When Barb and I were in Italy last October we visited Montefiascone, a town fifty-nine miles north of Rome located on a high hill overlooking Lake Bolsena. You won’t see many tourists in Montefiascone. The town has no ancient Roman ruins, famous buildings, grand fountains or amazing museums. But my grandmother was born there, and that was reason enough for us to take a day off from our exploration of the Tuscan hill towns.
On the drive from Tuscany to Montefiascone I talked about Felicita Fulvi. I told Barb about my grandmother’s delicious gnocchi, about the Italian cookies she made every Christmas and how she crocheted afghans upon the arrival of each new grandchild. I related how in the summers she would send visitors home with overflowing bags of home grown tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers and zucchini. I told Barb about the early summer evening shortly before my grandmother died when I saw a golden ray of light fall on her smiling face while she was watching her grandsons picking raspberries in her garden.
While we were walking through Montefiascone’s narrow, cobblestone streets we came upon the cathedral of Santa Magherita. Walking down the aisles in the quiet church, it felt good to know that a young Felicita had most certainly been there many years before.
Outside another church was a stone crypt with the words Est! Est! Est! above the carved image of a cleric. I knew the story: a German bishop traveling to Rome sent his attendant ahead with the instructions to write Est! (Latin for “It is”) on the doors of inns that served respectable wine. The attendant thought the wine in a Montefiascone inn was so good that he tripled the cryptic message. Apparently the bishop agreed. According to the legend, he never made it to Rome and lived the rest of his life in Montefiascone.
The story most likely is apocryphal, but the fact that it supposedly occurred in my grandmother’s home town was a pleasant and serendipitous surprise.
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This year there will again be specific days and times when we offer the free use of our wine- and cider-making equipment in the parking lot behind the store. On three consecutive Saturdays beginning September 20, our motorized crusher/de-stemmer, manual apple crusher and fruit presses will be available for free on-site use. Siciliano’s staff members will also be demonstrating basic wine- and cider-making techniques on those days and will aid in sugar and acid adjustments.
Anyone wishing to use the on-site equipment on days other than the three Saturdays (September 20, September 27 and October 4) may do so for a nominal fee. Call the store at 616-453-9674 for more details.
New and Returning Beer
- Hacker-Pschorr Superior Festbier, $3.09/500ml - A limited edition golden Octoberfest lager (source).
- Short's Noble Chaos, $1.49/12oz - "Noble Chaos is an Oktoberfest/Marzen (German-style amber lager) with a subtle hop bouquet and toasted caramel malt flavors. It is a well-balanced beer that finishes fresh and clean. With a pleasant nose and medium body, this brew is a taste of the fall season" (source).
- Schlenkerla Helles, $4.70/17oz - "Brewed with fine Bavarian aroma hops from the area around the city of Nürnberg. It’s lagered in century old caves underneath the historic Schlenkerla brewery and maltings. Schlenkerla Helles is boiled in the same copper kettles and bottom fermented by the same yeast as the historic Schlenkerla Smokebeer. Its subtle smokiness without using smoke malt makes “Helles Schlenkerla Lager” a unique representative of the classic lager beer style “Bavarian Helles”. Editor’s note: Since this is not intended as a smoked beer, and is not billed as such, it has been classed here as a Helles, despite some samples having residual smoke character" (source).
- Arbor Violin Monster, $2.29/12oz - "A geographical approach to the werewolf legends results in the identification of a major werewolf area stretching from mid-Germany into the Netherlands and Belgium. With this in mind, we have created a strong, dark, spiced using ingredients from those regions. Brewed with Midnight Wheat, warming spices, and a hint of brown sugar, the Violin Monster is black as night and packs a punch at 9.3%" (source).
- Summit Extra Pale Ale, $1.69/12oz - "Summit Extra Pale Ale is not a beer brewed only for beer snobs. Just the opposite. It’s a beer for everyone to enjoy: construction workers, stock brokers, farmers, sales people, clerks, teachers, lawyers, doctors, even other brewers. Its light bronze color and distinctly hoppy flavor have made it a favorite in St. Paul, Minneapolis and the rest of the Upper Midwest ever since we first brewed it back in 1986" (source).
- Saugatuck Pumpkin Chai, $1.89/12oz - New fall seasonal from Saugatuck Brewing Company.
- Weinstephaner Oktoberfest, $1.99/12oz - "A full rich bodied, hoppy, seasonal lager. Especially brewed for the Festbier season. This beer truly represents the Bavarian way of celebrating. Deep gold color, great mouthfeel and lots of flavor" (source).
- Bell's Best Brown, $1.99/16oz cans - "A smooth, toasty brown ale, Best Brown Ale is a mainstay in our fall & winter lineup. With hints of caramel and cocoa, the malt body has the depth to stand up to cool weather, but does not come across as heavy. This balancing act is aided by the generous use of American hops" (source).
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