Italian Food + Wine = Perfect Match

Italy is home to the Slow Food movement:

Slow Food is a global, grassroots organization, founded in 1989 to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions, counteract the ride of fast life and combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from and how food choices affect the world around us.

Been to Eataly? That’s all about Slow Food. And actually, my mom and I unknowingly learned about Slow Food last year on our Parma Food Tour.

Our first sponsored event in Italy was all about Slow Food and wine – the best combination. It was an early morning, catching a bus and train to Bra, where we were taken to the University of Gastronomic Sciences. It’s a 400-student school, focused solely on Slow Food . . . and it’s all housed in a castle with the most gorgeous views of the Langhe Valley.

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One of the students showed us around the school and grounds, including the Banca del Vino – a collection of every type of Italian wine, including information on the grape, the region, bits of the soil and several bottles of each variety and brand.

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I just realized a Poliziano bottle is on the top left – my Mom and I toured their winery in Montepulciano last year!

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The school brings in a chef every week to cook for the students. But not just any chef . . . Michelin star chefs! Look whose on the schedule for 2016. The gold star(s) next to their name indicates how many Michelin stars they have.

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From the University, we drove to Castiglione Falletto for a 5-course lunch at Bar La Terrazza de Renza, overlooking the gorgeous valley and vineyards. Add another “pinch me” moment to my long list from this trip – I couldn’t stop staring out at the view, thinking how incredible it was to be at this local restaurant in a tiny town of 600 people.

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Not listed: our dessert of fresh vanilla ice cream and strawberries. It was divine. 

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Our next stop was La Morra, with sweeping views of the Langhe Valley (sense a theme?) including the Barolo region. On our way there, we drove right through the town of Barolo, which literally took 3 minutes. I understand now why the wine is so expensive; to be called a Barolo wine, it must be made in that town. There were grapes growing in the same vineyard on either side of the border and only those actually in Barolo can bear the name.

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And finally, our last stop: Mustela Winery in Trezzo Tinella.

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Chiara met the farmer/vintner/bottler/seller about 10 years ago. He does everything by hand and by himself, it was remarkable to hear him talking about the process and what he does. Quality is the single most important factor so he actually only uses 50% of the grapes he grows to ensure they are the ripest, most flavorful fruit.

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After our tour around the vines . . .

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. . . through his cellar . . .

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. . . and on the production floor . . .

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. . . it was time for the tasting. We sampled 6 of his wines: one sparkling, two white and three red. My favorites were the sparking, Chardonnay (oddly, Italian Chardonnays seem to taste more like Sauvignon Blancs) and the Nebbiolo. I like that he is such a small vintner, but that also means I can’t buy his wines anywhere. Guess I’ll just have to come back!

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