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Articles by: Natasha Lardera

  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    Sweet and Savory: The Art of Cooking with Chocolate

    Nothing speaks of holidays more than chocolate and just a few days before Thanksgiving, Italy's premiere chocolate brand, Perugina, organized a special chocolate class at Eataly by the title Hip & Happening-Hot New Chocolate Dessert Trends from Italy hosted by chocolate expert, food historian and frequent traveler to Italy, Francine Segan.

    “Chocolate is as much a science as it is an art,” Federico Giorgio Marrano, Perugina Export Manager for the US said, “and Francine has a passion for the process, from sharing her knowledge about the history of chocolate to the love affair at the heart of Baci's (Perugina's most popular confections where a dark chocolate exterior envelops a heart of gianduja sprinkled with chopped hazelnuts and topped with a whole hazelnut) creation.”

    Ms. Segan was trained at the legendary Perugina Scuola del Cioccolato in the heart of Italy. She writes and lectures extensively on the subject, having delivered multiple presentations at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC. Her classes and cooking demonstrations have also included appearances at the New York Chocolate Show, and The New York Times Travel Show. She specializes in writing about Italy and Italian food and wine. Indeed in December 2009 she was named USA “Ambassador” for Italian sweets by Associazione Indstrie Dolciarie Italiane (AIDI), Italy's national association of industrial confectioners.

    The class was divided into two parts, first a presentation of chocolate and its history, followed by demos of a few of Ms. Segan's recipes that pair chocolate with unexpected ingredients: yes, chocolate is such a versatile treasure that can be enjoyed not just with sweets but even with vegetables and pasta... stay tuned! more to come...first some of its history.

    “The tasty secret of the cacao tree was discovered 2,000 years ago in the tropical rainforests of the Americas. The pods of this tree contain seeds that can be processed into chocolate. The story of how chocolate grew from a local Mesoamerican beverage into a global sweet encompasses many cultures and continents.

    The first people known to have made chocolate were the ancient cultures of Mexico and Central America. These people, including the Maya and Aztec, mixed ground cacao seeds with various seasonings to make a spicy, frothy drink. Chocolate also played a special role in royal and religious events. Priests presented cacao seeds as offerings to the gods and served chocolate drinks during sacred ceremonies.

    Later, the Spanish conquistadors brought the seeds back home to Spain, where new recipes were created. Eventually, the drink’s popularity spread throughout Europe. Since then, new technologies and innovations have changed the texture and taste of chocolate, but it still remains one of the world’s favorite flavors.” (The Field Museum, Chicago)

    Rumors about chocolate spread throughout Europe in the 17th century by Italian and French merchants. “Italian chocolatiers, transformed making chocolate into an art form and during this time, gianduja (hazelnut paste) was invented and it became a popular sweet chocolate variation,” Ms Segan said, “They invented a fourth kind of chocolate (preceded by dark unsweetened, bittersweet and milk chocolate) but gianduja is not seen as a fourth flavor here in the US, although my mission is to change this and educate us.”

    “Italians were also the first to pair chocolate with savory ingredients, not just sweets,” Ms Segan explained in the introduction to the demo part of the class.

    The menu featured Melanzane al Cioccolato (Chocolate Eggplant), Ravioli di Cioccolato e Ceci (Sweet Chickpea Baked Ravioli), Torta di Baci e Vermicelli (Baci Pasta Cake) and Liquore ai Baci (Baci Liqueur).

    “Popular throughout the Amalfi Coast during the spring and summer, Melanzane al Cioccolato is always served on August 15th to celebrate Ferragosto. The eggplant plays nicely against the sweet ricotta filling and dark chocolate sauce. Melanzane al Cioccolato is prepared in dozens of ways in Italy, although it is traditionally fried, more and more Italian chefs and cooks are making lighter versions by baking, broiling, grilling and even poaching the eggplant,” Ms Segan explained as students were served a delicious tasting featuring the eggplant in its fried version. “Chickpeas aren't a typical dessert ingredient but sure should be! Pureed they are velvety on the tongue and add a pleasant denseness,” she added while introducing irresistible bundles of sweet crisp dough filled with mashed chickpeas, chocolate and jam.

    The next course featured thin vermicelli or angel hair pasta to make a dense and moist cake. “Unlike noodles, when thin pasta bakes, it melts into a lush mass of creamy sweetness. The Baci add pleasing hazelnut crunch and chocolate goodness to each slice.”

    The liqueur served at the end was basically a Bacio in a shot glass... the famous chocolates can be dissolved in grappa, vodka or brandy. “I figured that out during a dinner party,” Ms. Segan explained, “As glasses were being passed around, one of my guests accidentally dropped a Bacio into a glass of grappa. The morning after, when I was cleaning up, I realized the chocolate had dissolved and transformed into a delicious cream. Then I started to experiment and try all different sorts of liqueurs.” The concoction can be ready in a couple of weeks, stored into an airtight glass container and given as a gift... what better moment than the holiday season? (For a cup of grappa or vodka, Ms Segan suggests using 4 Baci, ½ cup of milk and ¼ of sugar. But she thinks people should adjust quantities as they prefer).

     -----

    The class was part of a series of seminars to be held at Eataly during the month of December (Friday, December 14 from 6.30 to 8.00 pm; Saturday, December 15, 2.00 to 5.00 pm). During classes participants will create their own Baci confections.

  • Life & People

    The Economic Crisis: Utopia and Optimism

    “In the Chinese ideogram, the word 'crisis' means opportunity and I like to see the economic crisis that has taken over the world as an opportunity to make us to reflect on our situation and change lifestyle. I want to think of 2012 as the year of the “shift,” the year when we all come to the realization that that old, apparently banal, saying “money does not bring happiness,” is true and rich of wisdom.
     

    Maybe with time we will learn to look back at 2012 as the year of the provocation that has forced us all to look within ourselves, pick ourselves up and leave behind the wrong idea of economy. That economy whose scope is not to accumulate money, favor some while damaging others but as a means to free humanity from slavery, from that fight for survival that brings entire populations to fight against each other thus generating tears and blood even within the same nation.”

    Don Gennaro Matino, the person quoted above, is one of the many writers and thinkers who are trying to give an explanation to the crisis that is hurting us all and to bring hope for a solution. A voice among many but nevertheless absolutely different.
     

    Don Gennaro Matino is a clergyman, a professor of pastoral theology who has been a missionary in the third world. He regularly contributes articles to Italian publications such as Avvenire and Famiglia Cristiana (religious magazines) and Il Mattino newspaper. He has published several essays and theological novels. He is the rector of the parish of SS, Trinità of Naples since 1986.

    The Neapolitan priest was a guest of NYU's Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò at the beginning of the month, for a presentation of his book “Economia della crisi. Il bene dell’uomo contro la dittatura dello spread” (Baldini & Castoldi). With him writer and professor Antonio Monda, who conducted the on-stage interview, after the introdution of Casa Italiana's director Stefano Albertini.

    “I hope this book can move people,” Don Matino told Letizia Airos during an interview done before the presentation, “I hope it can lead to reflection and bring about that ethical detour that is able to transform utopia into reality.” The book is available only in Italian at the moment, but a translation is in the works as the author wishes to overcome all barriers and let the international world read his words. “After the presentation in New York, preceded by one in my hometown, I will go to New Delhi. The choice was deliberate, as I picked cities with the word “new” in their names. That “new” represents a rebirth. I look at the future with trust and optimism I see men and women of different worlds, starting with Naples, New York and New Delhi come together, freed by any superstructure. Only then, they will be ready to invest in age-old values that are everlasting and always new but mostly able to bring mankind back to itself.”

