1982 Chateau Mouton Rothschild Rated A Record 103 Points By Nancy Silverton, Lawsuit Filed, Soms Stunned Worldwide

Since Robert Parker began rating wines in the 1970s, no bottle has ever been awarded - by him or anyone else - more than 100 points. Until now.  This week, at a Park Avenue townhouse, revered Los Angeles chef Nancy Silverton bestowed a stunning 103 points to a bottle of 1982 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, shattering the previous record for a wine by three entire points. 

"So this is great wine," said a clearly perplexed Silverton as she alternated between sips and guzzles of the famed nectar which features a watercolor by late film maker John Huston as its label.  "I guess what I have been drinking was good wine. There's certainly nothing wrong with that, but what a thrill to drink greatness."

Only hours after the 103 point rating was made public Wednesday afternoon, Pierre Lurton, director of the famed Chateau Cheval Blanc estate in St. Emilion  Bordeaux, filed an international lawsuit on behalf of the late Thierry Mononcourt, the storied winemaker of that estate's mythical 1947 vintage.

Lurton would not talk to the press, but the lawsuit, in part, contains the following; "If the 100 point ceiling was to be shattered, surely the '47 Cheval should have been the one to do it. This is, forgive my tongue, but it's some b*llshit."

The "One-Oh-Three", as it has already become known,, was the talk of the wine world. 

In Los Angeles, soms gathered to discuss the One-Oh-Three. Some believe it marked the end of civilized wine ratings and blamed it on America's current over-the-top pop culture which demands the outrageous. "The wine world needs words not numbers, but flashy numbers get press and sell," said Lyanka Tropea, Imperial Master Sommelier at Perino's on Wilshire Boulevard.   "I suspect, sadly, the 104 rating is not far off. Followed by a 105."

In Karachi, Pakistan, Uzma Bhutto, sommelier at the Bombay Palace in, curiously, Calcutta ( Kolkata), said she was flabbergasted by the unheard of rating. "103?  That's insane. I'd really like to know Silverton's [blood alcohol] level when she gave the score."

William Dithers, professor of wine logistics and logic at Grape Street University, said the uproar over the rating was "absurd and imbecilic."

"Look, Robert Parker and his associates at the Wine Advocate have awarded way more than 400 wines a 100-point rating, " said Dithers, author of the book "2 Trillion Galaxies and Counting; The Sky Has No Limits".  "Do you mean to tell me they are all equal? Some of those so-called "perfect wines" have to be better than others. Therefore, Silverton's 103 makes, well, perfect sense."

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In 2008, Slate magazine published an article by Mike Steinberger titled "The Greatest Wine on the Planet" about the 1947 Cheval. Check it here;   http://www.slate.com/articles/life/drink/2008/02/the_greatest_wine_on_the_planet.html

103 point CMR, with Ravenau and haut brion lurking

103 point CMR, with Ravenau and haut brion lurking

Washington D.C. Stunner; Nancy Silverton Awards "5 Nods" To A Chicken Salad By Former White House Sous Chef Frank Ruta

Since its creation during the early Ming Dynasty in 1369 at Emperor Hongwu's temple in Nanjing, no chicken salad - Chinese, Caesar or not - has ever been awarded what is considered to be the "Supreme Royale Accolade". Until now.

Just moments ago , in the Georgetown sector of Washington, D.C., a chicken salad was awarded an unheard of ( for a salad) "5 Nods" from Nancy Silverton, the creator of the now-worldwide used Nodding System. (* For more on the system see below..

Silverton, in a classic act of serendipity, stumbled on The Grill Room, located in the Capella Hotel, an hour ago after being revolted by the two M Street lunch places suggested by this reporter. She turned off of M Street and down 31st Street near a canal and found The Grill Room.

Immediately, she knew she was in the right place when she spotted Larry Stone , one of America's most renowned sommeliers, hosting a wine lunch  Passing on invite to join that lengthy lunch, Silverton opted for a seat at an outside  table along the canal and perused the menu by chef Frank Ruta, a former White House executive sous chef who cooked for Carter, Reagan and the first Bush, (who,  looking back, seems like a titan compared to the second one.)

She ordered the chicken salad and a glass of Tempranillo. "Whenever I go to restaurant I don't know, especially at a hotel, I play it safe and go directly to a chicken Caesar," said Silverton.  "How bad can it be? Though, I'll say, I've had some awful, dried-out, over-dressed versions.  But, still, it is my hotel restaurant 'go to' order."   

This is how it is described on the menu.  Grilled Chicken Breast “Caesar”  -Romaine wedge, crispy fried lemons and capers, reggiano cheese crostini. $20.

Silverton was taken aback by the chicken salad. "It was outstanding.  The chicken was plump and juicy and probably had been in a flavorful brine. The romaine was perfectly dressed  The fried capers and lemons excellent."

Silverton was so impressed she issued the following press release 

"Since eating that salad, I have changed my mind and I'll be voting for Frank Ruta for president and hoping he selects Hillary to be his VP," said Silverton "I'm sure he's a better cook than her."

