Saturday, October 30, 2021

Sophia Loren "It Started in Naples" Capri





Clark Gable & Sophia Loren

by Bellino

I first saw It Started in Naples when I was a young child. I really didn't know what it was about, but I liked it. I liked it I guess, as one of the three main characters was a young boy like myself, though he was an Italian boy, and I American. Anyway I liked it. And the fact that the gorgeous Sophia Loren was the female lead didn't hurt at all. She was gorgeous in this film, along with her awesome co-star, the imcomparable
Clark Gable. What a cast?

Though the name implies that the story is set in the southern Italian City of Naples (Napoli), it actually takes place on the beautiful ISle of Capri, in the Bay of Naples. The film was shot on location and is quite lovely. The film is a light romantic comedy that is quite entertaining.

When American lawyer Michael Hamilton (Clark Gable) hears that his estranged younger brother and sister-in-law have died in a car accident, he flies to Naples, Italy, to settle their estate. Upon arriving, the xenophobic Hamilton meets his impish nephew, Nando (Marietto), for the first time, and decides he will bring the boy back with him to the United States. But when Nando's gorgeous aunt, Lucia Curcio (Sophia Loren), protests, a lengthy and heated custody battle ensues.

Two of the most memorable scenes in the movie are, 1) when Clark Gable host his nephew Nando to lunch to teach him the art of eating one of America's most iconic and enduring foods, the Hamburger. The scene is very cute, as the child actor playing Nando (the nephew) is quite comical.

The second scene that is very memorable is when Mr. Hamilton (Gable) goes to the night club that Lucia works at, and she is singing the iconic Neapolitan song Tu vuo fa l'Americano ( Do you want to be American). This scene is iconic and everyone should see it at least once in their life. Take note, that 30 years later, Jude Law and Matt Damon would sing this song in the popular hit movie The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Anyway, It Started in Naples in a wonderful little film. If you ever get the cahnce to see it, you must. Watch the charms of three great actors: Clark Gable, Sophia Loren, and yes Carlo Angeletti, playing little Nando, and doing a terrific job, hold his own with both the great Clark Gable and Sophia Loren herslf. 

So watch and enjoy.











Trailer : It Started in Naples

Starring :  Clark Gable and Sophia Loren

With Vittorio DeSica and Carlo Angeletti as Nando


Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Talking Tony Bourdain


Anthony Bourdain

Paris, France

I was working at Cafe des Artistes, a famous old New york restuarant on West 67th Street when I first heard of Anthony Bourdain. This was 1996, and most Americans would not become familar with Bourdain for 6 to 10 years, depending on the person. I discovered Tony in 96, and as usual, I was way ahead of the curve. My first contact with Bourdain's work was when one of the cooks Michael who i was friends with, told me about this book that he thought I would like. The book of course turned out to be Bone in Throat, a novel, and Anthony Bourdain's first book ever published (Random House 1995). As is the norm in the restaurant business, Michael and I often talked about food and the Biz. The Biz is what is known as the restaurant business, when restaruatn people happen to talk about it, they will say, "The Biz." I guess people in the film, music, and many other busines use the same terminology? Anyway, when it came to food, and the Biz, Mike and I were like minded, and this was my introduction way before the masses of the late great Anthony Bourdain, a person who is part of my, and millions of fans lives, as so many loved the guy and what he did. Did so very well, sucking up all he could, when it came to food, travel, hanging and conversing, and yes the Biz.

So Michael gives me his copy of Anthony Bourdain's Bone in The Throat. "Enjoy it," he says. 

"Thanks Mike. I will." and that was that. I have been an avid readers since I was a young boy. I escpecially liked biographies of people I admired, and as a young boy, loving, football, baseball, and pretty much all sports, the first book I ever read was about one of the greatest baseball players of all-time, Yankke 1st baseman, Lou Gehrig. Now, here I was almost 3o years later, I'd read Bourdain's 1st novel, and a couple years later, a autobiographical book of sorts, by Anthony Borudain, his life, and trials and tribulations in the Biz. The restaruant bisiness that is.

