Spring 2018 Newsletter
Where does time go? It is now spring, and it was just the holidays! But spring is the time of renewal and freshness, Easter and Passover. We have some new things at Corti Brothers and some traditional ones. I hope you will find interesting items in this newsletter that will make your spring very pleasant.
LOISON COLOMBA AND VENEZIANA
Much like the arrival of panettone at Christmas, COLOMBA arrives at Easter. Like panettone, Colomba is a similar sweet, buttery, bread-like cake, made with a mother yeast and candied fruit, sprinkled with sugar. Its name comes from its shape which is that of a flying dove. It is the other of the seasonal bread cakes famous in Italy. We have also the two typical Venetian cakes, the Veneziana and the Focaccia Mandorlata. Both of these come from Venetian tradition, and found on the breakfast or dessert tables of Venetian connoisseurs. For us, all–Colomba, Veneziana, Focaccia–are wonderful spring delights and delightful throughout the summer period, especially with fresh fruit.
All are from the renown LOISON bakery, near Vicenza. Unless otherwise stated all are one kilo in size.
COLOMBA CLASSICA wrapped $27.39 (#4400)
COLOMBA CLASSICA AL LIMONE, with limoncello cream filling, wrapped $29.99 (#4401)
COLOMBA ZABAIONE with zabaione cream filling, wrapped $29.99 (#4402)
COLOMBA CIOCCOLATO with a chocolate cream filling, wrapped $29.99 (#4403)
COLOMBA PESCA E NOCCIOLA 750g with candied peach and a hazelnut topping, wrapped $26.19 (#4404)
COLOMBA CLASSICA 2 kilo MAGNUM, cellophane wrapped $46.99 (#4406)
COLOMBA CLASSICA 5 kilo MAGNUM, cellophane wrapped $89.99 (#4407)
VENEZIANA all’ALPIANE, made with Vignalta Alpiane Passito wine, wrapped $27.99 (#4408)
FOCACCIA MANDORLATA, 750g. No candied fruit, almond topping, cellophane wrapped $19.89 (#4409)
FOCCACCIA MANDORLATA, 2 kilo MAGNUM, cellophane wrapped, $38.39 (#4410)
INES ROSALES CORTADILLO DE CIDRA Citrus Crumble Cake
The CORTADILLO DE CIDRA is a Spanish specialty, in fact an Andalucian specialty. The cake is made by the firm of Ines Rosales, founded in 1910, near Seville, famous for its olive oil cakes, Tortas de Aceite. The Cortadillo is made of a similar flaky oil made dough, but with an unusual filling made from a very special squash called CIDRA or Calabaza CABELLO DE ANGEL, “Angel Hair.”
The squash is melon shaped and looking, but when cooked separates into filaments which are cooked with sugar. It is very mild in flavor, taking on flavors easily, but having this delicate, tender filament structure which is beloved in Spanish and Latin American cuisine.
Cortadillo means it has been cut into pieces, in this case 6 individually packaged pieces. The sensation of the flaky crust and the tender, yet sweet, flavory filling is at once both tasty and intriguing.
It appears that the cidra, Cucurbita ficifolia, is originally from the highlands of Peru or possibly from southern Mexico. Curiously, it arrived in Spain by way of India, having been brought from its origin to India then to Spain. As a squash, it does not have a typical squash flavor, but is very neutral and takes on flavor easily when cooked and remains moist textured. Its string-like consistency makes it unique. It is very typical of Mediterranean Spain.
INES ROSALES CORTADILLO DE CIDRA,
BULGUR, GRANO, YARMA–Wheat in various disguises
I know you have seen it before on these pages, but what is the difference between bulgur and couscous? They are sometimes confused. One is a wheat, the other, a pasta--yes, and made from wheat. (Answer: couscous is the pasta.)
Bulgur is merely durum wheat, boiled and then dehydrated, next coarsely milled–cracked–then sifted into three sizes of pieces, called bulgur one, bulgur two, and bulgur three. Bulgur three is the largest. To use, traditionally it was merely soaked and used as is–for example making the bulgur salad with parsley called Tabbouleh. Actually, this is a dish which uses very little bulgur and a lot more parsley, but frequently it is made the other way round. Bulgur is often cooked, with stock and sauteed pieces of thin pasta to make pilaff. It can be used to thicken soups, cover meatballs of ground meats flavored with different savory flavors. Or for making desserts.
