Tasting Italian Wine: Toe to Leg Warmer

In Italy, where food and wine are fervently wedded, winemaking is an instinctive and magical mingling of heritage, culture, and tradition. Italy’s two million acres of vineyards are home to two-thirds of all known grape varieties.  Each wine bears a story and embodies a specific region; no two are alike. This kind of bewildering diversity seduces us to explore further and taste Italy from the top to bottom. As with any first course, bubbles are a starting point with Italy’s…

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SIP TRIP: The school of rocks in the Monferrato

Author Walter Alvarez said, “What makes rocks so wonderful is the fact that they barely change at all, and as a result, they… preserve the way they formed, whether a million years ago or a thousand million years ago.” In his book  The Mountains of Saint Francis he traces Italy’s billion-year geologic history.  Being a lite geology enthusiast myself, as I drove through the Monferrato region last spring, I imagined that this area was under the sea four to five millions…

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Ramen: Cult and Culture

A steaming, umami-rich bowl of ramen is an international symbol of cultural prowess of Japanese cuisine. It’s a celebrated experience which brings enormous satisfaction and happiness to many who slurp it up.  But the rise of ramen from the humble and historically unglamorous fuel of the working poor, to the international icon of Japanese culture took all of its 100 years to impact the world. And in its process, it’s garnered a reputation as an affordable and fashionable representation of…

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Darjeeling tea and why wine lovers drink it

A conversation with a friend the other day reminded me of my long-time favorite tea, Darjeeling. Why it hasn’t made a regular appearance in my cup as of late is something of a mystery, but I’ve been enamored with this tea for over 25 years. I came across Darjeeling at Rosallie, a French café in Las Vegas this week, and as I sipped it on that cold, windy morning feeling utterly content, I thought about owner Jonathan Pluvinet and how…

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DISH & TELL: Edible silk handkerchiefs and porchetta happiness

I’ve got one word for you.  Mandilli. OK, full name – Mandilli di Seta.  It means silk handkerchiefs (in the Ligurian dialect) and you know how they feel – soft, silky, supple, luxurious. Now imagine folds of pasta with the very same textures that is then generously loved with the most refined basil pesto you’ve ever had. The flavors of aromatic basil and almond gently pull through your spools of tastebuds like luscious, velvety ribbon, all to be enjoyed at The…

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WINE – Sip Trip: The orange wine powered by the moon from Bosnia-Herzegovina

While Bosnia-Herzegovina doesn’t produce a significant amount of wine, it does have a few thousand acres of productive vineyards situated mostly in the lower-lying areas between the Adriatic coast and Mostar. And located in the small town of Čitluk, a mere speck at the heart of the Bosnia-Herzegovina wine production, enterprising winemaking Josip Brkić and his twin sons produce wine made of native grapes Žilavka (white) and Blatina (red) that are not only as close to truly representative of the region, but…

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Sip Trip – What is it?

Ah, the sip trip.  It’s a phrase I’ve been using since the day I realized what an incredible opportunity we have to be a able to connect the juice that is in the glass to a place in the world where it came from.  It is virtual travel at its best. And why is this important? We don’t all have the privilege to travel the world and taste wine while standing on the very soils they come from. Short of…

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SIP TRIP: Discovering Ruchè inside Castagnole Monferrato’s original castle wall

It was raining off and on as I walked along the ramparts behind the original castle of Castagnole Monferrato until I arrived at 62, the address of La Miraja and Eugenio Gatti, a Ruchè producer. When I first had Ruchè a few years ago I was immediately captivated by its alluring characteristics. It happened to be Eugenio’s bottling and since then I’ve tasted Ruchè from other passionate producers, which have only fortified my love for this wine.  Ruchè’s origins are…

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DISH & TELL: Gelato made with love

Can we agree that ice cream in its many forms is one of the most beloved foods on this planet? But, there’s only one other dairy-based dessert that can hold its ground against good old fashioned American ice cream. That is the Italian gelato. At Gelato di Milano (4950 S. Rainbow Blvd.) in Las Vegas, the cones are from a company in Rome that has been in the business of making cones since 1938, the pistachios are from Sicily, the hazelnuts from Piedmont.…

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WINE: Raise your wine IQ with rare and affordable wines worth discovering at Esther’s Kitchen

It happens all the time. We get obsessed with a favorite wine and we end up ordering it over and over again. With a little sense of adventure, we can leverage our obsession with our favorites and use it as a springboard to explore. What’s more, newly discovered wines – whether they be old world gems or a new world up-and-comers – are bound to raise both our eyebrows and our wine IQ. When a wine list clearly states that…

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