ASPARAG0 DI BASSANO (BASSANO ASPARAGUS)
The white asparagus of Bassano del Grappa is the agricultural triumph of this locality. The light terrain along the basin of the Brenta river is perfect for cultivating these white and crunchy spears, renowned for their tenderness. The asparagus is a shoot which has not broken the soil, and its striking white colour is the result of its growing underground. It was one of the preferred foods of the Doges of the Republic of Venice, mentioned in 1543 in a receipt for the banquet of Doge Gritti. Excellent in its traditional recipe, “asparagus with eggs,” but easily adaptable to other savoury combinations: in appetizers, with pastas (like tagliatelle) or risottos; meat, fish and even an ingredient in some unique desserts. The name “White Asparagus of Bassano” refers to asparagus spears cultivated in the province of Vicenza, within the territories of Bassano del Grappa, Cartigliano, Cassola, Mussolente, Pove del Grappa, Romano d’Ezzelino, Rosà, Rossano Veneto, Nove, Tezze sul Brenta and Marostica.
The asparagus are normally harvested by hand between March 15th and June 1st, by cutting deep into the soil below the shoot with a special knife in early morning or just before dusk, according to the traditional method. The average minimum diameter of the shoots is around 10mm, while the length ranges 18-22cm; once harvested, the spears are tied in tight bouquets rather homogeneous in length and diameter: after the stalks have been cut evenly, each bouquet is tied with a willow twig.
BACCALÀ (STOCKFISH / COD)
Baccalà (cod), with its history and legend, is a gastronomic symbol of the city of Vicenza. It was in 1432 that the expedition of the Venetian captain Pietro Querini was stranded at Rost, one of the more out-of-the-way islands of Lofoten, off of Norway. Captain Querini brought stockfish back home with him, which led to the creation of the dish known as baccalà, a cheaper alternative to fresh fish always served with a side of polenta. For hundreds of years baccalà alla vicentina has followed the same recipe, which blends the flavour of stockfish with the aromas of milk, Grana cheese and extra virgin olive oil. A small group of skilled restaurateurs jealously defend the tradition of this unmistakable dish’s intense flavour.
In 1517 Marin Luther nailed to the door of the cathedral in Wittenberg his 95 theses, with which he challenged Papal authority and declared that works could not substitute a lack of faith. The Catholic world was shaken to its foundations and moved to right itself with the Council of Trent, where among its numerous deliberations a renewed interest in dietary purification also arose. One council father, Olaus Magnus of Sweden, well-respected in Rome, with a kind of early marketing scheme, wrote a pamphlet in which he described the products of his homeland and in particular a “fish known as merlusia,” dried outside in the cold wind. This dry fish was “revived” after a long cold water bath, but had the advantage that it could be preserved and shipped like timber! After the Council of Trent the rich continued to eat trout, carp and crayfish, but the poor found in stockfish (from the Dutch term meaning “stick-fish”) a solution to religious restrictions. To this day in Vicenza, where majority of Norway’s stockfish production is consumed, unsalted stockfish (known throughout Italy as stoccafisso) is called baccalà.
The Venerabile Confraternita del Baccalà alla Vicentina (“Venerable Brotherhood of Baccalà alla Vicentina”) provides the classic recipe for baccalà alla vicentina for 12 people: 1kg of dried cod stockfish, 500g of onions, 1 litre of extra virgin olive oil, 3-4 anchovies, ½ litre fresh milk, a little white flour, 50g of grated Grana cheese, a handful of chopped parsley, salt and pepper. Preparation: soak the already tenderized stockfish in cold water, changing the water every 4 hours, for 2-3 days. Remove part of the skin. Open the fish lengthwise and remove the spine and bones. Cut into uniform square pieces. Finely slice the onions, brown them in a pan with a cup of olive oil, remove the salt and bones from the anchovies, chop them and add them to the onions; finally, turn off the heat and add the chopped parsley. Flour the pieces of stockfish, sprinkled with some of the contents of the pan, and lay them out side by side in a terracotta or aluminium pan. Cover the fish with the remaining contents of the pan, adding milk, grated Grana cheese, salt, pepper. Add the oil to cover all pieces of fish, levelling them out. Cook at very low heat for about 4½ hours, rotating the pan every so often, never stirring. This phase in Vicenza is referred to as pipare. Vicenza baccalà is best served 12-24 hours after cooking. Serve with polenta (thanks to the Venerabile Confraternita del Baccalà alla Vicentina).
Broccoli fiolaro of Creazzo is a local specialty of the Vicenza province: its name derives from the presence of sprouts along the stalk of the plant called fioi in the local dialect, which are served fried with the younger leaves as a delicacy.
Highly nutritious and with large amounts of antioxidants and cancer-preventative properties, this broccoli is a traditional crop of the Creazzo area with its harvest season in November-February. Its unique flavour and shape differ from those of all other broccoli varieties. The crop is traditionally cultivated high up in the hills in the Rivella-Beccodoro-Rampa region, where the climate is preferable to that in the plain, and plots are inclined and facing South. Traditionally a winter crop, it requires a cool and dry climate like that found in the hills, although it can withstand rather low temperatures (-8-10°C). The soil should be sandy, muddy and calcareous, which, properly worked, facilitates growth. Before a lack of water was limiting to cultivation, but Creazzo hill’s numerous springs have been used to develop irrigation. All these factors contribute to making a high-quality product, superior to that cultivated in nearby towns.
CARNE VICENTINA (VICENZA BEEF)
In the Vicenza province, cattle farming has always focused on producing quality meat. In fact, here we raise only the best beef cattle breeds, which, through a rich and balanced all-vegetable diet, allows us to attain a tender and flavourful meat in full compliance with food safety and animal welfare. That of the cattle farmer is a profession based on the foundations of ethics and moral responsibility for human safety. For this reason Vicenza cattle farmers know that their job must be done with passion, competence and skill. Beef is a red meat, and its tenderness depends on the age of the animal when butchered: the younger the animal the more tender the meat, although the period of aging or hanging is also very important. The water content of the meat is about 65-70% of its weight: veal has a higher water content. The meat usually loses some water when cooked, and it generally remains tender if not left to cook for too long. The combination of cooking time and heat plays an important role: high temperatures roast the surface proteins, forming a crust that captures the natural juices found inside the meat.
Cuts of meat:
1: Sirloin; 2: Tenderloin; 3: Scamone (Rump and silverslide); 4: Girello (topslide and thick flank); 5: Fesa Esterna (from rump, silverslide thick flank); 6: Noce (from flank, rump, thick flank); 7: Fesa Interna (from rump, thick flank); 8 and 9: leg; 10: flank; 11: Fesone di Spalla (from rib, brisket, shin); 12: Copertina (from chuck, blade, rib, brisket, shin); 13: Girello di Spalla (from clod, rib, brisket, shin); 14: “Royal Cut” (from rib, flank, brisket); 15: Rib; 16: Shin; 17: Chuck and Blade; 18: Brisket; 19: Neck.
