I recently took a trip to Italy to visit a region we covered years and years ago. The places and the people and especially the wines that the writer, Robert Draper, had described had just stuck with me all this time. As I made my way to the Friuli region — known for its wonderful white wines — I worried that my memory of what I had read would not compare to the reality. That was indeed the case.
Except that the reality was oh so much better.
I began in the charming town of Trieste, and my first stop was one of its ubiquitous enotecas — essentially, wine bars. But enotecas are more than that, they are a kind of neighborhood hangout, where people come in and out, have a glass or two of wine, chat with others, and then continue on their way.
As I sipped my wine and enjoyed the camaraderie of those around me, I was in heaven. But crazily enough, things only got better.
For the next three days, the hours were ruled by my stomach. I made my way from café to enoteca to restaurant to enoteca to café to restaurant — you get the idea.
At the restaurants, I was treated to the freshest of fish cooked in the simplest and most delicious ways and to pasta cooked to perfection.
From there, I sampled wines and visited wineries in and around Cormòns. One in particular, Venica & Venica, was simply amazing. The grounds were beautiful, the wines even more so. The family vintners were gracious and exuberant about their business. And their wines. Did I mention those? I tasted and took away many.
You can be sure that in the coming months, we’ll have a story for you — once again by Robert Draper — on all the wonderful food and wines to be found in the Friuli region of Italy. So stay tuned for that.
Upon returning home, what I missed most (after the wines, which really goes without saying) were the fresh, local foods. Everything I ate in Italy came from the waters I looked out on and from the ground I walked on. Which made me think about an eating trend that we recently assigned a writer to do a story on, a story that appears in this issue on page 40.
It consists of people who have made a commitment to eat locally — the definition of local in this context varies but generally refers to food that is produced within a 100- to 200-mile radius of where they live.
Because of my experience in Italy, I’ve come to appreciate the ambitions of these “locavores.”
In keeping with the local theme, I should tell you about an event that’s a little closer to home but just as spectacular. The Food & Wine Classic in Aspen is one of the most wonderful gatherings of foodies, chefs, and vintners that I’ve found. This year, it is celebrating its 25th anniversary, so in addition to hosting the chefs who will be there — your favorites, including Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis, Emeril Lagasse, Steven Raichlen, and Jacques and Claudine Pépin — the Classic intends to raise $1 million for Farm to Table, a national initiative dedicated to supporting local farmers. To kick things off, 4 percent of every ticket sold will be donated to their Grow for Good campaign.
So not only will you be hosted by fantastic chefs and 300 vintners leading you through more than 80 cooking demos, wine seminars, and tastings, you’ll also be contributing to great foodstuffs.
Tickets are on sale now, and they go very quickly, so visit www.foodandwine.com/classic to learn more and to sign up.
Sherri Gulczynski Burns