24 October 2016

Tavernetta al Castello at Capriva del Friuli (Go)

A “Renaissance” banquet among the hills of Gorizia

I’ve even heard that the great Maître Maurizio Dall’Osto works here at Tavernetta al Castello!

In 2016 the “Club Magnar Ben” (which means “eat well club”) honoured him with the title of Best Maître in the surrounding region, and the guide “Magnar Ben” assigned him the title of Best Maître of the Alpe Adria area. The art of food & wine and customer service has always been one of dall’Osto’s passions.

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I definitely need to try this impeccable service and the cuisine of the Executive Chef Tonino Venica.

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The room is warm and welcoming, with a crackling fireplace and elegant white tablecloths with an impeccable layout. The menu offers a selection of meat and fish, so I decide to try the season menu, accompanied by a selection of excellent wines from the Castello di Spessa.

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I start chatting to Maurizio, a cheerful man, alert and polite. I think that among my many experiences he has been the only person that worried about the lighting for the photographs, the choice of the plates and especially about how best to tell me all about his experience. He is pleasantly spontaneous and we start talking about the cuisine of the Tavernetta but also about the two “competitors”: Le Dune and La Subida of Josjo Sirk. Because between them there’s a strong friendship, as well as a history of long collaboration; he told me that 3 years ago a path was made in the woods to connect La Subita to the Castello di Spessa, so that their guests could try different experiences. Some people walk over from the Subida to play golf or for a dinner in the Tavernetta and some from the Castello di Spessa go over to the Subida for dinner or for a horse ride.

Meanwhile, the kitchen has served a delicious cream of caprino cheese on pistachio and Verduzzo aspic that I’ll accompany with a nice glass of Ribolla Gialla from the Castello di Spessa

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To follow a glass of Collio Friulano 2015, always from their own selection, that introduces the dinner with its fresh and perfumed bouquet.

Then we are served a Zuf of Polenta (a typical dish from Friuli where the polenta is cooked in milk instead of water) with porcini, finferli and trombette (three kind of locally found mushrooms). To make the dish even more local, it’s covered in melted butter with cooked corn, with the corn wafer bringing out the taste contrasts in this autumn dish.

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Even if I’m in the collio, I’m curious to see how they cook fish so I decide to try something with a little sea taste. So I try these incredibly delicate white calamari cooked with baby vegetables and celery.

Incredibly soft!

Usually you need to chew calamari as if it was a gum before swallowing it, but even an old toothless man could eat this delicacy because it practically melted in my mouth!

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We are also served another wine, a straw coloured soft Savignon Crù Segrè from 2015, and I feel the aromas of fruit and flowers it releases.

And here’s another taste of autumn, with a number of first courses worthy of the nobility that once lived in the castle…

vellutata di zucca con ravioli farcitici di cipolla rossa di tropea e cotti nel vino rosso

Creamed pumpkin soup with ravioli stuffed with red onion from Tropea cooked in red wine.

straccetti di ravioli, ripieni di castagne con salsiccia, topinambur, fichi e zucca

Stripped ravioli filled with chestnuts and sausage, topinambour, figs and pumpkin

risotto di porro con bocconcini di capriolo

Risotto with leeks and game meat

Im my personal opinion the best dish of the whole evening is the ravioli with chestnuts. I can’t wait for the opportunity to return and try it with all my family because it was unique!

I’m now trying a Casanova Pinot nero from 2012; this wine comes from the Borgogna variety and is aged in French Barriques. It ruby red colour invites you to taste it and its aroma is perfect to accompany the meat dish we’re about to try.

 

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The dear cooked with grapes and trombette mushrooms with pumpkin and its seeds dominates the table near the fireplace along with the stuffed quails on a pie of turnip, cabbage and potato, spiced with star anise.

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It might be the wine, the incredible feast, the fireplace or the warmth from Maurizio’s impeccable service but I feel perfectly at ease.

We’re almost at the end and it’s now time for the dessert with a wine that is fascinating with desserts (and herb cheeses): Pérle Verduzzo 2007, dried grapes, picked at the end of October and dried out until December.

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This sweet wine introduces two servings: liquorice, lemon, white chocolate and pistachio Semifreddo and a Savarin with cream ice-cream, cooked plums from the collio with cinnamon sticks.

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What to say, incredible tastes! Everything is connected to the local territory, the season and the best ingredients.

My best compliments to everyone, the Maître Maurizio and the Chef Tonino that took me for a taste tour that started at 7pm and ended almost 4 hours later! 4 hours of pure food and wine enchantment.

It’s been a pleasure!

Ph. Andrea Zangrando

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