Category Archives: Beyond Venice

Even the most devoted Venezia-philes among us get out of town occasionally…

The white côtes of Burgundy: what Chardonnay was meant to be

Translated from a post by regular eno-contributor Fabrizio Gallino of  where he relates an encounter with an unknown commodity, a Burgundy white…


Immediately you think of “big red,” of aged pinot noir, of the almost mystical elements that speak to you, that tell you stories. That’s of course because the land of Burgundy is a little like the ancient and mysterious East, from whence merchants returned and recounted to the rest of those who were unable to travel there.

So when find yourself instead before a bottle of white from that promised land, knowing absolutely nothing about it, you feel caught a bit off guard.

You think of the everyday Chardonnay, done very well perhaps, but certainly far from the poetry and mysticism of the Burgundy reds, right?

Jane, you ignorant slut…

If every Chardonnay was like this Chardonnay, I swear that I would drink only Chardonnay from now on…

To be honest, opening this young bottle now was a bit like committing infanticide, but I just couldn’t resist. Given to me by a friend who knows Burgundy like the back of his hand, this one reveals itself to be mystical libation that first lifts you up then pummels you with its myriad soft contrasts. Verticality and horizontality, already round but always vibrante, sharp. Light and weightless in appearance, but as powerful as Cassius Clay in substance, this wine stuns and dazes you — in the most pleasurable way.

And still you hope to find a bit more in the glass…

I wonder, if after only 2 years it was così, like this, what would it be like in 2, 4, 6…and 10 years?


Read Italian? See the original post here.

The wine is Puligny-Montrachet AOC 1er Cru Le Cailleret 2009, produced by Domaine Michel Bouzereau et Fils. Located in the Côte du Beaune, Bouzereau has vineyards in Meursault and in Puligny-Montrachet, the area producing whites almost exclusively, and almost exclusively of 100% Chardonnay. This wine comes from the 1° cru of Le Cailleret, located west-nw and just up the slope from the village of Puligny-Montrachet. (Don’t confuse this cru with Les Caillerets, a tiny 1° cru on the northern edge of Meursault.)


Who sat on my peaches?

“Snuffbox” peaches: make the Bellini cocktail’s perfect puree…

…or eat them one by one (warning: have plenty of napkins handy).

These white tabacchiere (named for their snuffbox shape) dell’Etna, also known as saturnine peaches begin to show up at markets here mid-to-late July. They’re cultivated in Sicily, at various locations that circle the Etna volcano, where the climate and the soil are perfectly adapted to their needs: warm and dry, with well-drained soil. According to Slow Food, they’ve only been around since WWII, when estate agricultural laws changed to permit perennial cultivation (as opposed to only annual), which would fortunately include peach trees.

While the snuffbox name might not be an appetizing association, these are some of the sweetest and juiciest to be had, and due to their soft pulp make an excellent choice for the puree required to whip up the famous Bellini on a summer’s eve.

Recipe from Harry’s Bar:

Made with Prosecco instead of Champagne, it is nevertheless widely regarded as the best Champagne cocktail in the world.

When making a Bellini, everything (the glasses, Prosecco and white peach puree) should be as cold as possible.

The general rule is to use one part white peach puree to three parts Prosecco. Use fresh frozen white peach puree when you can, but when making your own puree, never use a food processor because it aerates the fruit. (Maurice Graham Henry often uses a cheese shredder, shredding the peaches and using a strainer to collect the maximum amount of juice.) Add a bit of sugar or some simple syrup if the puree is too tart or a tad sour.

And absolutely never use yellow peaches.

In recent times, Bellini recipes have begun to include a touch of raspberry juice — evidently the white peach color isn’t lively enough. Some use a two-to-one ratio of puree to Prosecco; Mario Batali uses goes one-to-one in Simple Italian Cooking, and has adapted the recipe for other fresh fruit, including pomegranate. Now that would be a color the maestro Bellini (after whom the cocktail was named) might have found truly appealing!

In order not to diminish the peaches’ sweetness, a dry Prosecco is probably preferable to a brut. I love the idea of using a cheese shredder for the puree — but I keep consuming the peaches by themselves so that I don’t have enough left over for the cocktail. Markets are open again on Tuesday, I’ll give it another try then…


An Italian Train Ticket Online Purchase Alternative

Bootsnall Travel adds a booking option to their portal

Train ticket - Trenitalia‘s Web site has definitely been improving in recent years, and more folks are reporting success with the non-Italian credit card ticket purchase after recent revamping of the payment process.

For people who are still having problems, a ticket booking system now available at Bootsnall Travel (driven by allows you to book Italian train tickets in dollars, using credit card of your choice. This means travelers who don’t have success with the regular TrenItalia site can still purchase tickets in advance and take advantage of significant discounts. Travelers can choose the popular and convenient “ticketless” option through this system: your ticket is issued as an electronic PDF with a PNR reservation code – simply board the train, find your assigned seats, and show the PNR to the conductor when he passes.

Here’s the accompanying article by Jessica Spiegel at Bootsnall.

To book tickets, go first to the site and research routes and costs. It’s comprehensible, manageable and in English, and the best place to determine what your options are. Then, if your credit card isn’t accepted at purchase, hop over to Bootsnall to book. (Railpasses are also available, but be sure to calculate fares: in-country rail passes are rarely a good value unless you’re doing a great deal of high-speed rail travel.)

At the moment, there is an oddly named $5 “shipping” fee associated with any purchase  (but if you’re already saving bunches by by purchasing discounted tickets for a number of travelers, it might be worth it).


Se non ora, quando? Thousands of women (and men) tell Berlusconi, leave NOW.

“I’m Putin’s neice” read one of the many signs hoisted above the heads of a crowd of nine thousand that jammed Campo San Margherita on Sunday morning. This particular phrase was playing off “Ruby,” the Moraccan belly dancer’s comment of “I’m Hosni Mubarak’s neice,” explaining her presence at one of Berlusconi’s now-famous “bunga-bunga” parties, where he was accused not only of purchasing her sexual services, but having her freed when she was later arrested on a theft charge. Ah, the perks of Prime Ministership.

“Se non ora, quando?” (If not now, when?) brought not only women of every conceivable age, race, and national origin into the piazze all across Italy on Sunday morning, but an equally diverse cross-section of men who are just as disgusted with the behavior Berlusconi evidently considers his prerogative. The signs got their message across: “More kindergartens, fewer bordellos,” “Our dignity isn’t in peril, it’s the country that’s at risk,” and one of my favorites: Basta PORCOcrazia – Enough PIG-ocracy.

The local rag the Gazzettino thought the event was significant enough to put on page 8 of the daily. That alone makes their point, don’t you think?

[showtime showalt=on]

For more details on Sunday’s protests, see

A Free, Christmas E-book from Dream of Italy


Just in time for the holidays, Kathy McCabe at Dream of Italy has put together Christmas in Italy: Traditions, Travel Tips and Recipes, an e-book free for the downloading. Says Kathy, “This 35-page guide… includes all of our back content on spending the holidays in Italy as well as plenty of new articles on how to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Italian-style, whether you are traveling or staying home.” She included an article I did for her on the holidays here in Venice, but there’s much more.

To receive your free, downloadable e-book, all she asks is that you subscribe to the Italian Dreams mailing list. Your download link will appear in your confirmation e-mail.

Buone Feste!