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Articles by: Natasha Lardera

  • Events: Reports

    Arts & Tannery: Italian Leather a Protagonist of NYC's Fashion Week

    The excellency of Italian craftsmanship is once again a main character of New York Fashion Week. Arts & Tannery was in New York City, for its tenth time in a row, for the presentation of the latest trends in leather. The event organized by the Italian Leather System Consortium with the Italian Trade Commission, took place at the Midtown Loft and Terrace on September 4th and 5th.

    Arts & Tannery is an exclusive event exhibiting the highest quality in Italian leather products. It is a unique and useful opportunity for those seeking the latest in materials and is a vital reference for those designing collections of footwear, handbags, and clothing.

    The 13 exhibitors that presented their fall/winter 2014/2015 collections were: Ascot, Atlas Conceria, Ausonia Conceria, Bopell Conceria, Conceria di Urgnano-IL CEA, Conceria Pellegrini Group, MB3, Mohai, Natural Pelli, New Pelli, Sanlorenzo, Tuscania Industria Conciaria and Vesta Corporation.

    They all brought collections selected specifically for the American market. The style and research teams of the Italian Leather System Consortium have pinpointed following four key trends for the Fall/Winter 2014 season:1.TECHNO COUTURE, 2.FLEMISH FLAIR, 3.WOODED MOOD, 4.ARMOUR THRILL.

    Techno Couture is characterized by sophisticated elegance of extreme formality. It presents a variety of combinations, amid light shades with striking optic effects and dark tones inspired by minerals. “Subdued and pastel shades create sophisticated blends of elegance and sobriety. Naïve pink for chic doll effects; refreshing and suave Cinderella aqua green and bright yellow recalling the 60s.”

    Flemish Flair features multitudes of formal results with exaggerated symbolism. “Full bodied with subdued overtones for an imaginative poetic world. From warm sand to the reverential grace of powdery, nostalgic purple rather than deep, tormented versions.”

    Wooded Mood recalls dreamy panoramas proposed in a magic mood board of ambiguous beauty. “A carousel of evergreen tones with bursts of energy that modernize without eliminating aplomb.”

    Armour Thrill is perfect for daring experimentations in a war-like layout. “Assemblage of timeless colors in a high-tech theme, amid marked iridescence and delicate profiles. Shades of taupe, bright blue and sleek black covered by a quietly fascinating antiqued coating.”

    Visitors to Arts & Tannery were able to view products and materials, as well as participate in trend presentations by the Italian Leather System highlighting the trends, ambiances, themes, and colors for the upcoming season.

    “Arts & Tannery always showcases the best of Italian leather,” said Pier Paolo Celeste, Executive Director of the Italian Trade Commission network for North America. “The show is visited by renowned designers and companies seeking innovative raw materials for their collections, enriching their creativity with the expertise of Italian vendors. The Italian craftsmanship coupled with techniques always more sophisticated through the passionate process of growth through generations, contribute to making Italy the leading supplier in the industry.”

    Today there is an even bigger demand for Italian leather and components in the US. In recent years, the leather industry recovered a leading roll among the suppliers to the US with a market share of 26% in 2013, with Brazil, Mexico and Argentina following behind.

    Aldo Donati, President of The Italian Leather System Consortium declared, “Every year, Arts & Tannery greatly celebrates the quality of the leather working tradition and it represents a special occasion to strengthen the relationship between American designers and the Italian market. We are especially excited for this year¹s show, as it marks the tenth edition of this celebration‹it will be a rendezvous not to be missed. Visitors will be able to view upcoming trends in material, colors, and themes.”

  • Events: Reports

    Toasting to Tuscany with the Tuscan Association of New York

    New York and Florida, Buenos Aires, Melbourne and Sidney, Bruxelles, San Paolo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte, Siem Reap, Havana, Accra, Montreal, London, Paris, Berlin, Asuncion, Cordoba and last but not least...Bangkok.

    All these cities scattered around the world came together on Saturday, August 24th for a unique event called “La Toscana nel Mondo Brinda per l'Arcobaleno D'Estate," (Tuscany in the World Toasts to the Summer's Rainbow).

    “Italian newspaper, La Nazione (the newspaper of Tuscany and Umbria), initiated the idea of celebrating with a Global Toast to help promote 2013 summer events in Tuscany, the region's beauty and culture,” Joan Migliori, President of the Tuscan Association of New York said, “Therefore, the Tuscan Association of New York, together with people in cities and towns throughout Tuscany, and with Toscani nel Mondo Associations around the world, raised a glass and saluted the region of Tuscany.”

    In New York City, the celebration took place on Saturday, August 24, 2013 from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM at Per Lei Restaurant, 1347 2nd Avenue, at the corner of East 71st Street, Manhattan. Tuscans and fans of the region toasted with Tuscan wines and delicious complimentary appetizers, while enjoying live performances reminiscent of classic Tuscan culture.