So I read Bone in The Throat, a book about a young chef Tommy Pafana (semi Tony), working in the restaurant business in downtown New York. Bone in The Throat centers around a small failing restaurant in New York's Little Italy, owned by Tommy's uncle. There are all sorts of hijinx, with Tommy witnessing a Mob murder, and trying to stay out of trouble, including anything that has to do with the Mafia. He also needs to stay clear of the FBI, who naturally have these mob guys under survelience. Tommy struggles with a Heroin addiction, and the ups and downs of everyday life, and the hard work of a sous chef working a restaurant kitchen.

The book is without quetion semi- biographic, as is the norm of many first-time novels, the writer (Bourdain) often write about their World, things they know, and things they've experienced, and have happened to them. Thus Bone in the Throat, a book written by a guy who has gone to Culinary School, as Borudain did, so did the character Tommy. Tommy has been working his way up in kitchens of New York restuarants, just like Mr. Bourdain. It's a good light hearted, entertaining book that I thoroughly enjoyed. I read it quickly, enjoyed it, and gave it back to my buddy Michael. "Thanks man. I loved it," I told Micahel as I handed the book back to him. And this was my first introduction to the great Anthony Bourdain.

A few years after I read Bone in The Throat, Tony came out with another book. This one was non-fiction, and titled Kitchen Confidential - Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, by Anthony Bourdain. The book was published in 2000, and I became aware of it a few months later, when browsing my favorite bookstore, Strand Books, in Greenwich Village. The next day I began to read it, at my usual spot, Caffe Dante, where I had my Cappuccino at, almost everyday for 30 years. That's were I went to meet friends or went by myself, simply to read, relax, and enjoy my coffee. I don't know the exact date, but whatever it was, it was sometime probably in the Autumn of 2000, that I read one of hsitory's great memoires of food, a person (Tony Bourdain) and the inner workings of the New York restaruant business, or as Tony, myself, and others call it, "The Biz." I loved it. Yes, I did. Thsi book was amazing, and I loved everything Tony said, Many things were secrets to your average reader, someone not in the Biz. So the book was a real eye opener, and people loved it. 

Anthony has always said, he originally wrote the book as an homage to all cooks and kitchen people in general, and he never expected the book to have thehuge monster success that it did, and making him famous, and instant celebrity in the process. He merely wrote it for industry people (restaurant people).

Yes, I couldn't stop laughing. Laughing because, nothing is funnier than the truth. And all of these things were true, and yes, funny. Or maybe not. I knew they were true, because I myself, at the time I read Kitchen Confidential, I myself had already been working in the restaurant business for 28 years, starting as a busboy at The Cambridge Inn, in Paramus, New Jersey, at the ripe young age of 13. I worked for four years at that restaurant, and learned quite a lot about the Biz, and about life. And I was great at it. I was one of the best damn busboys there ever was, and the waitresses used to fight over me, as they now just how damn good I was, I was fast, and I would do a whole lot of their work, and they could just breeze through their shift, and not have to do one iota of extra work, as they knew, I'd clear all the tables, all the customers would always have water, bread, a clean table, and I also helped them run out the food from the kitchen. I did everything I was supposed to do and more, and again, I was damned good, and I knew it. And besides working in the restaruant business and learning about it, the ins-and-outs and whatnot, I learned to always do a great job, the best possible, take pride in what you do and your work ethic, don't be lazy, like many in the business are, work hard, do what you're told (within reason of course), always show up for work, be on time, and don't take any days off, unless you are seriouly sick. 

I learned, and I learned fast. As I said, I was a great busboy. And as they say, this is Not Bragging, it is fact, I was a great bsuboy, a great empoyee, a great work, fast and thorough, and those are two things you need in sapdes in the restaurant business, you need to be thorough and fast. I was both. And I was likeable, another requirement of a good worker. 

