Discover the Cuisine of Veneto While Sipping Prosecco
It s not even the end of September and stores already have Halloween treats and tricks, Thanksgiving turkey extravaganza and Christmas decorations galore. Holidays traditionally call for some bubbly and the Italian bubbly par excellence is Prosecco.
Prosecco, for many nicknamed “Italian champagne,” is a sparkling white wine from north-eastern Italy known for its fine and persistent bubbles and for both its flavors and aromas which are characterized by subtle complexity.
Since July 2009, the name Prosecco has been regulated and protected under DOC law, ensuring that wines labeled with the name come only from the specified areas of north-eastern Italy.
In this case specifically from Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia wine regions, where Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene is produced. Conegliano Valdobbidene, represents the top of the quality pyramid for Prosecco.
Those who want to experience more than a bottle of bubbly and want to know more about their favorite wine cannot find a better destination than the “Strada del Prosecco.”
First known as the “Strada del Vino Bianco,” which officially opened in 1966, the Strada del Prosecco is a stretch of road that winds up and down the hills of Conegliano, Feletto, Quartier del Piave and Valdobbiadene all the way to the base of the Prealpi mountains in the Veneto region.
The so-called Strada del Prosecco and the Wines of the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Hills was officially founded in 2003 and it maintains extensive tracts of the original historic itinerary but they have been supplemented by diverse routes that really boast the beauty of the area with its diverse viticultural landscapes and many historical and artistic treasures that are scattered amidst the hills.
The itineraries are numerous and take the visitor between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. the two main towns, situated in the heart of the upper Marca Trevigiana, the cradle of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore.
This is a landscape like no other: steep hills alternate with gentle slopes, covered in a never ending patchwork of vineyards. In this magical area, the air is scented by a whiff of wine and of food delicacies, while the land is impregnated by centuries-old winemaking and culinary culture. The people here love their territory and its traditions, which are always kept alive, especially the culinary ones.
Among the area's most renown products, that can be tasted in all restaurants, big and small, that are scattered around the different itineraries, we find cured meats (Sopressa Vicentina PDO, Prosciutto Veneto Berico-Euganeo PDO, Cotechino di Modena PGI, Mortadella Bologna PGI, Salamini italiani alla cacciatora PDO, Zampone di Modena PGI), pork, beef and horse meat, cheeses (Asiago PDO, Grana Padano PDO, Montasio PDO, Monte Veronese PDO, Taleggio PDO, Provolone Val Padana PDO), wild vegetables (Radicchio Variegato di Castelfranco PGI, Asparago bianco di Cimadolmo PGI, Fagiolo di Lamon della Vallata Bellunese PGI, Radicchio Rosso di Treviso PGI), chestnuts (Marrone di San Zeno PDO), rice (Riso Nano Vialone Veronese PGI) and honey, all of which contribute to the rich and varied gastronomic offerings from this area.
The cuisine of Veneto is indeed pretty rich: much of the diet is based on fresh seafood, such as clams, mussels, scallops, prawns, crabs, octopus and even sea snails. Risotto nero, a creamy black rice dish made with squid ink is pretty popular as is Baccalà alla Vicentina, stockfish cooked in milk and served with onions and polenta.
There is plenty of room for various meats, including game birds and horse. The famous Italian dish Carpaccio originated in the Veneto region: it consists of paper thin slices of beef served, according to tradition, with a mustard and Worcestershire flavored mayonnaise. Another local specialty, which happens to be enjoyed all through the peninsula, is Fegato alla Veneziana, veal liver sauteed with onions and flavored with sage, parsley and a touch of red wine or vinegar in a sauce of oil and butter. Meat, including birds, is often served alongside polenta, ground corn.
Radicchio rosso is the region most prized vegetable. Radicchio is an ingredient used in many preparations: it's used in risotto (in Veneto rice is mostly preferred to pasta), grilled as a vegetable, cooked into soups and eaten raw in salads.
Many of the locales that serve this amazing food almost seem to be hidden away in the valleys and in the little villages that dot the area, that's why it's recommended to wander off and discover treasures that date back centuries. Many of the restaurants feature a plate that reads “Bottega del Vino.”
The meaning of this is that the business has been carefully reviewed by a group of experts in terms of quality of wines available, both for tastings and for sale, authenticity of the place and oenological knowledge of the staff. Restaurants are carefully reviewed year after year and if they don't match the qualifying criteria the plate is removed. In order to be considered for qualification, each place has to sell, Bianchi dei Colli, in the dry and sweet varieties, and Prosecco and Cartizze, in dry, amabile (sweet), frizzante (sparkling) and spumante varieties.
Along with the aforementioned delicious food, a visitor can experience the area’s many sights and landmarks, historic castles, decadent villas, of pristine monuments, sacred churches and ancient thermal springs, as well as its most prestigious vineyards.
No matter where you are, all around, the vines, kissed by the sun, await endlessly.