The Wonderful World of the Internet
Love it or hate it, the internet is balanced with beneficial innovation as much as it’s plagued
with maddening pop-ups and trolling websites. And because virtually everyone is now
connected via our smartphones, having a mealtime conversation is about as archaic as the
typewriter is for writers. Diners are either furiously snapping food photos or connecting with
someone halfway around the world. As they say, “it didn’t happen unless you Tweet it”… Sad to
say, I’m just as guilty of the frenzied photo ops when a dish is served… “but it’s for work”…
Yah, right.

But there are times when the benefits of the internet and social media make you thankful for
innovation. Better than sliced bread and penicillin combined. And I’m not talking about
Wikipedia (I for one am very upset Wikipedia wasn’t around when I was in college). For
instance, most people know that Vino Italian Tapas and Wine Bar is one of my favorite haunts
and that I consider its resident Master Sommelier, Chuck Furuya a mentor. Because of multiple
Facebook posts, I get to see other people who revere Vino as much as I do and occasionally
“friend” one of them even if we’ve never met but simply look forward to our next meal at Vino.
It just so happens that one of these fellow Vino admirers lives almost halfway around the globe
in Venice, Italy.

Via Venice

It just so happens that Dino Coro and his wife Isabella Zambon had a habit of spending annual
vacations in Hawaii, mostly on the Big Island but also spent some shopping time on Oahu. And
during their Oahu stays, started dining at Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas and Vino Italian Tapas and
Wine Bar about 10 years ago with their two children where they met Chuck Furuya. That
friendship was bolstered by the fact that Coro and Zambon also ran a successful restaurant in
Venice; Osteria Oliva Nera so there was the common bond of wine and restaurant ownership.
And though Asian chefs are common place in the 50th, Osteria Oliva Nera probably was an
anomaly in Venice because they had a succession of chefs from Japan, Chef Masaya Taguchi and
Chef Shunsuke Toyoda who combined traditional Italian recipes with an Asian sensibility for
crudo or raw dishes. Sadly Dino unexpectedly passed away about 2 years ago so for the past 2
years, Chuck has hosted a dinner at Vino with Isabella and her two children, Jessica Coro and
Filippo Coro as guests of honor.

Is Venice just Grand Canals?

No, Venice is the home to that wonderful sparkling wine, Prosecco. Light and refreshing with a
hint of sweetness, it’s the perfect wine for stir fried Asian cuisine as the effervescence cleanses
the palate between bites and fruitiness and sweetness counteracts the spicier flavors found in
Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. Because of its lower price point (usually in the $15 to $20 range),
it also can be used for sparkling wine cocktails like Mimosa and Bellini.
Venice is also home to another food friendly white wine, Soave which is made primarily from
the Garganega grape and produces lighter bodied wines with fruity notes that pair nicely with
soft cheeses and seafood. And once again, you can find good Soave in the $15 price range.
Finally, Venice produces a varied range of red wines from the Corvina Veronese, Rondinella and
Molinara grapes. At the lower end of the price scale, Valpolicella and Bardolino can be found at
most supermarkets. They are easy drinking, simple light bodied dry red wines that pair with
most pasta courses and because of the slight bitter qualities of the Corvina grape, they cleanse
the palate like tannins in a hearty red wine would. At the extreme end of the spectrum are the
Amarone made from the same grape varietals but Amarone are usually produced in better
vintages and the grapes are first laid on straw mats to dry for several weeks. Therefore Amarone
are as rich as red wines get and can pair with the heartiest stews and roasts. When the dried
grapes are vinified dry, the wine is labeled Amarone della Valpolicella and when they are vinified
sweet are labeled Recioto della Valpolicella. And the additional time to create these magnificent
wines are reflected in their prices. Amarone start in the $50 range but are usually closer to the
$100 mark with Recioto having the same price point except most bottles are only 375ml or half
the size of a standard wine bottle. Then there are the wines of Guiseppe Quintarelli that fetch
upwards of $400 on release. Between the Valpolicella and Amarone are the Ripasso della
Valpolicella that “salvage” the expended grape must in the production of Amarone. Instead of
simply discarding the pressed grape must, free run juice from basic Valpolicella is passed through
– ripasso – the must to pick up flavor components in the grape flesh. A little more complex and
richer than basic Valpolicella but with a price point closer to Valpolicella than Amarone.

Venetian Cuisine

Because it sits in the middle of a body of water, you would think all of Venice’s cuisine would
be seafood based but that’s only partially correct. The one dish associated with Venice is Bigoli
in salsa which is a whole wheat pasta with an anchovy and onion sauce. And pasta isn’t the
favored starch in the region, it’s polenta which is served with another Venetian specialty, Fegato
ala venesiana or chopped liver cooked with onions. Venetians also cook with their famous
Amarone wine featuring beef braised in the pricey red wine of the Gods or Brasato all’Amarone
along with risotto also cooked with the same nectar, Risotto all’Amarone. And while my
favorite dessert out of Venice is Pandoro, a traditional sweet yeasted bread, your favorite is
probably Tiramisu, yes that Tiramisu which eventually spread throughout Italy and the rest of
Europe.

The menu celebrating the annual Hawaii sojourn of Isabella Zambon, Jessica Coro and Filippo
Coro

aperitif—3oz Sommariva Prosecco

A TOAST TO DINO

Antipasti (served family style)
Crispy  Cauliflower-cumin aioli, zatar brown butter
Grilled Hau’ula Baby Bok Choy-Marcona almonds, cranberries & shaved pastrami
Sliced Marinated Pork—with charred asparagus
WINE: 3oz Corte Gardoni Bardolino “Chiaretto”

Garlic Shrimp
garlic, fennel, sun dried tomatoes, white wine & clam jus
WINE: 3oz Corte Gardoni Bianco di Custoza

Roasted Beef Braciole
stuffed with prosciutto, raisins, herbs and Parmesan cheese and served with
oxtail ravioli, Swiss Chard and pine nuts
WINE:  3oz 2009 Quintarelli Primofiore

Roasted Banana & Chocolate Tiramisu
mango sorbet

Before dinner started, Chuck Furuya did his customary toast to Dino Coro who we know was
there in spirit. As the evening progressed, Isabella made her way to every table to reconnect
with everyone whether they previously visited Osteria Oliva Nera or whether they simply
friended her through social media like yours truly. And she’s still asking us when we plan on
visiting Venice. Baby steps first, I still need to get a passport. Though the internet has its
negatives, it’s great when it makes this vast, wide world a little smaller. Ciao!