Here's is the Washington Post review of the Grill by Tom Sietsema  https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/the-grill-room-review-a-new-reason-to-go-thanks-to-frank-ruta-and-co/2015/04/21/d9f420a2-db07-11e4-ba28-f2a685dc7f89_story.html

  * The Nancy Nod was created in the mid 2010s to counter the overuse - and hence watering-down - of superlatives. By "Nodding" instead of talking, Silverton  - and now billions of others - express their satisfaction. A single nod is a polite gesture that acknowledges food is consumed and the eater is grateful for being nourished and kept from hunger. .  Above one nod, indicates a level of satisfaction up until a redline of Five Nods. .(WARNING  Above five nods could indicate an actual "nodding" is occurring and precautions should be taken to avoid said person from falling over )  

A gelato was the first-ever food to be awarded Five Nods. See this story. 

http://www.krikorianwrites.com/blog/2014/1/12/nw6s2jk2qectcua6hpzok65h65cc2n

The sesame loaf at Tartine Bakery in San Francisco once received Five Nods. See here.

http://www.krikorianwrites.com/blog/2014/4/8/nancy-silverton-awards-coveted-5-nods-to-tartine-sesame-loaf

In addition, the 2015 McLaren P1, the 2015 LaFerrari, and the  Krikorian Writes website have all been awarded Five Nods

Editors NOTE - For the record, Somm Stone gave Silverton a second - and free - glass of red wine from Quintessa, one of the properties he manages on the Silverado Trail in Napa Valley. The wine had no affect on the 5 Nod rating.  

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City of Los Angeles Proclaims May 30th "Nancy Silverton Day"

The City of Los Angeles officially proclaimed today, May 30th to be "Nancy Silverton Day", capping off a storybook month that began when she won the James Beard Foundation Award four weeks ago for Outstanding Chef in the United States.

The declaration, at the end of a very long City Council meeting,  was  presented to Silverton by Councilman Paul Koretz, who  - along with Councilmembers Ton LaBonge and Herb J. Wesson, Jr. -  lavished so many superlatives on the revered Mozza owner an outsider would have thought she had solved the traffic problem in town.

Silverton, as always, cool and sharp, in sunglasses and Marni, took the award and thanked her co-workers at Mozzas in Los Angeles, Newport Beach, Singapore, Stalingrad, and San Diego, as well as Chi Spacca.

"There are hundreds of people who help me everyday, working hard to hopefully make your day a better day," said Silverton, who was accompanied by her father, Larry, and her driver, Juan Manuel Fangio, who sped to the nearest trademark office to register that quote.

"i'm really honored to get this "Day" because it recognizes what an important industry I belong to," said Nancy, who, only two weeks ago, in a worldwide poll, came in 2nd place to Muhammad Ali as the most beloved person living on Earth. "The restaurant industry provides jobs to thousands and thousands of people. The joy of people have in eating our food, well, it's important to the spirit and life of our city."

Yeah, everybody, it's officially Nancy Silverton Day!  For me, that's just about everyday.

365

365

  


Outrage Grows Over Leaked Silverton Tapes, Ban Considered

As the furor mounted over comments Nancy Silverton allegedly made about Mexicans and an lone Armenian, the James Beard Foundation demanded the chef immediately return the prestigious award she won Monday night in New York City.

On a secretly recorded audio tape leaked to the Food Network, Silverton, who was just honored in Lincoln Center as the Best Chef in America, is heard saying “Mexicans are the hardest working people in then entire restaurant world industry". 

That comment and one about not wanting her photo taken with an Armenian man, spawned outrage from across the restaurant world, prompted debate of banning the chef from her own restaurant,  and even triggered protests outside her beloved Mozza.

"What she is basically saying, if it indeed does turn out to be Silverton on those tapes, is that other nationalities, including my own,  don't work hard and therefore shouldn't be hired," said an outraged Rene Redzepi, chef of Noma, a highly regarded restaurant in Copenhagen. "Is she saying all Danes are lazy? Does MIss Best Chef even know how many times my international staff and I have been bitten by varmints while searching for the tastiest moss?"

In America, the reaction was even harsher.   

"Nancy is a dear friend, but I have to say she stepped in the quick sand this time, " said Jonathan Waxman, who Silverton praised during her Beard acceptance speech. "Look, it's almost universally known when you compliment one nationality, you are really putting down another. It's quite similar to when you see two women and you tell one of them how nice she looks. The other woman will invariably say "What? i don't look good?" With Nancy's Mexican case, you multiply that by a few billion. I really think it over for her. Sad. I love that woman."

A Los Angeles chef who lost out in the best chef in America contest would not comment on Silverton's predicament. However, like Silverton, Suzanne Goin, unaware a nearby microphone was on, was overheard saying "Great. With Nancy out of the competition, maybe I can finally win this damn award."     

Some of those who work closest with the chef appeared to be turning against her. 

"Maybe if I changed my fuckin' name to Kate Gonzalez she would have thanked me in her James Beard award acceptance speech," said Kate Green, Silverton's black/white assistant. "I love Nancy, but I think she's gone brazy. She makes it seem that those sombreros are the only people who can work hard."

Tuesday night, just before evening service, in a silent protest, the three head chefs of Pizzeria, Osteria and Chi Spacca: LIz "Go Go" Hong; Chad "Willy Wonka" Colby; and Derek "The Wreck" McCabe, none of whom are Mexican, went to the middle of the Melrose and HIghland intersection and turned their Mozza chefs coats inside out so it looked as they though they worked at "azzoM".

At the pizzeria, host Lance Ohnstad, a Silverton admirer, joined in the protest in his own way. Since the leaked tape Tuesday afternoon, Ohnstad's reply to the oft-asked question "Is this the pizzeria or osteria?" is now  "It's the taqueria."

It remains a mystery as to who leaked the tape to the Food Network.  The voice Silverton is talking to on the tape is that of Michael Krikorian who has fervently denied leaking them. His credibility was bolstered today when a restaurant insider said, "If he sold the tapes to Food Network he would have some money. But, he's as broke as ever."  Krikorian is the man Silverton referred to when she is heard say "I don't want any more selfy-plus-ones with you, Armenian."