Some helpful suggestions for cooking meat,
- BOILING AND POACHING: the difference lies in the temperature of the water. Boiling involves immersing the meat completely into a boiling broth prepared with herbs and vegetables. Poaching, on the other hand, involves placing the meat along with vegetables in cold water and bringing to a boil, which draws the juices out of the meat and flavours the broth. Poaching is usually done with poultry and the meat of older animals.
- STEAKS: the quickest way of preparing meat. Depending on the cut, the animal and the cooking method, there are different kinds of steaks: nodini and costolette include the bone, while scaloppine and piccate (served breaded or with herbs, wine, tomato sauce, lemon, mushrooms, etc.) do not. Tournedos, a medallion cut from the tenderloin, must be grilled. Chateâubriand comes in 4-5cm strips. Tagliate or Robespierre come from the sirloin in thick cuts to be cooked at high temperature. From the loin are taken lombatine, whence in turn the chop, a large, thick steak with the bone. If the chop also includes tenderloin, then that’s a fiorentina or T-bone or Porterhouse steak. If the bone is removed than that’s the French entrocôte.
- ROASTING: there are different methods: in a casserole, on the grill, on the spit, in the oven or in the pan the meat is left uncovered so as to avoid cooking it in its own steam. At the beginning all the meat’s surfaces are browned over a high heat in order to immediately create a crust that traps its natural juices inside. Then it is covered and the heat is turned down to cook the meat through slowly.
- DEEP-FRIED: the meat needs to be breaded or floured and then immersed in boiling oil until it is golden brown and crunchy outside. The best cuts for the classic cotoletta alla milanese are tenderloin, topslide, thick flank, chuck and brisket.
- STEWED (braising, pot-roasting): the meat is cooked very slowly after being marinated with wine, herbs and spices. The meat is then browned at high heat with oil or butter, then adding vegetables, herbs and spices. It is then covered and cooked for a long time with the heat turned very low, and basted with the marinade every so often. For stew the meat is cut into chunks and slowly cooked in a covered pot with vegetables and broth.
- RAW MEAT(ground or al carpaccio [thinly sliced]): typically beef is used and is seasoned with oil, lemon, salt and pepper; in the case of ground beef you can also add garlic, to be removed after having mixed the meat with the seasoning, while in the case of carpaccio (obtained, remember, with very thin slices of meat).
The Vicenza province is one of Italy’s most famous producers of chestnuts. Chestnut production is widespread in the foothills of the province. Here, after centuries of cultivation and selection a quality fruit with unique flavour has been attained, known locally as marrone. The marrone distinguishes itself from normal chestnuts for its more elongated and ovular shape, its lighter colour, its dark and well-defined veins, its sweet and flavourful flesh and its shell, which is easier to peel. This fruiting plant which requires no chemicals or pesticides to cultivate is to this day one of the only truly wholesome fruits. Chestnuts and marroni were already cultivated by the Romans. In later centuries the marrone in many cases helped our people through difficult times, providing vital proteins and vitamins and staving off hunger. It is still cultivated today according to traditional methods, knocked down with long reed poles, piled together to stand for twenty days still in the shell, and then selected and packaged. It can be prepared in various ways: poached, baked, roasted, and can serve as the main ingredient in dinners and desserts. Today the localities of Vicenza where the marrone is cultivated as a Prodotto Tradizionale (protected local product) are San Mauro and Valrovina, where each year festivals are held to celebrate this traditional food.
The cultivation of chestnuts in Durlo, in the valley of Chiampo, is important to the local agricultural economy. Chestnuts used to be indispensable, as many farms supplemented their revenues by selling them locally. Between 1960 and 1980 cultivation all but ceased as the industrialization of the region compelled young people to abandon agricultural work for higher paying jobs. Since 1978, with the introduction of the chestnut festival held in October, cultivation of this beloved fruit, known throughout the ages as “the flour of the poor,” has experienced resurgence.
In the Vicenza province spring arrives with the cherry blossoms, a natural wonder which lends a magical candour to the trees’ colour, a gift of the cherry tree, which since the Middle Ages has prospered around Marostica, the region’s cherry capitol, in the Chiampo valley and on the Colli Berici (Berici Hills). Centuries of breeding have created a multitude of varieties: by ripening, early and late, by colour, from yellow to deep red, by consistency the flesh ranges from crunchy to pliable, and the taste exudes an array of subtleties of sour and sweet.
Some examples of local varieties are Sandra of Marostica and Durona of Chiampo.
According to the local cherry growers’ association, the Province of Vicenza is second in Veneto in cherry production, and Marostica cherries now enjoy IGP status (Protected Geographical Indication). The regulation followed by a hundred or so producers provides cultivation density and the fundamental characteristic of cherry size, in addition to the fruit’s red colour.
Marostica is famous as the site of that renowned game of chess played by two gentlemen in 1454 for the hand of Lionora, the beautiful daughter of the lord of this picturesque town located north of Vicenza, also known for the Marostica cherry, which in the fertile hills of the area finds its ideal environment. Here cherries are served in sweets, fruit salads, jams, syrups or in grappa.
CIPOLLE DI BASSANO (BASSANO ONIONS)
Today the onion, once considered along with “polénta” the poorest of foods, enjoys considerable repute, acting as an ingredient and many recipes. Originating in northern Asia and Palestine, the onion has been cultivated for more than 5000 years and is believed to have been brought by the Chaldeans to Egypt, from which it spread across the Mediterranean basin. Numerous varieties are cultivated, distinguished from one another according to shape, season and colour, and among these, the Bassano Red Onion or “flat onion,” esteemed for its sweet flavour. Two varieties exist: one harvested early with a thin collar and one late. Today they are cultivated with a white colour though the occasional one comes out deeply pink as in the past. The Bassano area, thanks to its windy dry microclimate, is the ideal environment for the onion. The desired onion has a weight of 120-200g and a diameter of 7-8cm. Sowing is done between August 15th and October 15th. Watering is done periodically right up until transplanting, which occurs between November and early April.
The early onion is harvested between late May and June 15th, the late one between June 15th and September. The harvest is to this day done by hand by removing the entire plant and cutting the stem near the bulb. They are then dried in the sun for a few hours before dirt and impurities are brushed off.
FAGIOLI DI POSINA (POSINA BEANS)
In the heart of the Vicenza province, sheltered by the mountains that separate it from Trentino, lies the valley of Astico. In this natural environment, renowned for its mineral water, grow the beans of Posina, Arsiero and Laghi, truly an agricultural treasure. Two varieties, Scalda and Fasòla, are cultivated both in the valley and on the slopes. Between the World Wars, Posina beans were celebrated throughout the country, but today only small amounts are produced. These beans require fresh, well-drained soil, with little clay so that they don’t become tough. The Scalda variety is particularly sweet and highly nutritious, with a pleasant, floury texture and a thin pod that withstands heat and keeps it from coming apart in soups. The Fasòla can grow to up to four meters in height and has a vinous scarlet-coloured seed with black speckling that is double in size. It has a denser consistency, is best served raw and has a flavour vaguely reminiscent of the chestnut. Both varieties can be tasted in what is considered the mother of all minestrones, the minestron, a renowned dish, dense and velvety, which is served with raw olive oil and ground pepper.