Corti Brothers buys bulgur from a family owned mill–Sunnyland–in the Fresno area which has been making bulgur for several generations. They also make the unusual, yet very easy to use Yarma, another cracked wheat product, but this time left with its flour and sold as such. A delicious vegetarian/vegan soup can be made using finely chopped onions, yarma, some olive oil and water. Called yarma shourba, its flavor comes from caramelizing the onions, very slowly, adding the yarma and water, then letting it cook slowly. Salt and pepper is added, other vegetables should you like, but basically it takes its almost roast meat-like flavor from the caramelized onions. Very tasty yet simplicity itself in cooking. The exact recipe is shown on the last page below.
Then there is Grano, the pearled whole durum wheat; the hull is removed and the wheat left as a “wheat berry.” Once hulled, it is golden in color and should be stored in the freezer to lessen oxidation. It needs to be washed in cold running water, then soaked (up to overnight) before cooking. It can be cooked just like pasta in salted boiling water until tender and then dressed like pasta. It is the mainstay of the Neapolitan Easter pie called “Pastiera” with candied citrus rind–especially citron–ricotta, milk and eggs, sugar, cinnamon and orange flower water, baked in a buttery, rich, short pastry dough.
All the above durum wheat products are in one pound resealable bags and cost $3.99 per pound.
BULGUR #1 (fine) (#4412)
PERSIAN DELICACIES FROM SACRAMENTOIn Athenaeus’ The Diepnosophists, one of the earliest fine living texts in the western world, the author remarks about “Persian luxury and extravagance.” This Greek author was merely mirroring what the then world knew as sophistication in gastronomy, rather than the Spartan concept that “hunger was the best sauce.” Persian cuisine is not something we often think about in this country, but there is a great deal of tradition and exchange throughout the eastern Mediterranean that owes a lot to this ancient cuisine. The number of cookbooks currently in print about this cuisine has never been greater. Persia is the historical name for what we know as Iran.
An Iranian couple living in Sacramento, Sima and Deen Rashidy, produce what has come to be recognized as exemplary versions of Iranian specialties. Under their “SIMA’S” label there are several delightful items, mainly condiments, that show off the intricacies of this ancient cuisine for modern times.
Using seasonal vegetables, Sima makes two famous pickles: TORSHI and LITTEH, which are relishes. Litteh is an eggplant relish made with eggplant, carrot, celery, parsley, mint, jalapeño, garlic and vinegar. Torshi resembles Italian Giardiniera, pickled vegetables: cauliflower, cabbage, carrot, cucumber, celery, parsley, mint. A new product is Jalapeño Relish, with jalapeño, garlic, parsley, mint. The jalapeño is there, it is not just hot, but flavory.
From her own garden, Sima makes a fresh Mint syrup and a Sour Cherry syrup, both wonderful to make refreshing drinks with the addition of water rather than drinking soda in hot weather. For mixologists, this is a new world.
Sima’s Pomegranate Vinaigrette just needs good olive oil to make a delicious salad dressing or dipping sauce.
Several fruit preparations are made using local fruit, but a really special jam is Sima’s 3 Fruit Jam, made with Fuji apples, Blenheim apricots and quince. The elements are prepared when in season, then when all three have been made, they are blended together. Another different jam is the Carrot and Orange jam called “horig” which is unusual for us, but traditional in Persian cuisine.
Sima also makes several different flavors of rice mixtures which just need to be cooked. One is made with smoked Basmati rice. Another with normal Basmati, but both have dillweed and Iranian saffron. Another blend is Basmati rice with lentils which are cooked together making “Adaspolo.” All three are excellent, easy to prepare versions of vegetarian or meatless dishes that are tasty and satisfying. In Persian, a dish of rice is said to bring families together, secure friendships, and solve arguments. If tasty also, what more can we ask?
With Persian New Year, Nurooz, the 20th of March, you have delicacies to celebrate with.