Wednesday at the Pizzeria. long-time customer Lonnie Bishop, aka "The Prince of Pumps", joined those outraged by Silveton's comments. "She is gong to have to give up the restaurant."

About the only one coming to Silverton's side was another controversial chef, Dominque Crenn from San Francisco. "Nancy is the best and Nancy is right. Like she said in her beautiful acceptance speech, she knows how to select the best team. i'm not sure about her choice of men. but her choice of a restaurant team is peerless." 

Late Thursday afternoon , a reporter stumbled upon Silverton as she was leaving the Marni store on Melrose Place. He asked her if she would return the James Beard Award. 

"If they really want it back, they can have it. Problem is I'm not sure where I put it."

Then the reporter asked Nancy Silverton what she would do if the outrage reached a point where she would have to leave her restaurant.

In a style all her own, she answered, "Mario and Joe would never let that happen. But, hey, if that ever does happen, well, I'll deal with it. Don't worry about me. I've lost it all before. In a way, it makes life interesting. A real challenge. I'll think of something new."

She slide into her black Porsche 918, revved the mighty 887-horsepower motor, and said "And you can bet this If I ever do open a new place, I'll hire a lot of Mexicans. And maybe even an Armenian."

Silverton roared off. Toward Mozza, no doubt. 

The best chef in America

The best chef in America

An hour after winning the James Beard award for best chef in America, Nancy shows off her phone. "look. I have 54 new messages."

An hour after winning the James Beard award for best chef in America, Nancy shows off her phone. "look. I have 54 new messages."

OSTERIA FRANCESCANA - THE ORDER

YOU CAN'T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU ORDER

 (Note: the copy editor strike at KrikorianWrites continues in its 29th day)

Eigtheen minutes before five Californians were to arrive at the highest rated restaurant in Italy for their 12:30 lunch,  they ordered a plate of mortadella and pancetta, and rocks glasses of red wines from a stall in a covered market less than 400 meters away from their revered destination, Osteria Franscescana.  

The co-owner of this food stall, Sara, proclaimed the mortadella and pancetta "a good order" and started slicing. On this much anticipated gastronomic day, this food would be the fivesome's only order that was delivered.

By 1 p.m., Nancy Silverton, Liz "Go Go" Hong, Matt Molina, Bobby Silverstein and Michael Krikorian had ordered at Osteria Francecana, the three Michelin-starred Modena jewel of Massimo Bottura that is the highest rated restaurant in the prestigious L'Expresso Guide to Italy with a 19.75 rating, tied for highest in the Gambero Rosso guide at 95 (with Vassani, in Umbria)  and currently listed as the 3rd best restaurant in the world according to the curious San Pellegrino list. 

The five ordered three courses each, 15 different dishes for this special gathering. Rumors swirled throughout Emilia Romagna that the Three Tenors"Pass the Plate" record could be shattered today.  However, and somewhat stunningly, these five salavating diners woud get none of their order. 

Ten minutes after their request went into the kitchen. Chef Massimo Bottura appeared at the table holding the paper order and squinting at it like it was either a badly scribbled ransom note or, at the very least, a recipe for culinary disaster.

 "This order of yours,"  he said, then didn't finish the sentence. . A grimace ensued. He had something painful to say and was having difficulty saying it. The Californiansstared in silence for about three, maybe even four seconds. That can be a long time.    

 "I'm thinking it would be better if |I just made you a menu of some of the things I want you to have,"

Krikorian jumped ship first, abandoning his fellow diners faster than a former Kadifi aide at a Misrata spring BBQ.  "I agree, That would be fine. That's what I wanted." 

But, backup didn't come quickly. Go Go sat speechless. Nancy seemed perplexed, Matty looked insulted and Bobby put on a poker face. 

Massimo continued, "I'd like to prepare some dishes that represent what I do here andwhat my family traditions are. It would be a tribute to the land, to the farmers. It would be an honoring of the soil, of the animal. A meal of this land, of our people."

"I'm thinking "Is this guy a chef or is he running for the 52nd State Assembly seat in the San Joaquin Valley," Krikorian said later.   

Massimo continued with her fervent appeal to agree to his order. Soon Bobby Silverstein was converted, later admitting that was what he wanted all along..

But Molina, continued with his efforts to keep some of the original order, "Well, you seen what we've ordered. You have an idea of what we like, Can you make a meal around some of those dishes?"

Massimo, about as low key and charming as a famous chef can be, was starting to leak exasperation. "Look, you can order whatever you like," he said and started to walk away.

Bobby Silverstein  later said it was his very polite way of saying "Order whatever the fuck you want."

Matt Molina later said , "His kitchen probably couldn't handle our order."

A Japanese Francescana sous chef in the kitchen, listening in on a dining room surveilance camera that feeds to the kitchen, said to the staff, "Americans ordering like this is Chinese restaurant. 'I'll have one from column. A,., two column b..."   

Nancy swayed Massimo back and he went on more about what he wanted to cook. She asked how many courses. Seven, he said and made a major point in saying the dessert would be the best ham in Italy, Massimo Spigaroli's 42-month aged culatello.  

Go Go was profoundly moved by that. "He had me with his "ham for dessert" line", she later said.  By then, everyone was in agreeement. We would have the menu Massimo Bottura wanted to cook for us. 

A report on the meal will appear here later.

But, a brief report of the reviews follows now.

After the meal Matt Molina, not a gusher of praise, had this to say "Chef's food tasted like what you would want allMIchelin three stars and San Pelligrino top rated places to taste like. It had soul."

Bobby Silverstein, notorious for finding fault in higly rated places and even more so for complaining about the often-long drive to get to them,  simply said "This place was worth the journey."