FORMAGGI VICENTINI (VICENZA CHEESES)
The province’s dairy products represent a real treasure: Asiago DOP (Designation of Protected Origin), Tosella, goat Cacio, Berici Pecorino, Boscaiolo and many more. The alpine shepherds around Asiago still use traditional methods such as the zagola, a simple machine for churning butter. Down in the plain of the Colli Berici (Berici Hills), once a place of seasonal nomadism, one can find farms dedicated to this intensely flavourful product. In the vast Asiago plateau old traditions of raising dairy cattle continue, recovering old native breeds and traditional methods. In the harmonious mix of all these elements lies the success of the area’s dairy products. Production varies from widely popular and prestigious cheeses such as Asiago D.O.P., Grana Padano and Provolone Valpadana, but also in more limited quantities of niche and gourmet cheeses, such as Morlacco, Bastardo del Grappa, the traditional Stravecchio and many goat cheeses. Asiago was one of the first products of Italy to receive EU recognition of Designation of Protected Origin status (D.O.P.).
Asiago d’allevo (aged) is the descendant of the traditional Vezzena, semi-fatty with dense texture, a more or less sharp flavour according to its age: “mezzano” after 120-180 days; “vecchio” or “stravecchio” after one or two years of slow-aging. To meet changing tastes fresh Asiago (pressato, or “pressed”) was introduced, so called for the way it is made: taken from whole milk, after 20 to 40 days of ripening it is ready to eat. Different kinds of Asiago exist, categorized by their age. D.O.P. Asiago pressato is made from whole milk, and is processed semi-cooked. It is formed by a fine and elastic crust and is smooth and buttery inside, yellowish or white in colour and with irregular aeration. Its odour is of milk with traces of yoghurt, due to the presence of live culture. It is smooth to the palate, with a sweet and delicate taste and reminiscent of farm fresh milk and cream.
Asiago d’allevo mezzano is processed semi-cooked with cow’s milk taken fresh morning and evening. It has a heavy straw-yellow colour and irregularly distributed, medium-sized holes. It has a slightly roasted pasture smell, a somewhat elastic texture and sweet flavour with aftertaste of fermented fruit.
Asiago stravecchio has a smooth crust, thin and hard, and of dark colour. The texture is hard and grainy, with intense straw-yellow colour and small holes evenly distributed. It smells strongly of pasture and nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts). It has a strong, sharp flavour.
Bastardo is solid but not hard, with intense straw-yellow colour. With small, uniform holes, it has a pleasant aroma of fresh herbs. It’s slightly elastic on the palate, somewhat bitter with a sharp aftertaste.
Burlino is made similarly to Bastardo, but using exclusively Burline cow’s milk. It has pleasant animal and herb aromas, a “buttery” texture that engulfs the palate with scents of animals and fermented fruit, with a bitter aftertaste of mountain pasture.
Caciotta is a sweet, fresh cheese with a white crust, which takes a straw-yellow colour when ripened. It has a soft, sometimes creamy texture. Its flavour is sweet, very delicate, with a marked milk taste.
Crescenza is a stracchino, a fresh, creamy cheese with a milky flavour, sweet and with a yoghurt acidity.
Dolcezza di Asiago has a soft, thin crust, a compact consistency and no holes. Straw-yellow in colour and very sweet and delicate in flavour, like farm fresh milk. The famous Grana Padana has a grainy texture and an intense straw-yellow colour. Its aroma presents some slightly toasted notes, a rather sweet flavour with a brief, nutty aftertaste.
Morlacco del Grappa, also Morlaco, Burlacco, Morlak, Morlacco
Affumicato Canestrato is a traditional cheese of Grappa and the Vicenza-Treviso plain, as well as the peaks of Lessini. It is white and “buttery,” especially when produced in summertime, when the cows graze in the mountain pastures. It’s odour has animal and saline notes, with a rather salty taste.
Mozzarella: a milky cheese traditional to southern Italy but produced in some dairy farms here as well. Pearl white and richly moist, with no odour and an acidic milky taste.
Provolone Valpadana dolce: milky and elastic, smooth to the palate, with a milky, sweet flavour.
Provolone Valpadana stagionato: intense yellow in colour and hard texture, moderately elastic. Very sharp, slightly salty flavour.
Ricotta: a by-product of milk processing obtained from the whey created by cheese production. It has no crust, white and soft, dry, grainy and sticky on the palate. Very light, slightly toasted flavour.
Tosella: a fresh cheese, milky white colour, with very light taste and aroma. Mainly used fried by itself or with a little butter.
Vicenza cheeses come not only from the mountains but also from the plains at the foot of the Colli Berici (Berici Hills), where excellent cheeses are made. This area was a traditional site of seasonal nomadism, to which shepherds brought their herds from the Asiago plateau.
The town of Ponte di Barbarano produces an excellent D.O.P. Grana Padano and the province of Vicenza is part of the D.O.P. area for Provolone Valpadana production. Also worth mention is the raw milk cheese of Posina, la fioretta (its name refers to the first flakes emerge from the boiling whey in the preparation of ricotta), cacio capra, Caciotta di Asiago, Pecorino dei Berici, Fontan, Boscaiolo, Padanella and Montanella dei Berici (from Monte di Nanto).
In ancient Rome they were called “food of the gods,” while the Pharoahs monopolized their cultivation. Already in 1000 A.D. wild mushrooms were known as a delicacy. Unfortunately the season for tasting them is quite brief, and only in 1700 di French horticulturalists learn how to cultivate them in caves and cellars. At the beginning of the last century mushroom cultivation was imported from France. Whole Venetian families from had gone to work in mushroom beds in caves near Paris, where a white mushroom known as “Champignon de Paris” (field mushroom). These families, in returning home, brought their knowledge and experience with them, especially in the Vicenza province. The first cultivations were established in the caves of Costozza, which presented the best climatic conditions of temperature and humidity for the growth of the field mushroom. At the end of the 50’s the first mushroom beds appeared, immediately followed by leaping progress in quality with the introduction of the American System, which provides for the use of fixed surfaces under which a substrate (compost) is placed. The environment in which the mushrooms are cultivated is sterilized. The compost is laid out in the rooms, covered with perforated plastic sacks, and sown with mushroom spores. Incubation lasts one month: during this vegetative phase of the mushroom no changes are made to the environment, leaving what oxygen is available to the mushroom. After the first fruiting bodies appear, the rooms are aerated to expel excess carbon dioxide. The mushroom reaches its full development after 8-10 days from the first appearance of fruiting bodies. It is then harvested by hand, placed in wooden crates and sent to market. They last about one week, and are preserved in refrigeration at 4°C. Mushroom production in caves is less fruitful with respect to that done indoors. The indoor mushroom has a better appearance, but is inferior in quality and taste and smell. The quantity produced in caves is balanced and creates a structurally consistent mushroom. The microclimate of the cave, also thanks to the lack of chemical treatments, enables the production of a more organic mushroom, closer to its wild cousins.
GRAPPE, DISTILLATI E LIQUORI VICENTINI (GRAPPAS, SPIRITS AND LIQUORS OF VICENZA)
The Province of Vicenza is one of the historic capitols of quality grappa.