SIMA’S EGGPLANT RELISH (Litteh) 16oz jar $6.99 (#4417)
SIMA’S MIXED VEGETABLES (Torshi) 16oz jar $5.99 (#4418)
SIMA’S JALAPEÑO RELISH 8oz jar $4.99 (#4419)
SIMA’S SOUR CHERRY SYRUP 375ml $6.69 (#4420)
SIMA’S MINT SYRUP 375ml $6.99 (#4421)
SIMA’S POMEGRANATE VINAIGRETTE 375ml $9.99 (#4422)
SIMA’S 3 FRUIT JAM (Apple, Apricot, Quince) 12oz jar $6.99 (#4423)
SIMA’S CARROT AND ORANGE PEEL JAM 12oz jar $5.99 (#4424)
SIMA’S SMOKED BASMATI RICE WITH DILLWEED 10 oz bag $5.99 (#4425)
SIMA’S BASMATI RICE WITH DILLWEED 10 oz bag $4.99 (#4426)
SIMAS’S LENTIL RICE 12oz bag $4.99 (#4427)
PUERTO RICAN COFFEE: Single Finca Arabica, Special Roasting.
Coffee is grown commercially in the United States in two places: Puerto Rico and Hawai’i. One is a state, the other a territory. Of the two, the smallest production now is Puerto Rico. Due to the devastating hurricane of fall 2017, where much of the island was torn up and left without services of any kind, being able to find a small amount of genuine Puerto Rico grown coffee is remarkable. A lot of coffee has been grown in the center of the island, in an area called Utuado. Coffee cultivation was introduced to Puerto Rico from Martinique in 1736.
Puerto Rico was discovered by Columbus in 1493 on his second voyage and Utuado has been known since 1553, but only became a town in 1733. Its name is verified by a baptismal certificate dated 1754. In 1894 it became a city. The Utuado area is mainly mountainous, and all told is only 115 square miles in size.
Originally a Taíno center–the Taíno are an indigenous people on the island–the area became a mining region. Now it produces coffee, some tobacco and fruit. Some of the coffee grown is shade grown, planted as the under cultivation of taller trees. The coffee varietal is mainly arabica, the coffee cherries wet pulped, sun dried.
With the help of a Sacramento friend, a past employee of Corti Brothers, Emmanuel Kemiji, now a Master Sommelier and wine maker both in California and Spain, we were able to purchase 400 pounds of green arabica beans from a single “finca” or estate, that of Don Dionisio in Caguana de Utuado. With the roasting assistance of Carlos Moya, possibly the most important roaster on the island, having his own coffee shop, we have two styles of this coffee. Labeled CAFÉ 2150, one roast is just 100% Arabica, the other is made according to Emmanuel Kemiji’s idea using the most famous rum on the Island, Ron del Barrilito Three Star, to macerate the green beans before roasting. The heat of roasting removes the alcohol, but leaves the character of “la formula” the secret herb, spice, and fruit blend of the rum production as a delightful aftertaste in the coffee.
The roast of CAFÉ 2150 is a medium dark “city” roast and the Barrilito roast, slightly darker. This is the typical local taste: to taste coffee, not the charred effect of a very dark roast. Also the island tradition is to drink coffee with heated milk, not exactly like a cappuccino, but a delicious drink. You, obviously, can drink the coffee the way you like. (My first experience at a coffee finca on the island, the heating of the milk, aerating it with a large ladle, took longer to do than brewing the coffee. It was delicious!)
For the current shipment we only have 400 pounds of coffee. The roasting and packaging are done on the island to island taste. The coffee comes in an 8 ounce, foil lined paper bag with a valve and is the only quantity we will have until this fall’s harvest. If there is one! The trees have been pretty beaten up. Roasting is done just before shipping. We hope to be able to continue this project, to give some assistance to this devastated island.
If you have never tasted Puerto Rican coffee, you should try CAFÉ 2150. Try both styles! Puerto Rican coffee was once reserved for Popes and Kings. Now we also can enjoy it. This production is exclusive to Corti Brothers.
