Wine and Covid-19. The challenges and the experience
The great experience and sagacity of the wine producers is facing new challenges. Covid-19 forced almost all restaurants in Italy and worldwide to close. In recent decades, Italian wine had conquered a high level position not only like in the past for the quantities produced but for quality and competitiveness. Now this unstoppable phenomenon has had to stop and the crisis is compromising the year’s economy. The main challenge will be starting over, it takes determination and perhaps even stubbornness, but at this moment, in this elusive phase 2 it’s also necessary to reflect on the many pre-existing weaknesses because probably there will be opportunities for those who will deal with new visions, new strategies, new organizations and why not with more robust teams.
Wine entrepreneurs at the time of Covid-19
This issue of Gambero Rosso collects multiple and multifaceted opinions, but also cries of pain of passionate entrepreneurs who fear being abandoned to a sad fate, seeing continuing as something impossible, the risk of layoffs and the loss of market shares up to then laboriously and deservedly conquered. On paper our rulers defend the economy and always mention how the creativity of fine foods and beverages has contributed to divulging the high reputation that Italy enjoys and to defend GDP and export even in the very long stagnation of the last decade, without forgetting the decisive role of tourism.
I said on paper because in fact funds for farm protection are scarce even in the agricultural field and will be accessible through tough procedures. With the huge income reduction and the inevitable growth of unemployment, Italian wine will have only one way to go, to export. We have discussed it for a long time with the leaders of ICE, which is aware that––as the Gambero Rosso Guides in its multiple translations, countless promotional events, master classes in the capitals of the world––are and will be at the service of top wine excellences. However, we must hurry, since the markets are reopening and our delays can leave room for bottles coming from other countries. This must not happen and we, in our own small way, will fight to avoid it.
by Paolo Cuccia
Paysages Nourriciers: 50 vegetable gardens throughout the city of Nantes to counter the crisis
The nourishing landscapes of Nantes: the solidarity gardens
50 gardens throughout the city and 10,000 plants entrusted to the care of municipal gardeners, with the aim of feeding the poor. It’s happening in Nantes, where the project Paysages Nourriciers (nutritious landscapes) is taking shape in recent weeks to respond to the social crisis sparked by the health emergency, which has further compromised the fate of indigent families. Il was therefore necessary to have a productive pool from which to draw to guarantee the supply of free food to anyone in need it in the Municipality of Nantes, as mayor Johanna Rolland explains in support of the initiative: “The associations that normally provide food aid have seen the number of requests grow exponentially. There are many families who no longer have access to healthy and quality food, many have lost their jobs, the precariousness of the moment affects us all.” During the lockdown, the Food Bank continued to supply charity associations with fresh and packaged products to be distributed, but the simultaneous increase in the demand for local produce decreased the usual surplus destined for donations.
Offsetting food insecurity. Gardeners at work
So “it is up to the administration to offset the issue of food insecurity on a large scale,” the mayor explained. The city administration authorised experimentation promoted by the Municipal Social Action Centre in collaboration with the service company that deals with the maintenance of public green spaces, now struggling with the planting and cultivation of solidarity urban gardens (250 gardeners involved). Potatoes, tomatoes, courgettes that find space in parks and public gardens, in the moats of the Nantes castle, in the green areas surrounding the town hall and in the flower beds of the city squares. Starting from about two hectares of land obtained from the municipal “nursery”, which at the beginning of June were sown with the help of the volunteers of the EmpowerNantes association, assisted by young farmers.
The operation in numbers
By autumn the new edible gardens will supply a ton of potatoes, five hundred pumpkins and beans; but the project also cultivates vegetables for the summer – from tomatoes to courgettes, beets – and products for the winter, such as corn, which will grow in many green areas already identified (fifty in the eleven districts of the city, for 25,000 square meters of total surface) and marked on the map of the Paysages Nourriciers, involving shopping centres, schools, museums, the Nantes convention center. With the merit of soliciting a seasonal consumption of the products of the earth and actively involving citizens in a project open to everyone’s participation (the harvest will last from July to October, while the sowing ends in a few days), modulated on the principles of permaculture and without use of any pesticides. By autumn, if the weather is favourable, the goal wil be to reach 25 tons of vegetables to be distributed free of charge to people in need. The intention is to guarantee a thousand families a supply of 25 kilos of vegetables.
Librandi, synonymous with Calabria. A wine cellar that focuses all on terroir
Visiting this company would certainly help to understand the very important work that the Librandi brothers carried out financially as well. In 1993 they planted the first experimental plot that welcomes Magliocco, Arvino, Mantonico Bianco and Pecorello. In 1997, with the purchase of Tenuta Rosaneti, research progressively widened in parallel with the recovery of the viticultural heritage and in 2000 an experimental plot was also set up to house over 2,500 vines divided into 25 native grape varieties. Here pre-harvest samplings and comparative company micro-vinifications were carried out.
Driven by the desire to explore and bring value to the local genetic heritage, in the same years the Librandi brothers started a genetic improvement program based on self-fertilization and subsequent selection of the best genotypes obtained on the two most important red berried varieties grown in the area: gaglioppo and magliocco dolce. A painstaking work that shows how strong the family bond is for the land and how important their contribution to the quality of local viticulture has been. The area is Cirò Marina, a city that overlooks the Ionian Sea and is characterised by both hilly and flat land vineyards set in the Mediterranean scrub biome. The winery has always been exclusively family-run: led until 2012 by the founding brothers Antonio and Nicodemo Librandi. Today, after Antonio’s passing, the company is run by Nicodemo, Raffaele, Paolo, Francesco and Teresa Librandi. An important choice that sees the Librandi family at the forefront of all the company’s activities: from managing vineyards to commerce.