    “This was the perfect opportunity for those who have an interest in Tuscany to meet one another,” Joan Migliori continued, “To celebrate with great Italian wine and appetizers, and get to know the Tuscan Association of New York.”

    At the event there was a special guest, the Consul General of Italy in New York, Minister Natalia Quintavalle, who is a Tuscan herself, from Pietrasanta in the province of Lucca. “I am a Tuscan so I could not miss this celebration,” she told the crowd at Per Lei, “I was in Italy up to a few days ago and I heard about this initiative while lying on the beach. The vice president of the Toscani nel Mondo association was vacationing in the same place I was, so he told me about the Arcobaleno d'Estate taking place not only in Tuscany but all around the world. I was supposed to come back to New York later in the month but I decided to come back on time and be part of this global toast...it is a very beautiful and unique idea...there are Tuscans all around the world. In this city there are many and as it is good to see that the Tuscan Association of New York is active again. It was inactive for a while but I am sure this celebration marks its return.

    2013 is the year of Italian Culture, so we have been having several events highlighting Italian culture but we are also bringing Tuscan culture. In Pietrasanta there is the beautiful tradition of making marble and bronze statues, there are a lot of local and international always at work, creating, making beautiful things... so while I was there we decided to bring to NY in November an exhibition of sculptures from Pietrasanta. We also want to honor the local artisans, not many know that they are the ones who are behind each and every sculptor. The artists do not produce the final piece they just have the idea, the work is done by artisans. It will be a beautiful exhibition at the Italian Cultural Institute.”

    The program for the rest of the year of Italian culture features other Tuscan themed events focusing on famous Tuscans such as Machiavelli, Boccaccio, Dante and Puccini.

    Click here to see more pictures from the event >>>

  • Life & People

    Gioìa and the Children of the New Era

    We are still living through the year of Italian culture and among the many events on Verdi, Tuscany and Opera (all topics that are cherished by the American aficionado) there are other Italian events worth of notice.

    An Italian from Rimini, Alessandra Morri, presented the English translation of her book Gioìa e i bambini della Nuova Era (Gioìa and the children of the New Era) and her educational method (The Gioìa Method) in two of the city's most important Holistic Centers: NYC Edgar Cayce Center (Edgar Cayce - 1877-1945 - was a gentle humanist who became the most documented psychic of all time) and the Meta Center (an event facility focusing on Multidimensional Education, Transformation & the Arts).

    In her own words, Alessandra Morri is "a green mother, a teacher and a woman who, for the past ten years, has been living through a journey of internal spiritual awareness. “In addition to designing spiritual jewelry for the Isajoy ® line she leads training courses for intuitive teachers of the new Era and esperential Workshops that bring awareness through art and movement. In 2010 she created the first summer camp for Crystal (Spontaneous unconditional love and psychic healing abilities are key traits of these children who are seen as God's Gift to Help Save the World) and Rainbow Children (They represent our own continued evolution in higher consciousness as a species. Very few have been born as yet, but their presence is known and can be felt).

    In 2012 she created Gioìa, an holistic journey that has now become a lifestyle, with a school for the children and parents of the new millennium.

    The topic raised our curiosity, so we were able to meet Alessandra, look through the colorful pages of her book and ask her a few questions.

    Tell me something about Dorotea and Geremia... who are they and what do they do?
    They are two kids, the main characters of my book Gioìa e i bambini della Nuova Era (Gioìa and the children of the New Era). They live on Corluce Gioìa a place where time doesn't exist and where people, even the ones who do not know each other, or whose skin color is different or who believe in a God who goes by a different name, live together in peace with no arguments or wars. Doretea and Geremia tell us what they do while they live with their parents and their friends using their Super Powers. Each page of the book tells a story about an ordinary, every day action that takes place in this special world of Peace and Harmony, where, if you listen to your heart and let go of fear you live in happiness. This is how the world of the future is going to be. In addition to the story of Dorotea and Geremia, the book features practical exercises that are useful for developing Super Powers (powers we all have since birth) and integrating them in every day life. The book is a manual full of ideas, with a positive subliminal effect, featuring magical illustrations and binaural music that can be downloaded for free from my site (www.gioia4kids.jimdo.com). There are also a few practical tips, testimonials and questions from parents.

    Who are the children of the New Era?
    The children of the New Era, are the children who are born in the last few years, specifically since the year 2011. They have a strong need to be close to nature and to participate in activities that allow them to feel protected and welcome. Only if the environment that surrounds them and where they spend hours of their time is stimulating and supportive they can be in touch with their Divine side. I have channeled them as Green Children because they represent rebirth, a growth process and the ability to get fulfillment and living life concretely.

    These New Children are here with us to let Earth vibrate with an energy of peace and love, by visualizing light in dark places they are changing Human Collective Consciousness. Many define this moment in history as a moment of crisis, but in reality it is a great opportunity for change and a chance to create a new educational system for our children... to let them grow up happy, intelligent, calm, rich and with mental harmony... because if we want a better future, they are our starting point.

