Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived in a small town in Romagna on the border with Emilia and had a grandmother with whom she made fresh pasta at home every day and a grandfather with whom she drank sweet Albana between one hammering and the next (he was a restorer of antique furniture)... those were carefree days, when dad and mum were at work and I was growing up with that ancient culture of respect for values and love for tradition for which I will never thank my grandparents enough. Living 21 years with them was wonderful, a fortune few have in life. How many mischiefs I played with my grandmother's complicity! So, when on my way back from Romagna I stopped in the beautiful Val Tidone at the invitation of Antonio della Valtidone Winery and we went to lunch at Danila's at Le Proposte restaurant, I took a plunge into the past, between excitement, expectation and melancholy. La Danila reminded me so much of my grandmother, when she used to teach me how to close cappelletti with her white apron and her hands smeared with flour. So first of all I want to thank Antonio for this beautiful proposal that arrived on a hot afternoon between July and August.
From the Cantina Valtidone to Le Proposte is a short journey, but Antonio had the idea of running the Fiat500 and we took the sun on our heads with 40 degrees in the shade! I practically melted! I envied the Eskimos for less than 2 seconds, then I remembered that they eat raw whale liver and hello, next time even with 45 degrees I will be super operative! Anyway how beautiful the rolling hills of the Val Tidone! The landscape looked like a postcard!
The restaurant is housed in a rural building and enjoys a beautiful view and convenient parking, unfortunately in bright sunshine. Inside there is a family atmosphere and everything is taken care of without being pretentious. From the director's office they tell me that the wine list is very well stocked, we of course drink Cantina Valtidone wines!
The starter was the mixed antipasti: the sliced meats are cured directly by Danila's husband and I found the coppa piacentina and the salami particularly good, but I don't remember the type. The torta salata was something absolutely delicious: the thin, fragrant pastry melted in the mouth and the filling was very well balanced. Antonio put the flea in my ear with the escarole one... and now he has to invite me again to taste it! 😄 Also very good were the vegetables fried in a batter that reminded me of tempura for its lightness and yet really dry. I don't really tolerate fried food and don't even like it much, but I must say that it didn't bother me at all! The combination with the new Perlage I found perfect, especially on the sliced meats and the burrata-stuffed aubergines which was my favourite starter of all. Danila undoubtedly 'knows her stuff' in the kitchen!
Danila definitely excels with fresh pasta! The ravioli are very good, tasty and with a pasta sheet made to perfection in terms of thickness and elasticity, but the tagliolini are definitely on a higher level. Everything is perfect, from the pasta to the sauce of truffle, butter and ham. The food and wine pairing here is an orgasm of those rare and well-made ones that are easier to find with food than in other situations. But why am I so sensitive to the pleasures of life? Why? Why? I ask myself this every Monday morning in front of the scales, but she doesn't answer me and looks at me crookedly and then I have to eat a croissant to console myself... 😄
In combination with the Colli Piacentini DOC Pinot Nero Rosé Frizzante by Villa Tavernago. Villa Tavernago is a splendid neoclassical villa that today, as in the past, is home to splendid receptions and romantic dreams. As an estate, it has 32 hectares under organic management and a hunting reserve. This wine is simple but very pleasant and frank in its aromas: it fully reflects the grape variety of origin. The nose is a succession of wild strawberries, raspberries and dandelion flowers. The taste has a great acid backbone, a fine, creamy bubble and excellent drinkability. On such a hot day, thanks to the perfect serving temperature, it was a perfect partner for Danila's delicious fresh pasta! Oh God, just thinking about it made me want it again... 😍
I know, I know... I've told you at least 3 times that it was insanely hot and 40 degrees and you don't understand why there is something very very similar to pasta e fagioli in this picture! Trust me I didn't understand it either... then I tasted it (just a spoonful, pinky swear!😄)... and I fell in love! The correct name is "Pisarei e fasö' is a light dish perfect for the hottest summers: they are small dumplings made of flour and breadcrumbs served with a sauce made of beans, lard, onion and tomato. Always paired with Villa Tavernago's Rosé, they turned out to be a pleasant taste despite the temperature... but it helped to be in the indoor dining room where it was great! The people in the veranda with 40 degrees in the shade I just didn't understand, but do you still believe in the fairytale 'let's go and eat in the hills that it's cool'?