Labeling and Igp, further regional bond
This past year the winery has undergone further changes, providing a graphic restyling of the labels and company logo with simpler and cleaner lines. The new look of the Critone, Terre Lontane and Duca Sanfelice wines was recently presented alongside the release of the new vintages. But more importantly, it was decided to focus fully on the “Calabria brand”, with the aim of making it even more recognizable in the world of wine and turning this into a strength. For this reason, the denomination “Calabria IGT” was adopted (in place of the previous “Val di Neto IGT”), placing it on the label for many of the references, while maintaining the micro-territoriality and the selective provenance of the grapes from the historic estates, plus supporting all with marketing strategies aimed at rediscovering the authentic natural and artistic riches of the region.
Cru and olive groves for 350 hectares
The estates owned by the Librandi family cover approximately 350 hectares, of which 232 are vineyards, 80 planted in olive groves and the remaining are forests. Rosaneti is certainly the beating heart of the company: it is the largest estate of the family, where we find the “varietal garden”, the collection of native grapes that currently houses about 200 varieties recovered throughout the region. In Arcidiaconato, in the municipality of Strongoli, the vineyards are exclusively dedicated to international vines. Ponta, in the historical area of the Cirò Doc, is bred in gaglioppo. There are additional plots of land in Pittaffo, San Biase and Brisi.
Wine: 2,500,000 bottles
Extra virgin olive oil: 25,000 bottles
Horeca distribution channel
Market: 55% In Italy, 45% abroad
Foreign markets: Germany, Switzerland, United States, Japan, Denmark, Belgium, China, Netherlands England, France, Russia, Canada, Australia, Luxembourg, Austria, Ukraine, Brazil, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Lebanon
Cellar: 25 employees
Vineyards: 80 employees
Librandi – Cirò Marina (KR) – loc. San Gennaro – s.s. Jonica, 106 – 096231518 – librandi.it
Sciacchetrà. Journey on the footsteps of the symbolic wine of the Cinque Terre
The landing, albeit by land, is a blow to the heart. The place is, from a landscape point, located in one of the most spectacular places in Italy. And of the world. The road winds, rears up then descends with the mountain on one side, the green that opens in windows on the other side: and there at the bottom the sea, like vertigo, the horizon that rears up to resize the sky. Infinite. The Cinque Terre are this, and not only the gem-villages that would be much less fascinating without the surrounding picture: anthropized nature, tamed rock and soil cultivated over the centuries even where only the crazy, or the heroes would dare; dry stone walls terracing ridges, cian (in dialect flat steps) that for a long time have welcomed the vines and the olive trees in the areas of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore, and villages enclosed between Punta Mesco and Punta di Montenero in the Riviera of La Spezia, in Liguria. A strip of land besieged by peaks, up to 800 meters above sea level, at a stone’s throw from the sea, in a context and schizophrenic microclimate, which can also visibly vary, more humid areas and others more windswept, steep coast and designed by bluffs and inlets that continue south to Portovenere, with the island of Palmaria in front, closing in the Gulf of La Spezia.
What grapes make Sciacchetrà
The totem wine of the Cinque Terre is Sciacchetrà, a sweet nectar, an overused but in this case due term. It is a singular passito, a portentous, unique in genesis and result, produced primarily with bosco grapes, plus albarola and vermentino, which are left to dry away from the sun, in well-ventilated areas, for over 70 days. After November 1st (traditionally, but at present as part of the disciplinary), the bunches are carefully de-stemmed, sometimes selecting the grapes by hand, which are then pressed and vinified in steel tanks, in contact with the skins. The wine is often aged in small barrels, sometimes in steel or in an amphora, sold in specific tapered 375 ml bottles. The production yield stands at 25%: objectively it’s worth it, culturally as well, for fans there is no doubt but from a commercial point of view it’s as difficult a challenge as is the land difficult to farm.
Characteristics of Sciacchetrà
Golden, amber with iridescent reflections, intense on the nose with hints of honey, harmonious and persistent in the mouth, with a firm structure and very fine tannic texture, it has a bewitching opening and a savoury sea finish, an aftertaste of almonds and dried figs, an evocative and poetic soul; “That proud Sciacchetrà that’s pressed in the five vine-covered lands”, as D’Annunzio wrote, seems to borrow the name from shekar, a Hebrew term that identifies a drink to offer to God, yet in Ligurian dialect it recalls Sciac, that is, crush, press in regards to the grapes, and Tra, which means pull, pull it away, put it in the barrel and forget it there, given time can only be beneficial.
