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Author Archives: Birravino

Join us the week of March 17-20, 2016 in Celebration of Saint Josephs Day

Join us the week of March 17-20, 2016 in Celebration of Saint Josephs Day

Saint Josephs Day March 19, 2016

A note from Victor Rallo Jr. 

My Father loved this day and would always cook a feast for family and friends. I grew up eating pasta con sarde and the traditional sfinge on St. Joseph’s day. After my father passed away in 2002, I promised to keep the tradition alive, please join us and enjoy this special occasion.

Customs of the Day St. Joseph’s Day is a big Feast for Italians because in the Middle Ages, God, through St. Joseph’s intercessions, saved the Sicilians from a very serious drought. So in his honor, the custom is for all to wear red, in the same way that green is worn on St. Patrick’s Day.

Today, after Mass (at least in parishes with large Italian populations), a big altar (“la tavola di San Giuseppe” or “St. Joseph’s Table”) is laden with food contributed by everyone (note that all these St. Joseph celebrations might take place on the nearest, most convenient weekend). Different Italian regions celebrate this day differently, but all involve special meatless foods: minestrone, pasta with breadcrumbs (the breadcrumbs symbolize the sawdust that would have covered St. Joseph’s floor), seafood, Sfinge di San Giuseppe, and, always, fava beans, which are considered “lucky” because during the drought, the fava thrived while other crops failed (recipes below).

The table — which is always blessed by a priest — will be in three tiers, symbolizing the Most Holy Trinity. The top tier will hold a statue of St. Joseph surrounded by flowers and greenery. The other tiers might hold, in addition to the food: flowers (especially lilies); candles; figurines and symbolic breads and pastries shaped like a monstrance, chalices, fishes, doves, baskets, St. Joseph’s staff, lilies, the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts, carpentry tools, etc.; 12 fishes symbolizing the 12 Apostles; wine symbolizing the miracle at Cana; pineapple symbolizing hospitality; lemons for “luck”; bread and wine (symbolizing the Last Supper); and pictures of the dead. There will also be a basket in which the faithful place prayer petitions.

The cry “Viva la Tavola di San Giuseppe!” begins the feasting and is heard throughout the day. When the eating is done, the St. Joseph’s altar is smashed, and then three children dressed as the Holy Family will knock on three doors, asking for shelter. They will be refused at the first two, and welcomed at the third, in memory of the Holy Family’s seeking of hospitality just before Christ was born. This re-enactment is called “Tupa Tupa,” meaning “Knock Knock.”

The day ends with each participant taking home a bag that might be filled with bread, fruit, pastries, cookies, a medal of St. Joseph, a Holy Card and/or a blessed fava bean. Keep your “lucky bean,” and let it remind you to pray to St. Joseph. (The Litany of St. Joseph would be most appropriate today! You can download the Litany, in Microsoft Word .doc format, in English and in Latin).

Recipes:

Pasta di San Giuseppe

Bucatini or Perciatelli pasta

Sauce:

2 TBSP olive oil

5 cloves garlic, chopped

pinch of red pepper flakes

2 cups chopped fresh fennel

2 cups crushed tomatoes

2 TBSP tomato paste

1 TBSP chopped fresh basil

4 cans of drained, skinless, boneless sardines

Heat oil in large pot, and saute in it the garlic and pepper flakes. Add the fennel, tomatoes, paste, and basil. Cover and let simmer 30 minutes ’til fennel is tender. Add the sardines and simmer a few more minutes.

Topping:

1 TBSP olive oil

1 cup fine homemade breadcrumbs

Heat oil, and add crumbs and heat until golden brown. Pour sauce over the pasta, then sprinkle with the breadcrumbs.

Traditional St. Josephs Reading

Sermon 2, On St Joseph

By St. Bernardine of Siena

This is the general rule that applies to all individual graces given to a rational creature. Whenever divine grace selects someone to receive a particular grace, or some especially favored position, all the gifts for his state are given to that person, and. enrich him abundantly.

This is especially true of that holy man Joseph, the supposed father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and true husband of the queen of the world and of the angels. He was chosen by the eternal Father to be the faithful foster-parent and guardian of the most precious treasures of God, his Son and his spouse. This was the task which he so faithfully carried out. For this, the Lord said to him, “Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.”

A comparison can be made between Joseph and the whole Church of Christ. Joseph was the specially chosen man through whom and under whom Christ entered the  world fittingly and in an appropriate way. So, if the whole Church is in the debt of the Virgin Mary, since, through her, it was able to receive the Christ, surely after her, it also owes to Joseph special thanks and veneration.

