Are you going to Scarbolo fair? First day in Friuli

Later today I hope to have the time to reveal why and how I’ve come to Friuli.

But before the official working leg of the trip begins, I wanted to take time out to catch up with my friend Wayne, who lives and works in Friuli as the sales and marketing director for the Bastianich winery here.

In a world where ego generally trumps humanity, Wayne is one of the rare and welcomed anomalies: a right guy, as one might have said a half-century ago, who just happens to work in the top tier of the food and wine industry. When he suggested we go meet winemaker Valter Scarbolo for dinner at his legendary restaurant La Frasca in Lauzacco (Udine), I couldn’t have been more thrilled.

Dinner began with Lorenzo d’Osvaldo’s superb prosciutto crudo and ossocollo and Valter’s housemade salame (above).

Next, di rigore, came tagliolini San Daniele.

This was followed by a dish that would have been met with wholehearted approval by any semiotician gourmand, Valter’s raviolo aperto, stuffed with montasio cheese and venison, topped with wild berries. (A bottle of sparkling Verduzzo for anyone who can place the exegetic pun I’ve made for this dish!)

As we were joined by Valter’s son Mattia who had arrived from his kick-boxing workout (and was evidently famished), the conversation turned to the current student housing crisis in Italy, soon to be faced by the young matricola.

As we lingered over intensely aromatic formàdi frant (formaggio frantumato, literally splintered cheese, a classic farmer’s cheese of Friuli), the wine I kept going back to was Valter’s My Time, so-called because, despite the urgings of his enologist, he waits to bottle and releases this wine only when he feels it’s achieved its full potential. As it warmed up in the glass, this wine (made from Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Tocai fermented in cask) was simply gorgeous, with nuanced fruit and noble structure, delightful with the pasta dishes, intriguing and intellectually stimulating with the cheese course.

Last night wasn’t a time for delving into the details of enogastronomic science: it was time for catching up with an old friend and making a new one.

When it comes your time to go to Scarbolo fair, please remember me to the one who lives there…

Stay tuned…