Cantina Sassarini, ina Monterosso al Mare, is the custodian of this story. The foundations were laid by Natale Sassarini in 1968, farsighted in sensing the potential of the area’s wines, just think that the DOC certification was created only five years later. He built his cellar and tightened around him a network of wine growers who cultivated their land, currently there are 11 hectares total. “The grape conferring model has a decidedly positive meaning here: ensuring the purchase of the grapes allows individual farmers, owners of small plots, to continue looking after the land with the necessary support over time.” It’s now Natale’s son, Giancarlo, shy profile but attentive gaze, tenacious step, who mans the corporate helm: the milestone of the winery’s fiftieth anniversary, two years ago, took on the value of “a rock to consolidate a wine tradition of Cinque Terre, which has so far been lacking.”
We arrive in Vernazza to get to know the only winery in the village, with the vineyards of Lise Bertram and Bartolomeo Lercari that from the castle tower to the church bell tower seem to embrace the sea. She’s Danish, with a degree in horticulture and a doctorate in agronomy; he, after similar studies became a teacher, learned and taught around the world and then returned here, in the abandoned countryside that claimed a caretaker. “My grandfather lived in the sea, like many men, while it was my grandmother who took care of the vineyards and the wine bar, the olive trees. My summers were spent at the Vernazza pier, in the sun, I swam and fished… I tried courting women, but I was shy,” and it’s difficult to imagine this speaking to him now, ironic and easy-going, affable and intense. “I was better off in the vineyard helping my father Ercole,” says Bartolo. This came in handy in 2004, when with Lise, starting from a family plot, they gave birth to Cheo, nickname with which the Lercari family called itself, of noble Genoese origins. “When I was a boy, the little train for the harvest wasn’t there, trips was made by hand, long and exhausting, the grapes arrived in the cellar with an eye dropper, it was impossible to get a good wine.”
Heydi Bonanini owes his name to a trip to northern Europe is parents took, when his mom was pregnant; while his Possa farm is a contraction of the name of the valley where he was born, Possaitara, in Riomaggiore. “By the end of the Nineties few portions of terraces had been cultivated, landslides had devastated the whole slope”. Heydi began to like the idea of a vineyard of his own, which also meant the recovery and custody of this strip of land overlooking the sea (a ride on board the train built for the harvest in the late 80s, gives an idea of the dizziness of those who work in this context). He graduated in Accounting but there were other studies that fascinated him, the seasons and the climate, the vines and wine-making techniques. “The arrival of Elio Altare, and the recruitment that led me to work alongside him, were a turning point.” Heydi’s first grapes were vinified in the cellar that the famous Langa winemaker had started in Riomaggiore, and so, in about three years, he was able to practice and hone enough experience to start his own path with Possa. “I produced just 25 liters of my first Sciacchetrà, I remember we had bed frames as racks for drying, resting on the piles of my school books that were finally put to good use.”
He grows, refines the trade, takes over new plots and starts parallel activities, such as the one carried out together with children, in respectful education for agriculture; or setting up a space dedicated to peasant memory in the Riomaggiore cellar. His harvest is still carried out by hand, the baskets loaded on the trains or on a boat. “The Cinque Terre are this, the effort of working on overhangs, of restoring dry stone walls; the cellars, lemons and rosemary, the smells of the countryside, not the shops that sell souvenirs in the village”. For Sciacchetrà, the sorting of the grapes, mainly Bosco, is done grape by grape, withering is almost a ritual, winemaking respects tradition but also tries new ways, such as in amphora. The result is amazing, a fleshy and intellectual wine, yet rustic, with a thousand stories to tell. “Over time poor Sciacchetrà was brutalised in the name of a market that had ended up distorting it; we recovered the true meaning of this unique passito in the world. The dowry of twenty bottles that we have historically destined for every unborn child in the area is a source of great pride”, and now little Jacopo Bonanini thinks about pressing with his feet, in the cellar since he was three years old.
by Emiliano Gucci
The best restaurants for dining al fresco in Bologna
Be it the fair weather, or the post-Covid directives, the fact remains that the desire to eat al fresco is increasing. We’ve selected the best restaurants in Bologna with a garden or a simple patio.
One of the city landmarks for fine seafood cuisine. And it’s Francesco Carboni himself, chef and owner of this welcoming place with pleasant outdoor seating area, who selects the excellent fish seafood and who cooks it with respect and inspiration. In beautiful presentations, oysters land at the table, excellent raw fish, seafood salads, followed by spaghetti alla chitarra with mantis shrimp and prawns plus oven roasted catch of the day with potatoes.
via A. Murri, 168d – 051 443422 – www.acquapazzabologna.it
Opened four years ago, this place takes inspiration from the dictates of guru Matthew Kenney, offering raw food and plant based cuisine. The mastermind behind the project is Anna Artesiani, a former raw food pastry chef who decided to dedicate herself to an all-round offer. Open kitchen, minimalistic decor and a few outdoor tables, and a menu that tries to challenge the iconic Bolognese dishes, tortellini and mortadella in the first place. On the table you’ll find wholemeal pasta with seasonal vegetables; the “Buddha Bow” with grains, legumes, vegetables and nuts; gnocchi with artichoke and crispy leeks, and quinoa burgers. Do not miss the raw desserts, such as the fruit or chocolate cheesecake.
via Battibecco, 4/c – 3428606026 – www.botanicalab.com
Camera con Vista
The view overlooking Piazza Santo Stefano is beautiful. The bistro is located within the historic Palazzo Isolani, where guests can bask in a suggestive atmosphere thanks to the furnishings coming from all over Europe. The kitchen, open for lunch and dinner, offers a very refined menu, also as far as the presentation, ranging from a guinea fowl salad with hazelnuts, miso, chanterelles and curly lettuce; potato ravioli with ricotta, shallots, lime, sage and green pepper, and the glazed eggplant. To be enjoyed at outdoor tables, overlooking the beautiful square known by all as “the Seven Churches”.
