Italian Superstar Wines; Chinatown History; Honey and Grilling Pork Chops

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Recipes and information from toda's Good Food:

Melisse restaurant presents its annual Farmer Dinner on Monday, June 21. To make reservations for this four-course dinner featuring local farmers' produce and presentations by the farmer, call 310-395-0881.

Carl Chu is the author of Finding Chinese Food in Los Angeles, published by Crossbridge Press. He talked about: 12 Dishes of Bashu at 529 E Valley Blvd #168 in San Gabriel; 626-280-9399.

Michael Woo is the organizer of the Chinese Food Festival. The June 19-20 festival (Saturday 2-8pm, Sunday 11am-6pm) will be held at the corner of Broadway and College Street, adjacent to the new Chinatown Metro Gold Line Station. Adult tickets are $8, youths (ages 5-12) are $4, and seniors (ages 60+) are $6. Entrance include three complimentary tastings. A $2 discount will be given to those who show a metro ticket/pass or other proof of riding public transportation to the festival.

On June 27, enjoy a Gourmet-s Taste of Chinatown, a prix-fixe menu of dishes specially selected by the chef. Prices range from $30-$150 per person, depending on the restaurant. Some of the rare epicurean and regional Chinese treats include braised abalone and sea cucumber with black mushrooms, deep-fried and stuffed crab claws with crispy milk, suckling pig with jelly fish, and lobster with X.O. and satay sauce. Reservation deadline is June 24. For more information about participating restaurants and their menus, or to purchase tickets, call the LA Chinatown Business Council at (213) 680-0243, or visit or

Stacie Hunt is a wine buyer at DuVin Wine and Spirits, 540 N San Vicente Blvd in West Hollywood (310-855-1161)

Italian Stars on Our Horizon is a chance to go -backstage- and meet the producers and stars of some of the most famous wines of Italy. Generally, you-d have to buy an airline ticket, take off your shoes as you go through security, arrive jet-lagged, and travel the roads to have this opportunity. But, big treat! Instead of us going...they-re the ones that bought the ticket and took off their shoes and drove traveled the roads. Just buckle up and drive over to the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey. Jump out of your car and enter the world of lush, Italian stars.

-03 Bollini Pinot Grigio, featuring Alessandra Soldi
Bollini was founded by Neal and Maria Empson, highly respected wine importers, specializing in Italian wines. It was the Emspon-s in the 70-s who fought city hall in Italy and got the right to put the varietal on the labels of their wines, coming from the northeastern area of Collio. Collio is prized for its white wines.

Later, they began the Bollini label, which now produces Pinot Grigio, a reserve Pinot Grigio (kind of rare), coming from one estate vineyard on the property and a Chardonnay. The wines come from the other famed white wine area, Trentino-Alto-Adige in the Veneto region. Alessandra also runs the family B&B; in the same area.

-03 Tenute A&G; Folonari, featuring Giovanni Folonari
Giovanni will feature the following wines:

-01 Nozzole Il Pareto: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, from their prized estate vineyard of the same name. Fermentation takes place in steel and it-s then aged 16-18 months in small barrels (known as barriques). Intense berry flavor with some hint of mint and cedar. Very characteristic to Cabernet.

-01 Nozzole Chianti Classico Riserva: This is the definition of Chianti from the Classico or -heart- of Chianti region. Fresh clean Sangiovese fruit taste, with a tiny bit (5%) Canaiolo from the estate vines (gives a little richness). Aged two years in Slovanian oak.

-03 Nozzole Le Bruniche: Chardonnay from the estate vineyard, fermented in steel tanks to preserve the fresh fruit flavor. Full malolactic fermentation (this is a biochemical reaction also called -secondary fermentation- where bacteria converts malic acid into lactic acid and carbon dioxide). Because lactic acid is milder than malic the process produces a softer, rounder, smoother wine. The downside, is that some of the fresh fruit takes a back seat to the roundness.

-01 Cabreo La Pietra: Another estate Chardonnay. This one with hints of vanilla and creamy fruits.

-00 Cabreo Il Borgo: A blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet..therefore a SuperTuscan.

-00 Calvano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano: The granddaddy of Tuscan wines. Made from the prized Brunello grape, this is a rich, grand, deep red wine.

Michele Chiarlo, featuring Alberto Chiarlo:

-00 Barolo Cerequio: 100% Nebbiolo, the -king- of Italian wines

-01 Barbera d-Asti La Court: A rich, fruity, high-acid varietal that is perfect with anything that has tomato in it or on it!

-99 Barolo Tortoniano: 100% Nebbiolo, another estate vineyard offering a more contemporary, fruity wine.

-03 Cortese di Gavi: The white star of Piemonte. A fresh, citrusy, clean finishing white wine that is perfect for summer meals.