Originally grappa was something reserved to the poorest classes for fighting the cold winter months. In case of fever the cure was “milk and grappa.” The Bassano del Grappa bridge, one of the jewels of Andrea Palladio’s architectural career, is also the historic location of one of the oldest Italian distilleries, proving the Vicenza province’s status as the land of grappa. Pomaces from the most prestigious vineyards of Italy, often enriched with essence of fruits or flowers, are transformed into brandy thanks to the grand tradition and mastery of Vicenza distillers.
Some hold that it was the Burgundians to discover the possibility of distilling grape pomace around 511. The term grappa derives from grapa, which in its turn derives from the Gothic krappa, also the origin of the word graspo, which designates the remaining section of vine resulting from a picked cluster.
Only at the end of the 19th century, with the spread of household stills, did the name graspa begin to take hold. Unmentioned in records of the Republic of Venice, distillation was taxed only under the Napoleonic government and later by the Austrians. This favoured clandestine distillation: known as stellina, saltafossi and furba, it was distilled in meadows, bushes and forest trails.
Grappa is a source of warmth during the winter and a remedy for colds, but locally is usually consumed for other reasons: the Vicenza province is a “paradise” for grappa. In 1779 Bortolo Nardini arrived in Bassano from Val Cembra and opened, on the bridge, a business where he began to produce graspa with copper pot-belly stills.
The Brunello Brothers appeared on the market sixty years later in Montegalda: in 1840 they began with passion and skill down a path which sees them still in operation today.
Before the turn of the century, in 1898, the Poli family began distilling in Schiavon, between Vicenza and Marostica, with a boiler made from the wood steam engine of a locomotive.
Vicenza in the 19th century was animated by other characters as well: Attilio Dalla Vecchia opened a tavern in Malo, and in 1870 acquired a permit to open his own distillery.
The Schiavo family began with a “travelling” distillery in 1887, and after the first World War installed a permanent boiler. Today in its fourth generation, this business is characterized by the combination of tradition, client-focused production and taste for elegant presentation.
Since 1920, Dal Toso of Ponte di Barbarano produces quality grappa, using fine grape pomace from historic Vicenza stocks Sirah, Clinto and Noah.
Capovilla is the perfect example of combining distilling and researching raw materials for distilling, whose passion leads them to travel all across Italy and beyond in search of the perfect ingredients to pass through the boiler and leave intact its aromas.
Impeccable aging, hand picking and constant inspections of the distilling make Capovilla spirits incomparable and win them awards throughout the world.
Carlotto, in Valdagno, produces liqueurs that have found a rightful place among the culinary elite for their recapturing of tradition, simplicity and aromas of the ages, a reminiscence of the simple pleasure of the good things.
Altopiano brings one back to the aromas of mountains and forests: in 1868 a pharmacist from Asiago began distilling juniper berries and alpine herbs. He called the result Kranebet, which became a “white bitter.”
This spirit of mostly red pomace from the vines of Barbarano (formerly Tocai Rosso, now known as Tai), Merlot, Cabernet, Barbera and other native red varieties including Cruajo Groppello was traditionally produced in copper boilers over a small open flame. It is produced in many vineyards. In the 70’s these boilers were replaced with vapour-powered ones that preserved the method while increasing quality and economy. Since these were mostly small vineyards production was concentrated in the time right after vintage so as to use the fresh fermentation materials. Recently, with pomace conservation methods considerably improved, the process can take place over a longer period of time. The distillation method involves directly processing the pomace with vapour: the pomace is placed in small boilers and sealed. Then the volatile and aromatic parts are separated by manually severing the head, heart and tail. The “head” is the first part of distillation, full of impurities which are generally discarded; the “heart” is the finer part of distillation with a alcoholic content of around 75° and which is corked to later become a consumption product; the “tails” are the last part of distillation which the master distiller generally tries to perfect during subsequent distillation. Once distillation is finished, the spirit is placed in a cellar to await the proper inspections required by law.
MAIS DI MARANELLO (MARANELLO CORN)
Corn flour, water, a pinch of salt: all cooked slowly and constantly stirred with a wooden spoon in a traditional copper pot known as a paiolo. This is the recipe for preparing polenta, the basic dish that accompanies a great many Vicenza foods, first of which baccalà.
Vicenza is home to a famous polenta flour made with Marano corn, a variety developed and improved in a selection process that began towards the end of the 19th century. Its name is Maranelo; its renown soon travelled beyond the narrow confines of the place of origin from which it got its name, Marano Vicentino. Grains used to make “Marano Corn Flour” come exclusively from crops harvested in the Leogra valley and the foothills of the Province of Vicenza, within the limits of Torrebelvicino, Valli del Pasubio, Santorso, Piovene, Rochette, Monte di Malo, Marano Vicentino, Schio, San Vito di Leguzzano, Malo, Isola Vic.na, Zanè, Thiene, Zugliano, Sarcedo, Breganze, Mason, Molvena and Pianezze, in particular. The flour must be processed in the town of Marano Vicentino or in the foothills of northern Vicenza province. “Marano Corn Flour” is made exclusively with the “Marano Vicentino” variety of corn, and processing takes place in facilities recognized by the Organismo di Gestione (Management Agency). The main benefit of this is producing a flour which is rich in gluten, ideal for making polenta. Polenta made with this corn has a deeper colour and greater elasticity, and the resulting flour is particularly valued and sought after. Marano corn is a short-cycle corn (it can be sown as late as early June). This is valuable for rotating crops. Marano is a medium-sized variety, rather short (1.1m), with a slender stalk, but robust enough to withstand wind just as effectively. It has a good yield: in spite of modest size it produces more ears per stalk thanks to elevated fertility and its capacity for withstanding intensive cultivation. It adapts well to light soils such as foothills. Marano corn flour is used to prepare polenta and other traditional dishes of Vicenza: polenta and baccalà, polenta with game bird, grilled polenta with cheese, polenta with sausage, polenta with refried beans, creamy polenta, polenta with gosling, polenta with stewed meat, polenta with pan-fried chicken, Easter bread, polenta cookies and Italian doughnuts.
The kernels of this variety are reddish orange, and its flour is considered the superior of its kind. The Marano Corn Protection Consortium was created in order to ensure EU Protected Geographic Origin (IGP), in addition to safeguarding quality. From these small ears and gluten-rich kernels the perfect flour for making polenta is obtained, with a bright yellow colour, a characteristic speckling of brown wisps of straw and an unmistakable flavour.
The benefits of honey are not limited to it energetic properties, but also include the high nutritional value of its contents rich in amino-acids, vitamins, enzymes and yeasts, as well as antibacterial and mineral substances. Natural bactericides contained in honey make it a hygienic “living” food. Of course it is necessary to use only whole, virgin honey, untouched by industrial processing or manipulation such as pasteurization or refining, which break down the beneficial components such as proteins and vitamins. Honey, in fact, is packaged just as it comes out of the honeycomb, preserving all its natural qualities. The beneficial properties of honey make it a suitable food for any age group.