Go Go Hong was in a state of rapture. "Culatello for dessert."

Shortly after the lunch, Nancy Silverton was walking near one of her favorite churches. the not grand, nearly rustic Duomo of Modena.  (Yes, Nancy has some favorites churches) when Krikorian asked her how she would rate this lunch with her all time restaurant meals. She started to list her alltime dining out experiences.   

 "Fredy Girardet. Umm, the first time I went to El Buli. The first time I went to Chez Panisse. Pierre Gagnaire. A vegetable lunch at Arpege. The first time I went to French Laundry."

Nancy continued, switching to why there was no Italian restaurants on the elite list. "Usually for Italian restaurants, I like the more traditional, the rustic. But, Osteria Francescana? It was great. It makes my all time list."

The lunch was traditional. The tradition of the life of Massimo Bottura and his family.

 

"Go Go" Goes to Rome

SALDI!

In the spring of 2013 a quiz about Rome was offered  to every single human on Earth. Unbeknownst to quiz takers, the person that scored the lowest would be awarded a day trip to Rome. Due to war, famine, conjestion on the 405 and altitude sickness only 4.27 billion people took the quiz. Coming in last place with a score of .00003% on the 999 question quiz was Elixzabeth "Go Go" Hong,  a cook from California.  The following is an account of her six hours in the Eternal City on July 23, 2013 with her hosts MIchael Krikorian and Nancy Silverton who were on the .18th day of their summer trip to Italy

TASS News Agency, Mosocw, July 24. 2013 

EDITOR'S NOTE, - The copy editor's strike at KrikorianWrites continues with no end in site, Or is that sight.  

ITALY MMXIII

 

 "Go Go says she will be easy to spot," Nancy Silverton told me as I parked in a restricted area in front of Terminal 3 at Leonardo Da Vinci Aeroporti outside of Rome shorlty after 9 a. m. Tuesday morning. "She says she is the only Asian in the entire airport."  

As I exited our red Fiat rental car, a man holding up what i guessed was a special parking pass yelled at me in Romanese for taking his spot. I yelled back in Comptonese. 

I ran across a construction zone to the waiting area. There were dozens  of Asians, but Liz was easy to spot. She had on the shortest black dress of anyone in the airport.

The drive from the airport to Rome centro was slow, but after about 35 minutes, we were there, first encountering thousands of  people in line outside of an austere building with tall walls.

"What are all those people waiting in line for?" Hong asked.

"That's the Vatican," Nancy said. "There're going to see the Sistine Chapel."

"That's stupid. Only one day in Rome and they waste it in line." 

I considered telling her that these people were not, like her, in Rome  for only a few hours. That some of them had planned their entire vacation about going to the Vatican. About the treasure in the Vatican Museum  About Raphael's "School of Athens", But, why bother?

As we drive away, Go Go has a question about who lives there. "The pope", Nancy tell her.   

 "Is it still Paul John. I mean John Paul. The second, right? Or is it the first? No, it's the second, right?"

Yeah, Liz. Sure you're right. 

I drive on and on, in search of a parking spot while Nancy points out landmarks. "There's the Forum, Liz. And Trajan's Market."  

No reaction. None. A minute later, Liz is actually impressed by  Rome's most famous ruin. the Coliseum. "I've been to the Coliseum!," she announces to the world. From then on. whenever we see a souvenir Coliseum, Hong blurts out "I've been there!"

We park somewhere near the old Soviet Union and walk and walk and walk.. Finally the Campo di Fiori, to the bakery that inspired the pizza dough at Mozza, "Forno Campo de' Fiori.  Then to the bakery's sandwich shop next door. Three sandwiches (Zucchini blossoms and mozzarella, prosciutto cotto and mozzarella and mortadella and arugala, for 10 and half Euro. ) Then we go to lunch at Roscioli just down a lane from the Campo De' Fiori..

An hour of gluttony ensue, endng with Liz grabbing the lefeovers of our mixed salumi plate, opening up the one leftover sandwich, the mortadlla one. and stuffing it with the salumi platter leftovers. Roscioli. was good, but not superb like i have remembered it to be. We had a pasta carbonara, one of their specialities, that was so rich it became dull. And burrata.  What an inspired order, I tell Nancy and Liz. LIke you  dont deal with burrata every day of the year.   Nancy and Liz even order a main course. known in these parts as "secondi". of meatballs and tagliata, sliced steak. These two dishes. prove to be foolish choices, Secon-dudes.

That plate of salumi and cheese is nothing to write home about. unless you like to write home about mediocrity. Chad Colby's stuff would blow this out. The highlight is a sheep's milk cheese with a name I couldn't understand. I tell Nancy and LIz  I'm gonna ask the server to say it again so I can increase my cheese knowledge. But my interest in cheese dimshes with each bite of food. I'm getting full and the last thing i need to find out is some cheese's name.  

We go out into the hot Roman sun and into the Piazza Navona with its striking 17th century Fountain of the Four Rivers by Bernini. Again, LIz seems unimpressed. She snaps a photo without  much wonder or any questions about the piazza, one of the most impressive in Italy, other than to ask "Do tourists come here." I say nothing, but think to myself. "Is she serious?".  

I asked her if  she wanted to see one of my all time favorite paintings. Caravaggio's "Calling  of Saint Matthew" at the nearby San Luigi dei Francesi church, I would have got a more enthusastic response if i had asked her if she wanted to see an abandoned  biscotti factory.

She started seeing the sign "SALDI" in many shop windows.Nancy explained that meant "Sale". Everytime Liz would see the sign. which was often every three seonds. she would call out  "Saldi!". Vendors, many from  Senegal and Liberia, began to look at her with curiosity, A purse seller from Dakar pulls me aside and asks "How long has she been like that? It must be hard on you. Here, take a purse."