via Santo Stefano, 14 – 051224268 – www.cameraconvista.it
Cuoco di Latta
For the past year a Piedmontese heart has been beating in the city, just outside the centre, a place where veal with tuna sauce, agnolotti del plin with Castelmagno mountain pasture cheese and summer savory or the “modern boiled meats” do not make you regret the joys of the most typical local specialties. You can also opt for the two tasting menus: one priced at €45 and the other at €65 (focus on black truffle). They also offer great aperitivo.
via L. Marenzio, 1 – 051 4857811 – cuocodilatta.com
It could be just the showroom of one of the most well-known celebrity TV chefs, but this place opened in summer 2017 by Bruno Barbieri is much more. A renovated historic inn made into a concept that includes a restaurant, bistro, inn and even excellent cocktails. On the cuisine front guests can start with cured meats, fried crescentine and squacquerone cheese, and continue with excellent tortellini sautéed in a parmigiano and nutmeg fondue, or choose pasta with potatoes and provola cheese topped with shrimp tartare. Among the main courses, there’s seafood stew with redfish steak or roasted suckling pig with mustard, dried broad bean puree and confit tomatoes. The venue is beautiful, enhanced by the murals by the artist Afran, and in addition to the internal garden, this year they also inaugurated a new outdoor area in the shade of via Murri.
via A. Murri, 71 – 051391847 – www.fourghetti.com
In a fourteenth-century palace, this historical restaurant, once frequented and loved by celebrities and artists, has been living a renaissance for a couple of years thanks to owners Elisabetta and Michele who today renew the tradition with touches of measured creativity and with prime quality ingredients. Dishes like tortellini are really super here: classic in double capon and beef broth, or tiny “golden drop” style in Parmigiano Reggiano milk cream. Meats and charcuterie are first choice, think veal cutlet served on the bone, which is not to be missed.
piazza della Mercanzia, 3c – 051232807 – www.alpappagallo.it
Trattoria Pane e Panelle
A veritable secret garden kept in the courtyard of the local in via San Vitale, under the arcades that lead to one of the exit gates of the medieval city. Luca Pappalardo is at the helm of the kitchen, commander of what is proudly defined as a “different trattoria” (which reaches out to all kinds of diversity), closer to the Sicilian chef’s Mediterranean roots than to the Bolognese matrix. But beyond the labels, the cuisine of Pane e Panelle is inspired by the instinct of a chef skilled in handling ingredients (especially seafood, of which everything is reused, from heads to entrails) thus minimizing waste, serving dishes that are therefore never banal. The atmosphere is relaxed typical of popular taverns, inviting guests to share a round of “nicareddi” – proposed in small plates, to taste a bigger variety – or to enjoy a relaxed lunch in the garden, that’s also open for aperitif hour, from 6pm, with a selection of wines from the Lortica wine shop and delights from the kitchen (also available for delivery). Best to book ahead.
via San Vitale, 71 – 051270440 – www.paneepanelletrattoria.it
In Bologna there is the sea, which is invisible but available to eat. It happens in the Bolognese outpost of the Bartolini family from Cesenatico (ex Osteria del Gran Fritto, with a third venue in Milano Marittima). It’s a symbol of Adriatic cuisine in Romagna, which has brought winds of iodine to Bologna in a modern and comfortable environment with a magnificent garden, at the heart of which sits a centuries-old plane tree, the mascot of the house, a cool refuge for the torrid summers of the city. On the menu the best of the best of the littoral tradition (don’t ask for spaghetti with seafood!) and first choice catch of the day: poverazze alla marinara, pan fried sardines, tagliolini with white fish ragout, skewers of squid and grilled prawns or their famous fish fry.
piazza Malpighi, 16 – 051262192 – www.osteriabartolini.com
Scaccomatto agli Orti
A regular appointment for Bologna summer that transfers Mario Ferrara’s cuisine to the gardens of via della Braina until September, but only for three days a week. The context is particularly suggestive of a 17th-century courtyard hidden from view, which has preserved the memory of a medieval conventual garden. Dinner includes a set menu, always different, according to the chef’s inspiration (? Euro per person). Devono ancora rispondermi
via della Braina, 7 – 051 263404 – www.facebook.com/scaccomattoagliorti
Vetro alle Serre
A place born from a redevelopment project and soon turned into one of the most popular meeting points for young people. 650 square meters of coworking spaces for exhibitions, events, offices and of course the bistro, where guests come for a quick breakfast, but also a more slower one during the weekend, for lunch, for a snack or an aperitif, to be enjoyed al fresco. The dishes are simple and genuine, in which often the vegetables from the garden are the protagonists, growing in the area of what were once the ornamental plant nurseries of the Margherita Gardens.
