A Frico Feast with New Friends

Frico, Italywise

Probably the biggest and best plate of Frico I’ve ever eaten.

I’m still salivating. That’s what frico can do to you.

Unfortunately, many people who come to Italy, to live or to visit, don’t set foot in Friuli, the northeast region of Italy, where culinary treasures like frico were born. I hope this post has the ability to reach people who ordinarily would not take a trip to this area, which is often considered an inconvenient detour based on its non-central location. But, trust me, if you want to have the full Italian diversity experience, you will be thanking yourself for including Friuli (and frico) on your “to do” list.

Let me back up for a second and talk about our new friends who took our frico appreciation to a new level.

Organic connections often lead to wonderful new friends.

That’s how we felt after meeting Rachel and Franceso. Rachel, like me, is an American expat. Francesco is a native of Veneto. Rachel and I found each other through our respective blogs about living in Italy. I encourage you to follow Rachel’s blog, FullofItaly.com, and her well-chronicled story of meeting Francesco and eventually getting married. I believe her story is a testament to what can happen in life when you “let the river take you,” even with its seemingly bizarre twists and turns.

Frico became the inflection point for us to meet.

After months of corresponding via Instagram and email, Rachel floated the idea of meeting up for a “frico day.” Such a proposition didn’t take much arm-twisting. Simone and I have dear friends in Udine and we’ve sampled frico on many occasions. It’s always at the top of our “must eat” list every time we go to visit them.

Rachel also proposed a trip to a well-vetted cantina for a tasting prior to a frico lunch up on a mountain just outside of Sacile. We were eagerly onboard and the only hurdle was finding a day when our schedules meshed and when the weather would cooperate. Finally, the planets aligned and we picked a day that turned out to be a spectacular early spring day. Rachel and Francesco, along with their incredibly sweet wire-haired dachshund, met us at the train station. After only a few minutes, Simone and I looked at one another and smiled, knowing that these were indeed good people. And, when we boarded our return train to Treviso later that day we resolved to make plans for another get-together, this time in Treviso.

First a visit to Vistorta Cantina

Wow, talk a spectacular place for having a wine tasting. Majestic. Enormous. Steeped in history. These are the words and phrases that come to mind. If you visit this winery, you’ll quickly understand why it is a highly sought-after venue for weddings and other grand affairs.

Vistorta, ItalyWise

The structures of Vistorta are covered with vines, soon to be in full leaf.

 

Vistorta, Italywise

Surveying the grounds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I won’t go into a lot of detail since frico IS the hero of the post. But Vistorta’s wines are worth your while. Our favorite whites were Traminer Aromatico and Friulano (formerly called “Tocai”). Also, a white-but-not-quite-white is the Pinot Grigio Ramato (not featured on their website since it’s fairly new). Our lovely host explained that this color actually came with the first pinot grigios and was a result of keeping the skin of the grape further into the process. Hence the blush color. Only later did winemakers begin removing the skins from the part of the process that imparted the color.

Vistorta also has several yummy reds, including the Merlot Vistorta (they also have a classic). We bought two bottles of the 2009 Merlot Vistorta, having been promised it is an excellent vintage and perfect to drink now.

Vistorta, Italywise

A visit to the Vistorta Cantina in Sacile is well worth the trip.

 

At last! A trip to Malga Dal Titti – Azienda Agricola Piccinato for frico!

Boy, did Rachel and Francesco deliver on their promise of delicious frico. Upon entering this rustic place, my intuition told me the food we were about to eat would be simple but amazing.

Frico is a dish that is particular to Fruili. I encourage you to read the brief overview on Wikipedia, but the short of it is that it was a “pancake” made from shredded cheese and potatoes.

“Originally when Friuli was a more impoverished country, frico was used to recycle cheese rinds.[1] Frico is often used as garnish for soups or stews.” ––Wikipedia

The four us first enjoyed a large plate of cured meats. Local bulk wine, both red and white, was surprisingly good and “soft” on the palate. Then the pate of frico arrived. Actually, a giant platter of frico arrived. It was all I could do not to break into applause at this enormous work of art. Would it be a case of quantity outweighing quality? Could it possibly be both quantity and quality? Yes, yes, and yes!

We finished the entire thing.

I can assure you there were frequent groans of satisfaction as we worked our way to the finish line. I’m surprised we didn’t lick the platter. Of course, I knew that later I’d be choosing to skip dinner in order to pay for my culinary sins. But, I can forgive myself this interlude of gluttony.

Thank God we took a nice walk after lunch, enjoying the view from the mountain. Then we drove down to the train station and enjoyed parting aperitivi before exchanging warm goodbyes.

We are deeply grateful to Rachel and Francesco for putting together such an extraordinary day and culinary experience. I’m amazed at how friendships are often born over great food and wine.

Again, I encourage you to check out Rachel’s blog and hers and Francesco’s wonderful story at FullofItaly.com.