I have been to many events with food, wine and music in my life. And, for the most part, they seem pretty much the same - wine, dinner and wine, and then wine and music at the end. Moreover, most of the events don’t seem to be choreographed, or put together properly. The food and wine parts usually work well together – as they should – but the music usually ends up being an afterthought, or just background, sort of gastronomic "muzak", or wine and food pairing with elevator music.
A few months back, I was speaking to my buddy film director Mike Figgis, and he was in agreement. He had long wanted to do a food, wine and music event where each element complemented the others, a symphony of tastes and feelings. “The music should help you digest the food and wine, and ready you for more, as well as touch all your senses,” he said.
Granted, we were pretty buzzed talking about all this one early morning, following a long dinner at my house with friends. I can’t remember the wines we drank. but they were all Tuscan, if I (sort of) remember correctly.
Mike had spoken to a number of event organizers already in Tuscany, but they were not interested in a collaboration. I had been approached as well. But it never seemed right. So we said, “Let’s do it ourselves.”
On Saturday night, we hosted about 60 friends from all over the world at an outdoor dinner at the estate of Petrolo. We enjoyed a four-course meal of hearty Tuscany food, fabulous Sangioveses and beautiful music. Mike’s girlfriend, Hong Kong concert pianist Rosey Chan, mostly provided the latter, with Mike accompanying her on a few pieces. The music ranged from Bach and Chopin to Bill Evans and Tom Waits. (Pretty diverse!)
Mike’s good friend Sting also sang “My One and Only Love.” And my 11-year-old daughter Isabel, who is a singer, sang “Autumn Leaves.” (Check out the video.)
The music was presented following each course of food, which was prepared by local restaurateurs Paolo and Daniela Tizzanini of Osteria dell’Acquolina Paterina. Here was the menu (hope you understand some Italian):
Aperitivo (al Fresco)
Selezione di Salumi di Antica Macelleria Falorini Greve in Chianti
Pecorini di Montemercole Casentino
Querciabella Toscana White Batàr 2007
Crema di Pomodoro Costoluto
Barone Ricasoli Chianti Classico Rocca Guicciarda Riserva 2006
Tagilatelle di Chianina
Eredi Fuligni Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Granpezzo di Chianina al Forno con Fagioli Novelli
Petrolo Torrione 2007
Torta al Cioccolato
Fontodi Colli della Toscana Centrale Flaccianello 2006
I wanted to focus on very Tuscan food and wine, so it all may have been a little heavy for a hot summer’s night. But it was delicious, particularly the pasta with a beef ragu. And all the wines, except for the aperitivo white, were Sangiovese. 2006 is a great year for Sangiovese, perahaps better than the legendary 1997. And 2007 is not far behind. I professed my love for Sangiovese at the event, although a beautiful blonde next to me at the dinner said that she didn't share my taste for the great, indigenous red wine grape. Oh well. At least she likes Nebbiolo!
It was a wonderful evening that really did touch all of your senses. And I think the order of the food, wine and music really worked. In other words, wine, food and music enhance one another if choreographed properly. It can be done properly at an event, or even in your own home. Just think about it.
Next year Mike is going to make a film about our summer dinner.