    How did your journey start and how did you get involved with the Children of the New Era?
    I have always had the need to share my life with children, ever since I was young. I studied to become a teacher but then, right after the birth of my daughter, who is a really special child and who is spiritually aware, I felt the need to raise her through a holistic education, teaching her to trust life. Now she is curious to get in touch with and develop her innate powers, indeed emotionally sane children learn easily and face life's challenges with more serenity. Unfortunately many children and teenagers today are depressed, anxious, insecure or bored because they cannot find a supportive environment that guides them in the development of their emotional status. Last but not least, many of them are diagnosed as hyperactive, because they cannot stand still or pay attention in school... so they are considered "sick" when in reality there is nothing wrong with them. They are just bored. It is urgent to change the school system because we cannot continue suffocating their true essence or giving them drugs.

    You have developed your own method, The Gioìa Method, how does it work?
    At the root of the Gioìa Method there is a strong respect for the child, his soul and his emotional health. It was born to guide these new children through the complete development of their cerebral activities, mostly through the development of the right side of the brain because it represents the gateway to knowledge and the use of the resources of the quantic universe.

    In our center we help young children go beyond the limits of the human mind thanks to specific creative labs, bioenergy games, physical movement (including yoga), creative visualizations and guided meditation. In this way, both the right (creativity, fantasy, imagination) and the left (logic, rationality, linearity) hemispheres of the brain develop equally with positive effects on their psychological, social and emotional states. Neuroscientists affirm that we only use 5% of our brain, the conscious side. Thanks to our activities, children learn to keep active, overtime, their uncouscius side...which is 95%. For a child up to 6 years of age, everything is easier as he is more in touch with his creative side. Letting him develop his unlimited abilities is easy and fast if done correctly.

    Another aspect of the Gioìa method is that we encourage free thinking and the development of human conscience by raising awareness on more than what is usually taught children... we address Energy, Nature, the Meaning of Life, Money and Wealth, Happiness, respect for the Environment, Schools of Thought, The Law of Attraction, the Development of Creative Awareness, Self-Esteem, Quantum Physics and more.

    Our motto is: we want children to be happy.

    The Gioìa Method is for children aged 0-11. A reminder: these last generations are more spiritually developed. At their birth children are very active. They have big eyes, and you feel like they want to look inside of you. When they are nine months old they walk, when they are two they know how to use the computer and when they are three they can speak just like an adult. My first piece of advice is to welcome them with lots of Love and Respect.

    The book can be found at the bookstore Unoppressive- Non-Imperialist Bargain Books, located at 34 Carmine Street, NYC , 10014
    On line: MindBodyHealings.com (USA, contact Dina Vitantonio)
    www.gioia4kids.jimdo.com (Europe) www.macrolibrarsi.com (Italy)

  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    Do as the Romans Do: Drizzle some Vincotto on your Food

    Italy always has some new and exciting culinary surprises... but what is special about this one is that it is not really that new... it has been around for ages... the fact is it is not sold in any grocery store, you may only find it in specialty shops and markets or online. Vincotto, literally “cooked wine,” is really something unique.

    If you ask any Italian chef what Vincotto is, they will answer that it is an elixir, a sweet and velvety concoction similar to balsamic vinegar with the subtle overtones of spices, grapes and plums.

    Its history definitely goes back in time: the Romans used to cook grape must to produce wines that, because of their relatively high alcohol levels, could be aged at great length. It was with the same objective in mind that they pressed partly dried grapes and fermented the juice to produce raisin wines.

    They called them defructum passum or caroleum, depending on their manner of production and degree of reduction. It is not certain that they made vinegars with the same process, but it appears highly probable that they did. It is from this ancient tradition that Vincotto was born. As a point of reference, it is often stated that Vincotto is similar to authentic balsamic vinegar, although it is not mass produced the way balsamic vinegar is, but the chefs confirm that there is no real comparison.

    Vincotto is made from two variety of grapes, Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera. The grapes are left to dry on the vine or over wooden frames, then the must is gently boiled for more than 24 hours until it reduces to a fifth of its initial volume. This syrup is then poured into small oak barrels along with the mother vinegar or starter. In these barrels it is aged for four years, thus allowing it to release all its aromas and flavors. This is a natural product without any alcohol, colorants or preservatives.

    Used as a condiment, just a few drops can be drizzled over roasted meats, salads, vegetables and even desserts. It is great in appetizers, soups, pasta sauces, pizza toppings, and anything tasty. It blends nicely with bacon and with potatoes for a unique potato salad and added to yogurt, fruit and chopped almonds it makes an appealing dessert.

    “Vincotto is a versatile ingredient that really does have a life beyond dressing leaves of greens. I use it in both sweet and savory dishes,” Chef Luca, an Italian private chef hailing from Sardinia and working in New York (www.cheflucanyc.com) said, “it is delicious with fruit salad and a scoop of vanilla ice cream and it also adds up a note of flavor to a nice cup of zabaione cream. I serve it in a cheese platter, together with some honey and walnuts, while my clients, enjoy it with Caprese salad and with grilled steak. The possibilities are endless.”

