Thursday, December 31, 2009 to kiss the HSBC LION

*file pic fr 2009's makan trip*
both Monkey & JS are currently away

in an effort to chase Michelin Stars & good chinese food
will be back middle of next week :))))))))))))))) the mean time, Sweet JS has done a few scheduled post for the next few days
to keep u folks tuned while we are away.

roast goose, dim sum, egg tarts, wan tan mee...


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Parco Sempione, Milan

Sometimes curiosity don't kill the cat
whenever we are on the road travelling makaning watever
we never fail to stretch our nose longer and sniff around wander futher
for more beautiful sights and explore hidden gems

built in 1893 its garden was designed by Emilio Alemagna
Castello Sforzesco at a distant
it was the same evening when we were visiting the castle
and got adventurous, ventured further down this beautiful park
Parco = Park
JS been lugging his heavy Tai Farn Shue D700 which weigh about
about...about .....anyone's huge size dog
yep it's that heavy....and to snap pic with it takes a lot of effort and muscle skills
motor skills and brain
and obviously I dun have any of the above
this one taken minus him
looked so fake huh? I dunno this place is so beautiful and all the scenery were just too perfect!!!!
almost like a wallpaper of a studio
and so we walked and sat around
ppl watching dogs watching and watched the sunset over the castle
*well I think in Italy, per human being there's a dog*
sun rays over a naked tree.....
sun sets about 4.30 during winter
by 5pm it's very dark already
cobbled streets
this 47 hectares of greenery is really worth visiting
esp for photography
there's also a pond with clucky ducks, swans, a romantic bridge
statues to marvel at
and an amphitheatre built in 1806 which is still in used at the moment

Parco Sempione
Piazza Castello - Piazza Sempione
there are 8 entrances to this park
opens to Public everyday

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

my very first Gelato in Milan

it's alwiz difficult having to be able to choose a maximum of only 2 flavours
coz obviously I can't devour 10 diff flavours on my own
when JS is not a gelato person!!!!!!
hmmm should i have imperiale? mandorla? sacher?
then my eyes locked onto Desiderio Amarena.......
so PRETTY!!!!
the beauty about gelato's so different fr ice cream
wat's more it was invented in ITALY
gelato has lower fat content as compared to ice creams,
and it uses diff type of sugar - sucrose n dextrose

oh by the way the flavour amarena = black cherry + cream
and the other flavour was limone

well the rule of choosing gelato:
during winter...choose the cream/milk/heavy based gelato
while during summer...choose the fruit based

so I had a mixture of summer and winter on that day
anyway that was the 1st day in Milano and my 1st gelato..
following that, many gelatos follow suit every evening

gosh I'm still bloggin bout the 1st few days in Milan..

Monday, December 28, 2009

more pics on Duomo by JS

nice eh?
do they make u wanna fly off to Milano now?

Fall Winter in Piedmonte

JS took this pic of Monkey outside GAJA's castle in Babaresco, Piedmonte

Climbing the Duomo, Milan

u neva tot that this structure can be climbed don't ya?
well for Euro 9.50 per person = RM 47.50
price inclusive of elevator ride
u can climb all the way to the roof and it was one helluva experience for me
the roof was just spiral laden
and so GOTHIC!!!!
at the top is the statue of La Madonnina
it's standing at 4.16m and sculpted by Giuseppe Bini in 1774

a water gutter of an ancient flying creature
can u imagine they crafted everything from marble by hands?
the marble has worn off over the years
and it looked dark + black due to the rain
the climb was not scary despite this Monkey is such a whimp on heights
there was one part where u can see the whole piazza on the climb that scared the shit outta me
I was whimpering all the way up and almost cried
*only the last part where u can see below*
it made JS -_-" x 100000000
breathless view on the way up
can u see how tiny I was?????
Voila we are at the TOP!!!!!!
even the roof was made fr marble
tiny me~~~~~~
worth all the whimpers and climb huh?

Duomo Roof Terrace
Opens daily 9.00am till 4.15pm
during summer it opens till 5.20pm

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Gaja......By Appointment Only.