No, I shouldn't have published it... it wasn't planned... but... I am from Romagna: meat sauce is in my blood! I love to prepare it on Sunday mornings, especially in winter, when it warms up the whole kitchen with steam and its perfume masters the air with lively delight. Obviously we are in Piacenza and the ragù is quite different from the one prepared in the province of Ravenna, where the pork is the protagonist. However splendid, it was Paco's lunch. Practically Mario and Antonio realised that he was not an ornament but a real fox when he saw the bowl of ragù arrive!
I was as full as a turkey on Thanksgiving, luckily it was summer or Danila would light the fireplace and put me there too to roast with an apple in my mouth... ah no wait, this step is not usually done with turkey... however it gives the idea! The moment I said 'let's move on to dessert' at the next table they brought a meat tartare... ah but then you do it on purpose eh! I told you I'm on a diet, can't you tell? Huh? Huh? 👿 As a great lover of meat and raw fish (I confess that I would only eat those except for pasta, pizza, croissants or hot cream bomboloni...) I couldn't resist! Delicious! Then we paired it with the Sparkling Gutturnio from Cantina Valtidone's 50 Vendemmie line, which was a revelation for me! I am basically not a great lover of the genre, but I found it very well done and of a moving pleasantness combined with the prime meat seasoned with mustard, caper flowers, extra virgin olive oil and summer heat.
That's enough eating, let's move on to desserts. Wait a minute! You used the plural... sweets? Whoever developed the theory that sweets end up in a separate stomach and are not eaten but enter our body by radiation and that's why they instantly turn into flab... well he was definitely enlightened and used me as a guinea pig in my previous life! The Braulio Riserva sorbet is divine, I finished it without realising! Braulio Riserva is a mountain herb-based bitter that is aged for a long time in small Slavonian oak barrels and has an intense, roasted, herbaceous and spicy taste that is harmonious and delicate. I had never tried it in sorbet and I loved it, both for the taste and the texture! Danila is very keen to specify that it is Braulio Riserva because the normal one is tasteless compared to this one... and I can only agree with her!
Oh mother che good zabaglione semifreddo with nougatine! But wasn't I full? The accompanying passito was also good, the Moon of Candiaalthough the combination was a bit too opulent! I preferred the Luna di Candia at home, with my coffee pannacotta with fresh blueberries! A whole different story! With Danila's semifreddo, the perfect companion is the Venus Sparkling Malvasia of Cantina Valtidone... try it to believe! Actually, no, wait, I'm not sure... to be sure, I'd have to taste a portion again and match it live... I don't want to give you bad advice! 😄😄😄
At the end of lunch I was happy, but I have to say that I heard the last glass of wine loud and clear: luckily I went back to Valtidone with Antonio driving... There, after a tour of the cellar (and a great reset), which I found very tidy and clean, the new oenologist Francesco Fissore from Alba was waiting for me, who I must say has renewed the Valtidone bubbles with great skill! He reversed the % of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to obtain a Perlage with great structure and acid potential. I had the pleasure of tasting a preview of the two new versions of Perlage: Extra Brut and Pas Dosé disgorged in December... the latter in particular I found to have a lot of potential! 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay from the 2015 vintage come together in a brilliant straw yellow wine with a very fine, quite numerous and persistent bubble. On the nose, pleasant evolved notes of cocoa beans, fresh morello cherries under spirits, strawberry yoghurt. How different from the Brut which is all about fruit, particularly pear! In the mouth it is fresh, creamy, acidulous, intense, crisp, savoury and persistent. A slight oxidised note, which I find with pleasure in many Pas Dosé wines, makes it a perfect match for slightly fatty hard and semi-hard cheeses.
I close with this photo taken at Vinitaly this year, where Mauro and Antonio pampered me without reserve! In fact, it was a real pleasure to meet Mauro Fontana, who is really nice and a really good sales manager! Thanks also to Mario for the pleasant company at lunch, and to Antonella for being so kind to Paco!
Actually, no, there's one last photo to see: Paco commanding the shopping trolley I borrowed from the Crai in Sulzano (thank you, thank you, thank you!) to take just 22 duplicate samples of wine to Monte Isola... luckily Paolo managed to load everything into the car, trolley included!
See you soon,
P.S. As always, I thank Sony e Photo Universe for that little gem of a camera RX100M4 with which I take the beautiful pictures here on the blog! 😍