We walked to the Spanish Steps.. Led astray by Nancy, she was more interested in the shops on Via Condotti, the Rodeo Drive of Rome.  We walked to the Trevi Fountain, where, back to the fountain.  she threw three coins over her head.Two of them - American quarters - hit an elderly Malaysian woman on the forehead.  The woman screamed "Tahi" which i later learned means "shit" in her native Malay tongue.

Ice cream  time. To il Gelato San Crispino, near the fountain. Good if you near there, otherwise overrated.

By then it was about three thirty and we started the long walk back to our car. Go Go's day in Rome was done, but the memory eternal.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ITALY MMXIII JULY 22

LITTLE WHITE DRESS (ING)

After lunch at Trattoria Cibreo, Nancy Silverton and Michael Krikorian walked 10 meters  to a piazza and into Enoteca  Sant’ Ambrogio. There, Silverton, sipping Amarone,  suddenly launched into a reverie about her next creation. A ricotta dressing. On and on she described how delicious it would be. How it would take the dressing world by thunderstorm.  Krikorian later said he knew how Mr. Reese felt when his wife  first told him her idea for a peanut butter cup.

Two days later, when he asked her about the dressing Silverton replied “What dressing?”

“The ricotta one. The one you was goin’ on and on about like it was the second coming of 1,000 Island.”

“Oh, yeah. We need to go to the Tavernelle market and gets some bufala ricotta tomorrow.”

The next day, Silverton was making the ricotta dressing when Krikorian asked “Should I test it out? See if it’s any good.”

She looked at him like Miles Davis did when Marilyn Monroe asked him if she could sit in with her ukelele.  “Leave me alone. Go downstairs and Google “Big Evil.” or something.”

An hour later, the front porch table laden with a lunch fit for an emperor, Krikorian asked “Where’s the ricotta dressing?”.

“It didn’t work out. “

“That’s it. No dressing. Just like that?”

“That’s how it happens. Just like that.”

Reuters news Agency Jul 22. 2013

EDITOR’S NOTE – The copy editor strike at Krikorianwrites, lead by legendary copy editor Saji Mathai, remains in effect.  Originally striking in solidarity with the California prison inmates on hunger strike, the Mathai-led organization has added free Butterscotch Budinos on Wednesdays to their list of demands. Expect some typos.

NOTE II The first 10 days of the trips saw a few disappointing meals.  Like I wrote last week, I am not a food writer. And like I say this week, I get that when one is truly hungry any food is good. I am fortunate beyond paragraphs that I am able to eat well.

So, with that,  here is an update on the dining adventures of Nancy Silverton and myself with and guest appearances by some friends and family.

ITALY MMXIII

Seventeen days into Italy MMXIII, our dining and eating adventures have shifted into a higher gear, thanks largely to Days 13 and 14 in Florence which began at the Cibreo Trattoria and ended aboard a southbound train headed to Umbria eating culatello di Zibello and drinking red wine.  Dinner on July 18, (Day 13) at the home of Massimo Tarli and his wife Faith Willinger in Florence’s San Spirito neighborhood, was easily the best of the trip.  

The upswing of our dining batting average, which i told Osteria Mozza backwaiter David Rosoff was hovering around a paltry .235, began at the lunch at Trattoria Cibreo', little cousin to the Ristorante, one of the acclaimed joints in Florence, which is known 'round these parts as Firenze. 

We arrived at Florence's Santa Maria Novella train station at 1 p.m., and took a cab through the city center, past a very large church smack dab in the middle of downtown,  to Cibreo where we were immediately sat. 

I had a procini soup that brought to mind that tired food phase "depth of flavor", which this soup had in spades and clubs.  The above spelling of porcini appears wrong at first, but if you tasted this soup, you'd agree these were some PROcinis. You feel me?  Nancy had a fish soup that was good, too.

From main i had a roasted pork with spinich and some sterling mashed potatos topped with browned parmesan. I ate Nancy's portion  Nancy had, damn what'd she have? Hold up. Three times I had to yell upstairs, "What main did you have at Cibreo?" She had rabbit. Was fine.

We took a two, three kilometer walk to our hotel called the  Annalena near San Spirito that Faith had suggested. $120 for a nice room and a sweet balcony overlooking a garden.

It was dinner for six, us, the hosts and Dario Cecchini. the world's most famous butcher and KIm, the world's most famous butcher's wife.  

Now this meal  was outstanding. Here is where my lack of food writer skills becomes even more evident. Plus, I didn't take no notes. There were green beans, and beats with something, The beets were good. But, I remember Faith saying these green beans, (plain and called by her "haricots verte") , she said "these beans are to die for." Me i took one bite and i'm thinking "no way I'm gonna die for these beans."

But, the main course, an oxtail stew cooked, simmered and braised for, I think, 17 hours, was extaordinary. I wouldn't die for this dish either, but I'd surely take some indigestion and even a sore throat and maybe a mild fever for half a day for it. Faith added some chocalate and almonds to the dish that had such a extremely rich beefy flavor, almost like a Stegosaurus tail stew, but without the anxiety.

 "I knew the moment that I started cooking this oxtail. that it was special.  I never cooked a piece of meat like this," Faith said. "Just the aromas. My god." The extra large bull, raised by the winmaker Fontodi,  was five years old. (Two years is normal age to slaughter an  animal around here). The steer  was a castrated bull which accounted for his size as apparently he ate extra because he was so ornery at not being able to - or maybe even not wanting to - make out with all the fine young cows that graze the Panzano en Chianti lands.