    The concept, was, of course, analyzed further at the presentation at Casa Italiana where Don Matino explained that there is no room for pessimism (a rather difficult enterprise when people, young and old, can't find a job, pay for medical insurance or send their children to school) but there is plenty of room for the wrongful idea that once the financial crisis is resolved everything is going to be fine. According to Don Matino the issues do not lie in the system but in the individualist mentality of people who think only of benefit themselves while damaging others. This mentality is not just ethically wrong but economically too considering the crisis we all are experiencing right now.

    “The roots of the economic crisis,” Don Matino explained “can be found in an ethical void, in the silence of the human conscience that has allowed material profit to step on and smash any value. We should strive to bring back an ethical sense to life, to all its aspects, including to economy. Everything can and must have a social dimension.”

    On this issue, Professor Antonio Monda, who authored, among many, the book Tu Credi?, a collection of conversations on God and religion, quoted Robert Kennedy during his address at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, March 18, 1968.

    “Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product ... if we should judge America by that - counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.”

    Don Matino's ideas are incredibly similar. “A country's GNP does not bring security or happiness. It can be high but that does not mean that people live well. They can lack values and have no hope for the future.”

    This goes beyond religion. People, no matter what their creed is, have the innate need to give a sense to their future. “Suffering, fear, the crisis of being tell countless stories about the hardship of living, but this difficulty itself brings hope for the future. Utopia is born when hope is lost, when the future is bleak. The more pressing failure becomes the stronger the longing for a better day is. Utopia succeeds in guiding society through the defeat of an unsatisfactory present reality towards a positive outcome. This must not just be an idea though, but a call to action, so that the existing order can be positively changed.”

  • Facts & Stories

    Cover Boy: Balotelli on Soccer and Racism in TIME Magazine




    “The Meaning of Mario, What the Phenomenon of Mario Balotelli Says about Football, Race and European Identity.” Accompanying the above mentioned title of the article by Catherine Mayer and Stephan Faris on the cover of the International edition of TIME Magazine (to be released on November 12th) there is a picture of the profile of C. His eyes are staring at something or someone not too far away, they are fierce yet some may mistake that for arrogance. His mohawk is perfectly styled and his left ear is graced by a pretty big diamond stud. If the word football were not mentioned in the title it would be hard to say who this guy is... he could be anybody...an actor, a fashion designer, or even a revolutionary.

     

    He is only 22, yet he is on the cover of one of the most prestigious magazines in the world. Before him another SuperMario (Mario Monti) graced the cover of TIME (“Can This Man Save Europe?”) and before him, above the title “The Man Behind the World's Most Dangerous Economy” there was a picture of a smiling Silvio Berlusconi. Not everybody ends on the cover, if you do, it means you are someone who matters.

     

    Mario Balotelli was born Born Mario Barwuah (12 August 1990) in Palermo to Christian Ghanaian parents (Thomas and Rose Barwuah). “The family moved to Bagnolo Mella in the province of Brescia shortly after he was born. As an infant, he had life-threatening complications with his intestines which led to a series of operations, although his condition had improved by 1992. Mario's health problems and the family's cramped living conditions meant the Barwuahs decided to ask for the help of social services who recommended that he be fostered. In 1993, the Barwuah family agreed to entrust the three-year-old boy to an Italian foster family, the Balotellis. At first, he stayed at the Balotellis during the weekdays, and returned to his biological parents on weekends, but after a while it was arranged for him to be permanently fostered by the Balotellis. His foster parents Francesco and Silvia Balotelli, who have Italian Jewish heritage, lived in a large house in the affluent village of Concesio, Brescia. When Mario Balotelli became famous, his biological parents asked for his return. He later accused them of “glory hunting,” stating that they only wanted him back because of the prominence he had gained. According to Law 91 of 5 February 1992, Balotelli had to wait until his 18th birthday to request Italian citizenship, as the Balotellis had not adopted him. Balotelli officially gained citizenship in Concesio on 13 August 2008. After the ceremony he released the following statement: “I am Italian, I feel Italian, I will forever play with the Italian National Team.” (Wikipedia)

     

    The issue of citizenship for children of foreign parents born and raised in Italy (second generation immigrants) is at heart of many Italians and law makers (on November 15, 2011 Giorgio Napolitano, President of the Republic of Italy, addressing a delegation of the new citizens at Quirinale, the Presidential Palace, called for reforms of the citizenship law to grant citizenship to children born in Italy of immigrant parents) and Mario Balotelli's case is exemplary. “He represents a new generation of young Italians who can and must become champions in their field by always trying to be the best they can be,” Italian-Gahanian film director Fred Kudjo Kuwornu, said in an interview regarding his documentary 18 Ius Soli.

     

    In the interview for TIME, Super Mario (in recognition of his talent, he has often been admiringly nicknamed Super Mario by the media – inspired by the Nintendo Super Mario video game character) remembers when he was on the receiving end of racist chants while playing for Inter Milan in Italy and he admits that he believes the problem is far worse in his homeland than in England. He is quoted saying “Racist people are few and you can do nothing against [to change] them,” “You can talk, you can do what you want, but you can't do anything because they are just stupid people,” “When I wasn't famous, I had a lot of friends, almost all of them Italian. The racism only started when I started to play football.” “I hope I can help Italy become a modern country, just like England and the United States.”

     

    But there's more to Balotelli than just ethnicity and racism: endless memes, fights on the field, crazy accidents, or even his ridiculous wardrobe off the field.

     

    In the interview he even mentions the shirt he wears, the one with the logo “Why always me?” a clear message to all those who never leave him alone, on the field and off.

     

    He talks about his favorite goals: the ones against Rubin Kazan, when he played for Inter, the ones against Germany during the European Cup, the first wearing the City shirt during the Derby between Manchester City and Manchester United.

     

    He even has something to say about President Obama. “His was an election that changed history. It made me really happy. I would definitely like to meet him.” There are four more years to do that!

     

     

     

     

     

     

        

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


  • Art & Culture

    Honoring a 20th Century Renaissance Man: Dino Buzzati

    “Each one of us has a favorite Buzzati: the author of The Tartar Steppe, the artist and illustrator or the journalist of Il Corriere della Sera.” With these words Stefano Albertini, Director of NYU's Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò introduced an exciting evening of literature, theater and cinema to mark the 40th anniversary of the death of     Dino Buzzati, a real Renaissance Man from the 20th century.

    The evening was designed by Kairos Italy Theater, Casa Italiana's theater company in residence, a leading group in the making of bilingual theater in New York City. Its founder and creative director, Laura Caparrotti, used Albertini's words to further explain the Renaissance man concept, explaining that Buzzati was a writer whose work was mandatory in high school so kids read his work unwillingly without really appreciating it. Those same kids discovered him later in life when no one was forcing them to read his stuff. “He also wrote opera and plays, he designed costumes and sets. He played music since childhood. He had broad intellectual interests and was accomplished in many areas of the arts,” she explained. “KIT has undergone this mission to bring his work to all those who are not familiar with it and even those who already love him but cannot really find much about him around.”