One thing I never even thought about back then, as it didn't matter to me at the time, is the fact that in the restaurant business, and all buisnesses I guess, their are the good workers, the people who work hard and get things done, and there are the lazy ones, the people who are lazy, they don't have a good work ethic, they don't work hard, and try to get away with doing as little as they can, and not doing their fare share. When working in a kitchen of a restaurant, you usually don't have as much as a problem with these sad facts, as kitchen people tend to be a bit more professional and reliable at their jogbs than the front of the house people are. This is not saying that front of the house people aren't good workers, it's just that there are always a percentage of lazy people in the front of the house in just about every restaruant there is. There are always the the hard workers, what I call the nucleus  fo workers who do a great job and get a lot done, and then there are the lazy ones. Oh, if you are wondering what is a front of house worker, the front of the house consist of witers and waitresses (servers), bsuboys, bartenders, hostesses, and Maitre'd if the restaurant has one, and front of the house managers. And the there are the kitchen workers, also known as back of the house, consisting of dishwashers (the hardest workers), cooks, which can be line-cooks or prep cooks, the cold station (aka salad man), the Head Chef, the Sous Chef who is second in command to the Chef, and generally the hardest worker among cooks. In most restaurants, it is the Sous Chef who is really running the kitchen, and the Head Chef set the kitchen up and creates a menu, and oversees the entire kitchen, but it is usually the Sous Chef who is doing most of the hard physical work of running the kitchen, though these arrangements and amounto fwork done by the Head Chef, varies in restaurant to restaurant. Some head chefs may work a lot harder than other chefs, and vice-versa.

  Yes, I love Kitchen Confidential, and the late great Anthony Bourdain. Though I head read tony's work a few years earlier when I read Bone in The Throat in 1996, this was a whole other thing. Bourdain did a fine job with Bone in The Throat, and many people liked and enjoyed reading it, but when it comes to Kitchen Confidential, this was a whole other stratosphere were talking about. Kitchen Confidential was revolutionary, in that Bourdain let out many of the dirty little secrets of the restaruant business.  Secrets like, telling the reader, "Never order Fish at a reataurant on Mondays," as the fish is way past its prime (getting stinky) by the time Monday rolls around. Also, if you are the type of person who orders your Steak well-done, the cooks might give you the oldest piece they have, a piece of meat they refer to as "Save fro Well Done." A persone who orders their Steak medium-rare is going to get the fresher, better meat. He also adviced against ordering any daily special served  on a Sunday Brunch, as many times the chef is going thorugh his walk-in refrigerator and seeing what is getting old, and wanting to use it before it completely goes bad, he uses whatver those items may be to make the daily special. I msut note, that these things Anthony has warned of, yes they can be true, and are, but most of the times these so-called dirty little restaurant secrets, defineately are not always the case, so don't let these things that Tony wrote, discourage you from eating in restaurants. Hey, I'm not knocking Tony here, and definately not saying he is lying and that his warning are not true some of the times. Simply, I'm saying that these bad things stated are not the norm, so don't stop eating at restaurants. Use your own good judgement.

Kitchen Confiential made Bourdain famous. In 2001, Tony got his first offer to do a television show for the Foodnetwork. The show was called A Cooks Tour, and began in January 2002. Now here was a very critical point in Tony's career and my own awareness of Bourdain's genius. After reading Kitchen Confidential, I already knew Tony was a genius. This was quite evident. I saw the promos for a Cooks Tour and couldn't wait to watch the first episode. The first episode of Cooks Tour was called a Taste of Tokyo. I watched, and was smitten. Tony did it again. I loved Cooks Tour, and watched it every week. But knowing just a little bit about TV and how shows get started, I remember thingking and wishing, damn, I hope thsi show makes it. I hope people watch it, and like it. "Heck, love it." But I remember being a bit worried. I know that a lot of new doc tv shows get started by shooting just a few episodes, maybe 6 or so. They air these shows and see how they go. If people don't like them, they don't make any more, and the show gets canceled. I was hoping, almost praying for Anthony and his new TV show. Hoping people and the network would love it, they'd shoot lots of episodes and the show would have a good run.

Yes, I loved Cooks Tour immediately. It was awesome. Tony was awesome. I loved the show, and told all my friends to watch it too. I was also a bit enviosus. I had already traveled the World a good bit. I was in the biz, I had worked my way throught kitchens and had attained the title of chef. And I wanted to write as well. I knew I couldn't write like Tony, but I was working on it. I knew how to cook, I'd traveled the World, and at this point, I'm sure that I had done far more traveling than Tony. I knew all about Asian Street Food, and had eaten it all over South East Asia, and even before Tony. I loved and savored it, and had the huge passion for Asia, its people, it food. Just like Tony. Hey I wanted to be a celebrity chef, I wish I had my own show eating and traveling the World, just like Anthony did. Hey, I had the experience, and I had the chops. Just not the luck. Amn Tony was the man. And believe it or not, I'm a lot like Tony. A long career in the restaurant business, I cooked, I was a chef, I traveled, and I had the apprecitation and knowledge of travel and the foods of the World. I was also a bit snarky, just like Tony, and sort of disdain Rachel Ray, and Emeril's show, even before Tony came on the scene and made snarky remarks about them, I did the same. Anway?

