Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wines of Lazio: Regillo Frascati Superiore

Tenuta di Pietra Porzia

   I've been on a Frascati kick lately.  The spring is here, finally, it is heating up, and I am working hard in my garden, so I like to enjoy a crisp Frascati at dinner most nights.  Tenuta di Pietra Porzia makes one of my favorite go-to table wines.  It is a bargain at €5 a bottle at the supermarket.  In fact, it is one of the only supermarket wines I will buy anymore.  It has an interesting name that evokes the pre-Roman history of the area.  In image on the label depicts the Dioscuri, the twins sons of Zeus.  The name refers not only to the ancient history, but to the terroir of the area. 
The Castelli Romani is most well known as an agriculturally rich area due to the now extinct volcanoes that gave the area its mineral rich soils.  The Regillo Frascati certainly does not disappoint those who want to taste the minerality in their wines.  
     Before the hills of Rome were finally assimilated by the Romans, a group of people known as the Latins held on for as long as possible to their lands and way of life.  But it was not to be.  Anyone familiar with ancient history knows that one can never escapes ones fate.  Rome had the hand of the gods on their side.  

According to their website: 

496 a.C, in a large amphitheatre with the lake Regillo in the middle, an hard battle took place between Romans and Latinos; in the crucial moment, descended from the sky the Dioscuri, the two twins born by Jupiter, and led the Romans to triumph!

The battle theater is today the Tenuta di Pietra Porzia, a small river that runs in the centre of the estate reminds of the ancient lake, the cave with her long passages, excavated in Roman Empire Age, testifies an agricultural tradition and on 1714 the estate was divided between the proprieties of Pope Clemente XI and the one belonging to Prince Borghese. 
The date 1892, engraved in the bricks, reminds the birth of the modern cellar, that replaces the ancient cellar excavated in the tuff in the Roman Empire time. 

Let's hope this wine lives up to its magnificent past!

     Regillo Frascati is made up of two aromatic white grapes, Malvasia di Candia and Malvasia del Lazio and also contains the grapes Trebbiano, Bombino and Greco. The color is a rich hay yellow.   It has lovely fruity and floral aromas at first which then lead us to more complexity with mineral and herbal notes.  The fruits are typical and rich.  I was at once reminded of apricots, citrus, and pears.   Spring orange flowers, nuts, and maple with notes of fresh cut grass.  
The wine is perfect for an late afternoon glass of wine, pre-dinner drink, or with a light vegetable rich dinner.  I love this with Pasta Fagioli and grilled veggies.  It is light and refreshingly crisp.  In a nutshell, a crisp, dry, medium bodied, aromatic and fragrant wine.  
Enjoy after a long day of gardening! 


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Introducing Uva!

Uva is our new oldie but goodie. After Tiki Dance and Bumba died, we knew that we could not deny love to another old dog who has suffered so much. She comes to us from a dog pound in southern Lazio, in Frosinone. She is about 10-11 years old and spent 8 of those years in a concrete cell, and was let out maybe 20 minutes a month. She seems both pointer and wolf. She has a very timid personality, and she is very affectionate. She smelled like rotten feces and piss. She probably had 8 years of it encrusted into her fur. I doubt she ever had a bath before. We gave her a DEEP cleaning. She has rotten teeth and a bad case of gum disease, but we will fix that too. She doesn't get that cats are her friends, though she is not violent with them. And she doesn't come upstairs or sleep in a soft dog bed. She likes the bath mat I put down for her on the floor near the sofa. I doubt she has ever had a comfort in her life. Her name was ULTIMA which means last, because she was always the invisible dog that nobody ever came for or looked at so she was the last one. Uva means grape. She is part of our wine loving family now. Along with Chardonnay  and Bellone, our two boys I found abandoned as puppies.

UPDATE:  Uva now sleeps in a soft dog bed.  It took her a good 4-5 days to understand it was all hers all the time.  I can't wait for the summer to go to the mountains for two weeks with her and the boys.  I love Uva!

Uva with her first dog bed.  She has taken possession of it and it is now her favorite place in the world.  Simple pleasures are what makes old dogs a real joy.  Thank you Uva for bringing JOY back into out home.  

