Grandma Lorraine will teach you a lot about wine.

Mugsy-1I am Italian by ethnicity on my father’s side of the family.  Grandma Lorraine is his mother, my Calabrese nonna.  She’ll remind you she’s Calabrese too- anytime it’s convenient.  Mostly when she’s being stubborn about something and she’s using her cultural heritage to remind you she won’t change her mind about something. “I’m Calabrese,” she says as she raps her fist on the table.  “You know what they say about the Calabrese.  Hard-headed.” Continue reading

Take me where I can see the Mountains. #valdossola #prünent

View of valleyA view of Val d’Ossola in Piemonte.

Wines are emotional for me- some more than others.   Cantine Garrone makes some of the most potent wines I know- effectively pulling at my heartstrings anytime I taste them. This obscure winery is the result of winemaker and visionary Mario Garrone’s unflagging love for his land.

vineyard management

Mario Garrone and Diego Meraviglia in the vineyard.

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It Takes a Village.

Party @TerroniDTLAEvening of Terroni DTLA’s “Soft Opening”

I have been so lucky to be working with the people at Terroni as they prepare for their first day of service in the new Downtown LA location.  These people know how to open restaurants, and if I have learned anything in the past few months, it’s that consistency is everything, as are good people.  There is a palpable excitement as the seconds tick by towards the grand opening.  The food has been amazing out of this shiny new kitchen, and the staff is excited and happy to be working in such a glamorous, fun new place. The wine program? Don’t even get me started.  Amazing.

I thought I’d share a few pictures of the beautiful chaos that defines this special moment in a restaurant’s life. Continue reading

Tu Vuò Fà L’Americano @FeedBodySoul

Americano @FEEDThe “Americano” at FEED in Venice Beach.

I had this refreshing cocktail the other evening in Venice Beach, expertly made by FEED’s adorably-dread-locked Mikey Santiago.  I love this version, which replaces the traditional Campari with Oregon-made Calisaya Liquore.  They stir this aromatic and perfectly bitter concoction together with soda water and a bit of house-made sweet red vermouth.  The perfect thirst-quencher for these sweltering summer days.

Ingredients Americano @FEEDFEED’s Americano ingredients.

A lot of FEED’s cocktails are similarly playful and fun, using natural, organic ingredients from local, small suppliers as much as possible.  Calisaya is a great Campari substiution here, as it’s actually an Italian recipe, re-interpreted by an American company.  This in itself makes it a perfect ingredient in a drink called an “Americano”, which makes me think of Renato Carasone’s epic tuneTu vuò fà l’Americanowhich is indeed a song about the longing of a young Napoletano boy to seem “American”. Continue reading

Mother Shucker. And How to do the Philly Flip.


Iconic’s lineup on the bar at Shuck.

I found my new Happy Place the other day: full of California sunshine, bright white, clean, stocked with super-chilled, zippy white wines and a mountain of raw bivalves.

Shuck, Orange County’s new oyster bar, is the kind of place that reminds me how much joy and satisfaction can be obtained from the simplest and most obvious food and wine pairings. Continue reading

Doing the Brooklyn Bocce with @EugeneMSantiago

FEEDUnquestionably, my favorite part about my job is meeting all kinds of people, usually people who are irrationally and irrevocably passionate about food, wine and spirits.  There is a natural communion between people who like to feed each other- people who revel in the various and beautiful expressions of flavor sensations.  The day I walked into Feed in Venice Beach I knew there would be no shortage of such sensitive souls- this place is a sanctuary for foodies.  I felt like coming home. Continue reading

Happiness is a Warm Vespa (and a Cold Cocktail).

Vespa @SirenaWhen I pulled up to the lot behind Sirena Restaurant in Los Angeles, I knew I was going to like the place.  Wine Director Jeff Morgenthal’s Vespa is parked out back… a happy Italian omen of good things to come.

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