via Castiglione, 134 – 370 3336439 – vetro.kilowatt.bo.it – chiude alle 18.00
Adjacent to the cathedral of San Petronio, this beautiful place, equipped with a patio, is a safe bet thanks to the cuisine that starts from tradition and territory but revisits both concepts with interesting creative ideas using prime quality ingredients (Massimiliano Poggi’s touch is evident, he offers his advice here and further investigates the Bolognese culinary tradition). On the menu, therefore, tortellini in broth, tagliatelle with ragù or lasagna with white ragù, but also raw Piedmontese fassona meat tartare with potato mayonnaise or vegetarian proposals.
vicolo Colombina, 5b – 051233919 – www.vicolocolombina.it
by Annalisa Zordan
Dining in in Slovenia close from the border. The best restaurants to try
The Michelin Guide in Slovenia
Even the Michelin guide, for the first time in history, dedicated a publication to Slovenian dining, which has so far been excluded from the European tour of the Red Book inspectors, certainly not because it didn’t deserve attention. Not surprisingly, the debut edition bestows important stars to places that have recently driven Slovenian gastronomy on the international scene. On the highest step of the podium is Ana Ros: just across the Italian border, in the city of Kobarid, historically linked to war memories, Hisa Franko is the only restaurant to immediately win two macarons. The judgment honours a chef with a great personality, who has become an ambassador of Slovenian cuisine around the world. But, despite the limited territorial extension of a country which by the way is largely covered with forests and large farmland expanses, there are several restaurants that obtained the glory of a first star in the coveted guide. Starting with another good cross-border chef such as Tomaz Kavcic, who brings a star to Pri Lojzetu, in the beautiful Zemono estate in the Vipava valley, just 50 kilometres from Trieste (the other new stars are Hisa Denk, Vila Podvin, Dam and Atelje, the only macaron in the capital city Ljubljana).
Dining in Slovenia. Our suggestions
The guide dedicated to Slovenia, which includes a total of 52 entries, also focuses on the places worthy of offering the best value for money, awarding 9 restaurants as Bib Gourmand. “Slovenia has an excellent script fitting among the best gastronomic destinations in the world,” says Gwendal Poullennec announcing the latest addition to the Michelin guides. And we take the opportunity to put together the addresses that are worth the trip not too far beyond the Italian border (with an incursion into Ljubljana, reachable in just over an hour by car from Trieste and Gorizia), because this summer Slovenia could prove to be a truly ideal destination for easy holidays (first, however, if possible do privilege Italy, which really has a lot to offer).
Hisa Franko (Kobarid)
Surrounded by a lush garden, at the gates of Kobarid, the brick red house of Ana Ros and husband Valter Kramar is both a relaxed and lively environment, which welcomes throngs of young people from all over the world to work in the kitchen and dining room, and the energy of the hostess to act as a trait d’union in a competent way, without ever missing a smile for the guests. As a self-taught and strong-willed cook, Ana Ros has built her gastronomic identity by looking at the products and traditions of the area, without precluding the possibility of travelling and capturing suggestions from around the world. In the dish she offers an expressive cuisine, which although attentive has not lost its instinctive essence. The summer tasting menu is offered at 175 euros (255 with wine pairings) and takes guests on a journey of numerous plates, eating them with their fingers and with a fork (or a spoon).
Kobarid – Staro Selo, 1 – www.hisafranko.com
Hisa Polonka (Kobarid)
Hisa Polonka is the informal table prepared by Ana Ros and her husband in the center of Kobarid, a cross between a village inn and a beer brewery. Relaxed atmosphere, delicious food, and a more than affordable bill. Among the house specialties is the frika (Slovenian name for frico) made with cheese and potatoes; also venison goulash, roast beef, trout meunière. Draft beers are branded FEO, brewery founded by Valter Kramar.
Kobarid – Gregorciceva ulica, 1 – Facebook page
Klinec Plesivo (Dobrovo)
In the Slovenian Collio, just 20 minutes by car from Gorizia, the Klinec tavern is an example of young and family run hospitality, overlooking the vineyards of Medana. The dishes belong to local tradition, however come served in a designer environment: popolati soups – such as celery – polenta with fried ham, tasty vegetables from the garden. In combination with the local organic wines (starting from those of the house). It’s furthermore possible to stop for the night.
Dobrovo (Brda) – Plesivo, 51a – www.klinec.si
Oljcni Bar, Hisa Kulture (Smartno)
The small white village of Smartno, among the first outposts of the Slovenian Collio located just past the border entering from Vencò (do not miss to visit Antonia Klugmann’s L’Argine restaurant), is a fairytale place. And hidden inside the house of culture is an equally fairytale table, a tiny bistrot dedicated to olive oil, created in the spaces of an old traditional house. Guests come here to taste Slovenian extra virgin olive oil, but also to try Tatiana’s rustic cuisine, in an informal, and very hospitable context.
Smartno (Brda) – Kojsko – www.smartnobrda.si
Osterija Zogica, Solkan
Near the suggestive bridge over the Soca river (in Italy we call it Isonzo), which can be admired from the terrace overlooking the river, in Solkan, this tavern offers an atmosphere of the past, and in the summer months welcomes guests in a beautiful garden. The cuisine is traditional, inspired by the family recipe book, between freshwater fish – Isonzo trout – and typical cured meats.
Solkan – Soška cesta 52 – Facebook page
Grad Kromberk (Nova Gorica)
In the sixteenth-century Kromberk castle, just 10 minutes by car from Gorizia, the family-run restaurant has existed since the early 1980s, but has been renewed in the last decade by the the last generation. Guests flock here for the atmosphere (not surprisingly, many wedding ceremonies are celebrated at the castle), but also for a fresh, traditional-inspired cuisine, which favours the products of the market, not neglecting ancient recipes, dishes based on game or seafood. Ample choice in the plant world, too.