On the Asiago plateau honeys such as dandelion, Asiago polyfloral and alpine honey are produced. Nomadic apiculture (bee-keeping) is practiced, and the opercula (hives) are moved away from the towns to avoid contaminations from pollution. To collect the honey, after the hives are cut with a special blade heated in hot water, the frames and placed in the extractor (a steel centrifuge in which the frames are laid out radially, powered by an external crank). The honey is gathered from an opening in the bottom of the container and filtered, often several times, with a mesh filter in order to eliminate wax residues. It is then left to settle for 4-5 days in steel receptacles, where a foam forms which is removed. The honey is now ready to be packaged in transparent glass jars. It is not light-sensitive, but shouldn’t be exposed to direct sunlight.
The colour of honey can vary from straw-yellow to dark brown, and its consistency is usually liquid or semi-liquid, at times even doughy according to the degree of crystallization. Crystallization depends on temperature, but also on the proportions of fructose and glucose, but it does not affect the quality of the honey or its properties. Honey is an extremely stable food. In fact, if correctly preserved, it can be used even after 18 months from bottling.
Polyfloral honey, usually mixed and varied, obtained from the nectar of various flowers, tends in to light in colour, with a strong and flavourful taste, and crystallizes in early late autumn. It’s recommended for caring for colds and the respiratory tract. Excellent sweetener for coffee, tea and infusions.
Chestnut honey is usually dark with a strong, pungent taste. It crystallizes late when particularly pure. Excellent for circulatory diseases. Anti-anaemic, intestinal regulator, rich in iron and tannin.
Honey made from plains dandelions has a lightly golden and amber colour and a characteristically intense flavour. At the first taste the flavour arrives unexpectedly, but decidedly pleasant. It crystallizes easily, forming a spreadable cream. Excellent for protecting the liver and flushing toxins from the intestines.
Acacia honey is very clear and somewhat straw-yellow, with a light, delicate aroma that recalls the flower. It crystallizes only after a longer period of time, even two years. Corroborant, detoxifier, anti-inflammatory for the throat. Rich in salts, iron and calcium. Excellent sweetener for hot beverages.
Mostarda Vicentina (Vicena Mustard) has been hand-crafted since 1920. Its characteristic methods of production make it unique. It is made entirely with quinces, a fruit with historic traditions in the Veneto region. Quinces have a pungent apple smell and can last up to a year without going bad. They weigh up to 1.5 kg and have a grainy flesh and an unpleasant, sour taste when uncooked. They ripen in late September.
Mustard, another ingredient in mostarda, is taken from the ripened seeds of this plant, which are dried, steeped and ground. Its taste and smell are very strong.
The quinces are pressure-cooked in a steel container at 60°C for about 45 minutes, with about 40% sugar. They are then cooled and carefully stirred: quinces contain thickening and gelling pectins, properties which allow the result to become a gel, which is then broken down into a smooth and spreadable paste. Then the mustard and small amounts of candied fruit are added.
Mustard is a natural preservative and does not require antibacterial food additives. It has a strong, hot flavour due to the mustard, but is at the same time sweet and smooth. It is straw-yellow in colour and has a thick consistency. Mostarda is traditionally eaten aside mascarpone or meat.
VICENZA EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
The Province of Vicenza is an important olive oil producer. It’s D.O.P. status guarantees quality, traceability and authenticity.
Vicenza contributes only a minimal percentage of Italy’s national olive oil production, and the province is one of the country’s northernmost olive oil regions.
The Vicenza province, with over 40,000 plants, mostly of the Frantoio variety, has a total output of about 100 tons of olive oil per year. The quality of the product is extremely high, with a very low level of acidity, with a robust, delicate, almost sweet taste and a gentle bite in the aftertaste.
There are three traditional areas for cultivating olives: the Colli Berici (Berici Hills), the Grappa foothills and Gambellara. Venetian olive oil from the Euganei, Berici and Veneto del Grappa has D.O.P. status and is characterized by its lightness and unmistakable flavour. These production areas are recognized and protected by the “Euganei and Berici Venetian extra virgin olive oil” and “Veneto del Grappa extra virgin olive oil” Denomination of Protected Origin seals. This status provides for the use of at least 50% of Leccino and Rasara varieties and up to 50% of Frantoio, Maurino, Pendolino, Marzemino, Riondella, Trepp (Drop and Pertegaro) and Matosso varieties; up to 10% of other experimental varieties is also permitted. The best method, the least damaging to the olives, but also the most expensive is “browsing,” which consists in picking the olives by hand one by one while they are still green. Usually, in order to speed up the process, special tongs are used to rake the olives out of the branches, making them fall into nets laid out beneath the tree. Olives are pressed within four days of harvesting. Before pressing they are kept in a cool and well-aired place in special perforated containers (in order to avoid accumulation of excessive acidity in the olives). Pressing follows one of two techniques: the more common discontinuous method, where large grindstones make a paste which is then laid on circular fibre supports and pressed, and the continuous method, in which the olives are squashed by a press consisting of rotating cylindrical hammers. The resulting paste is then put in a centrifuge to extract the oil.
The oil should be green-gold in colour, ranging from marked to deep, with a delicate and slightly bitter taste, a delicate and fruity smell of varying intensity and an acidity of less than 0.6%. To the benefit of product quality, the provincial phytosanitary service technicians from the Istituto Strampelli di Lonigo monitor the three protected areas, promoting the application of so-called “integrated defence” techniques, which involves combining traditional crop activity (planting, pruning) with true phytosanitary defence actions against the main biological threats. Cultivation has taken on considerable amount of specialization only in the better-equipped communities, and for this reason the protection and revitalization plan has aimed to fix this, first and foremost with the institution of D.O.P. status.
PATATA DI PIANURA E DI MONTAGNA (PLAIN AND MOUNTAIN POTATOES)
Cultivated in the areas around Alonte, Orgiano, Asigliano, Lonigo, Noventa Vicentina and Pojana Maggiore, this cultivation is considered cutting-edge both for elevated yields and for the quality and nutritional properties of the potatoes themselves. The mountain variety, found mostly in Rotzo, on the Altopiano dei Sette Comuni (Seven Towns Plateau) is a traditional crop with a long history which finds the perfect environment to bring out its sensory qualities in the forests, meadows and fine air. The first mention of the potato of Rotzo dates back to the 18th century, when a potato with a purplish, or “black,” skin was known to brighten the meals of the people of Vicenza. Its distinctive trait is a white and red skin and its main varieties are called: Bintje, Desirèe, Spunta, Monalisa and Alba, and all are potatoes with a white or light yellow flesh.
In the area of the plain, especially along the “red soils of the Guà creek”, an exquisite and tasteful potato with a characteristic golden yellow skin is commonly grown.
The potatoes of this area are characterized by a high presence of dry flesh that allows them to be easily stored for long periods of time. Processing and harvesting can be done either manually or mechanically. The product is stored in suitable, cool dark cellars. Packaging and weighing are performed manually.
A few kilometres away from Vicenza, along the Riviera Berica, stands the village of Lumignano that owes its fame to the local cultivation of peas, the so-called “bisi.” The crop was introduced by the Benedictine monks who, around the year 1000, started to reclaim the lowest areas of the Vicenza plain. Here, the exposure to sun and the heat retained by the rocks, allowed for an unusually early production, firstling among firstlings. During the centuries the growers managed to select a product of exceptional quality and delicious taste, such that the Doges of Venice used to expressly ask for it on the occasion of the Festival of Saint Mark, to celebrate it with the characteristic dish of “Risi e bisi.” The Berici pea is a demanding crop. In order to make the most out of the sun exposure it was grown in small gardens planted in the steepest slopes by means of the so-called “masiere” or “banchette.”
