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Report 2013: Two Splendid Weeks in Northern Italy

By Engred from Oregon, Fall 2011

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Page 10 of 14: Great Food Day

Boy oh boy – today was a wonderful day of food and wine. It started with a lovely breakfast in the dining room of the main house, looking out over the neighboring fields where the deer were roaming. After breakfast we headed off to meet one of the premier cheese-makers in the area, the Zoff family. They run Azienda Agricola Zoff on the outskirts of Borgnano di Cormons. The family raise cattle, make and sell cheese out of their little on-premises shop and run an agriturismo. We met Giuseppe Zoff, who is the head of the operations and his daughter Patrizia, who did an excellent job of translating. We had a lovely tour, visiting where the cows were kept, the small room the cheese is made and the large walk-in cooler where the cheese is stored on wooden shelves. They were experimenting with a new product, making dulce de lecce, and Mr. Zoff explained the contraption that he put together to make it. It was not yet ready, so we vowed to return the next day to try it. Mr. Z then invited us inside for an espresso. After a nice visit we toured their shop where Patrizia was kind enough to give us some yogurt to have for breakfast! They sell a fantastic array of their products in the shop, including yogurt, butter, mozzarella, ricotta and their various hard cheeses. Thanking them for a wonderful visit, we headed off to our next stop, a local prosciutto maker.

D’Osvaldo is a famous local family that produces a variety pork products, including spek and an interesting smoked prosciutto. We were given a tour of some of the aging rooms and smokehouse by the son Andrea, who explained their process for making and smoking prosciutto. In the aging room there were hundreds of legs of prosciutto hanging, some with names signed one them. Andrea explained that, due to their limited production, people purchase a whole leg of prosciutto, sign their name on it, and then it is aged at D’Osvaldo. How fantastic would that be – if only I could smuggle the entire leg back to the states with me! Andrea’s sister Monica then joined us so Andrea could get back to work and she led us past a Pig Shrine and upstairs where we had a “merenda” (a snack). But this wasn’t just any snack, as Patrizia was there so it was a tasting of both cheese and pork products! Of the D’Osvaldo products, we tried thinly sliced pancetta, guanciale and regular prosciutto, all of which were great and their smoked prosciutto and speck, which were phenomenal. Laura gave us a selection of five cheeses to try, all of which were fantastic. All of this was accompanied by some local wine – quite a merende indeed!

After a snack like that, we really didn’t need much of a lunch, but we passed by Terre & Vini and decided to stop in for a glass of wine. Elda was there and poured us a glass of their Dolce and we shared a dessert.

After dropping Jay off at his room for a nap, we drove to the La Viarte winery for a tour. Giulio greeted us and took us on a tour of the grounds and the wine-making facility (which had some beautifully carved barrels and artwork), explaining the history and the growth of the winery. We ended the tour in their tasting room, which was very cozy and contained a Fogolar, which is a traditional Friulian fireplace that was the center of most households. It was very large and near the center of the room, where everyone could gather around the fire on very tall chairs to keep warm and cook meals. We had a good tasting that included their Friulano and Schoppetino.

We went back to our rooms for a little rest and after freshening up we drove into Cormons to have some wine at its famous enoteca. We were joined by Mr. Zoff, Laura, Monica and Monica’s boyfriend. Of course Mr. Z knew many of the people there, including several winemakers (the beauty of life in a small town) and ordered us a bottle from one of the winemakers, a Bianco made by Edi Keber. It was fantastic and one of the best and cheapest whites in Italy. We had a great time and it was lovely to see real Italians enjoying their every day life.

Our stop at the enoteca was followed by dinner at probably the most famous restaurant in the region, La Subida. The restaurant was very quaint and our dinner superb. Standouts included tiny gnocchetti in a spinach sauce, venison with a wine reduction, and a panna cotta served in a little jam jar topped with preserves. I would love to return again some day, maybe just not on a day where I had consumed my weight in cheese and cured pork products! I was surprised to find that, due to some well-placed back roads, the restaurant was just five minutes from our hotel!

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