We walked slowly thru the main street of Barbaresco (only one street called Via Torino!) and admiring the amazing view of the vineyards wih the Tanaro river snaking lazily below and Swiss Alps in the distant and the Matterhorn just barely visible.

As we stood before the south facing slopes of St Lawrence(Sori San Lorenzo) which is one of the 3 single vineyards owned by Gaja in Barbaresco and world renowned(see earlier posting on Ristorante Cracco Peck and you will understand why!!) begins to appreciate the concept of "terroir" in winemakers vocab.

At a plot size of only 3.6 hectares, this southerly facing slopes amongst the abundantly east-west oriented slopes in this commune is the most priced as it gets the most sunlight which is much needed by the nebbiolo grapes for sugar to develop which is essential for fermentation.

On arriving at the main entrance of nos 36, Via Torino, Monkey went up to the intercom and request for permission to enter.
......the big doors slide open with a loud rumbling noise and the place suddenly transformed into a big courtyard....we walked into the office and was greeted with the familiar "buonjorno" and asked to wait for our tour of the winery.
Waiting room at Gaja.
This are gems man!!
If the bottles were will still be collector's item!

Our guide was the charming and knowledgeable Allesandra(Alex) and definitely qualify as an ambassadress of Gaja. After the formalities, we started the tour.....first stop was the press where the nebbiolo grapes start their journey to becoming what is to be the queen of wines in Italy....yes, the grapes harvested are brought to this very place to be gently pressed and vinified into great wines of DOCG Barbaresco. We were offcourse not allow to watch the vinification secret lar!!

We then went thru a series of stairs and narrow corridors and soon caught a whiff of the familiar oaky nose and we knew we have reach the very heart of Gaja's winery.....The cellar! There were loads of new french oak barrels containing this precious liquid stacked up neatly and systematically.
Barbaresco wines are aged in these barriques, anytime from 1 to 2 years.

A bit more about Gaja....The winery produces about 30,000 cases of wine in total every year from their 100 hectares of 32 plots of vineyards in Piedmonte (basically Barbaresco and Barolo).....that's rare stuff hence the exclusivity and price.
note....some of this vintages are older than us man!!

By now we have actually crossed under Via Torino(tunnel) and continued our journey up to the castle thru Gaja's private art gallery and eventually to what we have been waiting for.......the wine tasting session.

The tasting room in the castle was done up with style and taste for savoring these fine wines....ambient tempreture was right......perfect lighting....nebbiolo Riedel glasses were used..... that's just perfect.
In front of us were 4 glasses. We were served 4 different Gaja wines from 4 different parts of Piedmonte including the infamous Darmagi (in Italian it means "what a shame"!) which is a cabernet and merlot blend and definitely not traditional as no other grapes(except nebbiolo) are "allow" to be planted in Barbaresco but Angelo Gaja defied that.....he is the man!!

My pick was the Barbaresco 2004 and Sperss 99(barolo) with the familiar leathery and tar nose. Barbaresco gets more maritime influence compare to Barolo hence the nebbiolo grapes ripens faster than their counterparts in Barolo. Coupled with different soil type, geology, topography, weather, etc(ie, Terroir), you get a different tasting wine although its made from the same grapes.
Gaja's style of wine making has changed considerably compared to the older days. Their wines are now more approachable and drinkable at a young age yet traditional but with a nod towards modern.

After the wine tasting, sadly we knew it was time to end our tour of Gaja. Alex presented us with a book "The vines of San Lorenzo" by Edward Steinberg and how appropraite it was. The perfect reading material.....and the perfect winery tour.....and together that set the context for all the amazing bottles of Gaja that we were to open for the rest of our holiday in Italy.
Monkey outside Gaja's castle.

As we weaved down the hilly road away from Barbaresco in the fading light, JS held monkey's hand and both took a last glance at the slowly disappearing tower's silhouette in the distant.....then we turned and smilingly acknowledged each other and without saying a word we knew exactly what each other was thinking.....yes, we will be back soon!

This post is dedicated to all the wine kakis out there and especially chef Lino Sauro who made this tour of Gaja possible.