Kromberg Castle – Mateja Bagar – www.gradkromberg.si
Gostilna Pri Lojzetu (Vipava)
Leader and pioneer of the Slow Food movement in Slovenia, Tomaz Kavcic is a cooking enthusiast. His personality, which goes hand in hand with the smiling hospitality of his wife XXX in the dining room, is reflected in the brilliant welcome given to guests at Zemono Castle, and in the inventions of a cuisine that thinks outside the box, at times very scenographic, which, however, never penalizes taste. Guests can eat in the dining room/cave set up with soft lights, amazed by continuous magic; or, in summer, in the shade of the beautiful loggia with sweeping views over the vineyards. The more complex tasting menu is offered at 200 euros, but there are several options, even at a lower price, to experience the Kavcic philosophy.
Vipava – Dvorec Zemono – www.prilojzetu.si
Kruh in Vino (Dobrovo)
Housed inside Vila Vipolze, Kruh in Vino is the most informal interpretation of Tomaz Kavcic’s gastronomic creativity, albeit in a decidedly refined space. The cuisine is more tied to traditions, and focuses above all on 30-hour leavened focaccia and served sliced to showcase the local ingredients, vegetables, meats and local cheeses. For dessert, the strudel is made according to the popular recipe.
Dobrovo – Vipolze, 29 – www.kruhinvino.si
Gostilna Podfarovz (Vipava)
Close to the source of Vipava, this inn is famous for its local specialties, based on ancient traditional recipes, revisited with creativity. The ingredients are almost all locally sourced and the menu follows the seasons. In the cellar are many excellent labels from the valley.
Vipava – Ulica Ivana Sceka, 2 – www.podfarovz.si
Locanda Majerija (Vipava)
In an eighteenth-century farmhouse in the Vipava valley, Majerija offers hospitality and refreshment, with a fresh and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine in summer, and more invigorating dishes of the Central European tradition in winter. You can sit at the oak tables (also in the beautiful outdoor courtyard), choose between duck pâté with sautéed figs and aromatic herbs from the garden, and ravioli stuffed with porchetta, mlinci with broccoli and sage sorbet. The hand belongs to Matej Tomazic, who with his wife leads the charming restaurant and boutique hotel.
Vipava – Slap, 18 – www.majerija.si
Gostilnica Ruj (Dol pri Vogljah)
The protagonists on the table are the karst traditions (albeit proposed in a modern way) of a particularly suggestive area located only a few minutes from Trieste (the village of Dol pri Vogljah is only one kilometer from the Monrupino border). The cuisine is by Peter Patajac, the decor is minimalistic but well-kept inside. In summer guests can also dine in the garden surrounding the farmhouse. House specialties include game, vegetables from the garden, desserts made with herbs and homemade jams.
Dol Pri Vogljah, 16 – Facebook page
Gostilna Mahorcic (Rodik)
Not a traditional tavern as one would expect from reading the term gostilna, although from the outside the appearance is that of a typical karst house, with an outdoor courtyard (where the tables are set up in summer) which reveals the glimpse of the beautiful bell tower of Rodik. The mise en place is elegant, like the tasting menu prepared by Ksenija Mahorcic, inspired by the traditions of the Karst and Brkini, without however renouncing the freedom of creativity.
Rodik – Rodik, 51 – www.rundictes.si
Just awarded a Michelin star, Jorg Zupan has crafted his restaurant as a true creative atelier, after his experiences in important kitchens such as Quay in Sidney and Fat Duck by Heston Blumenthal. Today his cuisine looks at the Mediterranean, drawing from Slovenian ingredients. Great attention in the dining room (the restaurant is small, in the city centre, animated by the energy of the staff) and convincing selection of wines. Definitely affordable prices, with tasting menus of 3 and 5 courses sold at 25 and 39 euros.
Lubiana – Nazorjeva, 2 – www.restavracijaatelje.com
Spajza, which in Slovenian means pantry, is the perfect table in Ljubljana to discover traditional recipes and local products. Smoked appetizers include goose breast and horseradish trout, plus traditional starters like zilkrofi stuffed with potatoes, gnocchi, etc., and succulent meats such as venison fillet proposed with blueberries. Mushrooms abound in the fall season.
Lubiana – Gornji trg. 28 – www.spajza-restaurant.si
Wine Travel Food – June 2020
Too early to draw conclusions. Even too early to make any prediction. We are on the decline of the health crisis (we hope) and on the rise of an economic one (we hope not). 10 wine experts explain what is happening…
“The Russian market, explained”, interview with Anayoly Korneev, co-founder of Simple Wine, absolute leader in the field of Italian wine in Russia with 80 suppliers…
Rugged land, wedged between rocks and the sea. Working the fields here is an act of pure heroism and attachment to one’s roots…
Kyoko Nakayama works as Forbes Japan official columnist. She reviews restaurants in Singapore and Japanese magazines. Her hobbies? Climbing Kilimanjaro and traveling to unexplored countries. Follow her tips…
This is a simple cocktail in terms of taste and one that’s easily replicable, yet highly evocative. A hymn to Italy, to which Gegam is particularly attached, with a journey through history, colours and flavours of the places he visited…
History, variations and recipes of pesto in Italy
Fast, practical, very tasty: pesto is the par excellence solution for dinner, a salvation for impromptu dinners and a delight on hot days, when you have little desire to be stoveside but don’t want to give up a good plate of pasta. Be it the classic Genoese pesto with basil and pine nuts or the red one from Trapani, it doesn’t matter: the sauces made with a mortar and pestle (the use of the immersion blender is not recommended because the overheated blades could blacken the cream) are one better than the other, perfect both for seasoning pasta (hot or for pasta salad), for creating original canapes and bruschetta, or for enriching savoury fillings.