    If you google his name “Dino Buzzati” the title of the second article that appears is “Forgotten authors No 20: Dino Buzzati.” The article starts “It is surprising how many forgotten authors have managed to survive in their short fiction rather than their novels, even though their full-length works received critical adulation upon publication. Dino Buzzati (1906-1972) is obscure even by bibliophiles' standards, but it's important to include him here because he was an extraordinary writer. A painter, poet, playwright, editor and journalist, he found fame with the 1940 publication of The Tartar Steppe, a disturbing novel reminiscent of Kafka and Camus, about a young soldier in a far outpost awaiting inundation by barbarians.”

    A screening of the film The Desert of the Tartars (Il deserto dei tartari, 1976, 141', in Italian w/ English subtitles) based on the novel followed a reading fromPoem Strip (Poema a Fumetti. 1969), Buzzati's graphic novel, by Tom O'Keefe. The reading was introduced by Marina Harss, the English edition translator, who candidly declared that she struggled with the objectification of women in the book and with the challenge of maintaining the tone of the poem. Harss added that she is not fully satisfied with the final product, and indeed critics have written that the text might have lost some of its lyricism in the translation from the Italian, as it occasionally seems stiff (Amazon). Poem Strip is a modern, graphic version of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, a dark and alluring investigation into mysteries of love, lust, sex and death.

    The film directed by Valerio Zurlini features an amazing cast with the likes of Vittorio Gassman, Giuliano Gemma, Max Von Sydow and Jacques Perrin.

    The Desert of the Tartars is the story of a young man named Giovanni Drogo. He’s a newly commissioned lieutenant who is sent to the remote outpost, Fort Bastiani located on the Tartar Steppe. Drogo has looked forward to this day for years, and he naively imagines that his military life is going to be the beginning of something worthwhile. At the fort all military men cling to the rigid values of a crumbling order as they await an enemy that may not even exist. At the fort time passes imperceptibly, as Drogo “ages and weakens as the desert and the constraints of life in the fort strips away his physical strength and inner resolve.”

    Those who hope to find a spectacular epic movie filled with action will be disappointed as the film is more psychological and subtle.

    “There a few differences between the film and the novel,” lecturer Luca Delbello from St. John's University said during his introduction to the screening. “Buzzati had kept the time and place of the story as vague as possible, because it universalizes the story. Drogo's condition and life events can be those of anybody in any place at any time. The film, actually takes place at the borders of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the characters are wearing costumes that are typical of the 19th century. In addition, the film omits certain parts of the novel, especially those relating to the lives of Drogo's friends in his home town.”

    KIT is continuing its Buzzati program with No Escape, 4 Monologues by Dino Buzzati at the Cherry Lane Theater (please refer to the web site for a schedule of the performances. Times have changed due to Hurricane Sandy).
     
    These monologues were written in the late ‘50s and tell the stories of four women “trapped into their lives like passionate and proud victims of a fate they can’t control. Solitude, magic, absurd, wait and death are the dominant themes of these ironic and at the same time dramatic monologues presented in the English translation, followed by their original, evocative Italian (translated by Natasha Lardera).”
     
    Spogliarello (Striptease) tells the story of Velia, a woman who is looking for financial stability through a relationship with a married man. After his death, things get pretty tough but even in front of death Velia doesn’t loose her biting wit.   

    L’orologio (The Clock) tells the story of Irma, a widow who lives a life in a constant and absurd shift between past and present. An enormous clock in her house, hides the soul of her late husband who endlessly tortures her.

    Sola in casa (Alone at home) is the story of Iris, a fortune-teller who's afraid to be at home alone because of some killings in her neighborhood. One night she is visited by a man who wants his fortune told and the cards reveal something very disturbing.
     
    La Telefonista (The Operator) focuses on the unhappy love life of a woman who works as a switchboard operator.
     

    The project is supported by Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò at NYU, The Consulate General of Italy, the Italian Cultural Institute in NY, The Fondazione Buzzati and the Fondazione Corriere della Sera.

  • Art & Culture

    Spotlight on Italian Design: Pio Manzù in DUMBO

    A taste of classic 60's Italian design, a chance to discover, admire, mingle and shop. This is just a slice of what spring design & art (126a Front Street, Brooklyn NY 11201) has to offer.

    Spring design&art is an exhibition space and related store, located in Dumbo, promotingdesign and art through curated shows and highlighted product. Structured on four principal shows a year, curators Anna Cosentino and Steve Butcher, work with a pool of talented guest artists, designers and curators to create cohesive, informative and, above all, interesting exhibits. It is an ambitious and exciting project that promotes thinking, explores new exchanges and provides a link to, and association with, innovative projects.

    Spring has been promoting Independent designers and contemporary artists since the very beginning by trying to present their work in a new, contemporary way,” Anna Cosentino said to i-italy, “Our mission is to expose these designers in a context that reflects the world we live in, thus bringing together design and art by giving them equal exhibition space. We want the gallery experience to be less intimidating. Furthermore, it is important that the design we feature has intrinsic value and meaning while we emphasize all those merits that  are often ignored, such as manufacturing, imagination and ingenuity.

    In the past nine years there have been many international collaborations – with Brooklyn Design, the Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands, Central St. Martins College of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art in England. Strangely enough, there has never been a collaboration with Italy a country that is home to many creative people.”

    You have now started collaborating with designer and creative director Giacomo Cavalleri, with whom you have worked on a show on Pio Manzù, how did this happen?

    "I have known Giacomo Cavalleri for several years now and we have often talked about possible projects and collaborations when he lived in New York. When he moved back to Italy, Giacomo started an amazing new project that he named Made in Bergamo, a collective of international designers that has received great praise and global recognition.
    That's when the “serious talks” started and we agreed on creating a new bridge that brings new designers to New York, to Brooklyn to be exact. Our calendar includes new and well-established designers who are looking to be introduced in America to  present their work. When we say design we mean a larger concept that includes graphics, products, fashion and the environment. We have several different roles: we are facilitators, translators, interpreters and producers."

    Why did you decide to start with the work of Manzù?

    "Pio Manzù is an icon of Italian design. He represents all that we admire in a young designer. He incorporates acumen, the drive to innovate and discover, to go beyond conventional rules thus delivering real innovation. Don't forget that in the sixties he revolutionized the automobile industry with the introduction of Fiat 127 (Fiat's first super-mini-sized hatchback) and that he has collaborated with major houses such as Castiglioni, Flos, Kartell and Alessi. We couldn't say no to the amazing opportunity to present a small profile of a great talent and introduce him to our public, design lovers who welcome our ideas."

    At the show you have also introduced
    Manzoni Design, tell us about it.

    "Giacomo Manzoni (Pio Manzù's son) and Giacomo Cavalleri came to New York to introduce Manzoni Design at spring. Manzoni Design brings to back life some of Pio Manzù's old projects, which were found in old archives, and has reworked old prototypes such as the valigetta portadocumenti. The briefcase was designed for Fiat in 1965– the black, white or red object has a simple functional design made of two symmetrical plastic parts and one mold – as a promotional tool given to retailers yet it still is extremely functional and still incredibly modern.

    Among other items available at the gallery we find the Parentesi lamp (1969) which was inspired by a sketch drawn by Pio Manzù and designed with Achille Castiglioni. It is a clear example of form that follows function, subtraction of ornamentation, and the composition of a product that draws beauty from its form.

    Based on a prototype chair designed in 1967 for the Rinascente department store, the Manzù lounge chair clearly takes its inspiration from the automobile design that Pio Manzù is recognized for. It is a swiveling armchair with seat and back shell in compact polyurethane molded together with expanded polyurethane."

    What projects do you have for the future? 