Adopting an old dog can be heart breaking because you do not have as much time, but they deserve it. If you can open your heart adopt an old dog. You may be their last chance. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Goodbye My Dear Friends

Tiki Dance and Bumba
Bumba and Tiki Dance enjoying the sofa

I have not been cooking lately.  In fact, I haven’t been doing much of anything these days.  I do not want to be creative; I can barely get out of bed.  My purpose for getting out of bed is gone.  My family, devastated.  On the 18th of February, I lost two of my best friends in the world, Tiki Dance and Bumba.  I am having a hard time coping these days, which is why there haven’t been updates or new recipes on my blog.  I miss my friends, and I can’t seem to move forward without them. 
     Bumba was a very special dog for us.  When we decided to buy the house we are living in now, the first thing I wanted to do was adopt an old dog from a dog pound.  I found Bumba online through Ulmino, and she seemed perfect.  She was about 13-14 yrs old and had been in a concrete cell for 12 years at the kennel of Rieti, one of the worst and most hopeless dog pounds in the Rome area.  I honestly have no idea how she survived.  At one time this kennel was sequestered because it broke welfare laws and all common decency.  Dog were left exposed to die, to live with dog corpses,  feces, waste and to brave the elements.  Bumba survived this.  We drove up to Rieti on May 1st of 2010 and took her out of the hell.  And what a gift she was!  Bumba was one of the most spirited souls I have ever known.  She survived hell, and then, within two days of having a home,  it was as if that life never existed for her.  She lived in the now and forgave us.  She was a hurricane, vivacious, loving and patient.  We got only 9 months with her.  And every day of those nine months was a complete joy of life.  When we would take her on walks she galloped as if she were the wind, as if she had channeled Zephyr himself.  She smiled, integrated with our other boys and was friendly with the cats.  I remember when I first saw her photo online.  It was her in a cage, there was shit all over the place, and yet, she was smiling.  That is Bumba.   Bumba, hurricane and life lover.  She was force to be reckoned with.  Whenever we tried to tell her, “no,” her attitude was, “I don’t think so, lady.”  We didn’t want her in bed at first.  She would get in bed and we would try to kick her out.  She would hold fast and not budge until we finally settled for the two inch corner she left for us.  If she wanted something, she took it.  She was a fighter, but also lover.  She was the soul mate of Tiki Dance.
     At the beginning of February, I took all the dogs on a walk around the vineyards.  It was sunny, and Bumba was running like the wind as usual.  When we got home, Ettore and I noticed that she had difficulty breathing, the vet advised us to bring her in.  She never came back.  She developed edema of the heart and lungs and fought for 8 days.  We visited her every day, and she was warm and happy to see us, but her tenacity was no longer there.   Unfortunately she developed lung cancer due to exposure to asbestos in the dog pound.  Apparently very common in dog pounds in Italy.  During those 8 days we still lived our normal lives with our other 3 dogs, Tiki Dance, Chardonnay, and Benny Boo Boo.  Out home felt empty without her, but I think especially for Tiki. 
     Tiki Dance was a very special Yorkshire Terrier we adopted 2 years ago from a horrible situation.  He lived his entire life in a mechanic's garage, was found wandering the Appian Way, “rescued” by a girl who threw him outside on a balcony to brave the elements and to live in his own feces and to live alone.      When we went to take him, he came down the stairs, into the living room and did a tiki dance.  It was love at first site for Ettore.  We took him home, got him groomed, as he was full of dreads and conjunctivitis, and eventually he became the prince of the bed.  Talk about a couch potato!  Tiki Dance lived to be next to us.  He was the sweetest and most vicious dog I have ever known.  He had two personalities, Tiki, the mean growling one and Dance the sweet couch potato that occasionally allowed us to rub his belly.  He had a lot of psychological problems and trust issues.  He wasn’t like any dog I have ever known, he was my brother.  We never treated him like a child.  He was our companion, and sadly, he was just so old when we got him. 
When we brought Bumba home, Tiki Dance fell in love.  Anywhere Bumba went Tiki Dance was by her side.  And being the patient lady that she was, she tolerated him, and I think loved him as well.  It was a glory to see two previously abandoned, neglected and abused souls bond like that. 