History and variations of pesto in Italy
Pesto alla genovese
Present in every Italian pastry, pesto alla genovese, is a pasta condiment that’s used cold directly on cooked pasta. To prepare it you need a good dose of dexterity and familiarity with the tools – a marble mortar and a wooden pestle – but there is no codified method for making it. Obviously, quality ingredients are a must: extra virgin olive oil, basil, parmigiano, Fiore Sardo, pine nuts, garlic. Ancient ancestor of the recipe is the Roman moretum, a mix of herbs, pecorino cheese, salt, olive oil and vinegar, even if the first written traces date back to the 19th century, with the volume “The true Genoese cook” by Emanuele Rossi, who mentions the sauce for the first time. But there are also those who believe that this is an evolution of the aggiada (in Genoese dialect), made with garlic, breadcrumbs, olive oil, wine and vinegar, usually used on fish. The ideal combinations? Pasta – trofie and trenette in primis, with potatoes and green beans – lasagna, timbales, rustic peis and minestrone.
Pesto alla trapanese
Another famous pesto is the tomato-based one typical of Trapani. An ancient recipe that was born in the ports of Trapani, where Genoese ships from the East once landed, carrying products and preparations with them. The people of Trapani modified the pesto recipe of the Ligurian sailors by replacing the ingredients with the specialties of their territory, namely tomato, almonds, pecorino cheese, red garlic and basil. All pounded in a mortar and used to flavour the busiate, a typical shape of local pasta made with water and flour, a sort of perforated spaghetti obtained by rolling dough ropes around a special metal rod.
An alternative green variant to the classic Genoese basil pesto is the one made with arugula, boasting a more intense and slightly bitter flavour. Originating in the Mediterranean area, arugula is a plant used in the kitchen since ancient times, particularly appreciated by the Greeks for its digestive properties and considered a powerful aphrodisiac by the Romans. Legend has it that in the Renaissance it was forbidden to cultivate it around monasteries, for fear that the monks might abandon the vow of chastity after tasting it. Today there are many uses in the kitchen, from a simple side dish to ravioli filling with ricotta and herbs, but also a fresh dressing prepared with mortar and pestle, together with extra virgin olive oil, pine nuts, Grana Padano, Pecorino cheese, salt and garlic.
Delicious cream that never disappoints, perfect to dress any type of dish but born with a specific purpose: to complete the recipe for pansoti, Ligurian ravioli with the typical bulging shape, and made with a mixture of water, flour and white wine. The stuffing is preboggion – typical mixture of wild herbs – ricotta and parmigiano. A dish officially presented in ’61 at a gastronomic festival in Nervi, but whose origins are much older and closely related to the feast of San Giuseppe, in the time of Lent fasting, a time when the Ligurians celebrated the table with a plate of lean ravioli. But let’s go back to the sauce: it’s a white cream made with pounded walnuts, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, salt and bread softened in milk, also used for other pasta shapes. Before starting the pounding procedure, however, it’s necessary to clean the walnut meats, scalding them in boiling water and peeling the husk off one by one, manually.
Classic Pesto recipe
80 g. fresh basil (preferably Basilico Genovese DOP)
1 garlic clove
2 tbsp. pine nuts
2 heaped tbsp. pecorino sardo, grated
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil from Liguria
Salt to taste
Pluck the basil leaves off the stems, wash and pat dry. Put them in the mortar (or in the blender, although blending oxidizes the basil) and add the garlic clove, trimmed of its interior sprout, the pine nuts, the cheese and half of the oil. Pound or blend until the ingredients have turned into a creamy mixture. If you are using the blender, to avoid heating the pesto, keep the speed low and pulse at intervals. At the end, pour the pesto into a small bowl and mix the rest of the olive oil.
Walnut sauce recipe
100 g. peeled walnuts
1 ball the size of an egg of unseasoned breadcrumb
1 garlic clove
2 tbsp milk
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Dip the walnut meats in boiling water for a few minutes, then peel off the brown husk. Spread them on a cloth and let them dry well. Put the peeled walnuts in the mortar together with the breadcrumb soaked in water and squeezed, and a pinch of salt, then pound until the ingredients have turned into a thick and creamy paste. When using it to dress pasta, dilute the sauce with a little pasta cooking water.
by Michela Becchi
Monini turns 100 and celebrates in the name of sustainability and quality
Monini’s 100th anniversary in the name of sustainability
“If today we had to do it all over again, we would change very little of what we did yesterday. The present, on the other hand, requires a profound reflection: the new generations are demanding we move towards making the world a better place”. This is how Maria Flora and Zefferino Monini celebrate 100 years of their brand, one of the most powerful and evocative brands of Made in Italy food. And it’s in this spirit that the Monini brothers make concrete commitments “to make the world truly better,” through a ten-year Sustainability Plan which includes the planting of one million olive trees in 10 years with organic, controlled and tracked cultivation.
