I keep on saying it, there is no better way to get to know a town than wander around in its smallest streets and leave the busy lanes. It may not be shorter and certainly not easier, but it makes life so much more interesting. This certainly goes for Rome. And so, when we walked from the Castel Sant'Angelo to the Piazza Navona, we did this through the Via dei Coronari, where just a few scooters and an occasional lost car disturbed our walk.
It's in this street that I have eaten the best ice cream of 2013, an ice cream that will make every true winelover jealous: a scoop of zibibbo ice cream and one of chocolate and nero d'avola...
Brilliant ! Especially the Chocolate and Nero d'avola one, that offered a taste I have not yet encountered in an ice cream, fascinating.
The Gelateria del Teatro is the best secret ice-cream adress of Rome. There are other more famous gelaterias where the tourists line up at every moment of the day, but this one is small, busy but ok and absolutely divine. Stefano Marcotulli was a well known pastry chef before he opened this adress in 2006 and he works with highly unusual flavours and combinations.
Print this message, put it in your guide to Rome or fix it with a fridge magnet on your freeze and who knows next spring or summer we will meet in the Via dei Coronari...
I think it is allways refreshing to travel in a classic wineregion and to travel as other travellers do, so not accompagnied by other winelovers, winemakers or, in general, one's own prejudices. This way I learned to appreciate the fresh vinho verde's of the Minho, straight from the farm, or the harsh cheap Cahors wines, so good with the local farmer's fare.
I passed through the Alsace twice this week and both times i stayed overnight at a Bib Gourmand (if you sleep well, you might as well eat well too) restaurant-inn, and in both places i ordered a pinot noir wine (well, it is winter, is it not ?).
To my surprise both bottles were served cold, straight from the fridge. I could understand this in the summer, and i occasionally order cold Beaujolais or Bourgueil wines myself when it's hot, but pinot noir ? Even the oaked one on the picture, by Jean Sipp, and a very nice one, came cold and in a cooler to keep it so. I asked one of the owners why, and he said it was just tradition (looking odd at me, the stranger...).
But, I have to admit, it does has something, and it suits the wines quite well. Very often i was by the way the only one drinking red, most locals had whites, even with a hearty meat-dish.
By the way, I had a fantastic paté en croute as a starter and a wonderful dish of alsacian tripes, and the restaurant of the Auberge de l'Illwald is romantic and cosy. Nice rooms too. http://www.illwald.fr/fr/auberge.php
The pinot noir came from Jean Sipp, www.jean-sipp.com, was from 2009 and raised in barriques. Very well done, and alltough the oak was quite dominant, it was a very very nice wine, a bit untypical maybe, but great.
This picture was taken on the terrace of the Fundaçao Serralves in Porto, a very special place for me because I spent one of my most charming lunches ever there. After having walked in the beautiful park of the museum and having visited a temporary exposition about American artist Rauschenberg (is this art ? heavy discussions while walking...) we noticed that temperatures were mounting and when one of us spotted a table and some chairs on the terrace of the museum restaurant decisions were swiftly taken and before the staff could protest we were sitting and eating outside in the sun.
I still remember the wine, the Encruzado Quinta dos Roques 2003, my very first encounter with this grape. The circumstances were perfect, the food was simple and good, the wine lovely, the company perfect, and people passing by in the parc noticed our laughter and started joining us. An hour later the terrace was full. At the end of our meal, allready having finished five bottles and preparing to leave, the waiter came with a sixth one. It was the last they had, he said, and the owner offered it too us for free, he couldn't do anything with a single bottle. We guess he was happy with us giving the good example.
The shirt I wore that day came from the Palazzo Grassi in Venice, another museum for modern art (a must if you visit the town !). It shows a work by Piotr Uklanski that I liked very much.
And why this blog ? Well, I never met this wine after, until I stumbled on it last week in a Belgian supermarket (Delhaize). I'm drinking a glass of it now (it is after all an interesting and good wine, with that uncanny possibility of evolution that Portuguese whites often have), and as Lisa Sapienza once told me when I visited Benanti: We should drink wine to remember, not too forget.