The original local variety is now lost, but the peas of Lumignano can still boast an incomparable taste. Sowing is performed in November and harvesting takes place from April to May. Berici peas are meant to be eaten fresh. Harvesting is traditionally carried out by hand when the peas are still tender and sweet.
At the foot of the Colli Berici (Berici Hills), in the villages of Lumignano and San Germano dei Berici, a local variety of pea is grown: it is very tasteful and an excellent ingredient for risottos and pasta. The Pea of Borso del Grappa has been known since the times of the Republic of Venice, when, on the occasion of the Festival of Saint Mark, it used to be given to the Doge as a gift along with rice. Already in 1659 we find mention of a particularly sweet pea coming from the area of Borso. Other documents confirm that the Pea was already cultivated in Borso back in 1800. The particular microclimate of Borso del Grappa and the habit of growing the peas in traditional terracing, protected by “margiere” (low barriers made of twigs and branches) which guaranteed protection from the cold and a good exposure to sunlight, allowing for a fast ripening of the “bisi” that were ripe by the end of April.
After World War II, emigration along with agricultural mechanization relegated this crop to local family consumption. In 1980-81, with the goal of rediscovering this traditional product, the “Associazione Bisicoltori di Borso del Grappa” was founded, which, through folk festivals and various cultural celebrations, promoted the cultivation of bisi.
The most characteristic dish of the cuisine of the Venetian area is “Risi e bisi:” a soup made with rice and fresh peas, usually served in spring, and especially famous as the Doges used to eat it on April 25th, the day of the Festival of Saint Mark. A version that is more characteristic of the area of Vicenza is “risi, bisi e oca” where little pieces of goose meat give more flavour to the peas. Another characteristic dish is the “tajadele coi bisi,” homemade tagliatelle pasta with peas lightly browned in oil with onions and white wine, to bring out the taste of fresh peas.
PROSCIUTTO DEI COLLI VICENTINI (VICENZA HILLS HAM)
Already in the 14th century Venetian prosciutto is mentioned in the Republic’s annals. Historically, when pig was raised only its ham was sold to pay for the purchase of another pig, while all the other parts were kept to make salamis and sausages. Today between the Berici and Euganei hills an excellent prosciutto crudo (dry-cured uncooked ham) is made. In 1600 explicit reference was made to a Venetian prosciutto renowned for its quality.
Today’s Berici-Euganei production descends from this tradition, gaining it Designation of Protected Origin (DOP) recognition from the European Union. This prosciutto is pink in colour and reddish in leaner parts, with pure white fat, a delicate aroma, sweet and fragrant, and is only made from Suino Pesante Padano (a heavy pig breed from the Po Valley). The area of production is in the Montagnana-Lonigo-Noventa triangle, between the Berici and Euganei hills. The hams are ready after 10-12 months of curing and are guaranteed with the consortium’s mark bearing the winged lion of St. Mark, symbol of Venice. The Berici-Euganei DOP is listed between the prosciutto production of Parma and that of San Daniele, as “pink in colour and reddish in leaner parts, and pure white in fat, with a sweet, fragrant, delicate aroma.” All made with meats taken from the Suino Pesante Padano. Aging takes 8-10 months, just as long as it takes to give the product its characteristic sweet and delicate aroma. For the consumer identifying Berici-Euganei prosciutto is made easy by the quality consortium’s original mark: an iron-branded St. Mark’s winged lion.
“Val Liona” prosciutto is made according to ancient local pork-curing traditions. For example, the bone is removed from the thighs while the meat is still fresh, while damages such as holes or lacerations to the strips of muscle are carefully avoided. The salt-curing process integrates a mix of natural herbs and spices such as Val Liona juniper, bay, coriander and rosemary. If smoked, the prosciutto is placed in a special hearth, fed with aromatic woods like maple and beech, a tedious procedure, but one that gives Val Liona prosciutto an inviting and balanced smell, a delicate aroma and a pleasant taste. The final, after-aging weight varies between 8 and 11Kg, except for prosciutto destined to be de-boned, whose minimum weight must not be inferior to 7Kg. The elegant, full, vibrant flavour is due to a perfect balance between curing time, weight and aging conditions. When sliced it assumes a pinkish colour. They should be tied by a rope passed through a hole in the upper leg. The shape is naturally semi-pressed. Processing in the traditional way is limited to the areas around the towns of: Noventa Vicentina, Pojana Maggiore, Orgiano, Alonte Sossano, Lonigo, Sarego, Villaga and Barbarano Vicentino.
The heart of the radicchio country is Asigliano Veneto, a town in the far south of the province. Oval-shaped, compact, with dark red leaves and white veins, crunchy and with a bitter taste. It stands out from other Venetian radicchios for its oval shape, something between the “elongated” Radicchio Rosso di Treviso and the “ball-shaped” Radicchio Rosso di Chioggia. Within the Vicenza province it is grown in Asigliano Veneto, Pojana Maggiore, Noventa Vicentina, Sossano and Orgiano. Red radicchio is sown in July and grown until autumn when it takes on a greenish colour. An initial ripening and harvest is done in October, but not until winter does the centre close up in a sort of rose bud of scarlet leaves.
In December the better part is harvested, but Asigliano radicchio is not yet ready: the next steps are preforcing and imbianchimento (whitening). The heads are gathered in a pile in the fields, and after a few weeks, when the temperature and humidity reach inside, they ripen. After selecting the best heads, the scraping of the roots can take place, which allows putting them on the market.
White radicchio, on the other hand, is grown in Bassano del Grappa, Rosà, Cassola, Marostica, Romano d’Ezzelino and Tezze sul Brenta.
Originally the plant had completely green leaves, with less visible veins.
As they grow they become large, rounded, with uneven edges and an undulating surface. With winter some scarlet spots form, which remain until the harvest. After preforcing, the central leaves enlarge and the main colour turns from green to white cream. The variegations take on tones ranging from light purple to bright red.
White radicchio is both tender and crunchy, with a particularly delicate flavour.
Il radicchio bianco è tenero e croccante allo stesso tempo, con un gusto particolarmente delicato.
RISO VICENTINO (VICENZA RICE)
This rice is produced throughout the Vicenza province, particularly in the lowlands and in the area of Grumolo delle Abbaddesse. In the 10th century the lands of Grumolo became a feud of Benedictine nuns, who over time transformed them from uncultivated swamps into fertile terrains.
A dense network of canals and waterways was built, including the famous Meneghina which crossed the town and enabled harvesting on horse-drawn barges for the silos of the Benedictine court.
The production of Vicenza rice also reached Bolzano Vicentino, Torri di Quaresolo and the reclaimed lands between Barbarano and Lonigo.
Today rice production has waned, but its renowned quality has not suffered.
Vialone Nano, obtained by crossing two varieties (Vialone and Nano) is a semi-fine rice, whose capacity for growth and ability to absorb flavour make it perfect for risottos.
