Vicenza, is a province in northeast Italy, in the Veneto to be precise. Its capital city conveniently is also called Vicenza. One cannot begin an account concerning the city of Vicenza without referring to Andrea Palladio. The city is home to several of his designs from the late 16 th century and any discussion of Western architecture will include his influence as a focal point. However, Vicenza is more than the gorgeous architecture of Palladio. It is an area with an extremely rich and diverse culinary history. Here, the table will reflect distinct regional ingredients and bear the richness of Nature’s bounty.
A favorite dish whose history is interwoven into the fabric of Vicenza is baccalà alla vicentina. Baccalà is stockfish or dried cod, its place as a staple of generations of Vicentini is the tale of a 15 th century captain Pietro Querini who was shipwrecked in the islands off of the coast of Norway. He returned with this dish and left it to the creativity of local Chefs. The classic recipe calls for the cod to be beaten with a mallet and left to soften for 3 days. When it is soft it is then cooked with anchovies and parsley , dusted with flour and slowly simmered in milk.
The traveler to Vicenza if so inclined can trace the “trout route” which runs between the scenic pre-alpine valleys of Val d’Astico and Val Posina. This month we are featuring Trout as our feature ingredient and Mario’s recipe for crispy trout as our feature recipe.
The important growing areas of Vicenza are Breganze, Arcole, Colli Berici, Lessini and Gambellara. We will focus our attention on Gambellara and Breganze.
Gambellara is an important hub of white wine production which like its more famous neighbor Soave focuses on Garganega as its main varietal. Dry, still wines are produced as are sweet Recioto wines. We are featuring a wine from this district on our quartino list as well as on our tasting menu. The wine is called “Pico.”
Taking its name from a single vineyard this wine is made by Angiolino Maule at his winery called La Biancara. Maule is proud of his traditional winemaking practices, preferring to forego chemical pesticides for natural ones. The philosophy here is one of minimal environmental impact and focus on varietal fidelity. Skin maceration and open-tank spontaneous fermentation are the rule with Maule. The resulting wine then spends an additional year in large botte and is unfined and unfiltered before bottling. Pico exhibits lustrous golden hues and an unwavering earthiness and minerality, these attributes as much a testament to the volcanic soil prevalent in the vineyard as to Maule’s “old-school” philosophy. We urge you to join us to taste this amazing wine.
The Breganze district lies due north of the town of Vicenza. In this district both red and white varietals see worthy expression. Prominently featured are Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Nero, and Marzemino. White varietals Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon, Tocai and Vespaiolo are utilized to produce dry white wines and some amazing sweet wines are made from the Torcolato grape.
A fine example of Breganze winemaking is offered by the Maculan winery. For three generations the Maculan family have been top producers of fine wines.
“Fratta” is a carefully made Bordeaux blend comprised of Cabernet and Merlot. The grapes are selected from the Santo Stefano, Fratta and Ca’delle Ore areas within Breganze. After careful destalking and crushing the wine will see a short maceration period and then malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged in French barrique for twelve months and is bottled unfined and unfiltered. What emerges is a wine of texture and opulence, with supple, balanced tannin and acidity…perfect with a Grilled Ribeye for Two. We welcome the opportunity to share these as well as any of the 1,200 selections from our winelist, grazie, Peter W. Jamros-Wine Director, Babbo Ristorante