celebrating the food and wine of italy

It was going to be quite a night. As I strode through the doors I was immediately welcomed with kisses on my cheeks. From there a crisp glass of Etrusco Tili, a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir blend, was nonchalantly eased into my hand while I was showered with greetings in gusto; Benvenuto! Salute!

It was the start of what would be an overall feeling that I had ventured to Italy sans a passport that evening. Beth of OMG! Yummy had graciously invited me over for a marvelous food and wine fete hosted by her and guests from Umbria. The Angelinis, whom she had met a couple years earlier while on vacation, were touring California bringing the food and wine of Italy with them. Their trip happened to coincide with the two year anniversary of Beth’s blog and it was a perfect excuse to celebrate.
The Angelini family for eight generations have run Enoteca Properzio. Located south of Assisi, in a quaint hill-town called Spello in the Umbrian region of Italy, the enoteca is popular amongst locals and a perfect spot to enjoy fine wines.

After mingling for a bit, a slight tapping on a glass of wine beckoned the crowd to gather at the dinner tables. Cin cin! We all raised our glasses and sat down to an impressive line-up of wines and splendid delicacies that began to emerge before us. It was a celebration for our taste buds as we were transported to Italia with each bite and each sip of wine. To add to the festivities, our ears were drenched in the romantic musings of Roberto who described each wine and shared stories in his native Italian. His daughter Irene, a trained sommelier translated his words and contributed her own thoughtful insight. She also shared a bit of history about her beautiful homeland, while Roberto also showed us a lovely way to keep the corks attached to the bottles of wine after they were opened. Undoubtedly we were all thoroughly entertained.

The food may have been simple, but the flavors were bold and memorable. We started with fresh prosciutto and genoa salami from a local market, then moved onto bruschettas to highlight the flavor of extra virgin olive oils. Olio Extra Vergine Di Oliva and an extra-virgin olive oil labeled as Dottor Alberto Cipolloni. Beth shared that even the great restauranteur and chef Alain Ducasse lauds the olives oils of the Assisi Spello area.

The twenty-five year aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena was unbelievably impressive. Just a hint drizzled atop the bruschetta and olive oil it produced a complex burst of syrupy sweetness on the tongue. From there we tasted a medley of different tapenades including white truffle, black truffle, arugula, and a sundried tomato. This was followed by a variety of Pecorino cheeses. The wine flowed, courtesy of Irene’s brother Luca, who also is part of the family business. He and Irene graciously poured wine after wine and helped serve the simple but delectable bites prepared by their mother Danielle.

The strangozzi pasta prepared with fresh crushed black pepper, the Olio Extra Vergine Di Oliva, and Gran Riserva Pecorino was delizioso. Using the finest yet simple ingredients, the strangozzi pasta which had a beautiful texture when you bit into it, mixed with the olive and cheese produced an incredible creaminess with bits of peppery spiciness. It was a favorite. I love dishes that are simple to prepare where the best ingredients get to shine.

To pair with the red wines we were served a lovely beef tenderloin with oven-roasted seasonal vegetables. I indulged in the wine, bruschettas and pasta quite a bit to fully enjoy the main course at this point but I assure you it was delicious. Dessert was my kind of cookie, a crispy tozzetti, essentially a chocolate biscotti that had perfect chunks of chocolate baked in. Again simple yet pure chocolate baked into each bite. To complete the meal was a bold glass of grappa.

Nine wines plus grappa were served over the course of several hours. We drank more than we actually tasted as all the guests were deep in conversation or listening to the stories and descriptions of the wine as told by our Italian hosts. As noted we started with the Etrusco Tili, it was the first I heard of a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir blend; it’s a crisp white elegant wine. From there we enjoyed the Sette Note, a dry well-bodied white. We then moved onto Brusone La Porrona, a Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Cesanenese d’Affile and Sangiovese blend. From there we had Assisi Rosso Riserva Tili, a smooth 100% Sangiovese red with notes of plum. Another first was the 100% Sagrantino Anni. A deep red, with notable bouquet, the Sagrantino is a mature wine and popular in Umbria. The Nadel Poderi Morini is a Sangiovese, Longanesi, Merlot and Centesimo blend, full bodied red wine with a beautiful composition. Next on the list came the Amarone della Valpolicella Fattoria Garbole, a blend of Corvina Veronese, Rondinella, and Molinara all varietals that were new to me. With this many wines and the parade of food before us, it’s a testament to the Kurni Oasi degli Angeli that it stood out from the lineup. This could be because you could distinctly taste banana with a bit of vanilla. It’s described to have berries, tobacco and leather, and the tannins delicate, I would say creamy on the palate. 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, the Kurni captured my attention. The last wine for the evening Rubacuori Poderi Morini, a 100% Centesimino and pairs well with dessert. Finally Grappa di Amarone Berta Selezione Enoteca, strong licorice to end the meal.

Every detail impressed us throughout the night, including the fact that the Angelinis brought a book Grandi Vini: An Opinionated Tour of Italy‚Äôs 89 Finest Wines by Joseph Bastianich with them to share more information about the wine. An extraordinary party, the evening ended similar to how it had started, only with added hugs and kisses, the Angelini family had become friends by night’s end. Many, many thanks to Beth and her family for hosting such an exquisite and memorable evening. It was an opportunity to truly celebrate the food and wine of Italy, and do it in a warm and inviting setting with a wonderful group. Arrivederci! Ciao!

Be sure to wish Beth a happy two year anniversary and read:
Cin Cin: Celebrating The Food and Wine of Italy and Two Years of OMG Yummy
To bring a taste of Italy to your home visit: Enoteca Properzio

Thanks to @techsavvyteen @dormantchef @omgyummyblog for sharing their cameras and the photos.

Enjoy more yum, would love to see you on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/yumivores
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4 Responses to celebrating the food and wine of italy

  1. Lana March 21, 2012 at 7:03 am #

    Oh, how I wished that I was living somewhere closer for just that one night! You and Beth have taken me on an extraordinary virtual journey and I could almost smell the garlic from afar. And I know my friend has a bottle of red stashed somewhere safe to share when I come up north.
    Thanks, Orly, for a wonderful recap – I enjoyed every word:)

  2. Orly March 21, 2012 at 7:19 am #

    Grazie! Lana it would be wonderful if you were living closer so we too could share events like these. Hope you come visit, it would be a great excuse to celebrate the world of food together.

  3. Beth (OMG! Yummy) March 21, 2012 at 7:24 am #

    Oh for just a few minutes it was Feb 23 again and we were transported for just a few hours to the sounds and tastes of Italy. Aaaah – hoping to dream in Italian tonight. Great write up Orly.

    And we’ll have a party when Lana comes to visit for sure!

  4. Orly March 21, 2012 at 7:40 am #

    I’m craving the balsamic vinegar, the pasta and the tozzetti. I could do that evening all over again, anytime. Looking forward to the wine!