Tag Archives: italian

The Grapes Behind Italian Red Wines

Happy #WineWednesday! Wine expert Joe Roberts explores the history of five Italian red wines and the regions in which they were born. If you are curious to learn more about your favorite grapes, then #HipNJ has got you covered, thanks to Fix.com.


Barbera

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Barbera offers lots of bright red fruit flavors, and carries the chocolate and vanilla aromas of oak aging very well. What’s more, it tends to make pretty good wine even at high farming yields, making it one of the easiest grapes to work with for winemakers.

Nebbiolo

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Nebbiolo produces dynamic, complex, vibrant, and tightly wound wines that can take decades of aging to unfold. Expect dark red fruit flavors, and aromas of licorice, spices, rose petals, and even tar.

Sagrantino

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Sagrantino provides blackberry and black cherry fruit flavors, with hints of pine, smoky spices, and even wet earth. Look for Montefalco Sagrantino, and Montefalco Rosso (a slightly more approachable version).

Aglianico

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Generally, the fruit flavors will be dark and savory, the structure will be potent, and the aromas will evoke roses and minerals. Look for wines from Taurasi, and Aglianico del Vulture.

Nero d’Avola

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Nero d’Avola is a bit of a vinous chameleon, able to conjure up easy-drinking, everyday wines with plummy red fruit flavors, or more complex wines (often aged in some oak) that bring darker berry flavors and aromas of chocolate. Look for wines designated Sicilia to start your Nero drinking experiments.


Italian cuisine is known for its rich and delicious flavors, and the wine is no different. Next time you head to the liquor store, make sure you head straight to the Italian section and try a vino made with one of these delicious grapes!

Bucket and Bay Craft Gelato

#HipNJ’s Cara Di Falco headed over to Jersey City to pay Bucket & Bay Craft Gelato a visit!

Bucket & Bay is a gelateria located on Bay Street known for its unique gelato.  Gelato, of course, is an Italian style of low-fat ice cream that is characterized by its more dense texture in comparison to other styles of ice cream.

Cara sat down with Jen Kavlakov, the owner and chief of the café, to talk about what goes on behind the scenes. Along with her husband, Boris, she opened up Bucket & Bay because it had long been a dream of theirs and they wanted to make their kids proud of them for following that dream.

Perhaps the most pivotal ingredient that contributes to their healthier (and tastier) gelato is the 100 percent grass fed milk. This type of milk has more nutrients than standard milk whereas cows that produce the milk produce it in small amounts.

What also sets Bucket & Bay apart from other gelaterias in New Jersey is that rather from starting from a premade base and adding flavor from there like others do, Jen and the rest of her crew start completely from scratch.

The café also only uses local ingredients acquired from a purveyor. One drawback is that they only use seasonal ingredients, so you won’t be able to get anything with strawberries in the dead of winter. But they work around this. Family is very important to Jen and Boris and the duo would never put an item on the menu that they wouldn’t serve to their loved ones.

Jen obviously was not going to let Cara leave without a sample! Cara was lucky enough to try one of the cafes classic items, a pressed gelato sandwich. Served on toasted babka, a type of croissant roll, this sandwich includes gelato and a house-made jam. Her sample was a classic combination of Bucket & Bay vanilla gelato and strawberry rhubarb jam.

Jen and Boris also strive to be active community participants beyond desert by selling their top-notch ingredients through a buyers club deal called Bucket Share. Membership is not required in order to purchase the ingredients, but a discount is offered. Rather than a come-and-go atmosphere, the café also features community space and visitors are encouraged to sit back and enjoy the gelato.

To learn more about Bucket & Bay Craft Gelato, go to BucketAndBay.com.

foods

Francesca Gourmet Foods Opens in River Edge

Welcome Francesca Gourmet Foods to the #HipNJ neighborhood!

The River Edge gourmet market features a vast array of prepared foods from around the world—with a focus on classic Italian fare—made fresh daily, along with a selection of artisanal products.

The 6,000 square foot space borrows its name from owner Keith Alliotts’ young daughter, and also pays homage to his Italian American roots. Francesca Gourmet Foods showcases various individual stations within the space, such as a live mozzarella-making booth, a rosticceria carved meat station—featuring prime rib daily—sandwich/panini bar, build-your-own salads, and seasonal soup, as well as a central counter featuring dozens of rotating gourmet dishes.

In addition to the prepared foods, a retail component offers an assortment of artisanal products such as imported oils, vinegars, spreads and jarred specialties, alongside fresh baked breads from Balthazar, cheeses from around the world, packaged pastas and more. Grab and go options are also available, including premade soups, sauces, salads and baked specialty items.

Francesca offers 30-seats to sit and enjoy food on-site, or quick and easy service to grab something and be on your way. The space was designed by Manning Design Group in Asbury Park, NJ, and has a rustic, farm to table feel, creating a warm inviting atmosphere. Blue and white imported ceramic Sicilian tile greet guests as they enter, while reclaimed wood is found throughout the space. Additional design elements include a hand-cranked prosciutto slicer imported from Italy, hand-painted signs, and a reclaimed barn door in the dining area.

“We will strive to make Francesca Gourmet Foods a place the community can count on to deliver fresh and delicious food prepared with love – a place one can drop by at anytime, whether for a quick bite on-the-go, to pick-up a delicious dinner for the family on your way home from work, or to assist with hosting that big holiday party,” said Owner Keith Alliotts. “We’re excited to be open and are looking forward to getting to know our customers, and becoming part of the neighborhood.”

While Alliotts brings expertise and a diverse background in commercial real estate to the table, he is joined by a team with vast experience in the restaurant industry. Helming the kitchen is Executive Chef Mike Matonti, who brings twenty years’ experience in the industry, having worked at Bergen County’s best restaurants including Café Panache and The Saddle River Inn.

Overseeing the day-to-day is Robert Anton, who serves as Director of Operations for the Francesca brand. Anton was previously with The Hillstone Restaurant Group, where he managed outposts across the country, including Los Angeles, Scottsdale, New York City and Hackensack, equating to twenty-five years of experience in top-tier management positions.   Also on the team is general manager, Mike Byrne, assisting Anton with operations. All four grew up in Bergen County and still call Northern New Jersey home.

Francesca Gourmet Foods is open Monday through Friday from 10:00AM to 8PM, and Saturday – Sunday from 10:00AM to 6PM. The team plans to launch a catering program in the coming weeks. For more information please visit FrancescaFoods.com, or call 201-678-1188. For social media, use Instagram and Twitter: @francescafoods or Facebook.