    Vincotto is sweet and it can be transformed into vinegars of Vincotto by blending it with vinegar from the same grapes and then letting it age for a minimum of 6 months. The result is a product that is "legato" i.e. the sweet and vinegar properties bind and are transformed into a smooth and rich vinegar. Some of these vinegars are further blended with fruits such as figs, raspberries, lemons, and oranges.

    Italy's major producer of Vincotto is the Calogiuri family, from the province of Lecce. They have been producing it since 1825, using a secret traditional recipe. Back then, Leonardo Calogiuri opened a small business for the sale of extra-virgin olive oil and wines and began to use for his own family a particular grape must handed down from his father. It was Vincotto. His tradition has been passed onto six generations until now when this exclusive product is available on the market through the dedicated efforts and innovations of Gianni Calogiuri, member of the latest generation of the Calogiuri family.

    The Calogiuri "Originale" Vincotto version from Lizzanello is produced using Negroamaro and Black Malvasia, and is cooked for about fifteen hours, it’s a real rarity that is now available on the American tables. The Calogiuri family also produces Vincotto with figs, Vincotto with hot peppers, Vincotto with lemon and even with raspberries. (www.vincotti.it)

  • Art & Culture

    And it Spins Twice, a Play About Endless Possibilities

    For all those who are weary of seeing Italian Americans play mafiosi - GO see two Italian American actresses play SCIENTISTS. And it Spins Twice is a play produced by Tony Lepore, an Italian American producer and music composer, by a production company, Angry Bubble, was co-founded by an Italian American woman, Eva Minemar (with Tony Lepore), to focus on their Italian heritage through La Lupa Productions and the La Lupa Film and Theatre Fest - and better theatrical roles for women.

    The play, written by Alexis Roblan, tells the story of Beth, played by Lucia Grillo, and Liz, played by Marlena Kalm. They are both theoretical physicists and they both are involved with a musician named Ryan, played by Thom Christensen. Julia Campanelli plays the role of June, a quacky new-ageist. The story takes place on two parallel universes which closely resemble our own. The audience is taken by the stories of these two women who are incredibly intelligent, who long for love and can see something the rest of their world cannot see.

    I-Italy had a chance to meet with Lucia Grillo after a strong and passionate performance to ask her a couple of questions.

    Actress and filmmaker Lucia Grillo has worked in theatre, television, and cinema. Screen credits include Spike Lee’S Summer of Sam opposite Mira Sorvino and John Leguizamo, Tony Gilroy’s Duplicity with Julia Roberts, and her self-directed award-winning A pena do pana (The Cost of Bread), opposite Vincent Schiavelli (Ghost, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Amadeus). The latter is an award-winning short film, shot on location in Italy, that continues to be invited to film festivals worldwide.

    Lucia is currently in production on her second feature-length documentary, Testardi (Stubborn), and is developing her first feature-length narrative film, A Tigered Calm, which takes place between Calabria and New York: (www.atigeredcalm.com). She is also a producer, correspondent and editor of the TV broadcast Italics (Calandra Institute/CUNY-TV) .

    What roles are out there for Italian American actors? only/mostly mafiosi?

    It depends on perspective, and on the actor, really. If viewed from the perspective of Italian American characters, representing Italian Americans, it can be quite limiting, especially to the ratio of working actors. But just because an actor is Italian American, does not mean she or he should be limited to playing those few Italian American roles. A trained or experienced - or even a naturally talented - actor can play whatever is within her or his "look" and/or expertise, unless they are very specifically a "type" - and do not play, for whatever reasons, characters of various social classes, ethnicities, accents, professions, etc. There are countless exemplary Italian American actors, from Al Pacino to John Turturro to Max Casella and Michael Badalucco - both of the latter recently interviewed on "Italics" CUNY-TV in May and coming up August 28th, respectively, and who talk, in part, about this very topic - who play everything from mafiosi to Shakespearean and Brechtian characters.

    Being Italian American has been a factor on the roles you have been offered throughout your career?
    Being Italian American, and especially speaking Calabrese - let alone Italian! - has provided me with some of the best times in my career: playing a Sicilian character for Spike Lee and a Roman for Tony Gilroy; portraying my own Nonna and then a female drug dealer in my own directorial films made on location in Calabria; working as producer and on-camera correspondent for "Italics" (CUNY-TV); and many other roles in theatre from Pirandello to original contemporary plays. Don't get me wrong: I have probably played more non-Italian American, or rather, non-Italian (given that I have yet to play the typical – or stereotypical - Italian American) characters throughout my career. Or characters with Italian last names that did not possess what the entertainment industry considers to be stereotypical Italian American qualities. Which is preposterous, when you think about it! But accessing this part of who I am - or my history as the child of Italian immigrants - has been amazing. And speaking of the typical Italian American character, it's something I'm dying to do, simply because it is so far from my own character that it would be a delight and bit of a challenge! Kind of like Beth, in that sense, as far as challenges go: I consider myself a scientific thinker, but I had to really research and study some basic string theory to transmit what the character is telling the audience.

