Friday, August 31, 2012

Lincoln Center Sky

I came out of the Y after a swim, walked down the block, looked up and saw a Tiepolo painting in the making, then ran across the street to capture the quickly fading light. Standing on a bench in the middle of Broadway, I snapped away with my Iphone. Maybe it's time to get a real camera.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Antonelli Wine Tasting

My last full day in Italy with Umbrian Serenades (before returning the next morning to New York) was spent luxuriating in the pleasures of Bacchus at the Antonelli winery near Montefalco. This was my second visit to a winery in Umbria, and I really enjoyed this particular one:  the food, wine, setting and service were excellent. 

Our guide for the afternoon was the knowledgable and generous Wendy Aulsebrook, who lead us through the wine cellar and four course meal with wine pairing, making the experience memorable with clear, precise information and explanation.

But as cool (literally) as it was to see the wine cellar, the real fun was the wine tasting, where my fellows  Serenades were hosted in a large addition to a stately house. The room's construction follows older design with clerestory windows in high-ceilinged walls that help keep the room cool  during the hot days of summer. 

The menu for the tasting with wine pairing began with a lovely Grechetto and ended with a Sagrantino dessert wine. The fare served with each course was delectable. 

The simplest things were standouts for me, like the taste of Antonelli's own olive oil on bruschetta (I brought a bottle home), the crustiness of the bread along with the taste of the oil and rubbed garlic being pure heaven. 

Unfortunately, I got so caught up in the experience that I didn't snap photos of the pasta and salad courses. Delicious too, I assure you!  

Interestingly, the Sagrantino grape was originally produced as a dessert wine, and it is only in the last twenty years or so that it has been refashioned into a drier dinner wine. I really loved the Sagrantino di Montefalco.  Fortunately, it is available at Eataly Wine here in New York.

The afternoon's festivities would not have been complete without song, so my fellow Serenaders and I found ourselves singing Danny Boy for the Antonelli staff. There wasn't a dry eye in the house. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Edible Italy

Pink and orange, tangerine and melon, apricot and pomegranate: these are the colors of Spoleto, Italy, which I ate with my eyes a few weeks ago while singing with Umbrian Serenades.  

This was my second year with the group, which is comprised of professional and amateur singers, the latter on their mettle and everyone in their element making music in the Land of Song - a joyous experience if there ever was one. So was the food, olive oil, gelato, full-jolt espresso and wine made from Sagrantino.

Everything you taste and see is full of the dolce that is Umbria, the buildings about town no exception. Walking by several beautifully colored ones on the way to rehearsal in the morning was like walking through a stage set. There is something amazing to see and experience at every turn, the windows in the center of the building above being but one example. They are trompe-l'oeil.  

This soft melon colored wall was near the top of the town (Spoleto is on a hilltop), close to a church that has been in the process of restoration for at least two decades. (I was there in Spoleto in 1985 and it was closed then!) I would pass by just to see the  ripe color. 

Life moves at a slower pace and in a more gracious manner than the hurry that permeates New York. It also has a certain enjoyment that is hard to describe to those who haven't experienced it. Yes- I was on vacation. Of course everything becomes luminous, tactile and wunderbar. Yes- a great glass of Prosecco does wonders as does a plate of Tortellini alla Norcina. (You can find the latter at a lovely place called La Barcaccia.) 

Yes- the trip to the Antonelli winery in the middle of the afternoon was delectable (we sang Danny Boy for our hosts after the full course tasting with a sweetness matched by the desert wine). Yes- our last concert at the San Francesco Church Museum in Montefalco was like singing in liquid light. Yes- time stopped and I thought of monks standing where we stood, making music, hearing glorious sound soar out into space and into the heart. Yes- Spoleto seduces. I can't wait to return.