All posts filed under: review

Forever Young, Osteria Veneta. Part III/III

Osteria Veneta’s wine menu is heavy. The cursive script has to be deciphered line by line. The only white available by the glass is a Bianco di Custoze. The menu lists the varieties it is made from: Garganega, Fernanda and Chardonnay. It’s the 2014 vintage and costs €7 for a glass (€28 for the bottle). This is comparatively good value—a liter of Acqua Minerale costs €6,50. The red on offer is a Valpolicella Ripasso: Corvina, Rondinella, Merlot from 2012 at €8 a glass or €32 for a bottle. The wine-list says the producer for both is “Campo Reale”, which isn’t much information to go on, but probably refers to “L’azienda Agricola CampoReale di Mario Lavarini,” a producer who specializes in Valpolicella wines. Does it matter where a wine is from; how old it is; how much it costs?  Carpe diem: work, drink, eat, live. Life is about doing something, not being someone. Judge a wine by what it “does” to you. It’s either tasty or it isn’t. Renaissance humanists took the opposite view. It’s about being someone …

Forever Young, Osteria Veneta. Part II.

Two starters and two glasses of wine are ordered as the only course. A glass of Bianco di Custoze and a glass of Valpolicella Ripasso accompany the two compact dishes: a potato carpaccio and four or five tortelli di zucca (pumpkin ‘dumplings’). If the chef of Osteria Veneta is an artist, as he seems to claim he is, then how should we judge the quality of this ensemble? The fresh, yellow, thin slices of potato fan out in carefully arranged circles. And the pale tortelli are decorated with a singed branch of sage. It is food, but the chef seems to believe there’s also more to it than that. We should be more accurate. The chef did not call himself an artist. In that framed newspaper review, which hangs on the way to the restroom in the Osteria’s shrine to its favorite critics, he says only that Italian food itself is an art. It is art, he says, because it keeps on inventing itself afresh and is never boring. Is it possible to separate the …

Forever young, Osteria Veneta. Part I.

“It’s too quiet.” The keeper of the one-man bar next door has sauntered over for a neighbourly conversation. He is wearing a casual white t-shirt and has a dish towel slung over his shoulder like a bad-mannered necktie. He embodies his bar; he has no guests. There’s harmony between the neighbours: the young barman’s approach to the well-seasoned Osteria Veneta was respectful and the Osteria’s incaricato d’affari pauses and seems to choose her words carefully. I can’t make them out. The restaurant is too richly filled with furniture for the sound to pass. The Osteria’s proprietress had only just retaken her perch at a table outside her restaurant before being approached by the barman. This was where she was when we entered earlier. We had taken her for a guest. Then suddenly she was next to us. She floats across the restaurant in slow motion: measured but effective. Her face is fixed, preserving its friendliness just below the surface. She applies smiles in well-measured doses. We were free to choose our seats. A heavy blackboard with the evening’s menu was …

European union (Longing for Langelina)

Image: Johann Friedrich Overbeck, Italia und Germania Germany loves Italy and, in a painting by Friedrich Overbeck (Neue Pinakothek, Saal 4), the affection is mutual. Germania and Italia are represented as young women, one dark-haired, one blond. Behind the blonde on the right lies a walled town. On the left, shouldering the brunette, the landscape is more open; the dwellings are less defensive. In Overbeck’s own words, the general theme “intended is the longing that always draws the North to the South, to its art, its natural landscape, its poetry.” Where there is a longing, there is opportunity. Cantina Langelina a Monaco is a well-oiled hospitality business built to target the North’s (latent) longings like a well-run mine is built to open veins of gold ore. Cantina Langelina includes a hotel business in Corinaldo (a town in the Marche region with fortifications that date back to the Late Middle Ages) and a vinothek in Munich on the Reichenbachstrasse just south of the Viktualienmarkt. How do you define a vinothek? This one is a shop, a café and a wine-bar. It offers four house-branded wines and …

Marktwirt

A restaurant called Marktwirt is just a hundred steps or so northwest from the centre of the Viktualienmarkt. The Viktualienmarkt itself hosts a few shops with serious assortments of wine and cheese. It’s also hard to miss the Nymphenburg Sekt Cafe. Nymphenburg Sekt is a Bavarian sparkling wine producer. I do not know of any serious vineyards around Munich.  There are certainly no grapes growing around the former hunting grounds of the Bavarian nobility in Nymphenburg. Nymphenburg Sekt admits on its website that their stuff is made from grapes (do they mean bulk wine?) collected from all around Europe. The Sekt Crystal Cabinet is competitively priced and trocken. Trocken is the German for dry, which is the third-sweetest type of sparkling wine (17-32 g or residual sugar per litre), which means you’ll find it rather sweet. Cabinet is a label word that doesn’t mean anything. The premium sparkling wine from the house of Nymphenburg is called Koenig Ludwig II. Koenig Ludwig II was the eccentric King of Bavaria from 1864-1886. Among other things, he is responsible for the fairy-tale Schloss Neuschwanstein, which inspired the castle of the beast in Disney’s …

Korked

Are there good wine bars in Munich? Why would you expect any? When a wine map of Germany includes Munich it’s only because Germany’s second smallest wine region in Saxony is also on the map. And since that’s also so far-out to the east it makes sense to include Munich, straight down 400 km to the south. The two closest wine regions to Munich are Baden and Württemberg. It’s not clear which of the two is closer. Esslingen in Württemberg is about 200 km away to the north-west. Meersburg of Baden is about 200 km away to the south-west. London and Paris have vineyards close by. Stanlake Park is an hour by train from Paddington (ca. 50 km) while Paris has its own vineyards (Clos Montmartre). In the 16th century, Munich’s rulers from the House of Wittelsbach brought in wine — 40,000 litres or so — from Regensburg (ca. 100 km north). Regensburg had a serious wine-scene at the time developing out of vineyards held by local monasteries. Many of these were destroyed during the 30-years war (1618-1648). After the war beer replaced wine as …