    What brought you to Beth? What kind of role is she for an actor like yourself?
    Tony Lepore and I had long been waiting for the opportunity to work together in this capacity. Angry Bubble Productions, which he founded along with Eva Minemar, another Italian American actress-director, focuses on better roles for women in theatre. A few years ago, they had selected one of my directorial films, "The Cost of Bread," in their fantastic La Lupa Fest in LA when my other film, "Ode to Hipponion," was accepted to the Cannes Film Festival, so I couldn't be with them personally in LA.

    When Tony told me there was a possible role as a scientist, I was beyond myself. I love science and abandoned my childhood dream of becoming a scientist with the stronger pull of the arts - then the definitive pull of acting. Then, when I read Alexis Roblan's script, which really delves into science and scientific thinking v. societal impact on our thinking, and "big" questions about the origins of the universe v. "smaller" questions of intimate human relationships and what defines who we are in this kind of society, I called Tony immediately and accepted.

    I have always carefully chosen the roles I play. They must say something, or be part of telling a story, about society and how people are affected by these social conditioning and such. Beth being an atheist is particularly appealing to me. I am an atheist and it is very frustrating to see so many religious themes in entertainment, and in society in general - very dangerous to humanity. I get so excited when there are atheist and critical-thinking characters in a play or film or TV show - and especially as an Italian American. There is so much of "god, country, family" taken blindly as a given common denominator of Italian American "culture" - three of the most harmful institutions in existence! - forgetting radical left Italian immigrant roots. Beth is a "godsend!"(Laughs).

    And it Spins Twice is a World Premiere presented at FringeNYC, the New York International Fringe Festival - the largest performing arts festival in North America @ 21 Clinton Street.

    Remaining performances:

    WED 8/21 @ 4:15pm

    FRI 8/23 @ 8:45pm

    SAT 8/24 @ 3:45pm

    For more info visit: www.fringenyc.org

  • Art & Culture

    The Irreplaceable Mister B, the (Sur)real Obsession of Being Irreplaceable

    Mister B is a middle age, wealthy and successful Wall Street executive. He is obsessed by the desire of being irreplaceable. When he is offered a promotion he has time to think and he quits his job hoping to have more time. But his choice is not a success with those surrounding him. He is rejected by his son, wife, parents, lover, gardener and baseball team. In order to escape this painful realization, Mister B seeks the advice of a landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, who died a century earlier. And after his failure, he embraces a drastic change.

    In a few words we have recapped the story of The Irreplaceable Mister B, an original play written by Sicilian journalist and writer Paolo Tartamella. The play was selected to compete at the Thespis Theater Festival, produced by the Cabrini Theater of Washington Heights. The winner will be announced this coming September. The Thespis Theater Festival/Competition is organized to help bring never-before seen work of playwrights, directors and actors to the stage in a way that may lead to future performances.

    I-Italy had a chance to ask Tartamella a few questions.

    How was your passion for the theater born and what brought you to write a surreal story?
    Before moving to New York I took a creative writing class taught by Italian author Alessandro Baricco in Torino. It was about 18 years ago. Those were six exciting months, I was on a leave of absence and I had the chance to write and read as never before. I was inspired to write for the theater by reading Dürrenmatt and Beckett. Actually us Sicilians are a bit uninterested in reality because we consider it totally ineluctable. We make fun of our fantasies and believe that each and every goal is basically unachievable. I have thought of characters able to enter and exit reality at will, characters who go beyond their historical time. I actually have already experimented with these themes in a previous piece based on the stories of Pugliese immigrants living in Stalin's Russia. Yet in Mister B I have finally put together unlikely characters in an unlikely reality.

    What has inspired you to write the story of Mr. B?
    As newborns, my kids, while trying to stay afloat in a swimming pool, would hold on to me afraid of going underwater. I felt a gratifying paternal power. Then they learned how to swim and it proved to me that I would be soon substituted. I thought of a story of a man who would not accept this sort of thing, a man who would dedicate his life to being irreplaceable. That was the starting point, then Mister B evolved: he incorporates my discomfort towards the typical New York attitude to make tons of money, to feel complete only when making a fortune. I don't make much money and I am not interested in my financial productivity, but this does not bother me. Mister B was, in a way, my chance at revenge; we actually spent a few bucks to put it up, we just bought the lamps we use on stage. Let me just add that the recession and the attacks of September 11 helped New York leave behind a materialistic view of life.

    Many of the characters of the play are male but the cast is all women, how is that?
    I had a hard time finding a director who would work with zero budget. Then I met Clare Hammoore, a young assistant at NYU, just a month before opening night. He suggested an all women cast to stress the surrealism of the text. Indeed five of the eight characters in the play are male, including the main character. Clare has always worked with actresses so it was also a practical choice. The show has strengths and weaknesses and that of choosing actresses to play male characters is definitely one of its strengths.