For he it is who marks the closing of the old testament. In him the dignity of the prophets and patriarchs achieves its promised fulfillment. Moreover; he alone possessed in the flesh what God in his goodness promised to them over and again.

It is beyond doubt that Christ did not deny to Joseph in heaven that intimacy, respect, and high honor which he showed to him as to a father during his own human life, but rather completed and perfected it. Justifiably the words of the Lord should be applied to him, “Enter into the joy of your Lord.” Although it is the joy of eternal happiness that comes into the heart of man, the Lord prefers to say to him “enter into joy”. The mystical implication is that this joy is not just inside man, but surrounds him everywhere and absorbs him, as if he were plunged in an infinite abyss.

Therefore be mindful of us, blessed Joseph, and intercede for us with Him Whom men thought to be your Son. Win for us the favor of the most Blessed Virgin your spouse, the mother of Him Who lives and reigns with the Holy Spirit through ages unending.

Amen.

The Work of Premier Italian Producers

unnamedAn Impressive Super Tuscan at an Impressive Price

Michele Satta Piastraia 2011

90 points Wine Advocate
90 points Wine Enthusiast
$36.00 SRP

Our Price:
$27.89 on 6 bottles
22% Off

 

 

 

 

 

The Work of Premier Italian Producers

By Victor Rallo, Jr and Anthony Verdoni from Eat! Drink! Italy! on PBS

Michele Satta is one of Bolgheri’s premier and most respected winemakers and growers. He was one of the first to see the great potential of Bolgheri and has planted some of the finest vineyards in the area (Ornellaia, Masseto) and has consulted with some of Italy’s premier wineries (Gaja, Antinori).

Piastraia is equal parts Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Syrah. The wine is aged for 18 months in French barriques of which one third are new. Planted in 1991, Michele’s vision for the wine was to produce the finest Bordeaux style wine with a Bolgheri, Italian expression.

The grapes are harvested at full maturity: first the Merlot in the beginning of September, then Syrah, Sangiovese and finally Cabernet Sauvignon. The fermentation and maceration of each variety is handled separately in wooden barrels with the cap pushed down daily. This takes place over a period of twenty days. Immediately following the pressing, the wines are placed into barriques as well as larger wooden barrels upon which the assemblage is eventually created. The wine then rests for a period of twelve months.

Piastraia is well structured, elegant, full bodied but very round. It has aromas of summer red fruits with hints of black and blue berries with intense fruit on the palate. Very Drinkable!

VERTICAL WINE TASTING IS REVELATORY

image_4380738_articleAmerica’s first vertical tasting of the fine wines of Podere Sapaio from Bolgheri in Coastal Tuscany took place at my restaurant, Undici Taverna Rustica in Rumson, NJ, this past year. Owner, enologist Massimo Piccin was present and told us, “We are wine. We are men and women winemakers who transform grapes into wine by means of our know-how, our errors and our technology. Wines are like babies: we give them birth, see them grow and take care of them year after year. Man and his knowledge belong to the terroir, just like the sun and the rain, the soil and the vine. Great wines cannot come into being without man’s great passion.” Read on to learn more about Bolgheri, and discover what can be unpacked during a vertical tasting.
Verdoni: My first visit to Bolgheri was in the mid-1960’s, as a part of an Etruscan archaeological dig. The wines of the area were not so important to me or to the world at the time. They were mostly rosés which went well with the local fish. This is the Maremma, the Marittima, the Tuscan Coast. Bolgheri’s wines are not wines of altitude. They are wines of the sea; they are wines of light. The brightness of the zone rivals that of Provence. Bolgheri’s wines reflect that.

