Barbecue at Ekkamai 10 – soft opening

June 11, 2011

Some of you might wonder when I would put the first pictures of our new place up. Well, here they are. In fact they are pictures of our first trial barbecue on our terrace for some trusted friends. The trial run was quite successful and calls for a repeat. Here are some pictures of the event.

First came the prawns

But I also did beef

I also roasted a big piece of pork but it went so fast that I had no chance to take a picture of it.

The chefs

I always drink a ot of beer while behind the grill. Charlotte does not drink (yet).

The little carnivores need to be fed first

Then came the adults

A very modest portion

The vegetables I prepared in a wok which I put on top of my Weber.

The girls had baked a cake: Frankfurter Kranz

As usual, nobody wanted to go home

Beautiful message to us by Giuseppe and Lucjia

As always when I do barbecues I have no time to take care of the pictures. I fact I did not take any of the many side dishes, the salads, the vegetables and the carbohydrates. But we had a jolly good time, that’s confirmed.

I could also not keep track of the wines consumed during the event. Everybody brought some bottles. I restrict myself to one white and one red (I found the empty bottles after everybody had left).

The ‘2009 Taylor’s Sauvignon Blanc’ from the Adelaide Hills in South Australia is a beautiful refreshing wine at a hot summers day. Since we have always “hot summers days” in the tropics it can be enjoyed year round in Bangkok. Hurrah.

The ‘2009 Rosso Conero’ by Fazi Battaglia is an inexpensive mass-produced red from Marche, Italy. It is a blend of Montepulciano (85%) and Sangiovese (15%) for easy drinking.

The wine company is already more than 60 years old and has about 280 ha under vines in the Marche wine region of Italy. In the meantime Fazi Battaglia has bought up smaller vineyards and wineries in Toscana, one is Fassati with 80 ha and the other Greto delle Fate with 11 ha under vines.

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2006 Leonardo Chianti Riserva

April 7, 2011

The vegetable pastry

My twin daughters had prepared the antipasti (vegetable pastry, in Swabian: Maultaschen) and after that we had a chicken cacciatore.

Chicken cacciatore with potatoes

I had deliberately selected a red wine, a ‘2006 Leonardo Chianti Riserva’ by Cantine Leonardo da Vinci in Vinci, near Florence.

Normally, I try to avoid wine co-operatives and their produce but instead go, if I can, for single vineyard wines, small boutique wineries and family vineyards. More often than I want, I end up with what I call industrial wines, standard blends of grapes from many locations and different grape varieties.

The wine is a blend of Sangiovese 85%, Merlot 10% and some other red grapes 5% which are not specified. It has a beautiful colour, and a fruity aroma of red berries with notes of vanilla, a bit spicy. The wine is matured for about 10 months in French oak but the oak is not overpowering. The tannins are well balanced.

Leonardo Chianti Riserva

I admit that I bought the bottle because of its label. Who does not like Leonardo da Vinci and his famous drawing of the Vitruvian Man. I am a Renaissance man myself, a polymath, a jack of all trades and a master of none.

Beautiful dark red colour

Address:
Cantine Leonardo da Vinci
Via Provinciale di Mercatale, 291
50059 Vinci (FI) – ITALY
www.cantineleonardo.it


Restaurant review: Osteria Simon Boccanegra, Firenze, Italy

October 31, 2010

Ponte vecchio, Florence

For our first family visit to Florence my good friend Giuseppe Sepe had put together a selection of six “must do or must see if in Florence”.

These six locations were carefully marked on a little map Giuseppe had drawn for us. His suggestions did not disappoint. In fact we felt utterly privileged to have this little treasure map in our hands.

One of the suggestions was Osteria Simon Boccanegra. We went there for dinner. As instructed, we asked for Tommaso, a good friend of Giuseppe, who as Giuseppe said “would treat us like royalty” (which in fact he did – thank you Tommaso for this memorable evening).

There are actually (at least) three Boccanegras: the ristorante, the osteria and the pizzeria (there is an enoteca as well), all of which offer quite distinct and different menus to their customers. We were drawn by the allure of the food of rural Florence, manifesting itself in the Osteria Boccanegra menu.

Furthermore, Tommaso spoilt us from the outset with a couple of glasses of spumante (bubbly) first, and some selected delicacies later. Then we moved on to a selection of traditional Florentine “primi piatti”, dishes to get started with. They reflected the charm of a truly rustic Florence.

We had raw vegetables, some white bread with liver pate, and a selection of local cheeses with kumquat and other jams all of which were super delicious.