The rice is cultivated in “clean” water, which optimizes the conditions for growing Carnaroli, a high quality product which is cultivated in limited amounts.
It’s no coincidence, then, that the cuisine of Vicenza finds in rice one of its basic ingredients: from the unmistakable rice with peas (risi e bisi) to rich risottos made with the region’s delicacies, such as red radicchio, mushrooms, black truffles and delicious cheeses.
SEDANO DI RUBBIO (RUBBIO CELERY)
Rubbio is just a fraction of the township of Conco, on the road that climbs from Bassano to the Asiago plateau: a village at 1057 metres above sea level, with just 300 inhabitants. The pride of this community is the celery cultivation, which, thanks to the area’s soil and climate, with frigid winters and dry, windy summers, produces a unique mountain celery.
The therapeutic properties of celery were already known 1,000 years before Christ. Greek authors wrote of the plant’s use as a medicinal herb. In the Middle Ages the abbess Hildegard of Bingen considered celery a cure-all.
In addition to diuretic and digestive properties, celery acts as a tonic for the nervous system and stimulates the endocrine glands, in particular the suprarenal glands.
Celery is an abundant source of minerals such as potassium, sodium and calcium. Also, the presence of nitrates purifies the blood and is recommended for fighting rheumatism, gout and renal colic.
Its juice is used in cosmetics as a cicatrising agent and to brighten the skin. In the kitchen celery is a vital ingredient for aperitifs, salads, fast and easy soups and an excellent palate cleanser.
Rubbio celery, known for its culinary and medicinal value, is listed nationally as one of the agricultural traditions of the Veneto region.
Their characteristic white colour is achieved through a peculiar procedure: only the top of the plant is left above ground, the stalks are tied together in a single cylinder constantly covered with earth, in order to prevent the exposure to sunlight which would stimulate photosynthesis, which would increase the presence of chlorophyll and thus turn the plant green.
For centuries the men and women of Rubbio have gone down to the markets of Breganze, Thiene, Marostica and Bassano to sell their goods. The crop’s fame was great but limited to a small geographic area. September 8th has become the date of the “Sagra del Sedano (Celery Festival),” one of the area’s oldest celebrations, mixing religious aspects with fun and the celebration of local products.
Valli del Pasubio is considered the capital of Vicenza salami, one of the symbols of Vicenza’s culinary tradition. Produced in the area between the lower Dolomites, the Asiago plateau and the Colli Berici (Berici Hills), Vicenza salami has a soft texture and delicate flavour which goes well with Marano corn polenta or toasted bread. D.O.P. Vicenza salami has a slightly arched, cylindrical shape, and can be 25-50cm in length, with a diameter of 7-12cm. Weight at sale can exceed 1Kg. During aging process the mould that surrounds it first becomes whitish and then dark brown-grey. When sliced, the meat is pinkish red in colour with an irregular marbling of fat. It is compact and tender after a long aging period. The percentage of fat content should be between 30 and 43%.
SPECK DI ASIAGO (ASIAGO SPECK)
Asiago speck stands out for the traditional methods employed to make it. A sustained aging period and moderate salting bestow it with a balanced, delicate flavour whose fragrance and authenticity are characteristic of the area where it is made, which contributes one key ingredient: the clean air of the high altitudes of the Asiago plateau.
Asiago speck is a prosciutto crudo (cured and uncooked) which is lightly smoked and left to age. It has an unmistakable flavour acquired from the methods used to produce it, which prohibits any industrial tricks such as injecting or slanting, which diminish quality, and requires a sustained aging period and light smoking at 20°C, with a salt content of less than 5%. These characteristics make Asiago speck different from any other prosciutto. Asiago speck manages to respect traditions, while easily finding its place in modern diet. It proves nutritious and easy to digest, with relatively few calories and high protein.
TARTUFO DEI BERICI (BERICI TRUFFLES)
One might think that truffles are tubers, but they are in fact underground mushrooms that live in symbiosis with deciduous trees. Since they are abundant only in uncontaminated forests, they represent an indicator of environmental health. To the pride of the Vicenza province, the Colli Berici (Berici Hills) are home to four species of black truffle: the black périgord truffle (Tuber Melanosporum), the black summer truffle (Aestivum), the black winter truffle (Brumale) and the scorzone truffle (Mesentericum). The centre of the hunting grounds is Nanto, which pays homage to this gift of the hills with a festival.
The black truffles of Marana are held in particular esteem by some. The most well known are found in the Colli Berici (Berici Hills), but thanks to the nature of the terrain, the high valley of Chiampo, and the area of Marana di Crespadoro in particular, is the second major centre for truffle production. Here one finds the black summer or scorzone truffle, as well as the Tuber uncinatum, found only in spring and autumn. Thanks to its exceptional taste and its being so easily digestible, the truffle has always been considered the food of kings. Local tradition calls for serving them with rice, tagliatelle or spaghetti. The most productive truffle-grounds are those found on the heavily forested eastern slopes of the Colli Berici (Berici Hills), with Nanto as their epicentre.
Gli allevamenti nazionali di trote sono concentrati nella provincia di Vicenza.
Italy’s trout fisheries are concentrated in the province of Vicenza. The trout is a typically brook- and stream-dwelling fish, but it can survive in lakes and valley floor streams, as long as the waters are well oxygenized. Since 1956, brown trout have been farmed in the waters of Valdastico, Posina, Laghi, Cismon and Velo d’Astico. The brown trout is the finest species, with delicate white meat, skin and striping of varying colours and the classic orange speckling along its flanks. The waters of the valleys, like those of the mountains, cold and fresh, make the perfect environment for a brown trout fishery. Astico’s production is sold almost exclusively live, selected and shipped to processing sites elsewhere. In Cismon, on the other hand, the product is processed and packaged there. Rainbow trout, characterized by the black spots on their tail fin and an iridescent stripe, which becomes brighter with their reproductive period, are raised in the valley of Chiampo. The rainbow trout is easier and less costly to raise. It is the preferred species for fishing.
VINI VICENTINI (WINES OF VICENZA)
The Vicenza province is characterized by the D.O.C. areas of Vicenza, the Colli Berici (Berici Hills), Lessini-Durello, Breganze, Gambellara and Arcole. Vicenza offers a special treat in the world of wines: “La Vigna” National Library, a documentary institution specialized in the studies of agriculture and rural life. The province’s wine tours, with stops in splendid Venetian villas and traditional cellars, represents an itinerary of art, food and wine that’s not to be missed.
BERICI HILLS DOC AREA
Characterized by volcanic mineral soils and a mild climate, the Colli Berici (Berici Hills) represent a first-rate wine country. Wines produced are: Tai (formerly known as Tocai rosso, ruby red in colour, clear and brilliant, balanced, harmonious flavour, at times bitter or lightly tannic), Garganego (a white of straw-yellow colour, dry, bitter, slightly acidic taste), Chardonnay Colli Berici (straw-yellow in colour, composite and harmonious, fruity flavour), Tai Bianco (a white with straw-yellow colour, harmonious, dry, tangy flavour), Sauvignon (dry, full, tangy, harmonious), Pinot Bianco (straw-yellow colour), Merlot dei Colli Berici (ruby red, full-bodied, velvety, harmonious, rounded taste), Cabernet dei Colli Berici (deep ruby, dry, full-bodied, slightly tannic flavour), Colli Berici Spumante (sparkling white).