CAFÉ 2150 PUERTO RICAN COFFEE 100% Arabica
8 oz. valve bag $14.99 each (#4429)
TERMS OF SALE: This list supersedes all others. All taxable items, such as wine, beer, or spirits will be taxed at the rate of 8.25%. This is for all sales since we sell in California. Foodstuffs are not taxable. Shipping will be charged at prevailing rates. PLEASE NOTE: In extreme weather, either hot or cold, please give us a shipping address where your order may be properly received and stored. Corti Brothers cannot be responsible for items left without protection
ARMENIA VINE AND WINE:
A new publication on an almost forgotten wine country
ARMENIA VINE AND WINE is a quarto sized book of more than 418 pages dealing with the archeobotany and domestication of the vine, its history and enology, its ampelography, culture, and significance today from a little known about, land-locked country with immense ties to grapes and wine. Written by the lead author Nelli Hovhannisyan, a former cancer researcher now dealing with vines and wine, and numerous other experts from Armenia and other places and numerous museal entities and even grape growers, with splendid photographs illustrating every facet of this complex world, this is a book which deserves a place in the library of every wine lover. Just the amount of color photography makes this a fascinating work that will serve to illuminate and enlighten almost any reader. It is a comprehensive work befitting its noble and ancient history, about which we, in the West know relatively little, but will know much, much more having read ARMENIA VINE AND WINE. It is worth every penny of its price!
ARMENIA VINE AND WINE, 2018, 418+ pages, color photography throughout
$139.99 + tax & shipping (#4430)
MOSCATO PASSITO DI SARACENA: A dessert wine you’ve never heard about
From the tip of the toe of the Italian boot, the region of Calabria, Moscato Passito di Saracena comes as a specialty wine from a single producer, Cantina Viola. The most famous of the region’s dessert wines is Greco di Bianco, made from the Greco variety in the town of Bianco. Linguistically, it seems that it should be the other way around. But like it linguistically is the Moscato Passito di Saracena. Saracena is the place. It means “Saracen” obviously from its history of having contact with the Muslims from the Middle East who ruled this part of Italy or raided it for a long time. Here is what Daniele Cernilli wrote about it in his ULTIMATE GUIDE TO ITALIAN WINES 2016:
“...[M]oscato di Saracena...seems like a wine straight out of the Odyssey. Produced with ancestral methods with a partial cooking of the must (which is creating no few problems with the EU regulations), [this wine is] a cultural heritage as well as being excellent....A blend of Guarnacca, Malvasia and Moscadello di Saracena grapes. [It] Matures for a year in stainless steel ‘sur lie.’ Bright amber. A nose of formidable complexity, ranging from the classic scent of raisins to candied orange peel, dates, dried apricots, and almond paste. The flavor is sweet, but not cloying, full bodied and nicely underpinned by acidity. A really great traditionally-styled sweet wine. 95/100 ”
Enough said! But really good.
CANTINA VIOLA MOSCATO PASSITO DI SARACENA 2013
500ml - $49.99 (#4431)
Case of 12/ 750 ml - $269.00 (#4431C)
(Phone us for more information)
CORTI BROTHERS 2017 EXTRA VIRGIN OILS: Coratina and Piqual
These two oils were again produced for Corti Brothers by Pablo Voitzuk, the miller at Pacific Sun in Gerber, CA.,
to the north of Sacramento. These are two southern Mediterranean olive varieties which have once again proven that they do extremely well in California. Once again, they were put in competition at the Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Oil Competition where I am the chairman of the tasting. The tasting is completely blind. I do not see who tastes the oils until the tasting takes place. And once again, they both won Gold Medals in their class, the Piqual also winning Best of Class. Both are very fine oils with medium fruity intensity, with the balanced pungency and bitterness of excellent oils with flavors of fresh artichoke and green tomato. They will definitely enhance your spring and summer salads and vegetable dishes. They are perfect for putting on toasted bread to make the classic “fett’unta.” Very little was bottled in January 2018, so do not dawdle to get some.
CORTI BROTHERS 2017 CORATINA
CORTI BROTHERS 2015 AMADOR COUNTY ZINFANDEL:
Last Chance, nearly sold out!
This 2015 Amador County Zinfandel is a fifty year commemorative wine. It commemorates the 1965 Amador County Zinfandel made as a home wine that, in 1968, convinced Bob Trinchero of Sutter Home Winery in Napa Valley to begin buying Amador County grapes. A lot has happened in the last fifty years.
