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October 3, 2014     Post-Gazette
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October 3, 2014
 

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POST-GAZETTE, OCTOBER 3, 2014 Page 13 N'anna abbiYnonno by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance It was a Saturday morning at the beginning of October and there was a knock at the kitchen door, the door that led into our 3rd floor apart- ment on Eutaw Street in East Boston. The only prob- lem was that it was about 5:30 a.m. Dad and I arrived at the door at the same time with both of us grumbling. Dad had played the night before and gotten in about 1:30 a.m. This meant that he was answering the door with about 4 hours of sleep or less. Once the door was opened, the visitor held up a sprig of 3 red grapes. It was Grandpa Christoforo, and it was time to make wine. Morn was a light sleeper and came out of the bedroom securing her robe as she headed for the stove. There was a sleepy, "Bon Giorno," and within minutes, there were two pots of coffee brew- ing on the stove, one Ameri- can and the other Italian. Dad and Grandpa exchanged the events of the week as they sipped their respective cups of coffee. After a sip or two, Grandpa said to me, "Mi nipote, prenda una bottiglia de cognac, per favore." (My grandson, bring a bottle of cognac, please.), After I placed the bottle in front of my grandfather, he poured a decent sized shot in his cof- fee cup and filled the rest of the space with Italian coffee. After a sip and then another just to make sure, he smiled and said, "Ah, questo e buono." (Oh, this is good.) Once we were washed, dressed and down the stairs, we climbed into Dad's beat up 37 Plymouth and headed to Grandpa's house on Chelsea Street near San- tarpiols Restaurant. As Grandpa headed down the cellar stairs, Dad and I en- tered the first floor apart- ment and said hello to Grandma. Within a few min- utes, the bacon she began to fry overpowered the smell of wine that surrounded us in the cellar. Grandpa showed Dad the cases of grapes he bought at the produce market. Each year, he would order grapes from France or Italy, as he considered American grapes inferior to what was grown in Europe. He and Dad began opening the cases of grapes, and began removing them from the vines. If there were any leaves, they too would be removed. After Grandpa in- spected the piles, we placed them in a large cylindrical vat. Above the vat was a wheel shaped cover that was suspended from a frame by a worm gear apparatus. Once the vat was filled to a certain level, Grandpa placed a long iron bar in a round opening in the worm gear and began turning it clockwise. This lowered the wheel shaped lid down onto the grapes. He would con- tinue this operation until the lid crushed the grapes "and the juice started filling the vat. Once the grapes were all crushed, he began filling a bucket with the grape juice and poured the liquid into a giant sized cask. He continued this until all of the juice had been trans- ferred, and then had turned the iron bar so the lid could continue to crush what was left of the grapes. The gauges atop the cask were adjusted by my grand- father and then, what looked like sugar was added into the mix before the plug was wedged into the cask to seal the top. Just then, Uncle Jim ap- peared. Jim Dello Russo was Dad's brother-in-law, his sister's Mary's husband. He looked over the operation after greeting everyone, and asked how many gallons were going to be produced. Grandpa told him he was making 50 gallons. Dad said 50 should get you through the year. Grandpa shrugged and said, "Chissa, chissa." (Perhaps, perhaps) And, so it went. Checking with friends, it seems that almost no one makes homemade wine these days. Grandpa's gen- eration is gone, and for the most part, so is Dad's. I have thought about trying it with my cousin Ralph Pepe, but neither of us have the time. I am not a wine drinker due to a reaction I get from the preservatives that are found in wine in the U.S. The FDA requires additives to be in- cluded in imported wines, and I think domestic wines too. If I drink wine with the preservatives, nitrates or nitrites, I'm not sure which they add in, but my sinuses begin to get stuffed and my fingers swell. As a result, I will only try a wine if I'm in Europe or at someone's home where homemade wine is available. Usually, neither of these contain pre- servatives and I can enjoy a red or white with my dinner. Don't get me wrong. I'm no expert when it comes to wines. I either like or don't like. When I was a kid, I was -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST-- ' THE a11owed to have a little of Babbononno's wine at Sun- day family dinners. By the time I was born, my mater- nal grandfather had stopped making wine. He would get what he needed from his brother-in-law, and best friend, Antonio Ceruolo. Zi'Antonio made delicious wine and Babbononno con- sidered him the best wine maker in either East Boston or the North End. My great uncle made several types of wine, but a smooth red was his forte. It could be con- sumed with almost anything except delicate fish. He did make a white wine which was compatible with seafood, but I don't remember what the white tasted like. Another thing that I wonder about, especially with American attitudes toward wine, is that red should be served at room temperature. Zi'Antonio and Babbononno used to serve wine a bit chilled. I once asked Babbononno what room temperature meant and he said that wine should be served at around 50 degrees, which might have been the temperature of someone's wine cellar. If he was to drink a table wine that was