The road trip My Kitchen Stories and 3 Italians……………………………………………….After Tutto Food, The Chef, The Manager, The Entrepaneur and I set off on a road trip. We left Milan heading to Rome via Modena visiting several beautiful organic wineries, various restaurants and a balsamic producer. This is the chef , Simmone and before we leave Como we head to one of his restaurants for dinner. I met him when he spent 3 months cooking at Pinos Dolce Vita in Sydney last year. Sadly he speaks very little English or I could have spent hours talking to him while on the road
The salumi plate was my starter. This was followed by that incredible beef from the picture above. The restaurant is also a function and reception centre. This is an incredibly old building standing longer than any of us have been alive. We go for a tour in the spooky basement. Deep down in the cellar we saw what was once the ice room, a circular brick chamber behind the cellar, a hole in the roof above our heads is where ice would once have been shovelled in or the winter snow could fall through the opening to ice food and drinks
The next morning we loaded the car. Each time we stopped they all fossicked around in the boot with their bags, speaking animatedly and gently pushing each other aside trying to move things around in there. I have no idea what they were saying or doing but I found it very amusing
Ca’ de Noci in Emilia Romagna is the first stop. From a winding dirt road we pull up at the house and winery. Passed from father onto his two sons Alberto and Vittorio, they believe that they are the custodians of their land. The vines grow amongst walnut trees without fertilizer, irrigation or pesticides. Alberto says that grape vines should be able to support themselves without the being watered or feed. What they give up each year is a true representation of the “work” the vines do themselves. They do believe in supporting them in a natural way . This is done by encouraging grass and herbs to grow under the vines drinking excess water and preventing moulds growing and protecting the ground during the hot times. When they process they add natural yeast, no sulphates or any other additive. The grapes are crushed on skins. They put the wine into neutral barrels and bottle unfiltered. Risky, expensive and a labour of love
Wines go through various periods of fermentation and a lot of these wines are bottle fermented. Alberto shows us how he tests what stage it is at…… the natural way.
This is a beautiful peaceful place and and after walking around the vineyard we head for the terrace to taste wine. Some of the vines planted here are rare heirloom varieties such as Spergola but they also grow lambrusco, malbo gentile, sgavetta, cabernet sauvignon, moscato and malvasia. They hope to encourage old grapes back into commercial production. This is what has made their tiny winery so interesting on the market. They also make Traditionale balsamic , saba and walnut licqueur
Freshly made focaccia and chunks of parmesan is set in front of us. It occurs to me, as I take a chunk, this parmesan has been made somewhere close by. Am I really here? I feel thrilled by everything. The sun, the wine and the beautiful sing song language that goes on ….and on around me. The pastries have spinach, beetroot leaves, ricotta and parmesan inside. We tuck in eagerly while wine is poured and we taste the new season wines and compare some to others from previous years to see how they are developing and how the natural wines change and develop sometimes very differently depending on the seasons. The Entrepreneur is sitting beside me and he whispers so quietly I only just hear…
“I’m warning you, pace yourself”. I drop the spinach pastry I have picked up and giggle quietly as more food appears and keeps coming.
The salumi is made by a farmer down the road. It is full of fat but tastes clean and I am told that it is popular like this and has “suscarula” which means it crumbles in a certain way when you bite into it. It does and it is like no salami I have tried before.
Seconds were compulsory ……
We set off now towards Tuscany. We leave Modena and head south across the Apennine Mountain range that splits the north and south towards Tuscany and down to Arezzo, 80 km from Florence. You know instantly when you have crossed the border into Tuscany…the buildings, the colours, the rolling hills and the poplar trees.
We’re headed to Paterna a co op run organic winery. They have a small restaurant and some simple accommodation on the property as well as their endeavours producing oil and salami. On a walk around the property we get a bit of a glimpse into a life on the land. The property is both organic and self sufficient with solar energy. It’s green and the Chianti hills are on the horizon, they feed us organic strawberries from the patch and talk about how farming without any chemicals is a challenge, mould and high minerals in the soil are constant problems. This doesn’t deter their dedication to organic farming and producing an incredible list of complex wines. I have a feeling a stay here would be very relaxing.
The cutest cat in Italy walked around the whole property with us demanding to be patted
Paterna made Salumi
We sit at the wooden table under the window in the cellar door and are offered hand made salami and parmesan with wonderful local bread. This salami was the polar difference to the one at Ca Da Noci. It was course and chewy an not the least bit crumbly. Here we sit and taste. These wines are filtered to release excess sugar and prevent refermentation. The labelling is striking and the wines are very characteristic of this area.
After a bit of rummaging in the boot, we’re back in the car heading towards Ampeleia the hot new wines produced by just as hot Elisabeta Foradori on a property in the Maremma area. Then to Saturnia, a spa town in Tuscany that is famous for it’s hot baths, dining in the old town of Saturnia. and then on to Roma
“The capital of the world”, according to the Entrepreneur.
More adventures on the way…………
www.Ca’de Noci Via Fratelli Bandiera 1/2 località Vendina
42020 Quattro Castella – Reggio Emilia
www.paterna.it Paterna, 96 – – Terranuova Bracciolini 52028Terranuova Bracciolini, Arezzo
Interested in their wines?. You can contact: firstname.lastname@example.org