I ate three portions. More importantly, I got to sit next to Kim. Thank you Faith and Massimo for a memorable evening. 

The next day we went to the San Lorenzo covered market about a five minute walk from the striking Basillica of Santa Maria di Fiori, maybe the most stunning urban structure I have ever seen. Your walking along a street lined with shoe stores and wine shops and turn the corner and sha la la la, sha boom!, there's the Duomo. 

At the market,  I had a pork sanwich with the roll dipped in pan juice, like a Philippe "double dip." Then we went to Perini. one of our all time favoirte delis, with meats from all over italy. We got the Culatlello di Zibelo here.  We were here a year ago. and the counter man, Andrea, remembered me. Even before i ordered, he said "You got the culatello last year. I remember, for the train ride home."  Going back there, for sure.

That was a Thursday. Friday, we stayed around the house, which is really the best day of all. We hung out in the piazza with some friends we know from here and Nancy, her dad Larry and our friend Bobby Silverstein, a professori di vini, a Philly guy  who has traveled the world in search of fine food and drinks.  This year is a small L.A. crowd. No Linda or Olivia, or Enid and Richard or even Margy and Robert or even Carly Kim.  Nancy' sister Gail and her husband, Joel Hoops, had already gone.

Saturday we set out, at my suggestion. to an Umbrian hilltop village of Saragano, west of Montefalco and Foligno, if that means anything to you. The restaurant there, which i had read praise about and recevied a 14.5 rating for the guide book. L'Expresso, was Locando del Prete, a charming inn and ristorante with a sublime view.  

A quick word about numeric Italian restaurant ratings. This guide book rates restaurants from 12 to 19.75 points, that highest rating going to Osteria Francescana in Modean where we are going July 30. The thinking behind the ratings, is like the French school systyem and maybe the Italian too for al| I know, 20 is unobtainable perfection. Nancy and I have found that we prefer the restaurants rated 13.5, 14, and 14.5 to the more fancy, 16, 17s and up.. We will see next Tueday about the 19.75. Those 14ish places are more representative of the pure and good rustic cuisine of Italy that we like.  So this place, Locande Del Prete got a 14.5 and I talked Nancy Larry, Bobby into the hour and 15 minute drive there.

The problem here is the charming manager, Lucia, informs us, as we take the first bites that the chef, one Riccardo Benevenuti who had earned that 14.5,  has moved on to consult around Umbria and work on his opening own place.. The food is all right now, but not worth the drive. Maybe the lesson is to call and ask if the chef you read about is still there. 

Bobby give me a ration on the drive home, saying he'll stick with his 12.5s.  

Sunday it was another drive, this time two hours there and two and half back. and this time it is worth it: Locanda Del Glicine in Campagnatico, on the road toward Grosseto. We had been here last year and it was a highlight. It was again Sunday. 

Bobby, leery of my suggestions, didn't go, but Larry did, praise God..

I had a soup. a cream of their garden zucchini with a ricotta sorberto in the middle. |t might sound bizarre, but it worked for me big time.

 

I also had a excellent ravioli with spinach and a sage and butter sauce. Mo' butter!  Fernand PoInt was right 

Nancy loved her main course, a guinea fowl. The leg and thigh were boned and stuffed with roasted eggplant and wrapped in proscuitto. The breast with the wing attached was confit'd. "It was such a sensible way of treating the white and dark meat separately without using over the top modern techniques. It was delicious." said Nancy. "Respectful, sensible and thoughtful. You got that?"

Nancy had  a mixed salad of vegetables from their garden, a tangle of carrots, zucchini, cherry tomatoes and tender young lettuces. "The chef  was channelling Alice Waters," says Nancy, now demanding to be quoted. "You just don't see that kind of attention to salads around here usually."

Larry, aka in these parts as "Lorenzo", had a grilled sliced veal dish that was tasty, but not outstanding. Green beans wrapped in pancetta  accompained this.

I had a brick flattened chicken that was very good. The menu frequently changes, and had only five main courses. The other two were a one kilo Bisteca and cod.

Desserts were pretty. A plate o five sorbets, aka sobetti, aka sherberts, and i had three creme caramels. i need to figure out how to get some photos up on this report. I have the photos, but not the technical support to get them on here. Spookie, where you at?

The drive home from there was another highlight. With Lorenzo as my navigator we took the winding and long way home, skirting Montalcino and driving on, at times, gravel roads. On once such road there was a warning sign that i took a photo of prompting Larry to say, "The authorites will go though your phone and figure out that was the last mistake we made. Drive down this road."

One that road, Nancy said "I think I was on this road with Taylor," referring to Taylor Parsons who accompainied Nancy here in February to accept an award to Osteria Mozza for the best list featuring wines from around here.  

At 6:30, seven hours after we left for lunch, we were home.  Typico, 

Today we had that feast on the porch. And stayed home. One of the best days. Hitting our stride. For baseball fans, our batting average up to .314.

Michael Krikorian

 

Locanda Del Glicene's creme of garden zucchini soup with ricotta sorbet.   

Locanda Del Glicene's creme of garden zucchini soup with ricotta sorbet.   

Locanda Del Glicene's sorbetti    

Locanda Del Glicene's sorbetti  

 

ITALY 2013 July 17

“I’ll know when Nancy gets Alzheimer’s, She’ll tell Michael to snack while she’s preparing a feast,” Gail Silverton.

This quote from Gail was in response to Michael Krikorian’s disgruntled demeanor after Nancy Silverton scolded him, told him how annoying he was and threatened to ban him from Umbria for life  after he repeatedly raided  several of the plates she was preparing for a dinner for six Monday evening July 15 in Panicale, Umbria, Italy .

