The Bi-Rite Market is a luscious cookbook – it looks so good and is so informative that it could be a coffee table book. In addition to providing recipes, the book discusses the history of the Bi-Rite Market, the renaissance in the neighborhood, the shop’s purveyors and explanation of meats, cheeses and produce. I particularly enjoyed the spotlight on the shop’s purveyors, which discussed the products made and the passion the purveyor’s exhibited for their product.
I must also extol the virtues of the recipes. They are simple to make – keeping the number of ingredients and cooking techniques to a minimum – while preserving the essence of the dish.
As you know, I love all wine but I have a soft spot in my heart for Italian wine. While I enjoy the acidity and bright fruit flavors that most Italian wines exhibit, I love the passion that Italians, and particularly Italian winemakers, have for wine. It’s infectious. The Italians vinify varietals that 99.9% of the population has never heard of, including a number that date back to ancient Rome and the Greeks. The Italians do tons of crazy stuff with their grapes – the same grape could be vinified still or sparkling or left to dry on straw mats for sweet wine. Plus, the difference in wine culture from North to South is stark and reflected in the wines themselves.
This Italian Vodka is a joint venture of the Arrigio Cipriani of the Cipriani family (known for Harry’s Bar in Venice and other high-end Italian restaurants) and Lapo Elkhann of the Fiat family. Clearly, these two are quite the tastemakers with the Cipriani restaurants being the go-to Italian restaurants in Venice and New York and Fiat making some of the most sought after cars in the world. From my research, it also appears that Mr. Elkhann is quite the snazzy dresser, making global best dressed lists year after year.
This is a fun and flirty wine offered at an amazing price. While we were sent a sample of this wine, it retails for roughly $20 for a three liter box (4 bottles), which translates into $5 a bottle. It’s tough getting a good wine for $5 and this wine delivers. Plus, we really like the fact that it comes in an eco-conscious box with a spout, which made it the perfect wine for a family gathering.
There is a long tradition in Italy of families and the church producing their own special liqueurs through both distillation and infusion. This tradition is alive and well in Italy today but not as widespread as it was 100 or 500 years ago. If you are treated to a limoncello in many restaurants in Italy at the end of your meal, it’s likely that the proprietor devised the secret recipe himself or it had been passed down through the generations.
Tonight marks the Feast of the Seven Fishes in some Italian families. Others will choose to celebrate tomorrow. But, it occurred to us that there will be a great deal of fish and seafood consumed in the next week as Christmas morphs into New Year’s. Our own family traditions have come to include heaping amounts of San Francisco’s local dungeness crab. For Christmas, we make the local San Francisco seafood stew – Ciopinno – a medley of seafood and fish in a spicy tomato broth. For New Year’s, we get a smorgasbord of local shellfish – crab, shrimp, oysters and clams (if you are on top of things, order from Swan’s Oyster Depot, which has been slinging seafood in San Francisco for 100 years). What goes better with seafood and fish than white wine.