Had folks from the university over for dinner the week before exams and moving where we consumed the wines from Emilio’s vineyard, which brought on a wave of nostalgia and reminder that I really must update my chronicles with the foodie and travel accounts. Both from my spring break in Italy and my Thanksgiving sojourn in Upper Egypt. Else it will be the next year’s rounds of those holidays before I know it, and I’ll have more chronicles on backlog – insh’allah. Right now I’m working on two of these accounts on parallel streams …make that three with summer in Vienna well underway as well.

Anyway, Emilio is the owner of a small boutique vineyard, Il Pratello, just outside a small village called Modigliana.

(Click on picture to link to the vineyard’s website)

Modigliana, by the way, is not as I thought, the birth place of the artist Modigliani (whose impressionism runs to strange and to me, disturbing iris-less blue eyes) but may well have been the place from which he took his name as he &r his Jewish family wandered through the Italian countryside. According to our second hosts that day (of the Ravvigiolo cheese, ham, jams and chocolate liqueur) this practice was common among Jews to escape anti-Semitism.
But first, about Emilio and our Il Pratello experience. He is definitely one of those people who would fit into the category of the Maylesque characters I mentioned in my previous post. Barely spoke a word of English (don’t be fooled by the slick website) but managed to entertain and inform us about his wines anyway.

Despite our minimal common linguistic abilities however, we had a great time and managed to communicate the important details to one another. Food, wine and an appreciation thereof form a universal language, I think.

Here’s a picture of the man himself at the entrance of his cellars.

And here he is, having driven us out to survey the land that he’s lord of…

Of all our spectacular meals in Italy – and there were many of those – the lunch at Emilio’s farm consistently ranked up top on both our (especially Shraddha’s) lists. Beginning with the charming table set for two (farmhands and owners came in and out of the same dining room to eat at a separate table), and ending with the most spectacular dessert of my entire trip, virtually everything we were served, including the many different wines, came from Il Pratello’s own land. We did it complete justice — we ate every morsel and drank every drop!

Table for two…

Il Menu e dei Vini

Antipasti

(served in two courses)

Herbed egg and cheese pinwheels
Wild greens frittata with a small skewer (toothpick) of grilled veges – zucchini and melanzana.

The wine: A refreshing glass of his Morana

Primo Piatto

Homemade stuffed pasta with fresh herbs and butter

The wine: We graduated to a red now, a very nice blend of grapes, Il Casetto.

Secondi

Rabbit (Coniglio) and braised fennel (finocchio). If I”m not mistaken a second pasta — a mixture of green and yellow linguini also accompanied this dish.

The wine: Mantignano, a fabulous celebration of the Sangiovese grape. This one was a keeper — both Shraddha and I bought a bottle each.

Il dolce

Fresh strawberries marinated in dessert wine and more of said wine.

The wine: Becugiano; Wow ! That one word describes it all. Consumed a lot of this one, both in the bowl and in the glass, and bought a bottle which was demolished in one evening on Cairo.

Sated and tipsy after all this, we went with Emilio, his daughter and their dog, out to the vineyards where the sheer joy of existence (and not the wine) sent transported Shraddha to prostrate herself on the hillside (she has the picture I don’t).

A quick tour of the cellar, presses and other chambers dedicated to the winemaker’s craft. Further celebrations of the craft followed at the time of leavetaking for not only did we leave with our new purchases of wine (Me two and her three) but also all the half empty bottles from our meal, which we shared with the Mini family later that night. Silvio, I might add, enjoyed the Becugiano as much as I had earlier in the day.

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