We left Parma this morning, shifting gears and heading to the heart of the Chianti area of Tuscany. But Emilia Romagna had something to say about that before we could leave!
First was our visit to a winery in the Sorbara area for a thorough exploration into what many of us thought we knew of Lambrusco wine. Unlike the sometimes extra-sweet, industrial variety we often find in the USA (which has been improving in recent years), traditional Lambrusco from this area is a well-respected, much drier wine than we would expect.
Alessio is the 4th generation of his family to produce the wine on the farm, and he expertly led our tour from grapes (they were harvesting!) to finished product. It was a fascinating education – and the wine was amazing as well! Check out a cool video of the grapes being crushed on our Instagram page!
Afterwards, we sat down to lunch at Alessio’s family’s agriturismo, a place we look forward to eating every year. We were treated to an unforgettable lunch of all house-made products. We started with antipasti, featuring their famous Gelatina di Aceto Balsamico (balsamic jelly) on Parmigiano Reggiano. Our primi were Tortelloni filled with ricotta and maccheroni with rooster ragu. Our secondo was a mix of breaded and pan-fried chicken, roasted faraona (guinea hen), and roasted loin of pork. But not just any pork – pigs that had been fed a steady diet of whey from Parmigiano Reggiano! All that paired with roasted potatoes…what a hit! For dessert, we were treated to an array of freshly prepared biscotti of different types.
In short, a feast!
We made the quick trip back into Modena where our friend Lara welcomed us to her family’s facility and explained to us the finer points of their production of traditional Balsamic Vinegar, some of which dates back 150 years. When we met Lara 9 years ago we had no idea how much of an impact her passion and education about a seemingly simple ingredient like vinegar would have on us, and the people we have brought to meet her over the years. Her dedication to an incredibly difficult and financially challenging art is nothing short of noble. One taste of the real deal DOP and you will never look at the phony version the same way again. We all but cleaned her out, ensuring that the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar message will be spread even further as our travelers return back home!
Our minds and bellies full, we headed to Chianti, and we made it safely up the dirt road to our magical B&B, arriving just as the sun was setting. It only took a few seconds for the travelers to recognize just how special this place is and we were all excited that our time here had begun as our friend and hostess Laura ran up the driveway to greet us! One of the best parts of staying at this hilltop Chianti gem is that we have the entire estate to ourselves while we are here! Our group fills every one of their rooms, so it literally feels as if we have escaped to some secret oasis.
After everyone was settled into their rooms, we were invited to a wine harvest feast that Laura and Fillipo had prepared for us in their new dining room! As some of you may already know, Rynn and Dave were engaged here 10 years ago next week, so celebrating the opening of this space as its first guests was truly memorable…yes, of course Rynn was crying! To open the feast, Laura explained that the centerpieces on the table had been arranged with a special meaning. She had cut fresh grape vine and grapes from their vineyard and placed a candle in the middle. She explained that the nature was joined with the light of love and that together this was a recipe for good wine! As always, she has a way of putting words together in a way that truly touches your heart!!!
The meal was concluded with one of our favorites…schiscciata all’uva! A wine grape pastry sprinkled with fresh rosemary. I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to end this amazing day! Tomorrow we are off the see the butcher…the wonderful butcher of Panzano!!
Inspirational Note: We are really starting to get a good picture in our minds of the types of table settings and style throughout the room at the new facility on Main Street in Spring Grove. New ways to present the bread, a window dressing, a serving hutch, chalk boards, etc. And who knew director’s chairs were so comfortable? Maybe just maybe….