Tenuta Silvio Nardi, featuring Emilia Nardi:

-99 Manachiara Cru Brunello di Montalcino: The royalty of the Tuscan region. A new designation (Cru) for the famed Brunello grape. This is what to drink with steaks off the grill or an elegant meal.

-99 Brunello di Montalcino: Another interpretation of Brunello.

-02 Rosso di Montalcino: Called a -baby Brunello.- The vines for this wine are either the younger Brunello plantings, or this could be some early Brunello, taken from its resting place and released earlier.

Azienda Pighin, featuring Roberto Pighin:

-03 Grave del Friuli Pinot Grigio: The famed white wine from the northeastern region of Italy. This region produces the most fragrant Pinot Grigio and it is the signature wine of the region.

-02 Collio Pinot Grigio: Another interpretation of Pinot Grigio, from the Collio region. Collio, means -gentle hills,- and these vineyards grace that area, producing a lighter version of the wine.

Tenuta San Guido, featuring Piero Incisa:
-01 Sassicaia: The complete definition of Super Tuscan. This is the one that Robert Parker dubbed the first -Super Tuscan.-

-01 Guidalberto: The proprietary blend of this famed winemaker.

Tenuta Sette Ponti, featuring Giovanna Moretti:
-01 Oreno: Proprietary blend from this extremely talented winemaker.

-01 Crognolo: Another blend that shows her creativity.

Castello del Terriccio, featuring Carlo Paoli:
-01 Lupicaia: A proprietary blend from his estate vineyards. Masterful.

-00 Tassinaia: Another proprietary blend, a bit lighter in style.

-03 Rondinaia: Fruit packed.

-03 Con Vento: Full of fruit flavors that are rounded, with just the right amount of acids to make it a perfect food wine.

Mani Niall is the author of Covered in Honey: The Amazing Flavors of Varietal Honey published by Rodale Press.

Honey sources:

The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, 419 N Beverly Dr; (310-278-2855)
Joan's on Third, 8346 W 3rd St, Los Angeles (323-655-2285)
Surfas, 8825 National Blvd, Culver City (310-559-4770)
Whole Foods various locations

A Taste of Honey
Bill Lewis, an experienced beekeeper, and Mani Niall, chef for the National Honey Board will share their knowledge of honey on Saturday, June 19. The event, which begins at 11am, includes a tour of Lewis' Bee Ranch (12640 Little Tujunga Canyon Road in Lake View Terrace), an opportunity to learn more about the production and uses of honey, a honey tasting, and lunch. Lunch will consist of recipes from Niall's Covered in Honey. Copies of the book, Bill's honey, and mead will be available for sale. Tickets are $35 for Slow Food members; $40 for non-member culinary students; $45 for non-members.

Flourless Chocolate Cake
Makes 10 servings

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • 6 ozs bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 6 ozs semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 6 eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup honey, such as Tupelo or Tulip Poplar, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt
Butter a springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper or waxed paper. Butter the paper and flour the entire pan. Wrap the outside of pan with foil.

Preheat oven to 350-F and set a rack in the center of the oven. Place the butter and chocolate in a bowl and set the bowl over, but not touching, a pot of hot water set on low heat. Do not allow the water to boil. Stir occasionally and check to see when it is melted. Stir to blend and remove from the heat. Cool mixture to lukewarm. Mean while, beat the egg yolks and 1/4 cup of the honey with an electric mixer in a large bowl for 3 minutes, until the mixture is very thick and pale.

Fold in the lukewarm chocolate mixture and then fold in the vanilla and salt. In another large bowl, using clean, dry beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup honey, beating until medium-firm peaks form. Fold the whites into the chocolate mixture in three additions. Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top.

Bake the cake 50 minutes until the top is puffed (and possibly cracked) and a tester inserted in the center comes out with some moist crumbs attached. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack. Be fore- warned: The cake will fall quite a bit.

Using a small knife, cut around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake and then remove the sides. Place a 9" tart pan bottom or card- board round atop the cake. Invert the cake onto the tart pan bottom. Peel off the parchment paper. Invert the cake back on the serving platter.

This cake will keep, at room temperature, for several days. The flavor and texture peak the day after it is made.

Rosemary, Balsamic, and Tupelo Honey Marinade with Roasted Pork Loin
This is a great marinade or grilling sauce for ribs, chicken, and even game birds such as pheasant or quail. In fact, i consider it to be an all-around tasty and complementary sauce for most broiled and grilled dishes.
Makes 2 cups marinade


  • 3 Tablespoons fresh rosemary, diced (or 2 Tablespoons dried, crushed)
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup honey, such as Tupelo
  • 3/4 cup Dijon mustard, seedless
  • 6 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Ttablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 1/2 tsps salt
  • 1 1/2 tsps garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp ground black pepper
Pork Loin
  • 2-3 pounds pork loin, or any size suitable to your needs
  • 1 cup red wine
Brush a little honey over ripe pineapple slices or wedges of peach and mango, and toss them on the grill to serve alongside any summer barbecue.

