A ride to Soave was our plan today. After the hills of yesterday, we were looking forward to something a bit more flat, although the first couple of kilometers followed our route from yesterday. But quickly we were moving downhill, and moving across vineyards, first in the Colli Berici wine zone, then the Gambellera DOC, known for whites as well as the lovely Recioto dessert wines, and finally the vineyards of Soave.
A beautiful walled city, busy with outdoors markets when we first arrived. Everyone scattered to do a little shopping, with Sherry discovering a great panifico (bread shop) and picking up the Pane di Soave for us all to try. Some beautiful pottery from Deruta was purchased, and then we all went to the Coffele cantina for a wine tasting from this esteemed producer of the local Soave wines.
We were offered any of the wines they produced, but we decided to restrict ourselves to two – at least that was the plan! They insisted we begin with their ‘standard’ Soave Classico, to acclimate our palates to the Soave wines. So this first one doesn’t count towards our two. Nicely tart, refreshing and minerally, made from 100% Gargenega grapes. Next, their award winning Ca’ Visto Soave Classico, a blend of 75% Gargenega, mixed with 25% Trebbiano. This is a wonderful wine, with the great acidity of the first, but with a smoother, rounder palate.
Next, we tried their classic Recioto dessert wine, considered one of the 12 best sweet dessert wines of Italy. This was a fantastic wine, running through a variety of flavors in your mouth from beginning to end. And then they insisted we finish with a taste of grappa as we had a few minutes before our return taxi arrived. Yes, we are taxing back, due to the heat today, and this is probably a good idea at this point…
We arrive back at the Locanda, and everyone cleans up. Susan and I hit the kitchen quickly, preparing an antipasti for our hungry cooks. We have several pizzas planned for our late lunch, with lots of choices for toppings – pancetta, prosciutto, 4-5 different cheeses, fennel, tomatoes, figs, honey, zucchini and zucchini flowers.
We had a few challenges in front of us today – the only oven seems to be a convection oven, not the best for pizza, or for the heat of the afternoon. And no pizza peel or stone to be found. But part of the fun of these cooking events is ad-libbing when you need to, so we soon had a solution for everything. An upside down hotel pan became our peel, we cooked our pizza right on the rack of the oven. And cold sparkling Bardolino Chiaretto was the antidote for the heat. We even made some tasty breadsticks for tomorrow, as Susan showed us the many things we could do with the pizza dough recipe.
Tonight we enjoyed a lovely dinner at Trattoria Nogarazza in Arcugnano. After a few of us expressed interest in trying out some local dishes, our friendly proprietor suggested a tasting menu he would create for us. We began with stockfish prepared 4 different ways, the traditional baccala and baccala Vicentina, as well as a deep fried fritter – all wonderful. This was followed by a bean soup, made from fresh borlotti beans. As this type of soup quickly begins to ferment, they flash freeze it, and then puree it when frozen to maintain its fresh flavor. Two pasta dishes followed – a pasta roll, with fresh cheese and a squash sauce, then a summer carbonara – a lighter version, made with scallops. We have successfully carb-loaded for our ride to Vicenza tomorrow!