With record-breaking temperatures passing the century mark this past weekend around the Veneto region of northeastern Italy, I really needed a break from the scorching heat wave and I needed it STAT.
I could stay at home with the AC on full blast. Perhaps.
Or, I could head to a nearby beach along the Adriatic and make like a crustacean. Perhaps.
Or, I could take a seat around a long wooden table, set up inside a naturally-cooled cantina carved into the hillside of a conical peak, to enjoy a specially arranged degustazione (tasting) of cheeses from around the Mediterranean paired with wines from the Euganean Hills. YES!
In cooperation with Azienda Agricolo Ca’ Lustra, Franco Zanovello’s organic winery in Faedo di Cinto Euganeo (PD), Osteria Volante, a catering company led by Enrico Panzarasa, put on quite a show for the 20 or so invited guests as we were treated to a selection of nine cheeses from five Mediterranean islands paired with five of Ca’ Lustra’s stellar labels.
Working clockwise, Enrico explained each of the cheeses plated before us.
Caprino ai pistacchi, Tale’ di capra Girgentana and Ficu, three goat cheeses from Siciliy.
Next was Kolan, a cow’s milk cheese from Pag, Croatia.
A trio of sheep’s milk cheeses followed: Brebis Fougere from Corsica, Paski Sir from Pag, Croatia and Gran Nuraghe from Sardegna.
Mahon, a cow’s milk cheese, represented Spain’s island of Menorca.
And, finally, Fior Sardo, a sheep’s milk cheese from Sardegna.
And the wine pairings?
We opened with an aperitif of sparkling Pinello to break the ice and put us in the right mood.
Franco then uncorked Pedavenda, an aromatic white DOC blend of Manzoni Blanc, Riesling and Pinella.
The Catarratto was next, a pleasant and casual IGT-rated white from Zanovello’s Sicilian terroir; followed by the Aganoor Rosato, a bold IGT-rated rosé of Cabernet and Merlot; and then ‘A Cengia, a DOC-rated, dry Moscato.
And, Mr. Z capped the cheese pairing with Sassonero, a robust varietal, at 14.5%, of 100% Merlot grape grown on the label’s namesake hill in nearby Arquà Petrarca.
Prepped by Giorgio and Alessandro, Osteria Volonte’s roving chefs, we were treated to plates of freshly cut affitati (coldcuts) and more formaggi (cheeses). And, as the sun finally settled behind the hills, we savored a delicious risotto al Serprino (the areas trademark sparkling wine) with black truffles.
Both the first and second courses were paired with the estate’s bubbly Chardonnay Brut. Mmm.
Next time Mother Nature orders up a heat wave, I’ll know exactly what to do: head for the hills, the Euganean Hills, and Ca’ Lustra‘s cool cantina.
SALUTE and BUON APPETITO!
©The Palladian Traveler