    "We are currently working on the 2013  calendar. We are reviewing all the different requests we have received yet we can say that we will deliver a variegated program. We don't need just good proposals we also need to find organizations that are interested in collaborating as sponsors.
    Spring's philosophy is to have an ongoing dialogue and creative exchange. We facilitate that also by organizing lunches and dinners at the gallery. With that in mind, we have decided to introduce coffee afternoons using the coolest espresso machine by ROCKET from Milan and MOGI coffee."

    Now that we have started, the Italian connection continues...

  • Life & People

    The Italian Trade Commission and NIAF: Celebrating Italian Lifestyle Together

     Lifestyle is the way of life or style of living that reflects the attitudes and values of a person or group. “When lifestyle became popular a generation ago, a number of critics objected to it as voguish and superficial, perhaps because it appeared to elevate habits of consumption, dress, and recreation to categories in a system of social classification. Nonetheless, the word has proved durable and useful.” (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language)

    Among the most admired, and imitated, manners of living we find the Italian, of course not the one of the inefficient health system, of the ever so popular bamboccioni, or of the fleeting scholars but that of all things stylish, elegant and of quality in many areas such as fashion, design, food and wine... the fun stuff.
     

    Italian lifestyle was celebrated at the 37th celebration of NIAF (National Italian American Foundation) in Washington DC, where the Italian Trade Commission presented the best of Made In Italy in the Italian lifestyle lounge.

    “This is our fourth participation,” the Italian Trade Commissioner, Aniello Musella told i-italy, “When we first started we organized tastings of authentic Italian products, with a particular attention to cheeses, hosted by America experts (the likes of gourmand extraordinaire Lou di Palo of Di Palo Foods and wine lecturer Kevin Zraly). After the first two years we changed things a bit and we invited different importers, of cheeses, cured meats and wines among others, to participate and showcase their products. In our lounge, visitors are invited to explore the many facets of Made in Italy excellence.”
     

    The lounge program featured a walk around wine tasting modeled after the Italian Trade Commission’s popular seminar series “Perusing the Peninsula. “ A rich selection of wine styles from Italian producers Banfi, Casa Cornoer, Antica Cantina di Canelli and Franco Todini were tasted to the joy of all guests. US representatives were on hand to discuss these wines and the wine regions they hail from including the Veneto, Piedmont and Umbria. On the topic of Italian grapes... Rosanna of Abruzzo in Tavola served up tasty bites of a regional specialty featuring Feudo delle Ginestre’s Confettura di Uva di Montepulciano d’Abruzzo made from Montepulciano Grapes native to Abruzzo. The confettura was served atop rich ricotta fresca, it was a mouthful of heaven. The seminar was presented in collaboration with Lou Di Palo.

    The program also included Agriform’s Italian Cheese Road Tour presented in collaboration with premier e‐tailer igourmet.com. They presented a sampling of Italy’s premium quality PDO cheeses including Asiago, Piave, Valtellina Casera and Grana Padano.
     

    But Italian lifestyle is not all about food, there is much more and so representatives from Officina del Tempo, a young and dynamic Italian watch house that offers a variety of models, all produced in a new state of the art design and manufacturing facility, were on hand to discuss what makes these sporty Italian timepieces tick!

    “Consumers are always eager to discover new wines, specialty items and gifts to enjoy with friends and family,” Commissioner Musella added, “and to make the Authentic Italian Lifestyle experience even more special, we have been featuring the work of an artist. Last year we presented Zucchero's latest work, this year the lounge exclusively featured music from celebrated Italian singer Giada Valenti’s latest album “And I Love You So.”

    “It is important,” he continued, “to keep up with times and feature what is contemporary. Lifestyle changes through the years, we eat differently, we dress differently, we listen to different music... and our mission is to bring this reality to the American, and in this particular occasion Italian-American consumers. Consumers just need to experience the products first hand and learn more to know that Made in Italy represents quality and adopt them as part of their everyday life.”

    “NIAF is an exemplary organization whose commitment to advancing the Italian American relations and fostering Italian American culture and heritage is commendable. Members of the Italian American community are ambassadors of Made in Italy on the American territory and the Italian Trade Commission understands the importance of their role in the promotion of Italian lifestyle.” Mr Musella added, “The Italian Trade Commission was, and always is delighted to celebrate Italian Lifestyle together.”

  • Life & People

    Whispering Tides: a Glorious Love Story

    “When his beloved wife Nina suddenly dies - after 23 years of life together - Alberto Landi understands he has to leave Milan Italy, where he has always lived and worked. He leaves his friends, colleagues, a good job and the polluted big city he has never loved which has now become even more intolerable to him.

    He is fifty, he is totally alone and he is confused, but he definitely knows that he has to escape very far away, across the ocean to the only place he and Nina had always loved together. He lands in Savannah, Georgia. There, in a natural paradise governed by the breath of the tides and with the help of many dear friends - colorful human characters as well as wise animals - he starts to rebuild his new life. His dream is coming true until the day he wakes up one morning and discovers that…” (Amazon)

     
    This is the outline of Whispering Tides, a a shining love story written by Italian journalist Guido Mattioni that is taking the US by storm.
     
    Born in Udine, Italy, in 1952, Guido has lived and worked in Milan since 1978. Writing has always been his job and his life. During his working years as a journalist he has worked for daily newspapers as well as weekly and monthly magazines while holding almost every professional title possible, from reporter to editor-in-chief and deputy editor to special correspondent.

    Guido is also an avid traveler, indeed he has been all over the word but especially in USA, where he has visited 36 States. When he was younger he wrote two non-fiction books. Whispering Tides is his first novel.

     
    Guido decided, the reason why is explained in the following interview, to self publish the book using Smashwords. The novel first came out in its English translation, 24 hours before being released in Italian.
     
    We were able to reach Mattioni in Italy to ask him a few questions. He will be in the US soon to attend several cultural events featuring his work.
     
     
    What inspired you to write this novel?
     
    I believe it was the combination of several different factors. First of all my love for the beautiful city of Savannah, GA, where the story is set and where I totally feel at home: I have been going there every year since 1991, and I am proud to say that in 1998 I became an honorary citizen.
     
    Still the story was inspired by, or rather born from, a tragic personal life experience that dates back to 10 years ago. However, the novel is not autobiographical, I really wish to emphasize that. The story develops from that event and takes a form of its own, as, I believe, it happens with the most part of fictional stories. I believe that a good novelist is such when he/she is able to take a personal experience, even a most intimate one, and mold it into a universal circumstance, something anybody can relate to. I hope I succeeded in doing that.
     
    How was your love for Savannah born and how did it become a character of your novel?
     
    Thank you for asking me about this. I really appreciate the fact that you called Savannah a “character.” Indeed, Savannah is not the trivial backdrop of the story, a set where the other characters act. It is much more: it is a loving creature that thinks, reasons and feels. Most likely other authors don't live it this way and they just see it as what it objectively is: a breathtaking city to be used as the backdrop of their story and it all ends there. It just has an aesthetic meaning. In my eyes, Savannah was a character even before I started writing my book, even before I decided to humanize it in it. It was a character when I first set foot in it and fell in love with it.
     
