KILLER WINE BY THE MAFIA: 18 miles off Tuscany’s coast, Gorgona is Italy’s last island prison – where its inmates serving 30-year sentences for murders and serious crimes make the region’s best wines.
“In other prisons I was locked up for 22 hours a day in a cell 2-by-3 yards wide. Here I’m outdoors from morning to night.” Prinzi, who’s 43, is serving a 25-year sentence for murder.
Gorgona Prison director Carlo Mazzerbo is a staunch environmentalist who says Gorgona is an ideal place to discuss issues such as organic farming, vegetarianism and animal rights. He believes inmates should be encouraged to take part in the dialogue.
Wine writers chatter and mingle with prison guards and inmates as long-stemmed glasses are filled with an amber-colored liquid. Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi is hosting a wine-tasting under a pergola on a terrace overlooking the sea.
Frescobaldi has signed a 15-year winemaking agreement with Gorgona. And he says he’s willing to hire some of these workers once they’re released.
Marquise Lamberto Frescobaldi (right), of the winemaking dynasty, talks with prisoners Brian Baldissin (left) and Francesco Papa at his vineyard on Gorgona island (NPR)
CAMERA CUISINE: A side effect of the digital age in food photography, camera cuisine is any dish that was inspired by a picture or aspires to be one. “It’s become a visual medium. We’re eating with our eyes first.” Digital food photography is a cheap marketing tool as well. A snapshot of a new dish uploaded last night can cause a bump in reservations this afternoon.
SPEAKING IN A DEAD DIALECT: Growing up, I could feel the language of my parents wither and die like autumn leaves. They had immigrated to the United States from Calabria in the late 1950s and continued to speak the dialect of their poor southern Italian region, but it was a tongue frozen in time by exile and filled with words that no longer existed in their homeland.
He had only Calabrian words for the plants, procedures and tools. Each of his children had attained some form of higher education and, with it, freedom from the strife and poverty that had chased him from Italy. We now found his background primitive and remote.
I had so much to tell him but no way to say it, a reflection of our relationship during his lifetime. Without his words, I was losing a way to describe the world. Memories suddenly mattered more than ever before, and I didn’t know if I could find the language to keep them alive. Perhaps this Calabrian I now speak with my father is the truly dead dialect, the language that neither changes nor translates.
Social Media Dating (Lou Beach)
SOCIAL MEDIA DATING: 15% had used social media to ask someone out on a date. “Getting to know someone through social media could be much more appealing than using traditional dating sites because it was possible to get a more realistic impression of a person. While profiles on dating sites are often carefully contrived, people tend to let more of their individuality and personalities come through casual interactions on Twitter and Instagram.”
100 ANNIVERSARY OF WORLD WAR I: The war destroyed kings, kaisers, czars and sultans; it demolished empires; it introduced chemical weapons, tanks and airborne bombing; it brought millions of women into the work force, hastening their legal right to vote. It gave independence to nations like Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic countries and created new nations in the Middle East with often arbitrary borders; it brought about major cultural changes, including a new understanding of the psychology of war, of “shell shock” and post-traumatic stress.
Europe Before Word War I (NYTIMES)
1964 PICTUREPHONE: In 1964, from a booth set up in Grand Central Terminal, a person could talk to a friend in Chicago or Washington while also seeing them on a small video screen. The friend would also have to go to a special booth in those cities to take the call. The price for the novelty of a three-minute call was $16. That would be equivalent to $121 in today’s money.
In New York on Dec. 21, 1965, Keum Ja Kim, 15, a soloist with the World Vision Orphan Choir, used the Picturephone to audition for Robert Merrill, a star with the Metropolitan Opera, who was in Washington to sing at the White House. (Bettmann/Corbis)
A Bottomless Cup of Coffee: Cups, an Israeli app that has just been introduced in the city, aims to capitalize on a $45 monthly subscription service that will entitle users to unlimited coffee at an expanding number of independent coffee shops in the city. Yes, unlimited.
“People love the notion of unlimited coffee and empowering independent coffee shops.”
A drop-down menu lists member coffee shops in order of proximity. Once you are in the coffee shop, you simply specify your order and press the “checkout” button. The cashier enters a code on your smartphone, and you’re all set.
Cora Lambert, the owner of Box Kite on St. Mark’s Place, and its 1 & 1, espresso and macchiato with a graham cracker. (Karsten Moran, NYTIMES)
101 Places to Find Great Coffee in New York: NYC has 1,830 coffee shops – 130 more than last year. The majority are single locations or part of a smaller chain. On average, 1 coffee shop opened in New York every 3 days.
For a long time, our most sophisticated drinkers were at our downtown shops. Now the Midtown crowd is coming around in a very vocal way. We never thought that bankers in ties would wait in line for drinks that are a culinary product, instead of an injection of caffeine.
Serious coffee drinkers know that the question of who is roasting the coffee is as important as where the beans are from, and the New York scene is maturing in that respect, too.