at room tempera- ture and the temp happened to be~70 degrees or- higher, Babbononno would ask for an ice cube. Another drink that doesn't turn me on at room temperature is beer. I tried a warm beer in London a while back and couldn't handle it. But, I'm not a beer lover and that may make the difference. When I was a teenager and all the guys were inter- ested in a couple of beers, I had to preface my preference with root. I liked root beer, orange soda, cream soda or lemonade. Even today, I sel- dom have a beer. If it's a hot summer's day and I'm in the mood for a beer, I will choose something light, like a Corona or Land Shark which is similar. Loretta and I eat out a lot considering our schedules and during the summer, water with lemon or a good lemonade will enhance the flavor of the food, so that's what I order. I know that some people will opt for a beer, a glass of wine or something harder on the rocks, accompanied by chips, when they are relaxing or watching a sport- ing event on TV. I have to confess ... I would rather sit down with a cold glass of milk and a couple of choco- late chip cookies. Oh well. GOD BLESS AMERICA MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 Small Ads Get BIG For more information, call 617-227-8929. Socially Scene (Continued ing awareness and funds for a cause that affects mil- lions. Proceeds from the campaign will support re- search and awareness- driving efforts for various breast cancer charities around the world. Hard Rock is also "raising the bar" for the cause with special limited-time bever- age offerings, including "Flight for the Cure," a flight of Hard Rock's pink margaritas Watermelon, Pomegranate and Wildberry -- served with pink tortilla chips and house-made salsa. Other featured PINKTOBER drinks include Hard Rock's new Red Berry Press, a sweet fruit cocktail served in a coffee-press style vessel that infuses fruit into the cocktail throughout the drinking process and a fresh, non-alcoholic Wild- berry Smoothie. Boston go rock the night away with great music and specialty cocktails to support a worthy causel The Hard Rock Car6 is located at 24 Clinton Street Boston. They can be reached at 617-424- 7625 for additional event in- formation, please visit www.hardrock.com/Boston. Boston Winter Film Fes- tival ... The New England Aquarium will host the third annual Boston Winter Film Festival from Thursday, October 9th to Saturday, October 11th. The Simons IMAX Theatre at the New England Aquar- ium will host Boston's third annual Winter ski and snowboard film festival. This three-night festival show- cases several of the world's best ski and snowboard films, including award-winning films from Level 1 Produc- tions, Stept Productions, 4bi9 Media, CAPITA, and more. The festival opens with a party at the Cask 'n Flagon hosted by Bem Unlimited and SnowRiders, followed by two nights of film show- ings at the New England Aquarium. Attendees will celebrate the films and so- cialize alongside fellow out- door enthusiasts and star- ring athletes. Summit Ski & Snowboard shop will be on hand to talk 2014 gear. VIP pass holders will receive exclusive gifts from Jiber- ish, SnowRiders, and more, access to exclusive parties at Granary Tavern, drink tick- ets for opening night, as well as priority seating and speedy admission. All ticket holders gain admission to the opening night party at Cask n' Flagon with DJ Knife. The temperatures haven't hit ski and snow weather just yet but it is time to be- come prepared! Thursday, October 9th at 8:00pm at Oliver's Nightclub at Cask 'n Flagon, Friday, October 10th at 7:00 pm at the Simons IMAX Theatre, New England Aquarium and Saturday, October 11'h at 7:00 pm at the Simons IMAX Theatre, New England Aquarium. They are not to be missed! For more information on directions to locations and tickets: www.BostonWinter FilmFestival.com. You may also contact them at 781- 801-9464. from Page 9) Get Fashion Week started on Sunday, October 5th featuring "Before Mid- night" presented by Nigel Ramsey at Vlora Restau- rant in the Back Bay. (Photo by biwmagazine.com) Actors' Shakespeare Project is Back ... Actors' Shakespeare Project, under the direction of Artistic Director Allyn Burrows and Executive Producer Sara Stackhouse, announces the slate of plays for the begin- ning of its second decade. Currently playing is "The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare", directed by David R. Gammons through October 19~. "O, train me not, sweet mermaid, with thy note, to drown me in thy sister's flood of tears." One of his earliest, his shortest, and probably Shakespeare's first commis- sioned play; The Comedy of Errors is a delectable romp of mistaken identities. Heart- ache and hilarity commingle in this raucous escapade of twins and travel. Phaedra by Jean Racine will begin November 19th through December 7th with venue to be revealed and di- rected by M. Bevin O'Gara. "Yes, I will live, if life can be restored, If my affection for a son has pow'r to rouse my sinking heart at such a dan- gerous hour." Her husband presumed dead, a woman falls un- requitedly hard for her step- son who rebuffs her. His desire is for his family's enemy's daughter. Unex- pectedly the father returns and tragedy ensues. Racine was an enormously popular French playwright in his day, and Phaedra, an ancient, wrenching tale of forbidden love proves why. The Actors' Shakespeare Project is a unique and old world edition to the city of Boston; one definitely worth grabbing a seat for. The 2014 - 15 subscriptions are currently on sale and single tickets as well. For more information about ASP's 11 ~' season visit www. actorsshakespeareproject, org or call 617-772-2200 x225.