    I equally humanized other elements, who after all, really are living creatures – I am talking about the tides, the trees, Mother Nature and some animals. They “speak” to whoever has a heart that can be called such. I have done even more; I have humanized and given flesh and bones to a bronze statue, that of Lord Oglethorpe, the city's founding father. This is probably why someone has written that Whispering Tides is a fairy tale for grownups. Clearly, I see it as a compliment, not as something that belittles my book. Fairy tales exist in real life, we are the ones who, busy looking for who knows what, do not catch that. Maybe I am wrong, but I believe that now more than ever people need fairy tales and dreams.
     
     
    How is the story developed and what are the main characteristics of its characters?
     
    Mine is not one of those novels featuring big happenings like homicides, intrigues or conspiracies.
    I write about a normal, real life. About the succession of the every day events of Alberto Landi's life. He is not and he does not intend to be a hero. He is an Italian man who, devastated by the death of his wife, leaves everything behind with the scope to rebuild his life. He leaves his world, his job, his material possessions and the city where he lives to start a new existence in a “far away land,” somewhere on the other side of the Ocean, a place that he and his late wife had really enjoyed together. 
     
    The other characters are figures of the every day as well: people you run into at the bar, at a gas station or at the supermarket. I believe there is nothing more extraordinary than normality. I could not even write in my head, let alone on paper, a fantasy story, a tale of gorgeous fairy creatures with sharp teeth. And I seriously loathe all tales of bespectacled wizards.
     
    Whispering Tides is also something else: it is the story of a great love, a real love, the kind of love that needs no handcuffs and no shades of gray or any other color. It is also an ode to friendship and a celebration of memory. Lastly, it is my heartfelt declaration of love to all women, as well as an invitation - I don't like to send messages, who am I to send messages - to be positive. Because life is a wonderful gift even when it painfully puts you to the test and it is a real crime to waste it by rejecting hope and giving in to pessimism.
     
    Some of your characters are fictional, others aren't. Who inspired you?
     
    As I mentioned earlier, I simply looked around me and I searched into the files of my memory. It is a large storage place made of travel memories collected during my 35 years as a journalist. These travels were not just work related but for pleasure as well. I love to travel more than anything else, I even enjoy the long waiting hours at the gate when your flight is delayed. Those are the moments when you are given the opportunity to mentally photograph faces, note personalities and study them.
     
    Orbiting around Humanity is the travel I enjoy the most, the one that fulfills me the most. So, some of my characters are real, they already worked for my story, I simply changed their identities. While others are fictional, although they are the cocktail of real memories.
     
    Alberto, the protagonist, is a journalist. How much of his story is autobiographical?
     
    I can say that Alberto Landi is like me in the way he sees and feels things, in how he looks at the world. That's why I decided to write Whispering Tides in first person narration. I felt that was the only way to emotionally involve the reader completely.
     
    After so many years of writing, how was the experience of self publishing and why did you decide to do so?
     
    I did it because I had no time to waste in never ending waits, because I had a story to tell and I wanted to write it no matter what. I also did it because self publishing, either in ebook or in printed on demand form, has zero cost for the author. And I mean zero, you don't even spend a cent. At first I had sent my synopsis to two important Italian publishing houses. But instead of getting a simple “no” as an answer - which would have been totally acceptable – I got two rude “no answers,” meaning I heard nothing from them. I call them rude because there should always be an answer, especially to a professional with a rich journalistic history as mine and, needless to say, to a man of my age.
     
    Who knows, maybe today, among other things, we have also forgotten good manners. Anyways, in the end I did get my revenge: a small publishing company of great quality and reputation, well known in the non-fiction sector, has contacted me and asked to launch their upcoming fiction branch with my book. So, starting in March, my book, in the Italian version, will be available in all the bookstores of the Italian peninsula. I would really like to get the same opportunity in the United States. I would love to find a small publishing house of great quality that would embrace my book. I take this opportunity to send my message out there.
     
    How was it to see your words translated into another language?
     
    Reading my story in English was extremely beautiful. I found the chosen words coincided perfectly with the original version. I am really grateful to William Marino and Daniela Zoppini, both mother tongue, who delivered a flawless translation. I received really positive feedback in the USA. I must say that maybe the most beautiful compliment, given to me twice by two different people, Mr. Giancarlo Pirrone, the president of Ciancia, the club of Italian culture in Atlanta, and by a journalist of the site Gay Savannah. They don't even know each other but they both wrote that my book appears to have been thought directly in English, and even by a Savannah native. They stressed the fact that I was able to get into the heads and the way of feeling and being of the local southern population.
     
    Your book is having great success here in the US, how do you explain this?
     
    Maybe it's because of the aforementioned reason, or maybe because by reading it my love for this great country, a place with its merits and faults, clearly emerges. I love it for its pros and cons, I accept it and embrace it the same way you do with your soul mate.
     
    Yes, sales are starting to go pretty well, but I never expected this outcome especially in regards of the appreciation of its quality. Whispering Tides is a finalist at the Global eBook Awards in Santa Barbara, CA, the only book by an Italian author among a thousand written by representatives of 16 countries. I received rave reviews by important literary magazines such as the Annali di Italianistica published by the University of Chapel Hill, NC. Furthermore, the book was bought in both languages by the libraries of important universities, such as the New York State University of Albany and is even been used as reading material at the Department of Modern and Classical Languages of the Georgia State University in Altanta.
     
    Locally, the book will be presented at Learn Italy, a language school located in Midtown Manhattan on October 29th. Massimo Veccia, the school's director, selected Wispering Tides as teaching material for the school's American students and he is also planning a book tour through several American universities scheduled for 2013.
     
    In Italy I see some books become best sellers for no apparent reason. They are badly written but they are backed by impeccable marketing just because the author is a sports star, a singer or a TV personality. They can sell millions of copies as far as I am concerned, I don't really care. But once their work will be used in a University, just the way mine is, that will be the day that I will stop writing... forever.

  • Events: Reports

    Italian Jazz Days, World-Class Music and Musicians

    It is time for Italian jazz... as the fall approaches New York City readies itself for its fourth annual celebration of jazz Italian-style. This year the Festival, Italian Jazz Days will feature forty musicians for a real jazz feast.

    Produced by Twins Music, Italian Jazz Days will celebrate world-class music and musicians for more than an entire week, opening on October 1st, and closing on the 9th. The artists will perform in different locations: the acclaimed Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola (Columbus Circle), in the historic pizzeria Arturo’s (West Village, in the modern restaurants Brio Flatiron (920 Broadway), Le Pescadeux (Soho) and Robert (Columbus Circle).

    Opening night will be held at Bar on Fifth, a venue inside the Italian five-star hotel Setai, just along fashionable Fifth Avenue. The closing nights (October 8-9) are much anticipated.

    Among the highlights: the Italian pianist Antonio Ciacca will debut at Dizzy’s Coca-Cola with a Big Band of 15 musicians. Ciacca has been preparing for this magnificent performance since 2009, writing and recording for the big band. Taking inspiration from his mentor Benny Golson, and having programmed shows at Jazz at Lincoln Center for four years, Ciacca has developed a strong love and vitality for the big band. He promises fireworks.

    Italian Jazz Days will host world renewed musicians, such as guitarists Lucio Ferrara and Luca Nostro, saxophonist Attilio Troiano, crooner Walter Ricci, bass player Giuseppe Venezia, drummer Elio Coppola, trumpeter Nicola Tariello. On the stage, there will also be American musicians with Italian blood in their veins. Guitarist Randy Napoleon, renewed for having recorded a Grammy-nominated album with the international star Michael Bublé, will lead the opening night. Joseph Lepore (bass), Pete Malinverni (piano), John Di Martino (piano), Gene Bertoncini (guitar), Gabrielle Stravelli (singer) will offer intimate night concerts. Also on stage: pianist Simona Premazzi and drummer Luca Santaniello; who moved from Italy to New York specifically to pursue their dreams in the land of jazz and who are today very well known in the clubs in the West Village.