Raw vegetables

Liver on bread

Various cheeses with marmalades

After that we moves on to pasta. I ordered gnocchi al ragu, one of my favourites. Margit had papardelle with rabbit, and the girls chose spinach ravioli with ricotta cheese.

Spinich ravioli with ricotta

Papardelle with rabbit

Gnocchi al ragu

Then came the absolute highlight of the evening, the “bistecca Fiorentina”. Goodness me, we had almost no space left for more food but this beef was heavenly. Look at the picture of the steak below with its mouth watering faculties.

Bistecca Fiorentina

As regards the choice of wine, we were constrained or shall I say conditioned by a wine tasting with Giuseppe in Bangkok. He served us a bottle of Tignanello some time ago which we had not forgotten (how can you forget a Super Tuscan like this?). Of course Boccanegra listed Tignanello on their (extensive and very interesting) wine list.

So the choice was made quickly and a bottle of ‘2006 Tignanello’ by Villa Antinori was ordered.

The waitress opening the bottle

Wine decantered

2006 Tignanello by Antinori

Tignanello, bottle with the cork

I was amazed how skilful one could open such a bottle of wine. The cork would remain “encapsulated” so to say. The waitress decantered our Super Tuscan, and then we were ready. Great job. I have never seen such art elsewhere.

The wine is just beautiful, consisting of 85% Sangiovese, 10 % Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc grapes. Tignanello was the first Super Tuscan which was made that way. Traditionally all grapes are Sangiovese. No white grapes are used for the blend.

All the fruit is estate grown and comes from a vineyard also named Tignanello covering 47 ha. The vines grow on 350-400 meter altitude on limestone and red tuffaceous soil.

2006 was a great vintage, quality and quantity wise. After the normal fermentation, the wine is put in barriques where the malolactic fermentation takes place. After the blending the wine can age in oak barrels for about 12 months.

The wine is dark red with aromas of red fruit and berries. It has fine tannins and is elegant with a good structure and length. I just love the finish with is smooth and round like good chocolate. This was only my second bottle of Tignanello but the lust for more is lying in wait.

Tommaso with the Adam family

Occasionally we review our family holiday experience by rating the places we have visited. Boccanegra (the Osteria to be precise) came out on top of our Italy visit which did not come as a surprise. There was only one other restaurant which came close to it. But more about this another time.

If you visit Florence please feel free to use Giuseppe’s map. It is worth it to explore “his” Florence in 48 hours. And if you happen to bump into Tommaso, say hello to him. By the way, he loves Thailand, Bangkok and Thai cuisine.

Address:
Simon Boccanegra
Ristorante, Osteria, Pizzeria
Via Verdi 27/r and Via Ghibellina 124/r
50122 Firenze/Florence, Italy
Tel.: +39-55-2001090
Fax: +39-55-2263038
E-mail: boccanegra@boccanegra.com
www.boccanegra.com
Closed on Sundays!!!!


2007 Pongelli – Villa Bucci, Le Marche, Italy

August 30, 2010

2007 Pongelli, Villa Bucci

I have written about a wine from Villa Bucci some time ago (it’s Verdicchio). When I bought wines from Il Grappolo Divino and Alessandro Mauceri in Frascati, I also choose a red wine from Villa Bucci, the ‘2007 Pongelli’. This wine is a blend of 50/50 Montepulciano and Sangiovese grapes with 13.5% alcohol.

I served it slightly cooler than normal. Well, it was one of these hot days in Rome where you come out only in the evening. We had it without food, just like that, while sitting under the olive trees. It was a great experience to taste it.

The colour is a strong ruby red. Raspberry aromas were there with some hints of vanilla and leather. The tannins are soft and mellow. The wine has a good structure, is full bodied and has a strong finish. The Parker-point-fans give him 86-88 of 100. My verdict: if I only could get my hands on some bottles of this wine here in Bangkok.

If you are in Rome you are in a better position. Just go and visit the Castelli Romani; stop by in Frascati and see Alessandro Mauceri and his new wine shop: Il Grappolo Divino. There you can also buy the ‘Pongelli’ (among many other treasures).

Address:
Il Grappolo Divino
Via dell’Olmo, 37
00044 Frascati
Italy
Tel.: +39-6-89026061


Brunello di Montalcino and pasta

November 27, 2009

2004 Pietroso Brunello di Montalcino

Just a simple dinner with a pasta and a salad. I grabbed a bottle of red from the wine fridge and woh, where did I buy this wine? It was a ripper of a red, ‘2004 Brunello di Montalcino’ by Pietroso (about 100 km south of Florence in Tuscany).