I loved the way they shot the show, the things Tony ate and did, and the way the show was cut, and Tony's incrdiable narrations of the finsihed product (the shows). Well remember when I was worried for Tony and his new show? Not that I didn't think Anthony and his show were more thatn fabulous, just from the fact that so many millions who love stupid sitcoms and all sorts of crappy shows, and especially all the shitty shows that were on the Food Network. I was worried that there might not be enough smart people to watch and love Tony and hsi show a Cooks Tour, for it to sustain istself, and stay on air. My concerns were real, but I need not have worried, Tony and his show did fare well.

As it turned out, a Cooks Tour had a decent run, 35 episodes, running two seasons. The general public did get Bordain. They loved him and loved his show, and Bourdain was in hsi element, traveling the World, eating it, making great content, and putting together masterful travelogue food shows that people just could't get enough of, especially Tony's lust for life, the food, the travel, and his great wit and wisdom, snarky and wryness. Tony was funny, witty, and smart, and people just loved. And I was one of Tony's first big cheerleaders, long before the masses caught on. And yes, I am proud have been so.

... to be continued ..

Daniel Bellino Zwicke

October 2021  NYC


by Bellino



by Bellino


Sunday, October 24, 2021

Italian Wine Dinner Montes Trattoria NYC


Rocca Giovani - Nebbiolo D'Alba 2019

Zeni Amarone "Barriques" 2015

I recently attended an Italian Wine Dinner at the venerable 103 year old
Monte's Trattoria in Greenwich Village, New York. The wine dinner was organized by Chef Pietro Mosconi, his sone Peter Mosconi (GM), and representatives of Moinsiuere Touton Wines of New York.

The dinner began with reception at the bar of Monte's, as we sipped Prosecco (Villa Joland) and ate a tasty assortment of Chef Pietro Mosconi's h'orduevures, which included : fresh Mozzarella wrapped with Prosciutto di Parma, roast Asparugus Parmigiano, Shrimp Oreganata, and tasty little Meatballs. The crowd, sipped their prosecco and nibbled on Chef Pietro's little treats, and engaged in spirited conversation before heading to the upstairs dining room, to sit down to 4 courses of Chef Mosconi fare. 

Out came the first course of Baked Clams, Fried Calamari, and baked Eggplant. We were served 
Zeni Lugana to go with the antipasti. Lugana is a lovely white wine from Lake Garda, Italy. The wine zone of Lugana actually is in two regions of Italy, which include both the Veneto on the east side of the zone, and Lombardia to the west. This is a bit unusaual, as wine zone are generally in on region, not two. Lugana is one of the exceptions to the rule. Lugana wines are generally mineral driven, with taste of Green Olives, a tad of salt, pears, grapefruti and green apples. 

The Zeni Lugana lived up to general rules of this lovely wine, exhibiting good minerality, with faint saline notes, Peach and Pinapple fruits on the finsish. It was a good choose for the antipasti, going escpecially well with the Shrimp and Clams, and all items of this first course. 

For the next course, we were treated to some of Chef Pietro's famous homemade pasta, which in this case was Tagliatelle with fresh shaved Black Truffles. Needless to say, the pasta was devine, and all present savored its sublime flavors of the fresh egg pasta, butter and Tartufo Nero (Black Truffles). The Tagliatelle con Tartufo was paired with a wonderful Nebbiolo from the Rocca Giovani Estate, of Monforte d' Alba in Piemonte, a premier area for Nebbiolo and great Barolo wines. 