    Tell us about the character of Frederick Law Olmsted?
    I read Frederick Law Olmsted's biography when I lived in the Prospect Park area, that's the park Olmstead designed right after Central Park. I was so taken by the serenity that park oozes with. I cannot find that in Central Park, even though it's ten years I live just a block away from it. Olmstead believed a park helps achieve social equality and that if someone poor was looking for serenity of spirit he would find it in a public park. He spent his life without ever compromising; for example, he left the Central Park project when they tried to impose on him the construction of some buildings that, according to him, would have altered the bucolic vision of the park. It was a concept he had to deal with, years later, when working on Prospect Park. He was a journalist and the manager of a gold mine. He did not work for money, he was an illuminato. I chose him because he is the right man to suggest Mister B the right way to become really irreplaceable.

    Production details: Paolo Tartamella (writer); Clare Hammor (director), Christine Nyland (Gardener), Emily Kugel (Mister B), Jamie Law (Baseball Manager), Lauren Durdach (Wife), Karah Gravatt (Mistress), Joyana Feller (Frederick), Rachel Smith-Weinstein (Son), Ashley Lauren Hamilton (Mother).

  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    The Art of Water Tasting

    As small children, in school during chemistry class, we all have learned that each molecule of water is made of two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen. We have also learned to play with water guns and water filled balloons, at the moment that was, to us, the best appeal water could have. Growing up we have discovered how much our bodies need water, real natural fuel for their proper functioning. Water is our main resource of energy, it reaches each cell so we can safely say that it is our essence.

    Our bodies contain 60-70% of water. Our blood is rich in water as the muscles, lungs, and brain also are. We then need to drink a lot of it in order to maintain the right body temperature, to nourish our organs, to transport oxygen to all our cells, and to remove waste. The benefits of water aren’t related to physical health, but also to spiritual wellness.

    Water is the big purifier. According to religion: we wash away our sins, we cleanse our wounds, and our tears comfort us. At the same time, water is fun, especially during the summer at water parks, where a giant slide leads us into a large swimming pool. This too is a form of therapy. So water is also enjoyment, when we have fun, when we need to relax and when we need to be in touch with nature. A new way to enjoy the properties of water is simply by tasting it.

    As for olive oil, whiskey, and more notoriously wine, the possibility of tasting water gives us the chance to learn to appreciate all its sensorial characteristics. We then become real connoisseurs and not just simple consumers. At first the idea of a water tasting might sound strange, as the general idea is that water is just water and that there are no differences between them besides them being either flat or sparkling. But by training all our senses we will learn to extrapolate, and appreciate all its unique qualities. After having gained this ability we will be able to apply our new knowledge in the selection of food and wines that go better together with the selected water.

    Before starting it’s important to chose the right glass: different materials, such as terracotta, glass or plastic, influence the taste of what they contain. The required glass must be of crystal as this material, perfectly transparent, has a unique reactivity to light and shadows. Once the material is defined it’s the turn of the shape. Specific glasses have been created for tastings, in order to let the tasters appreciate each nuance of the water. Dealing with teo types of water, there are two shapes of glasses, one for still and one for sparkling. What hey have in common is that they are stem-less and that the rim is particularly thin. The glass for still water is has a wide mouth which allows the nose to move in closer towards the water and perceive its’ delicate aroma. The one for sparkling water, has a narrow mouth, just like a champagne glass, in order to let the taster drink smaller sips. Naturally glasses must be properly cleaned before proceeding with the tasting, first in warm water, then, if they are brand new, in vinegar to remove grease and dust. Afterward, they must be rinsed in hot water and then dried with a cloth that doesn’t leave any residue behind, the ideal material is linen.

    The first important thing to know before a water tasting is that it’s important to follow meticulously the sequence and the techniques that are suggested, upon previous tries, by the experts. The first sensation that must be evaluated is the freshness of the water that must be qualified by drinking a sip right after opening the bottle and pouring it in the glass. The immediate reaction varies greatly in intensity and gives a pleasant sensation to the mouth which is filled the freshness of the water. After having emptied out the glass and rinsed it again it’s time to move on to a visual analysis to classify its limpidity, to determine the absence of external substances, of anomalous colors and its effervescence. First raise the glass to eye level and then lower it so as to observe the liquid from above, in order to give a horizontal and a vertical analysis to the water. We proceed to bringing the glass to the nose and breathe in deeply at regualr intervals. This action must be repeated several times and, if possible, with closed eyes in order to concentrate more on the receptive power of our nose in distinguishing aromas.

