The Great Pizza and Wine Pairing Expedition, Part III: Southern Italy

Our Italian tropological trudging in the Great Pizza and Wine Pairing Expedition has come upon its final chapter. Brick Fire Tavern and its regional menu has faithfully led us from the slopes of the Italian Alps in northern Italy and its creamy rustic flavors of the forest (in Part I) down to the ancient city of Rome (in Part II), tasting a few of the most iconic combinations in Italy's illustrious culinary history. In this final installment, our expedition reaches the southern shores and azure blue waters of the Mediterranean. A utopia that begs for fellowship, relaxation and perhaps a modicum of frivolity. Sounds as though things might get a little spicy...

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The Great Pizza and Wine Pairing Expedition, Part II: Central Italy

Ciao a tutti! This week we are traveling south in the Great Pizza and Wine Pairing Expedition, in diligent pursuit of Italy’s best regional food and wine pairings. Our traveling compass is the esteemed Brick Fire Tavern and its regional menu that is optimized for a regional pairing paradigm. In Part I, we explored northern Italy and the tremendous cuisine inspired by the mountains and forests of the Italian Alps. As our journey heads south, we stop over in central Italy and Rome, its illustrious capital. Here history, culture and cuisine collide in a wonderful accord of fresh flavors and bustling excitement.

Wine and food pairings in the region date back over two thousand years, and some of the most acclaimed cuisine of Italy finds its rudimentary beginnings in the Eternal City. With so much culinary and vinous history, we are certain to discover some incredible pairings.

Excitement untamed; commence unbridled exploration!

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The Vino Pairing Optimization: A Honolulu BYOB Guide for Italy's Greatest Red Wine

Sure, Thomas Jefferson's foremost imprint on history will be as the author of the Declaration of Independence and as the third President of the United States. More interesting, I am sure you would agree, is Jefferson's oenological obsessions. Indeed, he was unequivocally America’s first (and best) Sommelier-in-Chief. Although this passion was primarily found in the vineyards of France, Jefferson was noted amongst the early admirers of Nebbiolo da Barolo during his vinous sojourn through northern Italy in 1785 (although the wine at this time was much different and notably sweeter). Throughout his years as Secretary of State and as President, Jefferson served up hundreds of bottles of Nebbiolo for his esteemed guests at Monticello.

Thomas Jefferson is in good company. I, too, am a huge fan of Nebbiolo.

Unfortunately, I lack access to a cellar that rivals Monticello. Fortunately, I have a few wine enthusiast friends with which to share a bottle and some vinous musings. As to the latter, I found opportunity to sit down with my good friends at Flavors of Italy (Honolulu's preeminent wine merchants) to discuss all things Nebbiolo. Discussion promptly proceeded to uncorking a few specimens (for the purpose of extensive research, of course), and pairing them with delicious local cuisine. Life doesn't get much better than this ...

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Musings by the Surf: the Great Grommet Incursion at the Kailua Shorebreak Classic

The ocean is majestic, mysterious and, at times, seemingly paradoxical. It is serene and still, yet also violent and aggressive. It is calm yet powerful. It invites adventure, but not without caution and respect. It is vast. It is humbling. It is exciting. It inspires reflection (for best results, pair with wine). If you spend significant time near or in the ocean, you cannot help but be changed by it. In most cases, for the better.

Surfing is an interaction - a dialogue - with this wonderful gift.  Surfing also places us in a vibrant community and culture. There is no better manifestation of this culture than the annual Kailua Shorebreak Classic, a keiki (kids) surf competition held in honor of four beloved surfers and watermen. The most recent installment, held this past weekend, was awash with camaraderie, adventure, and spirit.

This week’s musings explore the Shorebreak Classic, it’s wonderful community, and the ocean that brings it together. Oh, and while we do that, let’s talk about some wine, too. This is a wine blog, after all, and everyone stands to benefit from a good wine recommendation for beach days and beautiful sunsets.

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Old World vs New World: The Vinous Deductive Challenge, Revisited

Last week, I provided a rudimentary Guide to Blind Wine Tasting. Taste, hypothesize, repeat. This newfound knowledge was immediately put to the test in a blind wine tasting event for the Friends of Italy Society of Hawaii. Italians unrelentingly boast of their wines as unsurpassed anywhere in the world. They are confident, but are they correct? Time to determine whether they can blindly discern the difference in a crowded and diverse lineup. Challenge presented ...

The event commenced with a few elementary tasting tips, followed by a blind tasting of six wines - three Old World Italian and three New World. Those New World newbies couldn’t possibly keep pace with the refined, elegant wines of Italy. Could they? The patrons, as laudable arbitrators, held the final verdict. Would their vinous paesani blindly prevail?

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The Nightcap Corollary: A Guide to Pairing Wine and Dessert

DESSERT! Do I have your attention? Of course I do; a confection creation is euphoria for the sweet tooth. Resistance is futile; science proves it. (Okay, perhaps it is not quite that simple, but we all read those articles wishing it were). The relevant post-meal inquiry is not "are we having dessert," but rather, "what is the perfect beverage to complement my dessert?" After all, dessert deserves a thoughtful pairing.

This month’s Veritas Wine Club, located at the Tchin Tchin Bar in Honolulu’s Chinatown District, explores that critical question with a dessert and wine pairing theme. Sweetness will inevitably ensue.

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