The Rocca Giovanni Nebbiolo was a great wine to pair with the Chef's Truffle Pasta, as any Nebbiolo based wines, such as; Barolo, Barbaresco, or Nebbiolo D' Alba such as this wine, Nebbiolo with Truffles (Tartufi) is one of the World's Greatest of all food and wine pairings, and this was no exception. The Rocca Giovanni Nebbiolo was a a textbook Nebbiolo D'Alba, with a good stron g rubby color, smelling of Violets and Rasberries, and a hint of spice on the nose. The fragrance was quite lovely. In the mouth, the wine was full of Dark Cherry and Strawberry flavors, with a tad of Licorice and other faint spices. This was a classicly made Nebbiolo D'Alba, that made a perfect accompaniment to the Truffles and fresh pasta. "So, good. Thanks Chef Pietro."

After our tasty truffle pasta with Nebbiolo, we relaxed for a few minutes, chatting about the dinner, the food and wines, and whatever other conversation were occuring around the room.

For the main course, their was a choice of either broiled Salmon, or Chef Pietros famous Braised Short Ribs of Beef with polenta. Now I can not figure for the life of me, why would anyone choose Salmon over the chef's awesome braised Short Ribs, especially when Amarone was to be served with the main course. "OK, I get it. Yes, I realize there are people who don't eat meat, thus opting for the salmon. Sorry guys, your loss." As for me, you know I ordered the Short Ribs. 

And so, a little while after finishing our pasta course, out came the main (secondo) and a gorgeous plate of braised Short Ribs of Beef, with sof polenta was set down in front of me. The wine guys had already poured Amarone into my previously empty wine glass, and it was "Let the games begin." Yes, they had already begun almost two hours ago, but hey, here I was with my Chef Mosconi made Short Ribs and a glass of Amarone.

Well, I already knew how amazingly succulent and tasty Short Ribs of Beef cooked by Chef Pietro Mosconi are. I have had them dozens of times, and they are without question, one of my favorite things to eat in this whole wide World. And I've eaten at all of the great restaurants in the World, including in : Paris, Rome, Venice, New York, Florence, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Saigon, Verona, Havana, San Francisco, New Orleans, and? Need I go on. No, It's quite hard to think of anything tastier than these tasty Braised Short Ribs. Well, Foe Gras at Polidor, maybe? I don't know? Kind of close, but I'm goign to have to give the Short Ribs a slight edge. 

Now, I'm eating the Short Ribs, and so you know, just how amazingly great they are? As great as anything could possibly be. Now how about the wine werved with them? The Amarone from the House of Zeni, Bardolino, Italy, on the shores of Lake Garda. Thsi wine is Zeni Amarone "Barriques" 2015 ... And what an Amrone it is. From the very first sip, this wine blew my mind. It was phenonminal, and one of the best Amarones I have ever had, including the one that I hold as the greatest Amarone I ever drank, which would be the Zenato Amarone Reserva 1981 vintage that I drank in 2005, when that wine was 24 years old, and perfectly cellared in the cellars of Barbetta Ristorante on 46th Street in New York, NY ... 

Now that wine was much older, and you have a different experience with an older aged wine, than with a wine much younger. But all I can say, is that the Zeni Amarone 2015 was a wine that is in perfect balance, super tasty, and a absolute pleasure to drink. "I loved it."

Now if you know me, you will know that if I say things like, "the wine was perfectly balanced, tasty, and that I loved it." you will know that the wine in question is a wine that is just about a perfect wine, and I don't need to go into a bunch blibber blabber, in describing the wine. But in addition to saying it was in perfect balance and that I loved it, I will tell you that it was full of wonderful black fruit taste, with hints of exotic spice, and Desert Dates notes. This wine was a gem, and I can't wit until I drink it again.

After all that, I'm starting to fade. Chef Pietro treated as to a tasty poached pear with Mint Zabiglione Sauce for dessert. This lovely dessert was paired with a Moscato d' Asti Santo Stefano 2020 from Ceretto. The Moscato was quite nice, with good acidity to balance the sweetness, and tasty peach and appricot flavors that dominated its wonderful flavor profile. And yes, it paired perfectly with the Poached Pear Zabiglione dessert from Chef Pietro. 