     5 days after Bumba went to the hospital, Tiki Dance also started breathing badly.  So, of course, we rushed him to the vet.  At first they thought that he had been poisoned, but his heart valve was destroyed.  He had treatment for one day to ease the pain, and we brought him home on Thursday the 17th.  He had the worst case of panting I had heard.  I guess I was in denial, I thought he was just sick with a cold or something but he was suffocating.  He came home after the last check with the vet who discovered he had spots all over his lungs, lung cancer.  He came home, we all went to bed and I held him all night.  At 7am, Ettore woke up, and so held him on his chest and Tiki Dance took his last breath at home, not alone, not in a clinic, but with his truest friend, Ettore. 
     The loss of Tiki Dance was shocking, and honestly, I do not understand how the world did not stop with him.  I am having a hard time going outside and seeing that the world goes on, life goes on, but not for us.  Tiki Dance was part of my being.  He wasn’t a pet, but a dear and beloved friend, and I was lucky to get at least 2 years with him. 
     We buried Tiki by 10am, and I had a very strong desire and urge to get over to the vet at once to see Bumba.  She was calling to me, I knew, for some reason that I had to get there, right away.  So we went to the vet, I saw Bumba, I took her out for a small walk, and then we went back into the clinic to have her checked.  When I arrived, I could see she was waiting for me, she was so happy to see us, she wagged her tail, and gave me a soft kiss.  She was exhausted though.  When we took her in for the sonogram, she collapsed.  But before she did that, I called her name to calm her, held her head, she wagged her tail, looked into my eyes, and then the vets took her away to revive her, but she didn’t make it.  I know she was waiting for us to say goodbye.  She fought a good fight, but in the end, the canile lagher won.  However, she had NINE glorious months of happiness, love, family, and freedom.  She changed my life.  Both of them did.  And I can’t believe that within 4 hours I lost 2 members of my family. 
     We are grieving.   I want to hold Tiki again.  I need to know if he was happy, if he knew how much we loved him, that we lived for him, and that without him our family is incomplete.  Tiki Dance and Bumba are buried side by side.  Both of them taught me so much about how to live.  I don’t know any people who have had to endure what they both did, and yet, they survived, lived and lived well when they were finally able to.  I wish I could have a few more minutes with each of them.   I wish Bumba could come home and take over my entire bed.  I want to hear Tiki growl and sneeze because he is desperate for caresses.  I want to enjoy all the idiosyncrasies that made each of them unique, but they are gone, and I cannot cope.  I am not hysterical anymore, I am not in denial, and I know that they are not suffering, but only I am.  I am suffering because I deeply miss them and their friendship and the lessons learned. 
Tiki Dance
     Tiki Dance, rescue boy, thank you so much for being in my life and loving me and Ettore.  You are the brightest star I have ever known.  You were the sunshine in our lives.  You will always be the most unique once in a lifetime friendship and most cherished being I have ever known.  Each day without you seems like an eternity, I think about what I am doing and whether you would enjoy it.  I miss you, I just plain miss you, and I hope that whatever there is on the flip side it is a place of comfort and joy.  Please know that you were loved beyond measure.  Thank you for all of your nuisances, your personality, the lack of fear, your resolve, and your unabashed desire for love.  You took life by the horns, my friend.  I love you so much. 
     Bumba, my hurricane, my tornado.  You are missed and loved, and as much as I know your last 9 months were good, I need for you to know that I have never experienced the pure joy of living until I met you.  I always called you my Buddha, because you released yourself from suffering, you taught the power to forgive, to let go, and to be a warrior in life.  Thank you so much for sharing your life with us. 

Tiki Dance and Bumba loved in life and left this world together.  RIP my friends.  You are forever close in our hearts. 
I can't emphasize enough the importance of adopting old dogs like Bumba and Tiki Dance.  The time together may be limited, but it is the most rewarding.  Please open your heart and home to an old dog, they deserve their last few months or years with a family.