- From Reuters News

 2013 ITALY

It’s day 10 of our annual summer trip to Italy and so far, despite the predictable jabs, hooks and uppercuts, it’s going typically delightful.

Restaurant wise, we haven’t  got into the master groove.  There’s been several mediocre meals and one dinner in the town of Tavernelle so bad it will be the standard of which all bad meals will be judged.  I’ve had better meals at Men’s Central.

I mean I think grey is a useful color. It is excellent for warships. Most of the history’s greatest battleships were grey. Though if my memory is accurate,  I believe the USS West Hollywood was peach and lime green which worked well for it and the crew during the Battle of Sweetzer Creek.

Gregory Peck had a movie about a grey flannel suit. Grey is a leader among primer colors. But for a steak? No way, Giuseppe. For lamb?  Sorry. I don’t know how they got the beef. lamb and  the chicken the same shade of grey. Nancy’s father, Larry, saw one such colored dish come by and asked the servers. “What is that? Chicken?”  “Bisteca fiorentina”, came the answer. Dario Cecchini would have strangled the grill cook. . .

But, who wants to read about the lousy food? On to the highlights.

WARNING. - Let it be understood two things before you read on, if you do. Though the first byline I ever had at the Los Angeles Times (1992) was a small restaurant review of the Spoon House,  Japanese spaghetti restaurant in Gardena,  I am not a food writer. This will soon become quite clear.  Secondly, the website Krikorianwrites.com  is in the second day of a copy editor strike, so there might be a few copy edits missed and heading your way. The copy editors at Krikorianwrites.com have decide to strike in solidarity with the California state prisoners who are on a hunger strike.

That said... -

THE TOP TASTES  OF THE FIRST 10 DAYS

Not in any order of preference. All we would have again with pleasure.

CHOCOLATE CANDY BAR at Marconi Ristorante in the town of Sasso Marconi, about 20 minutes south of Bologna. The 15 euro raisin and brandy soaked cherry 70% bar by Claudio Corallo came in a cardboard box and was devoured by Nancy and I (mainly Nancy)  in one minute and 52 seconds, six full seconds quicker than Chris and Dahlia’s Vegas wedding.

Corallo is said, according to the Marconi menu at least, to be the only chocolate guy who grows and produces chocolate in the same site. That site being the small African island nation of St. Tome and Principe located in the Gulf of Guinea. This candy bar had a rich complex flavor and a borderline tender texture.

Claudio Corallo chocolate is available at Alegio in Berkeley. Though this particular bar is a long shot. UPDATE, I emailed Marconi to see if I could swing by and just by some bars, but they said they were ut until October.

http://www.alegio.com/corallo-chocolate/

I need to mention the seafood risotto i had here. While excellent, it was one of the only  dishes I have ever had that could one could say, as the cliche goes, looked like a painting. Som,etime abut it, the colors, reminded me of a paintin that hangs in Nancy's den here, a plate of fruit by our friend Jeff, husband of Collinette.  Check it out below. Way below. Scroll down extra. Couldn't figure it out to bring it up.  Looking at it, it don't look all that much like the Jeff painting.  Not a food critic, certainly not an art critic. 

Restaurant web site

http://www.ristorantemarconi.it/ristoranteMARCONI_home.php

NANCY'S JULY PORCH SALAD, at home for lunch today, Iceberg, anchovies, tuna, eggs, onions tomatoes. Extraordinary view of Nancy and the Panicale hillside

ROASTED PORK w/ ONION CAKE at Trattoria da Amerigo 1934 in Savigno,This was a standout of several good dishes. we had here. At Day 10, this meal, enjoyed at Day 4, is becoming more highly thought of than originally.  There is even the possibility we will return. The ultimate honor. Well, not ultimate, but high.  One factor in returning here is that this place is a 15 minute windy drive from Marconi so we could go by and get a Corrlo chocolate bar

 http://www.amerigo1934.it/content/show/section/trattoria

Via Guglielmo Marconi, 14-16, 40060 Savigno Province of Bologna  051 670 8326

SPIDER PORK PIZZA at Pellicano in Macchie. 7 minutes from Nancy’s Panicale home. Of all the restaurants in Italy, this place is my favorite. Not for the food, for the wonderful memories I have here. This is a place where we would cram Oliver, Max, Ida, a few adults and head to at one in the morning. I have been here maybe 70 times. The pizza, the only pizza I am legally allowed to eat under the terms of my contract with Pizzeria Mozza, is very good. The Tenant Super beer from England of somewhere like that comes in a size called Giraffe. ‘Nuff said.

Via Pineta 12 | Macchie, 06060 near Castiglione del Lago.

FOCCCIA  topped with coppa, split and smeared with crescenza or stracchino cow’s milk cheese, at Osteria Perilla in Tuscan hilltop village of Rocca d Orcia.

NOTE The kitchen-made KETCHUP  at Osteria Perilla came close to being listed here separately , but at the last minute, the council decided to merely add it on to the Focaccia spiel.   It came with lime zested potato chips and  was unquestionably the best ketchup I’ve ever had. I ate some of it like a soup.

With the ketchup and the focaccia, then a good pasta, (a tortelli with ricotta and peas) Osteria Perilla, which we went to on the high recommendation of Faith Willinger, was off to a very good start. Twice, Nancy raised her glass of local red and toasted to Faith for bringing us her. Bu then, a rain fell and we moved inside, the meal skidded off course and into a chicken coop. While Nancy pork was fine, my main course of a local farm raised capon the server gushed over, was bad.  It was like two pieces of package pressed Leo’s Deli Meats chicken smashed together with passion fruit sauce. Even though Nancy didn’t order it, she was more upset with the dish than me and proclaimed the meal a once promising but ultimately disappointment..