So, the dinner was quite wonderful. A great menu from Chef Mosconi, wonderful wines from 
M. Touton Wines of New York, good friends and conversation in one of the great Italian Restaurants of New York, the 103 year old and still going strong, Monte's Trattoria, headed by Chef Pietro Mosconi and his son Peter. Thanks guys. We loved it.

... Daniel Bellino Zwicke, October 23, 2021


Zeni LUGANA Vigna Alte


Gaetano Zeni, referred to as Nino by everyone, was the real innovator of the modern era of the winery: a number of small and big changes initiated by him lifted the winery to its level of today. It was Nino who decided to move the production in the 1950s from the small winery in the historic centre of Bardolino to its present location,with more space and improved practicality, in the hills above the village with a spectacular view of Lake Garda. In the new winery he also decided to establish the wine museum to promote the culture and the story of wine growing and wine making. The philosophy of the winery, which was implemented by Gaetano Zeni, is pursued today with the same enthusiasm and dedication by his children Fausto, Elena and Federica and includes in particular the meticulous selection of both vineyards and grapes. The separate vinification of the grapes from the different wine areas is today still one of the fundamentals of the winery, giving the wines local character and high quality. The continuous improvement both in the production processes and in the winery’s management enabled the winery to obtain the UNI EN ISO 9001:2000 quality certification.

Ceretto Moscato di Asti "Santo Stefano" 2020



Saturday, October 23, 2021





There are eight Chianti zones in Tuscany. The biggest, oldest, and the one that may produce the best wine is the Chianti Classico zone. It is called Classico because of it is the oldest zone of the region and it is in the center of the region.  The Chianti Classico zone, a very large area between Florence and Siena, includes all the territories of the communes of Castellina in Chianti, Gaiole, Greve, and Radda in Chianti and parts of Barberino Val d'Elsa, Castlenuovo Berardegna, Poggibonsi, San Casciano Val di Pesa and Tavarnelle Val di Pesa.

            In 1924, 33 producers get together in Radda in Chianti and founded a consortium to defend and promote Chianti Classico wine and its symbol of origin, the black rooster.

          This symbol has always appeared on the bottles of Chianti Classico produced by consortium members. Not all of the producers of Chianti Classico belonged to the consortium and only members were able to use the black rooster on their bottles. In 2005, however, the black rooster became the emblem of the entire Chianti Classical zone.

            The Chianti Classico Consortium had the words Gallo Nero printed over the head of the rooster on the neck label of all of its bottles. A few years ago the Gallo winery in California sued the Consortium and won the case. The words were removed from the label.

            The black rooster symbol has origins in both the history and legends of Chianti.  It was depicted in a painting by Giorgio Vasari on the ceiling of the Salone del Cinquecento in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence to indicate the military league of Chianti. There is also the legend of the Black Rooster.  Florence and Siena in the Middle Ages were always fighting each another over land. The leaders of the rival cities decided to have a horse race to determine the boundary lines.  A rider would depart from the capital of each republic and the border would be drawn at the point where the horsemen met. They would set out at dawn by the crowing of a rooster. Siena picked a white rooster and Florence a black rooster. The night before, the black rooster was not fed.  It awoke early and the Florentine rider almost reached the gates of Siena before encountering the other rider.  The rest is history.

            Baron Bettino Ricasoli in the middle of 19 century devised the formula for making Chianti Classico:   Sangiovese with such native varieties as Canaiolo and Colorino.  Two white grapes had to be included, Trebbiano and Malvasia.  It could not be 100% Sangiovese. Many producers back then used the governo method.  Ten percent of the grapes (Canaiolo) were dried and then added to the wine. I believe that there is only one producer today, Querciavalle, that still uses this method.

            Over the years the percentages and the grapes have changed.  Currently, the percentage of Sangiovese is 80% to 100%.  Native varieties such as Canaioio and Colorino or foreign ones including Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot can be added up to 20%. As of the 2006 vintage, the white grapes are no longer allowed.

            Chianti Classico can be aged in wood, steel tanks or glass lined cement tanks; the normale is aged for one year before it is released. The riserva must be aged at least two years and an additional three months in bottle and have an alcohol content of at least 12.5% before it can be released. The riserva is a wine that can age for a number of years. The riserva  had  a gold circle around the black rooster but that stopped in 2005.