Friday, January 12, 2018

Our First Cooking Class

During our stay in Italy we scheduled two cooking classes. 

Granddaughter MVL inspired me. For some time she has been taking cooking classes for entertainment with her long time steady boyfriend, EF. Every time they take a class, she tells me about it. The classes sound like so much fun, I thought Hubby D and I should try one. Europe seemed like a great place for that experiment.

Our first class was in Spello and we took a cooking class with Marco Gubbioti. Marco is a famous chef in Umbria and works a great deal with the Angelini family at Enoteca Properzio. Our class was held in the private kitchen at the Entoteca Properzio.

To say it was fabulous would be an understatement.

Do I hear a theme going on for our visit to Spello? FABULOUS!

If you go to the Enoteca Properzio's page on Trip Advisor, in this picture Marco is cooking in their kitchen.
This picture is taken from an online video of an Umbrian wedding. Marco designed the cake. 

For our class we cooked eggs with truffles over potatoes, pork loin marinated in citrus with pumpkin, risotto with pork cheeks in tomato sauce. Our desert was a soup of fruits and vanilla cream.

Did that make you hungry? It was amazing. And, it was paired with several Umbrian wines. 2015 Giusto di Notri, 2014 Andrea Formilli Fendi, 2014 Pinot Nero, and we tried some grappa at the end but neither one of us cared for it.

One important element in the cooking was the type of olive oil Chef Gubbioti used. He was very particular. Mostly he used Alberto Cipolloni.

All of the wines, food and olive oil were from Umbria. On this trip, we have come to have a much greater understanding of the fabulous wines and olive oil from Umbria.

I was very interested in the risotto. I have never attempted risotto and I asked a million questions.  Chef Gubbioti was very nice and told me all I wanted to know. 

After our culinary adventure, we had to go for a walk. The wine and rich food were overwhelming.  At the park, Hubby D sat on a nice bench and I laid my head in his lap. It was heaven.

Later after a nap, we took a stroll in the town after dark. It was very relaxing and a wonderful end to a marvelous day.


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Touring the Delightful Vineyards of Italy

While we were in Italy staying at the Enoteca Properzio we visited three vineyards recommended by Roberto Angelini on two separate days. Two vineyards were in Umbria and one in Tuscany.

Traveling to the vineyards, the countryside was magnificent. The changing fall colors made the vistas just stunning.

The following video is one of the first ones I created while driving in Italy. It is a good view of how clean and tidy all the small towns are, however I was not very good at holding the phone steady so it is a bit shaky. 

At the end of the video, we arrive at this amazing vista (pictures are after the video). If you are reading this is an email, you will need to go to my blog to view the video.

Wines in Italy are classified much differently than they are in France. One of my goals for this trip was to find out these differences and learn more about Italian wines.

The Italian Wine Classification system is made up of four categories:

Researching this information, I found a really good site, TheSpruce that explains the Italian system.

The DOCG classification denotes the highest quality recognition for Italian wines. It is comprised of a relatively limited number of first-class wines. Tuscany and Piedmont carry the most DOCG wines in Italy.

Wines that fall under the DOC category (also good) must be made in specified, government defined zones, in accordance with particular regulations that are intended to preserve the wine's character that is uniquely derived from Italy's individual regions. There are currently over 300 DOC wines in Italy, all adhering to specific vineyard trellising, irrigation and vivification requirements detailing which grapes may be grown and where along with aging requirements and alcohol limits.

Back in the States, we have had some Italian Super Tuscans and wanted to know more about them. Super Tuscans are an unofficial category of Tuscan wines, not recognized within the Italian wine classification system because the grapes used in their production are not originally from Italy. They are varieties imported and grown in Italy.

Here is an explanation that made sense to me from Wikipedia.

In the 1970s a new class of wines known in the trade as "Super Tuscans" emerged. These wines were made outside DOC/DOCG regulations but were considered of high quality and commanded high prices. Many of these wines became cult wines. In the reformation of the Italian classification system many of the original Super Tuscans now qualify as DOC or DOCG wines but some producers still prefer the declassified rankings or to use the Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT - grapes not typical of Italy) classification of Toscana.