    The Program:

    BRIO FLATIRON

    920 Broadway @ 21 Street, phone (212) 673 2121

    8:00 PM - 11:00 PM

    September 30th & October 7th

    LUCIO FERRARA TRIO

    Lucio Ferrara, chitarra

    Paat Bianchi, organo

    Peter Van Nostrand, batteria

    At the age of ten, Lucio Ferrara began playing the clarinet, but in his mind he heard “string” notes. With a classical guitar in his hands, Ferrara likes to define himself a traveling musician. Born in the southern Italian region of Puglia, he moves among Bologna, Rome and New York. He has performed with Antonio Ciacca, Lee Konitz, Benny Golson, Joey DeFrancesco, Billy Harper, Greg Hutchinson, Rodney Green, Joe Farnsworth, Ulysses Owens, Paul Gill, John Webber and Doug Weiss. Ferrara’s teaching activity is intense and includes working at the Conservatory of Music in Cosenza. Since 2004 he is the Director of Education and Professor of Jazz Guitar of Orsara Jazz Summer Camp, he has been Director of Education of Tuscia in Jazz 2010-2011 and La Spezia Jazz Festival 2011.

    BAR ON FIFTH – SETAI HOTEL

    400 5th Avenue; phone (212) 695 4005

    All shows 8:00 PM - 11:00 PM

    No cover charge, one drink minimum

    October 1st

    RANDY NAPOLEON TRIO

    Randy Napoleon, guitar

    Joseph Lepore, bass

    Peter Van Nostrand, drums

    Randy has traveled the world for three years with crooner Michael Bublé and as his sideman has appeared on television in shows like Letterman, Leno, The Radio Music Awards and Dancing with the Stars. He is featured on Bublé’s GRAMMY® nominated album, “Caught in the Act”. Napoleon has a strong passion for the jazz guitar tradition that he expresses while playing with his own bands. Guitarist George Benson has referred to Napoleon as “sensational.” The Washington Post said that Napoleon has an “exceptionally nimble finger-style technique”. Currently, Napoleon is the guitarist in Freddy Cole's quartet.

    October 2nd

    RANDY NAPOLEON QUARTET

    Randy Napoleon, guitar

    Nicola Tariello, trumpet

    Giuseppe Venezia, bass

    Peter Van Nostrand drums

    October 3rd and 4th

    JOSEPH LEPORE TRIO

    Joseph Lepore, bass

    Luca Nostro, guitar

    Luca Santaniello, drums

    Nicola Tariello special guest

    Bassist Joseph Lepore was born in New York and raised in Salerno, Italy, where he was classically trained at the city's conservatory, earning its highest honors. Since relocating to the US in 1999 he has played with many US world-class musicians like Jimmy Lovelace, Marc Copland, Mark Turner, Terri Lynn Carrington, Lenny White and Duane Eubanks. "I've experienced something of a revelation when first playing with Joseph Lepore. He is an amazing player with great imagination and composing skills. I enjoy his music and spirit." - Marc Copland. Since early 2011, Lepore has been part of TrioKinesis with saxophonist Eric Person and drummer Shinnosuke Takahashi.

    October 5th

    JOHN DI MARTINO TRIO

    John Di Martino, piano

    Elio Coppola, drums

    Giuseppe Bassi, bass

    John Di Martino is a very active composer, arranger, pianist and recording artist. His latest CD, "Turnaround" (Kilimanjaro Disque), features his group. He has recorded 13 CD's for Venus Records (Japan) with The Romantic Jazz Trio. Di Martino has performed with Kenny Burrell, James Moody, Joe Lovano, Taj Mahal and he has contributed to three GRAMMY® nominated recordings, the most recent being “Love” by the Cuban singer Issac Delgado. Born in Philadelphia, Di Martino has performed everywhere. He loves cinema and walking around New York City. His favorite neighborhood is the East Village.

    October 6th

    PETE MALINVERNI TRIO

    Pete Malinverni, piano

    Attilio Troiano, sax

    Giuseppe Venezia, bass

    Carmen Intorre, drums

    Pianist/composer Pete Malinverni has received acclaim and strong international airplay for his twelve recordings as a leader. He has received composition grants for solo piano, trio, quartet, quintet, big band and Gospel choir. He served for eighteen years as Minister of Music at the Devoe St Baptist Church in Brooklyn, NY. After Pete's appearances at the Villa Celimontana Festival in Roma, Pietro d’Ottavia, writing in Italy’s La Repubblica, said, “in this artist one must recognize a brilliant vein of composition along with an original, pianistic voice.” He is Director of Jazz Studies at the Conservatory of Music at SUNY Purchase.

    October 7th

    MIKE LEDONNE TRIO

    Mike LeDonne, piano

    Giuseppe Venezia, bass

    Carmen Intorre, drums

    Pianist and composer Mike LeDonne was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He started his career as a child, playing with his father own jazz band and in his parent’s jazz store. After graduating from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, LeDonne moved to New York, where he started working at Jimmy Ryan's (at the time, one of New York's oldest jazz clubs). Here LeDonne met and played with some of the great historical figures of jazz, including Roy Eldridge, Papa Jo Jones, and Vic Dickenson.

    October 8th and 9th

    SIMONA PREMAZZI TRIO

    Simona Premazzi, piano

    Isabella Rizzo, bass

    Ross Pederson/Jason Brown, drums

    Since 2004, Premazzi has been living in NY and is very well known in the local jazz scene. Often, she performs at Smalls and Fat Cat while leading her trio or quartet. Premazzi grew up in a small village close to Milan and she considers Harlem her second home. “Every day I walk where Thelonious Monk used to walk and I play in venues where he used to play. Every day, part of my dream comes true”. Premazzi has recorded two albums, “Looking For An Exit” (2007) and “Inside In” (2010). Premazzi’s latest ensemble is in collaboration with tenor saxophonist and composer Melissa Aldana in creating a remarkable modern jazz sound.

    DIZZY’S COCA-COLA

    Broadway @ West 60th St; phone (212) 258-9800

    7:30 PM & 9:30PM

    October 8th and 9th

    ANTONIO CIACCA BIG BAND

    The much anticipated Antonio Ciacca Big Band debut at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola takes place October 8-9, during Italian Jazz Days and will fill the stage with world-class music and musicians. Ciacca has been preparing for this magnificent performance since 2009, writing and recording for the big band. Taking inspiration from his mentor Benny Golson, and having programmed shows at Jazz at Lincoln Center for four years, Ciacca has developed a strong love and vitality for the big band. His musical loves include Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Thad Jones, Tadd Dameron and Gil Evans. Ciacca promises fireworks at his big band debut at New York City’s #1 jazz club, featuring his original charts and standards from the Italian American Songbook, (arranged by saxophonist Andy Farber).The big band features an all-star lineup including: Antonio Ciacca, piano/leader; Brian Pareschi, Brandon Lee, Andy Gravish, Mike Carubia, trumpets; James Burton, Nick Finzer, Joe McDonough, trombones; Andy Farber, Kurt Bacher, Alex Hoffman, Jerry Weldon, Frank Basile, saxophones; Paul Gill, bass; Carl Allen, drums. Tony Bennett calls Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola “the best jazz room in the city.”

