Our plans for the morning were cultural, a quick stop in Aquileia to see the phenomenal mosaics (on the floor for easy viewing, Biblical scenes - Jonah and the Whale is a personal favorite) and then Villa Manin for an interesting Munch show that I wanted to see. But floods on the autostrada - all traffic west to Milan was detoured and we were stuck in a long line of trucks and cars - left us little time for culture and we went straight to Sarmeola di Rubano, the kingdom of Alajmo. Cathy and David hadn't seen Le Calandre's new, remodeled dining rooms, we all wanted to taste Massimiliano's latest creations, and I needed to shop at in.gridienti, the Alajmo's store. I bought a loaf of Massimiliano's natural mother yeast bread and a few packages of Sarawak pepper, pre-ordered Le Calandre's extra virgin version of Pandoro, called Pan'olio, for Christmas presents. We were hungry, ready for lunch. Raf had a surprise waiting at our table in the restaurant, my friend Gianni Capovilla, master distiller, who brought me a special bottle of aged (30 years) plum distillate - we would taste after lunch and I could take the rest home. Massimiliano's menu was a thrill, beginning with raw red shrimp, pomegranate ice and crispy rice cloud, paired with Champagne. Raw Piemontese beef with gold, incense and extra virgin, spaghetti with garlic, extra virgin, chili pepper and oysters, hare with a rich red wine sauce flanked by chestnut puree paired with Barolo Gramolere, hazelnut and coffee gelato with rum ice and milk foam. Raf and sommelier Angelo joined us to taste Gianni's plum distillate, truly amazing, true to fruit, which seemed to evaporate from our glasses and my bottle.
Vito's van was packed. Unlike other forms of travel, there are no luggage limits. He helped me unload our purchases and gifts - cases of wine, jars of preserves, fresh horseradish, a package of brovada, honey, extra virgin olive oil, grappa, vinegar, lots of books. My kitchen table was completely covered with bounty. I can't wait to go back.
Link to article in The Atlantic