Aged for 36 months in oak barrels, this 100% Sangiovese wine is just a wonderful drop. Intense forest fruit flavours, great structure, good mid-palate weight and a long finish, round and silky. It took us by surprise.

A delicious pasta

We had just a simple pasta for an ordinary dinner during the week. When I went back to the supermarket the next day to look for this wine, I could not find it any more. I know why: it’s marvelous. Look out for this Brunello di Montalcino. It’s worth it. Azienda Agricola Pietroso produced 2004 about 13,000 bottles of this Brunello. I think it was one of the best wines we had had recently.


Restaurant review: La Villa – Il Ristorante, Bangkok

June 27, 2009

LaVilla

We are so blessed. Living in Thonglor, Bangkok, we have quite a number of first class restaurants just in walking distance from our flat. The other day, we explored La Villa – The restaurant, a classic Italian place at the corner of some smaller lanes right in the heart of Thonglor.

The building is a 1930 architectural style modern replica villa with a large parking lot in front. After one has entered the restaurant, the hassle of the corner block traffic, is left behind and the cozy atmosphere of a true Italian family restaurant engulfs the eager dinner guests.

After an entree of bruscette, we went right for the main course. It was a Friday night and the four of us were hungry and tired. I went for my favorite pizza, a pizza margherita. the girls had some ravioli and Margit ordered a seafood pasta. To cut a long story short, the food is superb.

LaVilla2

The pizza margherita

LaVilla3

The ravioli

LaVilla4

Seafood pasta in aluminum foil

My knowledge of Italian wine is negligible. Having lived in Italy for almost three years but so little expertise, I am ashamed. Ordering the wine therefore, was a challenge. I choose a bottle of red, despite Margit’s seafood dish but with her consent (I admit of not caring much for the traditional tenet of having white wine with fish and seafood dishes).

LaVilla1

My choice was a ‘2006 Castello di Farnetella – Chianti di Colli Senesi’, a wine from the lower price range of the restaurants extensive wine list. As I learned later from my research, this was an excellent choice. Colli Senesi is a sub zone of Chianti which does not have the “classico” designation. As a consequence prices are ridiculously low for the quality. Whereas just across the road the classico wines sell for about US$ 30-40, they are only about about half at non designated side.

LaVilla5

The wine is medium bodied and has a good structure. It feels silky in the mouth and shows aromas of raspberry, prune, floral notes and licorice.

We had a great evening at La Villa. With its very competent and friendly service, this classic Italian restaurant is an excellent choice for a family meal in a homely environment. Check it out when next in Bangkok.

Address:
La Villa Wine Lounge and Restaurant
Bangkok
131 Thonglor, Soi 9
Sukhumvit 53
Bangkok 10110
Tel.: +66-2-7129991
www.lavillabangkok.com
Opening hours: 11:00-14:00 AM/PM and 18:00-23:00 PM


Salve da Firenze

March 8, 2009

tignanello00

Our friends Lucija and Giuseppe came by on Saturday afternoon to treat us to a special treat. They brought with them a bottle of ‘2005 Antinori Tignanello’ from the Toscana.

tignanello0

Lucija and Giuseppe

Friends from Firenze had given them this wonderful wine and they wanted to enjoy it with us, and enjoy we did this heavenly drop. We sat on our terrace, I grabbed a couple of wine glasses and opened the bottle. Immediately, the djin was out: what a “profumo”. You could smell the scent from a distance.

My nose registered forest berries, dark fruit, moss and forest floor, hmm. In the mouth it felt round and silky. I loved the intense flavours of fresh fruit. The wine is full-bodied with very fine balanced tannins, a treat indeed.

tignanello1

2005 Tignanello

Later on the internet I found that Robert Parker had awarded 92 points to this wine. This blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc is a wonderful wine from Antinori which I can highly recommend. The Wine Spectator says it should be drank after 2011. We could not wait that long.

tignanello2

Captured by a wine

One bottle for four does not last long. But we had memorable minutes of utter pleasure. Thank you folks for this wonderful treat.

PS: Later that day we were joined by about 10 more people and had a barbecue on our terrace. It was a jolly good day with lashings of food and drink.

At about 10 at night I found myself laying on the terrace tiles, feeling the heat emitting, my head on a pillow which I shared with my two daughters Lucy and Charlotte, the crown of our heads touching and our bodies radiating out like the spokes of a wheel. We were watching the night sky of Bangkok, the moon and the clouds travelling fast elsewhere. We talked about life and the universe and our thoughts attached themselves to the clouds. Our dreams carried us away, and in a heartbeat we were gone into other worlds.