobrow
5 Star Foodie
Frank Fariello
Mangantayon
Cheese Monger
Rubber Slippers in Italy
Palate To Pen
Tokyo Foodcast
Urban Sake
Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass
Oyster Culture

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Wine Tasting in Shizuoka 2: Saint-Veran-La Bernardiere

ST-V1

As I mentioned in my previous tatsing I’m not ready yet to completely forget my roots. When there is good wine around, I see no reason to ignore it.
I thought it might be a good idea to taste the wines (within reasonability) available in this part of Japan!

This tasting also occurred at Lavigne in Shizuoka City!

ST-V2

Saint-Veran is still a very new and still raltively unknown AOC from the very southern tip of the Maconnais area in Bourgogne. Longer summers than in vaunted northern Bourgogne give it a different character.

Domaine Combier
Saint-veran AOC (Maconnais, Bourgogne, France)
La Bernardiere in Prisse Village
2005, 100% Chardonnay, 14 degrees proof (high)
Retailed in Japan at 3,000 yen

Colour: Beautiful, clear, limpid gold. Darker than usual Chardonnay.

Aroma: Fruity, flowers. Pleasantly strong. Nutty, honey. Complex.

Taste: dry attack. Longish but light tail.
Nuts, macadamia, butter,memories of smoked cheese.
Turns slightly sweeter with food.
Pleasant finish expanding at the back of the mouth.
Changes little with food.
Pleasant overall impression.
Can be enjoyed on its own as well as with almost any food.
Well-rounded and lively.

LAVIGNE
420-0852, Shizuoka City, Aoi-Ku, Kutsunoya Cho, 17-2, 1F (2 minutes walk from JR Station)
Tel/fax: 054-205-4181
Opening hours: 11:00~22:00
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Warren Bobrow
5 Star Foodie
Frank Fariello
Mangantayon
Cheese Monger
Rubber Slippers in Italy
Palate To Pen
Tokyo Foodcast
Urban Sake
Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass

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Wine Tasting in Shizuoka 1: Domaine Dupont-Fahn

OC-1

For all my love of Japanese sake, I’m not ready yet to completely forget my roots. When there is good wine around, I see no reason to ignore it.
I thought it might be a good idea to taste the wines (within reasonability) available in this part of Japan!

A great place to that is Lavigne in Shizuoka City, an off-the-track establishment which combines a shop and standing bar offerring exclusively French wines they have discovered and imported themselves. As I visit the place at least once a week for a quick glass, I fially took my pen and notes yesterday!

OC-3

Michel Dupont-Fahn is not an obscure wine maker in France and has incrasingly been praised for his somewhat extravagant single cepage Vins de Pays.
The wine I tasted last night reads as follows:
Vin Du Pays d’Oc
Domaine Dupont-Fahn, 2008, red
Cabernet-Sauvignon, 100%
Alcohol: 14 degrees proof
Vandange et trie manuellement/hand-picked and chosen

OC-2

Colour: very deep, rich red
Aroma: Clean, powerful. Dry cassis/red fruit
Taste: Dry, strongish attack.
Good body
Dry red fruit
Shortish tail
Sharpish and short tannic note
Strong dry finish

Solid in spite of its youth. Surprisingly well-balanced. Soft on the palate with food.
A wine for all seasons.
Needs a little aging.
Retailed at 2,780 yen, 30 US$ (quite steep for a Vin de Pays!)

LAVIGNE
420-0852, Shizuoka City, Aoi-Ku, Kutsunoya Cho, 17-2, 1F (2 minutes walk from JR Station)
Tel/fax: 054-205-4181
Opening hours: 11:00~22:00
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Warren Bobrow
5 Star Foodie
Frank Fariello
Mangantayon
Cheese Monger
Rubber Slippers in Italy
Palate To Pen
Tokyo Foodcast
Urban Sake
Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass

Please check the new postings at:
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Shizuoka Wine receives national recognition!: Naka Izu Winery

NAKA-IZU-WINE

After 10 years of existence, Naka Izu Winery Chateau T.S. has finally recevied the accolade of wine lovers in Japan!

NAKA-IZU-WINERY
Naka Izu Winery & Hotel

The winery entered 10 varieties of wines in the Japan Wine Challenge Concours 09.
Its Shida Noujyo Nagano Chardonnay 2008 won the Gold Medal in the New World White Wine Wine Section, and its Shida Noujyo Nagano Chardonnay 2007 won another one at the National Homegrown Wines Contest.

NAKA-IZU-WINE-CHARDONNAY

Both wines made use of a Chardonnay grape strain originally developped in Nagano Prefecture, our northern neighbours.

On the other hand, another white wine made from Chardonnay grape strain developped in Izu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, called Shida Chardonnay won a silver medals in both contests.

NAKA-IZU-WINE-RIESLINGjpg
Riesling strain grown at Naka Izu Winery.

The winery grows all its grapes and the wine is aged either in their own stainless tanks or wooden casks depending on the variety, making a real local winery.
Actually, until 1958 wine was produced in many parts of Shizuoka Prefecture, especially near Numazu City and in the Izu Peninsula, but disappeared when the government decided to support sake instead with very substantial subsidies.
Naka Izu Winery is still the only winery in existence in Shizuoka Prefecture.

About time to interview the winery and taste its wines!

Naka Izu Winery Chateau T.S.
410-2501, Shizuoka Prefecture, Izu Shi, Shimoshiraiwa, 1433-27
Tel.: 0120-818-517
Office hours: 09:30~17:00
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES:
-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!, Warren Bobrow, Tokyo Terrace
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

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