    The fourth phase of our analysis is the tasting that must be performed in two separate stages. The first one allows you to determine the water’s acidity, sapidity, structure, lightness and mouthfeelin order to do that you must sample 15 ml. Of water by letting it rest on the tongue and then distribute it around the mouth all the way to the back of the tongue. The second phase determines the water’s balance and persistence. Take a second sip of the same amount of water, then let it rest on the tongue. Breath in through the nose and let some air reach your mouth. Lead the water to the back of your tongue and swallow. Rinse your mouth with tap water and proceed to the next sample. If you have few waters to taste it’s better to start with the lighter ones and proceed to the more complex ones. If you need to takes notes, make sure you have either a pre-printed score card, or scrap paper, if the tasting is informal.

    Once you have mastered the art of water tasting you can proceed to pairing it with the right wine and harmonize the qualities of both. To practice sip alternately the two liquids and find the two that induce a sequence of sensations that follow and overlap each other, without either overpowering or annulling each other. Generally speaking a full-bodied wine will be paired well with a strong, fresh water, and a soft wine with a light water. To blend properly, with the wine, the water must be either equal, or slightly above or below in intensity with respect to the wine.

  • Facts & Stories

    Fashionistas Go For the Best of Italian Menswear at MRKET

    MRKET: a global fashion trade show for discerning menswear brands. Representing the best collections in all categories from the United States and abroad, Mrket is the only show in the US to spotlight a MADE IN ITALY section, organized by the Italian Trade Commission Office of New York (ICE), and a UK Design area. MRket is a serious writing, networking and press event with attendance from all 50 states and 47 countries. Featuring Vanguards Gallery, an incubator for new and emerging brands curated specifically for all attendees, MRket means business... and Italy does too.

    Italy was present at the show with 43 exhibitors featuring 45 different brands and their spring-summer 2014 collections. This year's attendance marked an increase of 19.44% compared to the edition of July 2012. The data provided by the US Department of Commerce, elaborated by ICE New York, shows that, in the time frame going from January to May 2013, Italy ranks number twelve among all international purveyors of menswear and of accessories for men in the US. The analysis of the data on imports of these types of merchandise shows that in the first five months of 2013 imports from Italy have increased by 3.80% compared to 2012 for a value of 217.17 million dollars.

    Pier Paolo Celeste, Director of the New York office of the Italian Trade Commission, had to saythat “The strength of what Italy has to offer is the price/quality ratio.  A Made in Italy product means artisanal tradition, creativity, innovation. The product is sought after and greatly appreciated by the American consumer who is always more sophisticated and a fine connoisseur of good workmanship.”

    Mrket New York is an important appointment for Italian businesses who want to consolidate their presence on the American market.

    A quick overview shows us that the participating companies all had different stories and reasons to be there.

     “This show is of great importance for us,” Jin Frati of Marchesi di Como, producer of fine silk ties and scarves, said, “It is the number one show in the territory, the final results in regards of sales are incomparable to any other American trade show. We always come back with great pleasure and enthusiasm as the consumers love our products.”

    Any men wearing one their ties automatically becomes more charming, there is no doubt about that.

    Among the participants there were those attending for the first time, like Lost in Albion, producer of outerwear, and Nobili, a small producer of fine cashmere.

    “We didn't really know what to bring,” Wiolanda Nobile, the company's designer admitted, “so we decided to play it safe with classic styles and colors. Meanwhile we are doing our homework and studying the American tastes so that we will be more prepared for the next edition. We already know that we will bring more vibrant colors next time.”

    No matter how many times you have been at the show, there is always something to learn as everything evolves and changes with time.

    Schiatti is an historic company (1946), with a coveted showroom on Via della Spiga in Milan, and it produces mostly leather and fur pieces. “About 20/30 years ago we were huge in the US but when the market started to hurt we decided to explore the Russian market and produce high quality Made in Italy pieces just for them and specific to their tastes,” Rosaria Lombardi of Schiatti said, “Now we are back for the first time in decades! The American market is experiencing a moment of rebirth and we want to test the waters... see how their taste has changed and discover what type of product they want. But mostly we want to see if our product can make it here.”

    Being a company selected to be in the Made in Italy section already means that you have made it and among all the Italian companies we found an American one... Richard Harris is indeed an American manufacturer producing everything in Naples.

    “The main advantage of being in the Italian pavilion is the association with quality, people understand that there is going to be a certain extent of quality and consistency with our product,” Chet Holly, VP of sales said. “And the other advantage, which is maybe even more important, is taste. The taste level is highly considered. Now we have to do what we preach. We cannot just throw the words Made in Italy out there and then we do not have an Italian product. So we have an Italian partner and Italian tailors and everything is made in Naples... And besides Italian people are nice people, it is always a pleasure to work with them.”

    Many of them will also attend Mrket Las Vegas (August 19-21), in order to cover thoroughly the west coast as well, so that all men in America can go for the incomparable elegance of Italian men... that is not simply in their blood but in what they wear.

  • The Ban Has Been Lifted: Welcome New Italian Salumi

    For years travelers coming from Italy tried to smuggle salumi (cured meat products predominantly made from pork ) past airport officials. Just last week, at JFK, I personally witnessed someone being stripped of the tiny cacciatorini (small, dry-cured salami) that had been hidden in the suitcase. Yes, back in May a ban on the import of Italian Salumi has been lifted but no, the ban will not ease this. Products are still not allowed in personal baggage.