Sustainability and quality
In addition to the adoption, in 2020, of 100 thousand bees: the first sentinels of environmental health. “Monini’s commitment is also directed to the high quality of Italian extra virgin olive oil – said the owners of the olive oil industry and the Trevi oil mill – and to its traceability, as well as to its “container”, with the aim of achieving 100% recycled glass bottles within the year”.
by Indra Galbo
Restarting cocktail bars according to Patrick Kong Pistolesi of Drink Kong
Patrick Pistolesi: “Cocktail bars are not the issue”
An art form refined over the course of nineteen years spent behind the most varied counters; and then at his place, his “creature” as he himself likes to define it, at a stone’s throw from Piazza Vittorio in Rome: Drink Kong. Patrick Pistolesi is a mixology master who, like all his colleagues, now finds himself dealing with a “new normal”, but mostly with the difficulties tied to recent accusations re: the “movida” (how nighttime outings at the bar are defined) in this delicate period. “Gatherings happen in supermarkets, in liquor stores: many people buy cases of beer and drink them outdoors in a park, without respecting distancing regulations. The bars are not the problem”. To the contrary, it’s precisely the businesses that have always worked the hardest and that are now looking forward to getting back into the game that currently ensure maximum safety for the customer.
Cocktail bars post-Coronavirus: the financial damage
Drink Kong reopened its doors on May 22nd, “we preferred to wait precisely to get organized better. They left us little time to change the layout of the premises and rethink the spaces, we didn’t want to take risks.” For the health of customers and employees, but also for the business itself, “we are economically devastated, the last thing we wanted was to put more gas on the fire and close again”. When speaking of financial damage, Pistolesi refers to a loss exceeding 80%. “Aperitivo outings and the like were the first experiences to be sentenced to early quarantine. It’s understandable, but our category has been devastated and neglected. We have been running a significant portion of the economy for a long time, giving jobs to young kids, all in good contractual standing”.
Cocktail bars today
A detail that shouldn’t be underestimated, which highlights again – if still needed – how far the panorama of cocktail bars today is far from that old idea of substance abuse and excess mistakenly identified as movida (a nightlife term that actually refers to the cultural movement spread in Spain in the 80s after its return to democracy). “In the past, pubs were opened by entrepreneurs coming from other businesses, often in the clothing sector, they were second businesses for many who did not know the subject and put uncontracted people behind the counter.” Now, however, places are in the hands of professionals, “The cocktail bar is no longer a makeshift business, but rather a lifestyle choice dictated by passion”. Patrick knows this well, he opened his Drink Kong in one of the most flourishing moments of the mixology scene, “the audience was already ready to approach openly elaborate cocktails, curious to be informed and learn more”. A few days before lockdown, he had presented the new menu with a great event, involving guests from all over the world, “we’ve always wanted to give the bar an international character”. On the way, a trip to Singapore to present the business, “and many other events for professional development”.
Reopening cocktail bars: safety distances and digital menus
Then came three months of lockdown, one very complicated suspended time, “the state dide what it could, but businesses like ours suffered”. Finally, the restart. Yes, but how? Social distancing in place, there cannot be more than two people at a table. “It’s often thought that a large room can accommodate more customers, but we also have more staff, which must be calculated within the spaces and which must be guaranteed the same level of safety”. No masks worn at the table, but it’s mandatory for any other place, including restrooms, cashier desk, plus hygiene rules are even stricter. The menu has been replaced by a digital menu “with bright colours. We’ve always given importance to design and graphics, and we immediately liked the idea.” Sanitizing gels are everywhere and also take out is packaged with compostable tableware, “a theme that is very close to our heart: we cannot and must not abuse of disposable plastic”.
Open communication in order to get off to a good start
A few days have passed since the reopening and taking stock now is not easy. The customers are still very few, divided equally between those who choose to consume inside and those who prefer take out, “those who are afraid of contagion don’t even approach the bar, not even for take out”. The solidarity of consumers is comforting and gives us hope, “regular customers immediately returned, they gave us so much warmth, support and it was exciting to see them again at the bar”. It’s precisely with the public that we must speak, now: “You need to communicate your work well, explain each step, what you do and how you do it, convey your passion, make the value of the product understood.”
Italian Hospitality Network: the network of the cocktail world professionals
The greatest support, furthermore, came from our colleagues: “Many came to have a cocktail and refused to have it on the house, they wanted to pay at all costs. These are the moments that push me to go on. The period is delicate, but I am grateful for all I have.” With the other professionals in the sector, Patrick has also established the Italian Hospitality Network, a network of professionals born in the midst of a pandemic, which aims to be a point of reference for the sector. “Young people who want to start a business or young people who have recently invested their savings to make their dream come true can find all the necessary information here, free of charge: from law ordinances to permits. A sort of modern union”. Any advice for cocktail bars that are reopening? “Networking. Be united, confront and support each other, now more than ever.”
Drink Kong – piazza San Martino ai Monti, 8 – facebook.com/drinkkong/
by Michela Becchi