THE NANCY TAVOLA. This is the well-documented spread that lead Nancy Silverton to lay into me for AS, attempted snacking.  She prepared red pepprs, onions, flattened roasted chicken, pistachios from Adana, Turkey, barlotti beans, a pesto to rival, but ultimately lose to  Genoa’s finest, an assortment of cheeses we bought at farmer’s markets, notebale an old percorino and bufala bucconcini.  The best spread.  

SPECIAL K CEREAL.  After a 2.5 k walk and a 2.5 k run, this bowl of cereal Special K,. from the heralded the 2010 vintage, with rich milk was a delight.

DEB CAKE    Osteria Mozza cook Deb Michail, who is visiting her sister in Milan, brought this round almond cookie cake to Nancy as a show of affection. I received nothing from Deb. Well, I got a couple a hugs. But, can one really eat a hug? Still, though this buttery gift from a bakery in Milan was for Nancy, I  proceeded to eat much of it while standing up in the kitchen. 

DARIO COW’S ACL - This very tender and tasty beef dish was served Sunday July 14 at Dario Cecchini's Solociccia, the modern glass-stepped eatery of the world’s most famous butcher. .  His supreme wife Kim, said this as the platter of this was being passed,  “What is that part of the knee that the atheletes always injure?" Deb said “ACL”.  Yes, Kim said, explaining the dish was composed of the meat and tendons and ligaments around the cow’s knees. “It’s Dario\s favorite part of the cow,” Kim said

 As a placard states, Dario Cecchini is not a restaurant. It is the home of a butcher. It is also the place that Nancy and I know we will find happiness. And a greeting like none other. For many years, Dario has greeted me with a bear hug than he picks me up. Tradition has it that, in turn, I pick him up. To prepare for this on this trip, I picked up Nancy – half Dario’s weight,- in a parking lot a couple times. That was fun.  

This list will grow.   

Seafood Risotto at Marconi

Seafood Risotto at Marconi

Spider Pork Pizza at Pelicanos,  a favorite of the Berettos street gang. 

Spider Pork Pizza at Pelicanos,  a favorite of the Berettos street gang. 

LA TIMES OP-ED - Know Your Capitals

A lost wallet, a New York cabbie — and the benefits of knowing your world geography.

October 02, 2011|By Michael Krikorian

When I get into a taxi, I almost always ask the cabbie, "Where you from?" In Los Angeles that can be a dangerous gang challenge, but because in my experience cabbies are never from Los Angeles, it hasn't been a problem. What I hear back is Liberia, Armenia, Bangladesh, Belarus and so on. And then I say, depending on whatever home country they named, "Are you from Monrovia?" or Yerevan or Dhaka or Minsk? Invariably, the cab drivers are delighted, even proud, that a stranger, an American, knows their capital.

I bring this up because knowing your capitals is a good thing. It brings people together, and it can help you out in ways unexpected, which is what happened to me on a recent trip to New York.

My girlfriend, Nancy, and I were in New York, partly because a friend was up for a cooking award there. She didn't win, but that didn't stop us from celebrating — 20 people at the Breslin in the Ace Hotel on 29th Street. It was a bacchanal: two whole pigs, cocktails, red wine and, umm, let's see, more red wine. The last thing I remember clearly was cautiously going down the stairs. There was a vague cab ride to our hotel 12 blocks downtown.

In the morning, Nancy went to get something out of her purse and realized her wallet was missing. It contained all her cash and credits cards and, most important, her California driver's license, which she needed to get on her flight home the next morning.

We began a painstaking hunt for the missing wallet that would have made the vaunted Yosemite search-and-rescue team proud. I must've set an American record for looking under a bed.

So we started making calls: The hotel lost and found, the restaurant, friends who were with us, 311, the taxi commission. We didn't have a receipt from the cab ride, so the taxi commission guy wasn't much help. We tried the NYPD. These calls took hours, and were without reward.

Finally, I patrolled the streets, playing an absurd long shot that the wallet, perhaps dropped outside the restaurant or our hotel, would still be there hours later.

We gave up. Nancy called the credit card companies and canceled. We began the process of trying to get an ID so she could get home. We were told a passport, scanned, emailed and color printed, might get you on a plane. A friend went to our house in L.A. and found her passport, but when the scan arrived, the passport expiration date was cut off. Again, again, again: Same thing.

Facing defeat, Nancy and I went for a walk. Heading east on 14th Street, Nancy got a call. She stopped. I turned around to look at her. She beamed. "Muhammad found the wallet!"

It had been dropped in this guy Muhammad's taxicab. He went through it, found Nancy's auto insurance card and called the company, which called her. I called him.

Muhammad was a little difficult for me to understand with his accent and my lousy cell, but I made out that he was working and would meet me in an hour or so at Union Square.

When I got there, out of a pack of cabs, one pulled to a stop and double-parked close by.

"Mister Michael. It's Muhammad from last night. You remember me. From Bangladesh. You knew where I was from. My capital."

"Yeah, of course," I said "Dhaka."

Muhammad smiled big. He handed me the wallet and told me to look at it to make sure everything was there. I handed him five 20s. He said no. I insisted.

Back in L. A., I told a friend this story. He told me, "It restores my faith in humanity."

But faith in humanity does not need to be restored. Humanity is all over the place, shining everyday.

But, just as a backup, know your capitals.

Michael Krikorian, a former Los Angeles Times staff writer, reports for the Watts Labor Community Action Committee.