    DIZZY’S COCA-COLA AFTER HOURS

    11:30 PM

    October 9th

    LUCA SANTANIELLO QUARTET

    Luca Santaniello, drums

    Joe Magnarelli, trumpet

    Lucio ferrara, guitar

    Joseph Lepore, bass

    Walter Ricci, singer, special guest

    A graduate of the Juilliard School of Arts, drummer Luca Santaniello has been living in New York since 2001. He has performed with jazz legends such as Ron Carter, Benny Golson, Joe Lovano, Roy Hargrove, Lee Konitz, Joe Locke. In April 2012, he was a recipient for the Cultural Award from the European foundation UNESCO in a ceremony held by “The Italian Association of Castles” in the region of Molise-Italy. Santaniello has also been noticed by the international film production company Furst Films, and was casted as a jazz drummer in the movie “The Girl In The Park” (starring Sigourney Weaver, Kate Bosworth and Keri Russell).

    ARTURO’S

    106 West Houston Street, phone (212) 677-3820

    10:00 PM to 2:00 AM

    October 4th

    JIMMY LATAGANO TRIO FEATURING ATTILIO TROIANO

    With a background in classical music, Troiano is a “multi-task” artist, able to play clarinet, saxophone, piano and 13 additional instruments! He is also a singer and a composer for big band and symphony orchestras. In 2005, Troiano founded his own big band in Rome, playing his own compositions. Since 2007, he has been the artistic director of Basilijazz - Basilicata Jazz Festival. In that same year he produced his first CD, “Looking for our way” followed by “Shine! - Introducing Attilio Troiano & New Guitar Section” (2009). Troiano has played in Albania, Syria, Lebanon and France.

    LE PESCADEUX

    90 Thompson Street, phone (212) 966-0021

    September 30th at brunch

    GABRIELLE STRAVELLI TRIO

    Gabrielle Stravelli, voice

    Pat O'Leary, bass

    Gene Bertoncini, guitar

    This inspiring trio will amuse you while you brunch in this restaurant acclaimed for calamari and smoked brisket. Located in the fashionable neighborhood of Soho.

    ROBERT @ MAD Museum

    2 Columbus Avenue, phone (212) 299-7730

    October 7th at brunch

    CURTIS LUNDY TRIO FEATURING ELIO COPPOLA

    Born in 1985, Elio Coppola has collected honors and grants since he was a teenager. He has been honored “the best talent” at the International Baronissi Jazz. He has also earned a grant from the Berklee music University in Boston. Coppola has performed with Benny Golson, Joey De Francesco and George Cables. Today, Coppola is one of the most sought-after drummers in Italy. 

  • Life & People

    Italian Cheese Road Tour: Exploring PDO Cheeses with Agriform

    At this year's edition of the Saratoga Wine & Food and Fall Ferrari Festival guests, trade representatives and gourmands alike, had the possibility to travel through Northern Italy by tasting delicious PDO ( Protected Designation Origin) cheeses while sipping on wines provided by the festival's sponsor, Antica Cantina di Canelli.

    Authentic artisanal cheeses were provided by Agriform, one of Italy's leading companies specializing in the marketing and sales of traditional Italian dairy products, especially cheese. Agriform partners are some of the most important dairy cooperatives of the North-Eastern part of Italy. Agriform itself is a "second level cooperative", where the products are supplied mainly from its productive entities and shareholders, firmly linked to the territory of origin, through thousands of member farmers.

    Agriform works principally with Protected Designation Origin cheese products sourced directly from its members. Agriform partners represent some of the most important dairy cooperatives of North-Eastern Italy. Agriform itself is a “second level cooperative” whereby products are supplied mainly from its productive entities and shareholders, firmly linked to the territory of origin and a network of thousands of member farmers. Most of Agriform's products are produced in the area encompassed by the Alpine region of Veneto and Trentino and by the Appenines of Emilia, embracing a great part of the Po River Valley.

    Agriform launched at the festival the Italian Cheese Road Tour in collaboration with igourmet.com, North America leading online gourmet food and gift retailer. The taste tour was formulated with the aim of introducing consumers to different cheeses and educating them about PDO cheeses of Italy with emphasis on Asiago (fresh and aged), Valtellina Casera, Grana Padano, and Piave. Giving consumers the opportunity to sample and learn about the cheeses, their provenance, maturation regimes on site at events and then be able to bring the cheese home with them that day by purchasing it from the pop up shop.

    In addition, as a large consumer audience is reached at these events, the e-tail partnership formed with i-gourmet provides access to cheeses in areas for consumers that might not normally have access to these high quality products. Gift cards were also given to consumers on site by igourmet.com to encourage their Italian Cheese Exploration after the event. The tour's upcoming stops are: Newport, New York City and Boston.

    In Saratoga a thorough seminar was held by Italian Cheese Guru, Lou Di Palo who, with the collaboration of La Cucina Italiana's wine editor, Ian Wolff presented the featured cheeses paired with wines.

    In order, the cheeses tasted at the show were: Grana Padano Stravecchio Oro del Tempo PDO (paired with Due Bollicine Pinot Chardonnay Brut),  Asiago Fresco(fresh) PDO (paired with Sut, Ribolla Gialla), Asiago Stagionato (aged) PDO (paired with Santi Rosato, bardolino DOC), Valtellina Casera PDO (paired with Nino Negri, Inferno, Valtellina Superiore DOCG) and Piave Oro del Tempo PDO (paired with Bottega Finaia, Lagrein, Trento DOC).

    First of all, what does PDO really signify? “High quality and a guarantee from the European Union’s Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) system that the products bearing the label are produced, processed and prepared within a particular geographical area, and with features and characteristics that must be due to the geographical area. The PDO labelling system aims to protect consumers from fraudulent claims of quality. It also helps you know your food is safe because every PDO product has to have a traceability system attached to it, and is closely monitored. It is the best way to guarantee that the product is the result of ancestral traditions and methods.”

    Agriform describes Grana Padano Stravecchio Oro del Tempo as “the new top quality of the Grana Padano range.” Stravecchio (literally extra old) Oro del Tempo adds that extra prestige to the fame of Grana Padano: 20 months of maturation give the cheese a more intense and fragrant flavor. Like every precious thing, Stravecchio cheese is one of a kind, unique: its excellent quality is ascertained when it reaches the maturing department, and every week thereafter until the twentieth month. At that point, with skill and experience, the expert selects the cheeses that deserve to become prime Grana Padano with the certificate of origin and guarantee. It can be enjoyed alone at before a meal, with aperitivo, or at the end with some fresh fruit, grated over pasta and in salads.

    Fresh Asiago is a fine table cheese, whose name comes from the Alpine highlands in the North of Vicenza, one of Europe's biggest areas of pastures, where it is already produced. It is a semi-cooked cheese, white to slightly yellow in color, with marked and irregular holes. It has a delicate, pleasant flavor that is delightfully fresh. Ideal for sandwiches, Fresh Asiago is versatile in the kitchen: it melts without losing texture and it is an ingredient Ceasar's salads cannot do without, or together with tomatoes, avocados, fresh fruits and nuts. Fresh Asiago calls for semi- to non-aromatic white wines, even sparkling. It also pairs well with young and fresh red wines.

