It's a look at the battle for Barolo with Food & Wine magazine's Lettie Teague. Experts are turning themselves inside out over the controversy. Lettie tells all.
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The Sterns claim the whole-hog cleaver-hacked barbecue at the Skylight Inn might be the best anywhere. It's certainly the oldest, with its roots going back to 1830.
Today, the seventh and eighth generations of the founder's progeny tend the whole hogs as they slowly cook for 18 hours over hickory coals. They might sprinkle on some salt and pepper, a little vinegar, and some Texas Pete hot sauce, but that's it.
This is traditional Eastern North Carolina barbecue, after all, and that means there's no sauce. But never mind. The luscious meat, with its crispy skin, chewy outside meat, and velvety tender inside meat is enough. It's served up on a big thin square of unleavened cornbread instead of a plate with coleslaw on the side.
The simple storefront has about five tables. When you walk in, the room is silent except for the chopping sounds coming from the pit master's cleavers as he hacks away at the luscious meat. Customers are chowing down, not chatting.
It's called the Barolo Wars, the contentious debate that pits Traditionalist against Modernist producers of Barolo and has wine experts turning themselves inside out. Lettie Teague, executive wine editor of Food & Wine magazine, wrote an interesting article on the controversy for the September 2007 issue. You can read the article at www.foodandwine.com. In the meantime, here are a few of Lettie's "Best Barolo Producers."
Bruno Giacosa: Look for this arch-Traditionalist's 2001 Falletto for long-term storage. About $150.
Giacomo Borgogno: A well-established Traditionalist with excellent values. The 1996 Riserva is restrained, structured and an especially good buy. About $60.
Luciano Sandrone: The acclaimed producer of two Barolos. The Cannubi Boschis is the ne plus ultra of the Modernist style but expensive. If you can find the 1989 expect a price tag around $450.
Domenico Clerico: A leading Modernist and producer of Ciabot Mentin Ginestra, a well balanced example of a single-vineyard wine. The 2001 is about $85.