Magic has been taking place here ever since the late 1960’s. Today there are DOC’s for excellent white Vermentino, as well as a Bolgheri Rosso. The superstar is Bolgheri Rosso Superiore DOC. Classic Bordeaux varietals benefit from the temperature variation from day to night. What does a Bolgheri Rossi Superiore taste like? It is not as fruity, oaky as a big California Cab. It has structure, class and style like a great Haut-Medoc. However, where you feel earthiness in the French wine, in the Bolgheri wine you feel sunlight and brightness.
Vic: I first met Massimo Piccin in 2007. My family and I were the guests of Sebastiano Rosa and his wife Elena at the Tenuta San Guido estate (Sassicaia). Being a wine and food junkie, I like to branch out to taste the best local ingredients and the finest wines. Bolgheri is a small, walled village between Grosseto and Livorno, north of Rome and south of Pisa. The castle at the top of the hill in Bolgheri is a mere 8 kilometers from the sea. In this village everyone knows everyone, and word was out that I should meet the new kid on the block, Massimo Piccin of Podere Sapaio.
My GPS instructed me to turn onto a dusty road. After a few curves, we arrived at the estate. Massimo seduced us with a bottle of vintage Champagne and lunch. I was amazed at his humility, charm and dedication. We tasted 2004, 2005 and 2006 Volpolo, and 2004 and 2005 Podere Sapaio Superiore. The wines had depth, character and class. I realized that I had stumbled upon a gem. It was a great tribute that these fine wines were fashioned from vines that were very young.
The Podere Sapaio Estate
Massimo Piccin, an engineer from Veneto, purchased Podere Sapaio in 1999 and planted his first grapes in February of 2000. Podere means “farm” and Sapaio takes its name from the Sapaia grape which used to grow in this area. The farm consists of 25 hectares (about 37 acres) dedicated to the vine. The soil of the vineyards are clay and sand with some limestone. Until the 17th Century this area was a swamp. Podere Sapaio’s illustrious neighbors include Sassicaia, Ornellaia, Grattamacco, Le Macchiole, Guado al Tasso, Michele Satta and Angelo Gaja. Bolgheri is a tiny zone, consisting of about 1,200 hectares (about 1,800 acres). The total production of all 50 or so grower/producers is less than 4,000,000 bottles per year. Massimo Piccin rarely produces more than 100,000 bottles per year, all of which are red.
The Vines
The Sangiovese does not grow well within Bolgheri. It does better farther south in the Scansano area, where it is known as Morellino.
At Podere Sapaio, Massimo Piccin works only with the classic red Bordeaux vines, Cabernet Sauvignon (Uva Francesca), Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot and Merlot. These and other French varietals have been in Tuscany since the 1700’s. An increase in French plantings took place along the Maremma coast in the early 19th Century, when Napoleon was exiled to the nearby island of Elba.
The Wines
Podere Sapaio produces two wines, both red. Volpolo is a Bolgheri DOC, aged 14 months in barrique and tonneaux and 6 months in the bottle. It is a brilliant wine of great value. The 2012 Volpolo consists of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 15% Petit Verdot. 90,000 bottles were produced.
Sapaio’s Bolgheri Superiore DOC is more important, richer and more age worthy. This noble red is barrel fermented, aged 18 months in barriques and further refined in the bottle for 8 to 10 months before it is released. It usually consists of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 20% Petite Verdot. In some vintages Merlot is added. Emphasis and focus is placed on creating the best blend. At every step Massimo is assisted by world renowned consulting enologist Carlo Ferrini.
The Vertical
Some of the older vintages came directly from the winery or from the personal collection of Victor Rallo. All of the bottles were in pristine condition and showed very well. We feel that you can age Podere Sapaio Bolgheri Superiore DOC red wines comfortably for a decade or more.
Volpolo 2012: This is the current release. Dry, harmonious, still young with lustrous, ruby to purple color. Blueberries, subtle, concentrated. Drink now through 2018.
Podere Sapaio Superiore 2011: Only 10,000 bottles produced. Bottled June 2013. The oak is in balance with the fruit. Drink now, but decant. Hold until 2018-2020. A warm, difficult vintage. The excellence comes from a careful selection.
2010: Balanced and elegant. Will develop for the next 15 years. Good minerality, salinity and fruitiness. A cooler vintage. Deep, blue color. Fragrance of herbs and pencil shavings. Try with steaks and lamb chops.
2009: Unique, most Tuscan. Starting now to evolve. Leathery aspect, like smelling new car leather seats. Fruit and spice and minerality. Drink from now through 2020.
2008: Big, deep, rich, complex. Concentrated with great body. A banner year, 30,000 bottles produced. Some Merlot added. Plummy, ripe. Drink from now through 2020.
2007: Elegant, tannic, sweet in the nose and mouth. Rich, big, bold. Drink from now through 2022. Merlot added.
2006: Powerful, tannic but graceful. Superb structure, opulent. Age this one. Drink from now through 2025. Use of Merlot is judicious. Ripe.
2005: Merlot added. Good acidity and tannins to balance the concentrated dark fruitiness. Drink from now through 2020.
Forecast 
2012: Will be very good, as we can see from tasting the 2012 Volpolo.
2013: This will be an outstanding wine, superior to the 2006.
2014: There may be no Sapaio Superiore, due to a lack of balance in fruit maturation. Superiore juice will probably create a great Volpolo.
Final Note
Massimo Piccin, not realizing that his wines would develop a cult following, gave all of his first vintage – 2004 – away as gifts. Fortunately, one large format – 3 liter bottle – made its way into the hands of a friend, who was kind enough to share it with us. It was excellent, a prelude to things to come. And to think, this classy 2004 was crafted from vines that were less than 5 years old! Grazie, Massimo.