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by Zak Ortenzio
502 N.3rd Street, Harrisburg (717) 221-0192 www.sammysitalianrestaurant.com.
Call to check on hours. Reservations suggested, street parking, no corkage fee.
Sammy’s has been a fixture on the Harrisburg restaurant scene for years. Upon arrival, “…you are family, whether you’ve traveled a block or a galaxy…” to get there. After ordering you can relax and enjoy a meal that was prepared with attention to detail.
For our appetizer we decided to order Portobello Oreganato and divided it among the four of us. The appetizer came with three Portobello Mushrooms served with oregano, bread crumbs and olive oil. While eating the Portobellos we noticed a hint of spiciness which was not mentioned when we ordered the Portobellos. The spiciness did not mask the meaty flavor of the mushrooms, and the olive oil did not saturate them they had not lost their firmness. This was a fine start to the meal.
Our main courses were: Veal Florence, Veal Margarita, Lasagna, and Scallops Provençale. All of our main courses included a salad. The salad greens were fresh and the dressing was applied sparingly so as not to mask the taste of the fresh greens. The Veal Florence also included Italian sausage, spinach and lemon sauce over Angel hair pasta. The veal was not overdone and had the same lemon sauce, which did not over power the veal. The Veal Margarita was tender and served with a tasty sauce as well. Sammy’s Lasagna is not your typical Italian Lasagna. It had a mushroom brandy sauce, which was unusual, and included pieces of portobellos and tomatoes. The Scallops Provençale were sautéed with diced tomatoes, garlic and herbs and served over Angel hair pasta. The Scallops had a wonderful sear, were fork tender, and paired well with the rest of the meal. All of the pastas were done al dente. We did not ask about dessert. It is always pleasure to visit a restaurant where food preparation is of the highest quality and the wait staff has knowledge of the entire menu. Sammy’s is highly recommended.
by Dave Williams
If there is one wine that gets more scrutiny than others, it must be Champagne, if for no other reason than reverence and cost. And with science now catching up to what history has shown, once again another finding of minutia to ponder when consuming your bubbles. In a recent 5 year study science has shown a benefit to cork during tirage (champagne’s in bottle second fermentation) in comparison to lesser expensive crown caps which are plastic coated metal caps similar to conventional beer bottle caps.
The study was performed by Amorim, a Portuguese cork producer which included sparkling wines from across the globe, not just champagne. Three properties were assessed: 1) retention of CO2, 2) oxygen kinetics and 3) volatile components. The study found measurable differences of volatile components and oxygen kinetics. While cork had similar CO2 values with crown caps, it showed greater preservation of volatile components like esters which we can sense in the nose and taste.
However, it was differences in oxygen kinetics that the study highlighted. It was explained that there is a balance between oxygen and reduction. During tirage there is a breakdown of components such as dead yeast cells, which consumes some of the dissolved oxygen in the wine making the second fermentation reductive (reducing oxygen). This can lead to unpleasant Sulphur-like aromas. It was shown that the small amount of air trapped in the micro pores of cork were injected into the bottle when it was compressed for insertion adding 2-2.5mg of oxygen per bottle. This small amount of O2 helped reduce the oxygen consumption during tirage creating a better balance. On a scale of 1-10 most winemakers preferred a balance of 3-4. Crown caps had an average measurement of 2.5 whereas cork had 4. The lack of reductive aromas and better preservation of esters creates more flavors, more fruit, more toast and brioche in sparkling wines. While the study ran for 5 years many of these differences were noted after 2.5 years. The unanswered question is what happens after 10 or 20 years?
by Dave Williams
With the recent popularity of pink wine, and explosion of new offerings coming on the market over the last 5-6 years, the question is – how do you select a good one? All too often wineries, negotiants or importers rush to meet marketplace demand without much regard to quality. Many wines have fallen victim to urgent capitalism, leaving a less than positive consumer experience. In fact, before we go any further I want to share a few traditional terms which more accurately identifies the origins of pink wine. In France “rosé” is the proper name. “Rosado” or “clarete” will come from Spain and in Italy “rosato” or “chiaretto” are used. In Abbruzzo, Italy it goes by “cerasuolo”.
Christopher Hoel, founder of Harper’s Club (an advisory firm that curates some of the world’s top wine collections) and sommelier, who established himself curating wine for clients, buys rosés based on color. He feels the lighter colored wines are higher in quality. It is generally regarded that the short maceration (crushed grape contact with juice) method is the best way to make quality pink wine. In this case the winemaker has a specific aroma and taste profile for the wine. Many are wonderfully refreshing, dry and redolent of flowers and summer fruits. Darker pink wines tend to be mass produced where maceration time is less closely controlled. Great rosé is about delicacy and finesse which lighter pink wines are more likely to deliver.
Another criteria he uses is country of origin, and “ABV” or alcohol level. France has a long history with rosé which always a good indicator. However, other countries and regions are remarkable as well. Dry wines will have an alcohol level of 12.5% or higher whereas wines with some level of residual sugar will be less than 12.5%, say 10-12%. (The old Rosé d’ Anjou comes to mind.) Good-to-great pink wines are almost always dry.
So the next time you are shopping for a pink wine and are overwhelmed by the selection, try this guide to see if you find something of your pleasure.
by Dave Williams
I would bet most of us are familiar with “new wine” because of George DeBoeuf and Beaujolais Nouveau which appears annually on the third Thursday of November. George certainly did a marvelous job as a promoter or extraordinary marketer. To the point where it has become cause for grand, and some say crazy, celebrations; and certainly increased revenue for wineries and retailers across the globe regardless of whether one likes Beaujolais Nouveau or not. In Japan one such ritual is for the consumers to bathe in giant pools of the stuff. Makes one wonder if they drink their way out of the pool. While George may have latched on to a wildly successful marketing ploy, he certainly has no claim of exclusivity or originality, as new wine has been made in the Old World for hundreds of years.
As far back as Medieval times wine makers traditionally first tasted their “new wines” around St. Martin’s Day (November 11). In Eastern Europe the Czeck Republic and Hungary also have such celebrations around wines called Svatomartinske’ Vino and Marton bora or wine of St. Martin, respectively. Not all are made via carbonic maceration, though most are. (Carbonic maceration is when harvested grapes are fermented in closed vats bathed in carbon dioxide prior to crushing, producing simple wines with low levels of tannins. These wines are quickly bottled and consumed with no intent for longevity.) In fact, the Czech Republic has quality standards for Svatomartinske’ which undergoes evaluation by the state wine making institute. In Hungary, Marton bora is strongly connected to goose dishes with goose feasts occurring throughout the country upon release.
All so called, “new wines” are produced from early harvested grape varieties. Gamay being the most well-known. However, in Central Europe Muller-Thurgau, Fruhroter Veltliner and Muskat Moravsky used to make white as well as rosé “new wines”. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending upon your opinion of these wines, most are unknown outside the local areas they are made. For example, the Gaillac appellation in Southwest France makes Gaillac Primeur and releases it on the same day as Beaujolais Nouveau. I would bet you have never heard of this new wine, let alone tasted it. “New wines” also appear in Austria, Italy and Spain during fall in the year of harvest although few if any are imported to the US. Released on October 30, Italy’s “vino novello” is probably the only one likely to find its’ way Stateside.
In summary, “new wines” bring energy and some excitement to the wine world. Celebrations occur after release for a few weeks then all is quickly forgotten, very ephemeral.