Day 3 – Well fed and well rested, it’s time to venture out of our ancestral villages, further into Friuli. Our first stop is for a light friulano style lunch in San Daniele. San Daniele is known for its prized prosciutto which has been produced in the city for centuries. The unique taste of the prosciutto is attributed to 12 months of aging in the perfect mixture of the dry alpine mountain air and the warm humid Adriatic air. Proscuitto di San Daniele has a slightly sweeter mild taste than the more famous prosciutto di Parma. It is best enjoyed ‘crudo’ (uncooked) sliced on a platter. Our family has been visiting the same proscutteria since the 1980’s. The same gentleman has sliced our prosciutto on a classice Berkel hand cranked slicer. The experience is incredible each time with prosciutto so fresh and subtle tasting – unlike anything at home. We enjoy with the local Montasio cheese, olives, marinated mushrooms and a crisp glass of Tocai Friulano wine. It is so sublime we order a second platter (and I pop a my second of Lipitor of the day). Our light lunch has turned into two 17” platters of sliced prosciutto amongst five of us. For dessert we have Gubana – the Italian version of a fig newton.
Next – on to Udine, the defacto capital of Friuli. Udine is steeped in history. A very old city with architecture shaped by the confluence of Roman, Venetian, Austro-Hungaria, Slovenian and Croatian occupations. There are Venetian style plazas connected by streets lined with Austrian/German looking buildings.
The food from Udine is very Fruilan and different from what one might expect from Italian cuisine. The picture below from a restaurant in Udine sums up the Friulano cuisine served here.
Polenta, seafood from the Adriatic, cairsons (more on this later), gulash & stews and frico – fried cheese. Frico is a staple dish in this part of Friuli. It is Montasio cheese that is pan fried so the outside is crispy and the inside is warm and melted.
My last trip here I had it served with polenta. A luscious dish that I am convinced took me a week to digest. For the first time on this trip, we are not hungry. We will be having a feast tonight in Timau, so we take it easy. We decide that we must at least have a fresh Moretti Beer – since it is brewed here – or so we thought. Since my last trip, Morretti had been acquired by Heineken and we could not find a single bottle or draft in the entire city – the Italians can be unforgiving. Along the way during our Moretti search, we came across a Sardinian Festival. Streetside vendors featured cheeses, meats and dishes that are typical in Sardinia. We participated in a pasta making lesson where we were taught how to make common eggless fresh Sardinian pasta called Filei. I am always amazed at how easy fresh pasta is, yet when at home I rarely make it. I vow to make this when I return.
No frico and no Moretti, but none the less a good visit to Udine. Next we head deep into the Carnic Alps near the Austrian border, to Timau for WWI battlefield visits and a 3 day stay with Diego at the amazing Albergo Matiz.
…..I did make the pasta when I returned.
And it is a lot of work…but worth it.