    Presently, only about half of Italy’s wide variety of cured meat products are approved for import into the United States, according to the Italian Association of Meat and Salumi (ASSICA). “Up until now, we could only export seasoned ham, like Parma and San Daniele, cooked ham (Prosciutto Cotto) and mortadella,” said Davide Calderone, the association’s director. But things are changing.

    As of May 28, a 40-year ban on the import of Italian Salumi has been lifted: USDA APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) has officially recognized the regions of Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, Piedmont, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Liguria, Marche, Valle d'Aosta and the provinces of Trento and Bolzano, free from swine vescicular disease, giving green light to short maturation Italian Salumi export in the USA. This is an historic event, considering the 15-year negotiation process involved.

    The path to achieve this result was very complex and required a strong team action among the Italian Embassy in Washington, the Italian Ministry of Health, ASSICA and the European Commission. So far, it is not clear when Italian producers will be able to export recently liberalized products to the US, but many of them should be ready to make it happen by the end of 2013. What Italy knows for sure is that the potential meat exports increase from Italy to the USA should be at least 15%. 

    ASSICA and IVSI will continue to work hard, together with Italian and US institutions, to make sure that the result obtained will be actually implemented, so that there will be no impediments to the US access of Italian Salumi from the regions that have already been liberalized.

    Calderone is hopeful that the US ban will be lifted in other regions, noting that the European Union has determined that nearly all of Italy is free of the disease. He is also hoping that the ban on Italian beef products will be lifted, after the USDA makes a final ruling on mad cow disease, expected at the end of the year. 

    After the news of the ban removal, the US are experiencing a growing interest in the excellence of Authentic Italian Salumi. At the 59th Summer Fancy Food edition in New York, the Italian food companies were present as always, but, this year, the event had a different connotation for the ones coming from the meat sector.

    ASSICA and IVSI (the Italian Salumi Promotion Institute) were at the show with a desk, inside the Italian Trade Commission Information Center, to show and let the American food trade learn all about meat products such as Salami, Pancetta, Coppa and other salumi with less than a 400-day aging period.

    Back in 1987 when the United States lifted the ban on imports of prosciutto and mortadella Italian food connoisseurs celebrated, and they are celebrating now!

    Let's learn a bit more about these products that will be coming soon: pancetta is made from pig bellies, which have a pleasant striped appearance due to the alteration of fat and lean sections. Processing includes salting and flavoring with pepper and other spices, if any. Once it has been salted, pancetta sits for 10-15 days and is then aged for at least 3 months. It can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes, when grilled, fried, mixed with salad or as an accompaniment to bread and fruit canapes.

    Coppa is a traditional product with a wide range of flavors and names. The name derives from the part of the pig it's made from. Shaped like a cylinder, pointy at both ends, it is characterized by firm and compact texture, rich flavor and a distinctive aroma.

    Salami is considered the tastiest among Italian Salumi. Through the centuries it has evolved into several varieties that today form a veritable family that includes regional and local specialties all over Italy. Salamis differ in the way the meat is minced (fine, medium, or thick) and though the spices and ingredients (garlic, cayenne pepper, fennel seeds, wine) which give each type their individual characteristics. The meat, fat and other ground ingredients are put into a casing and left to age.

    Italian Salumi are in very close connection with the geographical region of production, as regards to both the ingredients and production methods handed down through generations, which are strictly followed. In fact, Italian Salumi are not only good in terms of taste and nutrition, but they also embody and constantly renew local customs and traditions, while creating and spreading culture.

  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    Tiella: Neapolitan with a Twist

    In Neapolitan dialect, a tiella is a tiny cast-iron pan used for baking, grilling, or frying. We use the name for tiny pizza-like appetizers that we bake in a wood-fired oven.

    These delicious morsels are topped with combinations like stracciatella cheese and truffle, and foie gras and prosciutto.” Mario Coppola explains the name of his three-year-old Upper East Side restaurant co-owned with fellow Neapolitan chef Giuseppe Castellano.

    Tiella has been described as a Neapolitan restaurant that doesn’t involve pizza (New York Magazine) and a modern urban trattoria (The New York Times). It’s a lovely place with amazing food, where every dish is prepared with the most selective ingredients and served with a unique twist.

    “Our menu is based on Neapolitan cuisine but it also features classic Italian dishes. It all comes together thanks to the chef’s personal, innovative touch,” Mario adds.

    The menu features Neapolitan classics such as moscardini alla Luciana (baby octopus braised in thick tomato sauce with black olives) and Italian favorites like spaghetti alla carbonara, served with stracciatella and black truffles. Chef Castellano’s reinvention of this classic Roman dish is a reflection of his global training.

    “We buy all that we can from Italy, including stracciatella, cured meats, as well as moscardini and gelato so that we can serve the most authentic Italian food around with our own personal touch.”