Italy’s Gateway to Eastern Europe
Influenced by the Eastern European culture, Friuli cuisine is characterized by polenta and dumplings (perhaps even more so that pastas) soups and cured meats. This area is famous for its prosciutto, specifically Prosciutto di San Daniele DOP. Other cured friulian meats are prosciutto di Sauris, Carsolino and Peta from Valcellina. Valcellina, which is sausage stuffed with beef, goat, pork and some other game meats can also be found here. Montasio DOP is the important cheese for this region. Latteria and Tabot are notable formaggi. Gubana, is fruitcake dessert, as well as carnia and strudel or strucolo (with apples and fruit). Strucolo is a traditional Austrian dessert, which is further evidence that the Friuli culture has been influenced by its neighbors.
In terms of vino, Friuli Venezia Giulia is known for having some of the best white wines in Italy. The region has 11 Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC), 3 Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) and 3 Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) designations. More than half of the wine is DOC. Friuli has 9 wine regions: Collio Goriziano, Colli Orientali del Friuli, Isonzo, Carso, Lison-Pramaggiore (shared with Veneto) Annia, Aquileia, Grave and Latisana, which means that there is lots of wine-tasting to do.
As this was a northern Italian region, we decided to make Roasted Branzino or Branzino Arrostito. While this delicious fish is called Branzino in the north of Italy, it is known as Spigola in the south of Italy. In the U.S., Branzino is sometimes referred to as Mediterranean Sea Bass, NOT to be confused with Chilean Sea Bass, which is a different fish. Here’s how we made it:
1 lb filet branzino
3 garlic cloves crushed or thinly sliced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning and fresh parsley leaves.
2tbsps freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. salt (to taste)
2 lemon wedges
1/3 cup dry white wine or white wine vinegar
Preheat oven to 450. Mix oil, salt, pepper, garlic. Rub the fish with the mix. drizzle with wine. Bake 450 degrees for 15 minutes uncovered. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with parsley and/or Italian seasoning, and then roast for another 5 minutes.
We dined on our branzino with a simple mixed green salad and the wine selection below.
The Wining Hour’s Friulian Wine Selection:
We selected a 2014 Paolo Valle Pinot Grigio from the Colli Orientali del Friuli DOP district. First, I would be remiss if I did not say that this is one of the best Italian Pinot Grigios that I’ve ever tasted. I repeat, this is one of the best Italian Pinot Grigios that I’ve ever tasted! This pinot grigio is a white wine that even red wine drinkers would enjoy. This wine was a full bodied dry white wine with aromas of pear and peach and even apricot on the nose. These same fruits, in addition to cantaloupe, were on the palate. It was light, refreshing, crisp and well-balanced, with just the right amount of acidity. De-lic-ous.
We paired Paolo Valle’s Pinot Grigio with branzino and it was like a match made in heaven. The two tangoed down my palate as if they owned it. This pinot grigio would pair well with most grilled or roasted fish, shellfish and sushi. This wine was dry, but very rich wine with 13% alcohol by volume and aged in stainless steel tanks.
It was interesting to learn that the winemaker, Paolo Valle, collaborated with Alessandro Gallici, another famous Italian wine maker, to craft this delicious white wine. They used a technique that helps to further enhance the flavor intensity of the grapes. This was easy to see, smell and taste.
For more information on other Friuli wines, see Friuli’s First Class Whites
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Here are the rest of my fellow bloggers featuring Friuli:
Vino Travels – Pignolo and Schioppettino and Picolit, oh my!
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