The original 1965 Amador Zinfandel was made as a homemade wine by Charles Myers, an English instructor at Sacramento City College, who in 1972 would become a winery owner, opening his Harbor Winery in West Sacramento, CA. Charles’ home winemaking showed Bob Trinchero of Sutter Home how good Amador Zinfandel could be at a time when few wineries actually bought Amador County grapes. Most went to home winemakers in the Bay Area. At that time there was only one winery in Amador County, D’Agostini, which had been there in one form or another since the 19th century. The first new winery in Amador County was to be Cary Gott’s Monteviña which was created in 1970. By that time, Sutter Home had already produced two vintages of Amador County Zinfandel.
In May, 1968, Bob Trinchero, Charles Myers, and I went to Amador County and drank a bottle of Charles’ 1965 Zinfandel which convinced Bob that he should look to Amador County for grapes. The harvest of 1968 was the first year of a Napa Valley winery using Amador zinfandel and also labeling the wine with the appellation of Amador County. (Christian Brothers and Gallo had been buying Amador grapes at that time, but did not label any wine made from them with the Amador appellation.) Sutter Home was the first out-of-county winery to label its wine made from Amador grapes with the Amador appellation. Others would follow.
Since I have Charles Myers’ home winemaking notebook, I tried to make the wine following the notes which Charles wrote about making his wine. The grapes in 1965 were picked October 2, fermented with champagne yeast (the most common wine yeast at the time), pressed off on October 8 at 5% Brix, aged in one used small wood cask and in glass demijohns; racked four times during the year, and bottled August 15, 1966, just before Charles resumed teaching. So: very little time on the skins, very little time in wood, early bottling, and no fining or filtering, just the addition of metabisulfite at racking. It was very simple winemaking. According to Charles’ notes, he paid $75.00 the ton for 500 lbs of grapes which gave him 150 bottles of finished wine. This was his first Amador Zinfandel wine. He would make other vintages and in 1972 made his first commercial wine from Amador zinfandel at Harbor Winery.
In making our 2015 Amador Zinfandel, we asked Andis Winery in Amador County to make it for us. Mark McKenna, the winemaker, was enthusiastic about doing this project and used hillside grown, head pruned vines of some 50 years of age, picked September 3, 2015. Fermentation lasted 10 days with Champagne yeast; the wine was pressed at 2% Brix, and some of the new wine put into neutral oak barrels and the rest in flextanks rather than in glass demijohns. It was bottled on September 1, 2016. This production produced 290 cases of 750ml bottles and 10 cases of magnums. The bottles were bottled with Stelvin caps rather than corks since I am a great fan of Stelvin and I think Charles would have concurred.
A unique thing about this wine is that the label has a portrait of the original winemaker on it done by the noted Sacramento artist Wayne Thiebaud. In the early 1960s, Wayne and Charles were colleagues at Sacramento City College and in 1963 Wayne painted the image of Charles reading, which is on our label. In Wayne’s opus, the picture is called “Man Reading.” We asked Wayne if he would concede the use of this image for this one time bottling, and he graciously allowed it.
Corti Brothers Amador County Zinfandel 2015 is a sort of mirror of what happened in 1965. Fifty years later, wine tastes have changed and in no small part to the effect Amador County zinfandel had on the California wine market. Tastes changed and there is now a completely different profile of Zinfandel as a wine in California. According to the classic wine texts of the early 1960s and before, Zinfandel was always a light, fruity wine, described as such by most wine writers of the time. Amador County changed all of that. And it was begun by a really well made, homemade wine, from 1965.
In May of this year you can almost reproduce the tasting of fifty years ago. It is unusual to be able to experience such a thing in winemaking, especially in California. The last few cases are still here, but not for long!
CORTI BROTHERS AMADOR COUNTY ZINFANDEL 2015 13%
750ml - $24.99 (#4434)
Case of 12/ 750 ml $269.00 (#4434 C)
Window Gift Box 6/750ml $135.00 (#4435)
(Phone us for more information)
As I have written before, I think these are the best canned olives made in California. Using only estate grown manzanillo olives, hand harvested–no more than seven per handful–when just starting to turn color and cured in the Graber fashion, these “olive colored” olives will make a relish tray sparkle. These are not strong flavored olives, but very smooth, silky textured ones with an almost buttery character. No other olive producer in the country makes these olives as good as Graber does. There are no better classic California olives than Graber olives.