To make the marinade, blend together the rosemary, cider vinegar, honey, mustard, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, tomato paste, salt, garlic, and pepper. Pour into a small nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium-low. Let simmer for 40 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

The sauce will thicken and the flavors intensify. (Boiling vinegar may smell overpowering, but it will subside.) Allow the sauce to cool and then refrigerate (it will keep well for up to 3 months).

To make the pork loin, immerse pork in marinade for 12 to 24 hours. Simply slather the glaze generously over the loin on all sides, cover, and refrigerate. You may turn it occasionally, but this glaze tends to cling pretty well. When ready to cook, let the loin sit out of the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 500-F. Place the loin in a roasting pan and reserve the excess marinade and juices from the pan in which it was marinated. Roast on each side for about 10 minutes, lower the heat to 300-F, and continue baking. While the loin is roasting, put the reserved marinade and juices in a small nonreactive saucepan, along with the wine. Bring to a boil and reduce to 1/2 cup.

Roasting time will vary depending on the size of the loin, so you must rely on the internal temperature to signal its doneness-when it reaches 155-F and the juices run clear, it's done.

Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with the reduced sauce alongside or simply pour it over loin slices on a platter. I recommend serving the loin with a soft polenta, crumbled blue cheese, and caramelized onions with baby artichokes.

John Willoughby is the executive editor of Gourmet magazine. He will be in LA for a Gourmet-on-Fire grilling event at the Viceroy Hotel in Santa Monica on Saturday, June 26. Featured chefs include Mark Peel of Campanile, Rainer Schwartz of the Viceroy and Suzanne Tracht of Jar restaurant. For reservations, call 800-679-0397 or go online at

Grilled Monster Pork Chops With Tomatillo And Green Apple Sauce
Serves 6
Time required: 1 1/2 hours; active time: 50 min
The sauce in this recipe is also good with chicken and ham.

For pork chops:

  • 3 Tablespoons ground coriander
  • 3 Tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons black pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 (2-inch thick) loin pork chops (each about 1 lb)

For tomatillo and green apple sauce:

  • 1/2 Ib fresh tomatillos, husks discarded and tomatillos rinsed
  • 2 Granny Smith apples
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro sprigs
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon mild honey
  • 1 tsp minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo
Special equipment: a large chimney starter (if using charcoal); a 17 x 12 1/2 x 3 1/2 inch disposable aluminum roasting pan (if using charcoal); an instant-read thermometer.

Marinate chops: Stir together coriander, cumin, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, then add oil and stir until combined well. Rub spice mixture all over chops. Let chops marinate while making sauce and preparing grill.

Make sauce: Simmer tomatillos and 3 cups water in a 2 1/2- to 3-quart saucepan uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tomatillos are just soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and cool 15 minutes.

While tomatillos are cooling, core apples and cut into 1/4 inch dice. Puree tomatillos with remaining sauce ingredients except apples in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl and stir in apples.

To cook pork using a charcoal grill: Open vents on bottom of grill. Light charcoal (80 to 100 briquettes) In chimney starter. Leaving about one Quarter of grill free of charcoal, bank lit charcoal across rest of grill so that coals are about three times higher on opposite side. "Charcoal fire is medium-hot when you can hold your hand 5 inches above rack over area where coals are piled highest for 3 to 4 seconds.

Sear pork on lightly-oiled grill rack directly over hottest part of coals, uncovered, turning over once and, if necessary, moving around grill to avoid flare-ups, until well browned, 10 to 12 minutes total.

Move pork to coolest part of grill, then cover with inverted roasting pan and grill, turning pork over once, until thermometer inserted diagonally into center of each chop (avoid bone) registers 150 degrees, 10 to 12 minutes total. Transfer pork to a cutting board and let stand. loosely covered with foil, 15 minutes (temperature will rise to 155 F).

To cook pork using a gas grill: Preheat all burners on high, covered, 10 minutes. Sear pork on lightly-oiled grill rack, covered with lid, turning over once, until well browned, 10 to 12 minutes total.

Turn off 1 burner (middle burner if there are 3) and put pork above shut-off burner. Reduce heat on remaining burner(s) to moderate and grill pork, covered with lid, until thermometer inserted diagonally into center (avoid bone) registers 150-F. 12 to 16 minutes.

Transfer pork to a cutting board and let stand, loosely covered with foil, 15 minutes (temperature will rise to 150F).

Serve pork: Cut pork away from bone, then thinly slice and serve with sauce.

Cooks' note: If you aren't able to grill outdoors, pork chops can be seared In a hot lightly oiled well-seasoned ridged grill pan over moderately high heat, turning over once, until well browned, about 6 minutes total, then transferred to a shallow baking pan and roasted in middle of a preheated 450 degree oven, without turning over, until thermometer registers 150F, 15 to 20 minutes.