Roberto sent us to visit the Tuscan vineyard of Poliziano.  The Super Tuscan wine we tasted was Madrone di Lohsa, I.G.T. made up of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, 10% Alicante. Cabernet Sauvignon is my favorite grape so now I understand why I like Italian Super Tuscan wines.

Poliziano also had some other excellent wines.
Tuscany was very beautiful and driving was so much fun!
The Tuscan countryside was filled with beautiful vistas and old villas.
Here is a video I took while we were driving in the Tuscan countryside. If you are reading this in an email, you will need to go to my blog to view the video. Be sure to watch for the rooster that almost gets run over at the end.

In Umbria we visited two vineyards.  Tenute Lunelli and Arnaldo Caprai.

The Lunelli vineyard was very different. The Lunelli family purchased the Tenuta Castelbuono estate in 2001 and hired Arnaldo Pomodoro, a well-known contemporary artist to design a new winery. Roberto told us it is the only winery inside of a sculpture. The wine was good and the building was unique. Their signature line is named “Ferrari” and we purchase one bottle to bring back with us.

Some of their wines are fermented inside clay jugs the ancient traditional style.
The barrel room was quite amazing. The spiral form is the stairway leading down from the tasting room.
The building was extremely unique.
Their vines were turning colors and quite beautiful.

The other vineyard we visited in Umbria (also our favorite wine) was Arnaldo Caprai. One of their wines, a Montefalco Sarantino named “25” was one of our favorite wines that Roberto served us. This was also our favorite wine tasting in Italy.

When we arrived they were in the process of bottling the wine. This is a process I have never seen before. It was quite interesting. Here is a video of the process. If you are reading this in an email, you will need to go to my blog to view the video.

I think I have come to appreciate Italian wines. We experienced some wonderful bottles at the Enoteca Properzio and found some wines that we really like. Our palates have definitely been expanded and Italian wines are high on our list of favorites. Roberto also served a white wine one evening that was fantastic. I have never really liked white wines so I was very surprised. Thanks, Roberto!
Our favorite!
After the second day of wine tastings we returned to the Enoteca Properzio and Roberto's family was eating fresh chestnuts (roasted over an open fire) along with wild boar for dinner.

We joined in and shared all our lovely experiences. It was another wonderful evening.


Friday, December 29, 2017

Hillside Towns of Umbria

Umbria and Spello were much more picturesque than I anticipated. I could have spent hours or even days in Spello just walking up and down the winding stone streets taking beautiful photos.

This was the view from one side of the town looking into the Umbrian fields.
When Hubby D and I went for our daily walks, he went fast. It was very hard to keep up because I kept finding something to capture. It was all so very beautiful.

On Sunday there was an outside cooking class in one of the piazzas.

I could not resist this door knocker. It was very unique.

There was an olive festival going on in Spello and roaming singers stopped right in front of our apartment to sing and entertain. It was amazing and so much fun! This is a video of the singers. If you are reading this in an email, you will need to go to my blog to watch the video.

Our first trip outside Spello was to Assisi. Driving there was extremely enjoyablel and the cathedral was beautiful.

We stopped along the way at a very local restaurant for lunch. The view was out over the valley and an olive orchard. It was gorgeous.

Having our own car was terrific on this portion of our trip. We could wind through the towns, stop along the way to enjoy the view. We were able to come and go at our leisure. We were relaxed and having the time of our lives.

Back in Spello we had another fantastic evening enjoying the wines and the company at Enoteca Properzio.  On this evening the Angelini family shared a holiday tradition with us. We dined on escargot cooked in the most wonderful wine sauce. Again, Roberto paired these with some fabulous wines!

The escargot was cooked by a local chef and only served by the Angelini family once during the holiday season. FANTASTICO! (I tried to learn a few Italian words.)

A wonderful ending to another beautiful day in Italy.