GRABER OLIVES 7.5 oz can $7.99
A SANTORINI SPECIALTY: Caper Leaves
My trip to Greece, the Peloponessus, Crete, and Santorini in June 2014 led to an unusual discovery. At the Santo
Co-operative on Santorini, I found caper leaves. I had never seen caper leaves offered before, anywhere. About 1 ½ inch in diameter, they are treated like the caper buds. Pickled in salt brine, they can be used just like capers and for garnishing are truly lovely. I enjoyed them in Italy at my cousin’s restaurant in Serravalle Scrivia, Villa La Bollina, where they garnished a plate of vitello tonnato in place of capers. The caper leaf flavor is less forceful than caper buds and using both leaves and buds, one could make a lovely garnish with two leaves and a caper bud as a presentation. They are unique and wonderfully flavored. Visually, superb. If I could come up with this sort of find every time I travel, it just might be worth traveling!
CAPER LEAVES in brine $6.99 200g jar (#4439) $4.69 100g jar (#4440)
MONASTERY CREAMED HONEY FROM REDWOODS MONASTERY
Here is a true monastic product made in Sonoma County by the Cistercian nuns of Redwoods Monastery. The sisters cream raw, grade A honey and add organic ginger, orange, lemon, cinnamon, and almond to the honey to give a range of flavors. Creamed honey is finely granulated honey that has had carefully controlled crystallization. Much smoother than naturally granulated honey, its texture is that of soft butter.
All honey can be creamed; but a honey, light in color and flavor, yet high in glucose, makes the best creamed honey. The simple granulation heating process also produces a thin layer of air bubbles which remain on the honey surface, looking like, and called, “frosting.” This is honey for putting on morning toast, scones, sandwiches and the like and not having to worry about its dripping. Monastery Creamed Honeys, all natural and organic, give breakfast another dimension. All are in 8 oz jars and sell for $6.99 each.
MONASTERY CREAMED HONEY
DANIELE CERNILLI’S ULTIMATE GUIDE TO ITALIAN WINES 2018
We have just received the new edition of this authoritative Guide. This year there are 1,069 producers selected for inclusion over the 979 from the last edition. The wines written about are 2,733 over the 2,436 in the previous edition.
Twenty percent of the estates from the previous edition have been excluded and about 200 estates are all new to this edition. The favored wines have gone up from 220 to 297 due to the excellent vintages of 2013 in Barolo and 2012 for Brunello. Now is the time to get your copy of Daniele’s ULTIMATE GUIDE for 2018.
DANIELE CERNILLI’S ULTIMATE GUIDE TO ITALIAN WINES 2018
$19.99 plus tax& shipping. 600 pages. (#4447)
YARMA SHOURBA--AN ALL VEGETABLE SOUP
This recipe is Turkish in origin and uses only Yarma, water, vegetables, and no animal products, in its preparation. It is one of those cooking productions where, even if you can just boil water, you can make this soup. Surprisingly light, this soup also has the advantage of being almost miraculous--that is, it stretches easily and loses nothing. Made in double or triple quantities, it will easily feed you for some time. It reheats very well. Serves 4-6 with leftovers.
3 tablespoons extra virgin oil
2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
1 cup Yarma
1 red bell pepper cubed into small dice (other flavorful peppers may be added)
1 lb. thickly sliced fresh, medium size okra
lh lb. diced fresh green beans
1 lb. Yukon gold or other waxy potatoes, peeled and diced
1 lb. eggplant, peeled and diced
1 lb. ripe tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped or broken up
Salt and pepper to taste.
In a heavy bottomed pot, heat oil and slowly cook the onion until it is caramelized. It should be done slowly so that the onion takes on a very dark brown color. Stir often to prevent sticking. When caramelized, add the Yarma and 6 cups of water. Simmer for 25-30 minutes until the Yarma is tender. More water may be added to keep the consistency soupy. Then add all the vegetables, salt and pepper, and cook covered for 30 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Taste and correct seasoning and serve. Note: This soup is expandable. If one vegetable is not in season, use something that is. If tender vegetables are available, use those, merely adjusting the cooking time. To expand the recipe, increase the Y anna, vegetables, oil, and water in proportion. The addition of more water to prevent sticking or thickening, can be done at any time. The soup should be soupy. Correcting the seasoning with salt and pepper can also be done just before serving.