    Completely different from its brother, Seasoned Asiago is obtained from low-fat cow's milk. It's a semi-cooked, medium fat cheese, produced in the provinces of Vicenza and Trento and in some areas of Padua and Treviso. It is compact, with a few small or medium size holes. It is an excellent cheese to be enjoyed through the whole meal. In the aged variety, it can be grated to season rich entrees.  It is also perfect after a meal, to finish dinner with pure goodness. It goes preferably with full bodied red wines.

    Produced only in the Sondrio province, Valtellina Casera PDO is a low-fat cheese made from semi-skimmed cows' milk. It is of compact structure, while the taste is sweet with a touch of dried fruit and pretty delicate (becoming more intense as the aging period proceeds). It is a delicate ingredient to add to salads and to many other dishes. It can also be eaten on its own, especially after an early maturation, maybe accompanied by red wine (at the festival it was paired with Nino Negri, Inferno, Valtellina Superiore DOCG). In the kitchen it is an essential element for many tasty traditional recipes of the Lombardy area, such as Pizzoccheri, buckwheat pasta. (For the preparation of Pizzoccheri, Valtellina Casera is used when just over its minimum aging of 70 days while its flavor is delicate and milky and before it turns more intense).

    Piave is a table cheese, it is the most famous cheese typical of Belluno. Created from the experience of local master cheese makers, it is still produced following the ancient art of cheese making rules. Its flavor, pleasantly intense, is due to the high quality of the milk of the valleys of Belluno and the use of milk enzymes specific in its processing. It is offered in various stages of maturation: Fresco (Fresh), Mezzano (Semi-aged) and Vecchio Oro del Tempo (Aged). It is excellent as a main dish, in classic recipes or as a basic ingredient of fine Italian cuisine.

    “The line of products that is most affected by the plague of Italian sounding is that of cheeses,” Italian Trade Commissioner Aniello Musella said at the festival, “Domestic cheeses are sold in packaging featuring Italian colors and images, or they have Italian sounding names so consumers are tricked into believing they are authentic. Education is key. The concept of the Italian Cheese Road tour presented by Agriform in collaboration with I-Gourmet, was formulated with the aim of reaching consumers in a lifestyle event setting and educating them about PDO cheeses of Italy. The tasting was a real success.”  

  • Events: Reports

    Toasting Italian Excellency @ the Saratoga Wine & Food and Fall Ferrari Festival

    Much to the delight of international epicureans and oenophiles, the Italian Trade Commission returned for the fourth consecutive year as presenting partner of the 2012 Saratoga Wine & Food and Fall Ferrari Festival, “a global compilation of all things fine: fine food, fine wine, and fine cars.”

     

    The fastest growing Wine and Food Festival in the Northeast benefits the classical programming and arts education at Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), the cultural hub of upstate New York, the Hudson Valley, Vermont, the Berkshires, Connecticut, and nearby Canada.

     

    Both SPAC and the Italian Trade Commission were especially pleased to welcome and collaborate with the festival’s Official Wine Sponsor – Antica Cantina di Canelli. “The winery presented a selection of the very best Italian wines from the historical province of Asti, a renowned wine-making region in Piedmont. The superior wines of Antica Cantina di Canelli,” Marcia J. White, President and Executive Director of SPAC said, “were featured in menus and tastings throughout the weekend. The remarkable growth in the success and scope of this festival is truly because of partnerships. The Italian Trade Commission and their outstanding Made in Italy products have transformed this event into an exciting epicurean adventure.”

    It seemed only fitting that Antica Cantina di Canelli chose the legendary stage of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center to debut a selection of wine from its rich portfolio in collaboration with importer Wine World Wide Inc. to retail trade, press and festival guests.

     

    Enjoying a rich history of wine cultivation and production dating back to 1933, Antica Cantina di Canelli effortlessly coalesces the knowledge, passion, production and resources of over 200 wine growers. With vigilantly tended vineyard sites, nestled between the Langhe and Monferrato in Piedmont’s Asti province, the winery produces some of the region’s finest classic red and white wines.

     

    Aniello Musella, Italian Trade Commissioner, applauds Antica Cantina di Canelli’s “dedication to fostering ideal conditions for viticulture and wine production on the whole. The numerous accolades their wines have received are a testament to the unified commitment to excellence of the cooperative’s membership and above all to the quality of their wines. We were pleased by the overwhelmingly positive reaction these wines received from retailers, press and attendees during the course of the festival.”

     

    The replete program of educational seminars, guided tastings and social activities presented by Antica Cantina di Canelli better acquainted guests with the winery’s provenance in the storied region of Piedmont, its cornucopia of wine styles, quality production and the splendid affability of its wines to sundry fare.

     

    Together  Master Wine Connoisseur Kevin Zraly, Epicurean Lou di Palo and Wine & Spirits Editor,  Ian Wolff, of La Cucina Italiana Magazine chronicled the oeno-gastronomic  journey embarked upon over the course of the weekend, nourishing and in some instances coaxing out the oenophile and foodie hidden in all.

     

    Endless opportunities abounded for press, trade representatives and festival goers to meet with winery representative, Giulio Galansino, along with other participating trade members to enjoy Italian wine, spirits and unique delicacies. Seminars, lunch, brunch, the On Stage Gala and an After Party – Aperitivo were some moments celebrating the wines of Antica Cantina di Canelli alongside authentic Italian gourmet products.

    The centerpiece of the three-day Festival was the Grand Tasting on September 8th. The Italian Pavilion presented by Antica Cantina di Canelli featured a myriad of Italian wines and authentic Italian delicacies where attendees enjoyed learning about Canelli’s production which included: Duebollicine - Pinot Chardonnay Brut, Asti Spumante DOCG, Moscato Dolce VSQ Spumante, Brachetto d’Acqui - Spumante DOCG, Moscato d’Asti - Bricco Sant’Antonio DOCG, Piemonte Chardonnay DOC, Barbera d’Asti Albarelle DOCG and single vineyard Barbera d’Asti Superiore - Vigna Tre Termini DOCG.

     

    A special feature in the pavilion this year was the Italian Cheese Road Tour, making its first stop in Saratoga Springs, presented by Agriform in collaboration with igourmet.com and offering an extensive selection of delectable PDO cheeses including Grana Padano, Piave, Valtellina Casera and Asiago. The important participation of the Consorzio di Grana Padano complimented the Italian Cheese Tour as its presence served to underscore the importance of PDO cheese and promote the discovery of the flavors of Grana Padano, the most widely-sold and widely-consumed PDO cheese in the world!

    Visitors relished the opportunity to visit the Ferrari Concours on Saturday and conclude the weekend with a Sparkling Sunday Brunch and Antica Cantina di Canelli Exhibition Polo match which concluded with an iconic Sabrage Ceremony and auto award presentation.

    New York State Senator McDonald, Assemblyman Tedisco and Saratoga’s Mayor Johnson officially proclaimed “Italian Wine Week” in Saratoga Springs and New York State at the festival declaring it “A Celebration of the wine-making history, tradition, and  innovation of  Antica Cantina di Canelli.”

     

    The festival was honored with a visit by the Consul General of Italy, Natalia Quintavalle who was recognized at the Live on Stage Gala and presented with a Mayoral Proclamation recognizing the “the vital role” that the Consulate General of Italy and the Italian Trade Commission “play in the development and fostering of trade between Italy and the United States.”

     

    “This is a historical event,” the Consul General told i-Italy, “it is 12 years old and in just 4 years the Italian Trade Commission has succeed in giving it an Italian imprint. Here you can find food and wine products that are prestigious in our own country and witness the influence they have on the culinary culture and lifestyle of the United States.”

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