GAMBELLARA DOC AREA
The furthest reaches of the Lessini mountains, thanks to their exceptional environment, have been home to vineyards for centuries. Wines produced here are: Gambellara (from golden to straw-yellow, dry, medium-bodied flavour, with just a touch of bitter), Gambellara Recioto (golden yellow, harmonious, amiable taste, with light touch of passito, bitter aftertaste with trace of sparkling), Vin Santo di Gambellara (amber-flecked yellow, harmonious and sweet taste).
BREGANZE DOC AREA
The are of protected origin includes the towns of the hills from the Brenta river to beyond the Astico. Wines made include: Vespaiolo (rather deep straw-yellow, tangy, pleasant, acidic taste), Torcolato (characteristic golden yellow, sweet, harmonious, velvety taste), Breganze Bianco (straw-yellow, dry, rounded, full-bodied taste), Breganze Chardonnay (straw-yellow, balanced, pleasantly soft, velvety and harmonious taste), Breganze Sauvignon (fine, pleasant, harmonious, rounded, occasionally woody flavour), Breganze Rosso (lively ruby red, dry, robust, harmonious, full-bodied and slightly tannic taste), Breganze Cabernet (dark ruby with garnet tinge, full-bodied, robust, dry taste, lightly tannic, sometimes grass), Breganze Cabernet Sauvignon (deep ruby, dry, full-bodied, velvety taste), Breganze Marzemino (ruby, often lively, full, personal and pleasant taste, at times softened by wood flavour), Breganze Pinot Nero (ruby colour, at times with shades of brick red, dry and zesty with bitter aftertaste), Breganze Pinot Bianco (white with clear straw-yellow colour, dry, velvety and very harmonious taste).
LESSINI DOC AREA
The area covers the hilly terrain of the Lessini in the provinces of Verona and Vicenza. Wine made here is: Lessini durello (straw-yellow, dry, acidic, full-bodied, at times somewhat tannic flavour).
VICENZA DOC AREA
In a large area of the province that includes the city of Vicenza itself the following wines are made: Vicenza Bianco: also produced in “frizzante” (straw-yellow; characteristic, pleasant odour; fruity, from dry to amiable in taste), “spumante” (thin sparkle with fine and persistent perlage; brilliant, varyingly deep straw-yellow; pleasant, characteristic odour; fruity, sweet to dry in taste) and “passito” (from slightly dried grapes, straw-yellow to golden yellow; fine, pleasant characteristic passito odour; harmonious, amiable or sweet taste), Vicenza Rosso (varyingly deep ruby; heady odour; dry, harmonious, robust taste, with the right touch of tannic), Vicenza Rosato (varyingly rosé; light, pleasant odour; dry, harmonious taste), Vicenza Garganego (straw-yellow; lightly heady nose with a delicate, characteristic aroma; dry, delicately bitter, medium-bodied, harmonious, with the right touch of acidity), Vicenza Manzoni bianco (light straw-yellow with greenish tinge; delicately intense, characteristic odour; rounded, harmonious flavour), Vicenza Moscato (varyingly deep straw-yellow; intense, characteristic moscato aroma; amiable to sweet, intense, characteristic moscato), Vicenza Pinot Bianco (light straw-yellow; delicately intense aroma; rounded, velvety, harmonious taste), Vicenza Pinot Grigio (colour varies from straw- to golden yellow; delicate, pleasant odour; dry, velvety, harmonious taste), Vicenza Riesling (straw-yellow with greenish tinge; delicate, fruity, characteristic odour; dry, characteristic taste), Vicenza Sauvignon (varyingly deep straw-yellow; delicate odour, hinting at aromatic; dry, tangy, harmonious, characteristic), Vicenza Cabernet (deep ruby, at times almost garnet; characteristic, deep, pleasant odour; dry, characteristic taste), Vicenza Cabernet Sauvignon (deep ruby, at times almost garnet; characteristic, deep, pleasant odour; dry, characteristic taste), Vicenza Merlot (ruby; heady, pleasantly intense nose, characteristic; soft, harmonious taste), Vicenza Pinot Nero (ruby; delicate nose; dry, sapid taste), Vicenza Raboso (varyingly deep ruby, at times with purplish tinge; heady, intense, characteristic nose; harmonious, full-bodied taste).
ARCOLE DOC AREA
This area covers towns in the Verona province, including Arcole, and in Vicenza Lonigo, Sarego, Monte, Orgiano and Sossano. Here a wide range of whites and reds are produced: Arcole Bianco (straw-yellow, at times hinting at greenish; heady nose with characteristic, intense, delicate aroma; dry, medium-bodied, harmonious, lightly bitter), Arcole Rosso (ruby colour; heady nose, intense and delicate; dry, medium-bodied, harmonious taste), Arcole Chardonnay (straw-yellow; fine, characteristic, elegant odour; dry taste, at times soft and fine), Arcole Garganega (straw-yellow hinting at greenish; heady nose with characteristic, intense, delicate aroma; dry, lightly bitter, acidic taste), Arcole Pinot Bianco (straw-yellow; fine odour, characteristic, hint of fruity; dry, often soft, velvety, harmonious), Arcole Pinot Grigio (colour varies from straw-yellow to amber-flecked, at times with coppery tinge; delicate, fruity, characteristic odour; dry, harmonious, characteristic taste), Arcole Cabernet (deep ruby, hints of garnet; pleasant odour with more intense aroma if aged), Arcole Cabernet Sauvignon (deep ruby, hints of garnet with aging; heady, characteristic nose, with more intense aroma if aged; dry, austere, harmonious taste, and velvety if aged), Arcole Merlot (ruby if young, hints of garnet if aged; heady nose, rather intense, characteristic; dry, lightly bitter taste).
I VINI PASSITI (RAISIN WINES)
Torcolato di Breganze, Vin Santo and Recioto di Gambellara: three dessert wines of high quality and esteem.
Torcolato is a white dessert wine made by pressing grapes that have been left to dry during the early winter and then aging for up to four years in barrels or oak casks. It has a warm golden colour and a sweet, lingering, soft, rounded and full-bodied flavour.
A similar process is used in making Vin Santo, obtained from the best grapes, which undergo a sustained drying phase, which has an amber-flecked yellow colour and a strong passito aroma, velvety, harmonious and sweet to taste.
Recioto, on the other hand, is characterized by a light trace of semi-sparkling. It stands out for its intense, fruity aroma, with a harmonious, amiable flavour, with a hint of bitter almond.
Torcolato has won over the national niche market and made a reputation for the Breganze DOC area.
The area runs from Thiene to Bassano and covers part of the Astico river basin.
It is made from pressing selected bunches of Vespaiola hung (torcolati) up to dry for several months in dry, well-aired attics.
This dried-grape wine, whose current form dates to the 17th century, is deep golden yellow in colour, with a fragrance reminiscent of honey.
Its unmistakable “sweet-not-sweet,” harmonious and velvety taste goes well with aged cheeses and desserts.