Wine, culture, and lore with Filippo Bartolotta
For her upcoming Culinary Experience wine events, caterer and educator Jan Buhrman recruited a renowned wine journalist and educator for a weekend long series, A Trip to Italy Through Wine.
"I think of myself as an inspirational speaker with wine as my subject," says Filippo Bartolotta, an Italian wine critic, author, journalist and wine tour leader. "Wine is my passion. It is a great catalyst to talk about so many things."
This weekend Mr. Bartolotta will share his knowledge about his native country - the food, people, history, and wine - with Vineyarders in a series of wine and food tasting events on the Island.
Jan Buhrman of Kitchen Porch Culinary Experiences shares a passion with Mr. Bartolotta for local food and culinary education. She will host the three events, which feature Italian organic wines, Italian inspired menus, and other dishes prepared with regional ingredients in the Italian tradition. Martha's Vineyard is the final destination on Mr. Bartolotta's first U.S. tour, entitled Italy at your Table.
"Filippo will share his endless knowledge and stories about small traditionally based organic wineries from all over Italy as he transports us to the Italian world," says Ms. Buhrman. She refers to the Italy at your Table weekend as "evenings of unique entertainment surrounding the foods and wine of Italy."
Ms. Buhrman met Mr. Bartolotta in Italy on one of her trips to the Slow Food Convention in Torino. She notes that the Slow Food movement began in Italy, and she favors the Italian tradition of using regional and seasonal foods and preserving bounties for the non-growing season. Ms. Buhrman remarks that she hopes the wine events will teach the difference between commercial and traditionally produced wines from small vintners.
Mr. Bartolotta's company, Le Baccanti, offers wine and food holidays, focusing on organic and traditional wineries and featuring everything from food production to the history, culture, and art of the wine producing regions that are visited.
The culinary educators reconnected this past January when both were involved in a large scale fundraising effort in Washington D.C. Ms. Buhrman was a guest chef for a series of upscale dinners benefiting local soup kitchens, and Mr. Bartolotta donated all the wines and was a featured speaker. After the event, the two were part of a group that was invited to the White House for a culinary tour.
Mr. Bartolotta has thoroughly enjoyed his two-month tour of the U.S., which has taken him to private homes and large venues in major cities throughout the country. He notes, "Americans are responding amazingly. They are very hungry for more knowledge. The very unexpected thing is the nutrition side of it. They want to know more about the foundation of the Italian life."
He has held events for a number of celebrities including John Malkovich, Emma Thompson, and Dustin Hoffman, as well as prestigious wine events for international institutions such as the National Gallery in London for the French National Assembly. He has hosted events that run the gamut from serious collector's wine evenings to family reunions. Regardless of his audience, the Florentine's approach is always on an in depth, all inclusive informational experience, with a focus on fun. "I don't like to make it too poncy. I like to make it simple." he says.
The Vineyard events include wines from several Italian regions. All the wines are organically produced. Mr. Bartolotta notes that he generally includes wines from the Piedmont area, the northeast and northwest, and often finishes up with some dessert wines from an island in Tuscany. The wines, he says, will represent a range of prices and availability (some may be found at Your Market). "We have current vintages, we have some older vintages. I choose what I think is enjoyable - what is intense and persistent."
At Mediterranean Restaurant on Friday, hors d'oeuvres with an Italian accent will be offered. Fabrizio Raimondi of the Parma Ham Consortium will also be on hand to present a selection of Italian prosciuttos. Saturday's event at Saltwater Restaurant features a four-course dinner, and pasta- and cheese-making demos with three chefs, Ms. Buhrman, Robert Lionette, and Alexander Nagi. The trio of events concludes on Sunday with a five-course Italian dinner at Park Corner Bistro, prepared by Jesse Martin.
Italian Wine Tasting: Friday, March 5, 5-7 pm, Mediterranean Restaurant, Oak Bluffs. 25% proceeds benefits Slow Food MV. $75.
Italian Dinner/Cooking Demo: Saturday, March 6, 6 pm, Saltwater Restaurant, Vineyard Haven. $110.
Italian Wine Dinner: Sunday, 6 pm, Park Corner Bistro, Oak Bluffs. $100.
Pre-register for all dinners: 508-645-5000; culinary-experiences.com.
Gwyn McAllister is a frequent contributor to The Times.