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Thursday, November 4, 2010

11/9 - Live from the 2010 Santé Restaurant Awards in Napa Valley

Tuesday, November 9th was a special edition of Slow Living Radio as we broadcast live from the 13th annual Santé Restaurant Awards at the Villagio Inn & Spa in Napa Valley.  Talk about traversing the globe!  We made the most of the event and our time as we visited with three internationally distinguished professionals -Sebastiano Ramello representing "Italy's breadbasket region" Piemonte, Italy, expert mixologist Charlotte Voisey from the UK, a brand ambassador for William Grant & Sons, and Santé award-winner Chef Phillip Ponticelli from Citricos at Disney's Grand Floridian in Orlando. 

The Piedmont Wine Region, particularly the Langhe sub-region, is the land of castles, vineyards and romantic hills shrouded in mist. The Alps hover over this lovely wine region. The region's name in fact makes reference to this. Piemonte means "at the foot of the mountain." In autumn, thick fog hovers over the brightly colored hills (the red and orange vines actually "glow" with the reflection of the snow-capped Alps) and you can just make out the castle tops and village spires poking out from the mist. Piedmont is located right in the north-west corner of Italy, with Switzerland to the north, France just west and the beautiful Mediterranean coast and fishing villages of Liguria only an hour and a half to the south. Piemonte is often called the "Burgundy of Italy," as it is most famous for its boutique wines and outstanding gastronomy (Piedmont is home to the famous white truffle). In fact, the region attracts gourmet travelers from all over the world who go there to enjoy regional delicacies such as risotto from locally grown rice, white truffles, and a cornucopia of luscious cheeses paired with some of the best wines of Italy. 

Sebastiano Ramello of Piemonte, Italy with
Slow Living Radio Host Sally James
 This type of traveller has been called the "Gastronaut," and Piedmont is firmly on the Gastro-map. The three best areas in Piedmont (for scenery and quality of wines) are the Langhe, Roero and Monferrato sub-regions. The principal city in Piedmont is Turin, a beautiful cosmopolitan city known for its superb chocolate makers. Winemaking in Piedmont is genuinely artisan and boutique. Most wineries are family-owned. Each label has hidden behind it the face, the work, and above all the secrets and traditions that have been handed down from generation to generation. Vineyards tend to be very small and neatly kept. Entire villages are dedicated to wine production and wine is part of daily life. The harvest festivals in Piedmont are almost as wild as Carnival (Carnaval), and nearly everyone participates in the local festivities. The wine villages of Alba and Asti are two of the most well known, and are definitely good choices as bases for exploring wineries and do some sightseeing. Alba holds the annual Truffle festival which attracts chefs from all over the world and Asti holds the medieval "Palio" festival, a lively event that presents the wine award Douja D’Or. The super star wines from the region are the DOCG Barolo, Red Roero and Barbaresco Cru wines named after the villages themselves where these Cru vineyards lie. They are tremendously rich red wines made with the native Nebbiolo grape. Piedmont is also home to many other native grape varietals such as Dolcetto and Barbera (two of the best red grapes, after the Nebbiolo) and Cortese (a white varietal used to make the deliciously fresh Gavi di Gavi wines) and another native white called Arneis, known for being highly perfumed and delicate. Piedmont is an absolute must for food and wine lovers visiting Italy. While Tuscany is full of monumental art cities such as Siena, Pisa and Florence, Piemonte's attraction is its small charming villages (like Grinzane Cavour, La Morra, Verduno, Barolo, Monforte, Diano D'Alba, and Gabiano). The food is simply out of this world, the landscape is stunning, the wines are sublime and the people extremely friendly – all of the components for an unforgettable gourmet tour! (from Journalist Sebastiano Ramello)

Charlotte Voisey of  William Grant & Sons talks the finer points
of mixology with Slow Living Radio co-host Scott Lewis
Charlotte Voisey - The lovely international award-winning mixologist visited with us to discuss the finer traditions of blending spirits with Hendrick's Gin from William Grant & Sons of Scotland at the top of the list!  Charlotte Voisey has directed bars in Barcelona, Buenos Aires and London. Charlotte first took an inerest in mixology under the guidance of the Gorgeous Group in London in 2002 when they opened Apartment 195 together, which was soon to be awarded Bar of the Year. Charlotte went on to win the title of Best Bartender at the UK Bar Awards in 2004, and a Silver Medal at the Female Bartender Championships in Italy.  Today, Charlotte Voisey travels the globe showcasing top brands as an ambassor for William Grant & Sons.

Chef Phillip Ponticelli visits with Slow Living Radio
before accepting a Santé Award for Citricos at
Disney's Grand Floridian Resort 
Now in its thirteenth year, the Santé Awards program was created to recognize excellence in restaurant food, wine, and spirits service and hospitality. The program includes four distinct categories: Culinary Hospitality, Wine Hospitality, Spirits Hospitality, and Service Professional.



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