The #ItalianFWT group is heading to Lazio this month, so appropriate for the Easter holiday. Our fearless leader in this virtual trip is Katarina Andersson from Grapevine Adventures. Her preview post is here. The #ItalianFWT Twitter Chat takes place on Saturday, 3 April, 11 am ET / 5 pm CET: we all connect via the Twitter chat.
I have had the pleasure of spending Easter in Rome a number of times. The city is very crowded with tourists and often school children. “La Settimana Santa” or the Holy Week is considered a perfect time to visit the Eternal City. Many hope to see the Pope who is in residence and gives Mass in St. Peter’s square on Easter morning.
Romans skip their cornetti or brioche as they are known in other parts of Italy and have a big breakfast with eggs and salami. I once had one that was billed as an Easter donut or Ciambella that was filled with eggs and salami. The only problem was that we were on a sailboat going around the island of Elba and the weather wasn’t great so that kind of a heavy breakfast on Easter was hard for me but hey who am I to argue with tradition.
After breakfast, when in Rome, many do try to go see the Pope. One year I did that as well.The crowd was immense and the experience was intense and moving, even to a non-Catholic such as myself. This year of course will be different and televised rather than in person. That said, being in Rome is always magical and during Easter even more so.
When Romans sit down for their Easter lunch, as I have done did with friends at their home in Zagarolo or in the Rome, they will find Abbacchio at the table, or lamb. Here’s a recipe for how it is made. You will also find Carciofi alla Romana. I love Artichokes and this is the season you will find them in Italian markets all over the country. Here is a recipe for making Carciofi alla Romana. Lots of other items may be part of the meal but these two are key components as is the Colomba di Pasqua for dessert. It’s very similar to a panettone in terms of the texture. I actually prefer it to Panettone or Pandoro.
While this is happening, what are people drinking? I’ve found that Romans tend to have a mix of wines at the meal. Perhaps a red wine with the lamb. It could be Cesanese del Piglio which is a local grape from Lazio. I first discovered this grape variety in 2005 when I was doing a series of interviews with winemakers throughout Italy for a project. I interview the Principessa Maria Camilla Pallavicini and wrote about the visit here. Cesanese del Piglio is made from a minimum of 90% Cesanese Comune and Cesanese d’Affile. Cesanese is not that widely seen on wine list menus and I think it is a real shame.
Cesanese’s home base is Frosinone, an area between Rome and Naples. The area specifically where Cesanese is grown is known as the Ciociaria. Perhaps this word is not too unfamiliar as it is the name of a very famous movie from the 1960s for which Sophie Loren won an Oscar, La Ciociara. There are many beautiful and historic cities to visit here including Anagni formerly a papal city, Alatri, Ferentino, Piglio, Serrone and Veroli. Cesanese del Piglio reigns supreme in terms of the red wines in this area.
It is a full bodied wine with red fruit aromas, spicy notes and some deep earthy, animal skin flavors. In certain incarnations it reminds me of a lighter primitivo, a well known wine from the Apulia region. Passerina, a white grape is also grown in this part of Lazio. The winery Casale della Ioria located in Arcuto is very well known for both its Cesanese del Piglio and its Passerina del Frusinate IGT. The young team running the winery I most recently met last year at Slow Wine in Boston before the world shut down.
Another super well-known winery making Cesanese is Casale Del Giglio. Started in 1969 by Berardino Santarelli, the winery has been conducting research on which grapes are best suited to the area since 1984. Another producer from Latina that has been getting his share of attention is Marco Carpineti. He is an organic wine maker and is biologically certified. Carpineti makes wines using both white and red grape varieties. While more focused on Nero Buono di Cori, he does make a great blend called Tufaliccio using Montepulciano and Cesanese.
I did a wonderful tasting with the Consortium of Cesanese del Piglio at the last Vinitaly. I’ll write up that story for tomorrow and continue these fond memories of visits to Rome.
For dessert, Romans have a few fun local choices including Malvasia del Lazio, Moscato di Terracina from Terracina in Lazio, Cantina Santandrea makes great ones or Cannellino from Frascati made with Malvasia and Trebbiano which became a DOCG some years ago.
Easter Monday is a holiday in Italy, Pasquetta. Everyone is generally having a big lunch somewhere “fuori porta” or out of town, at least in the before times. Even if you have to stay inside or just in a local park, Rome’s beauty is hard to beat. I have many fond memories of Easter in Italy and Pasquetta. Thinking about renewal and Rome is a lovely way to begin the Spring season. Happy Easter.
Check out these posts from my fellow bloggers this month:
Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla: Lazio in California: The Quintessential Roman Pasta + 2017 Big Sur Vineyards Pinot Noir Reserve
Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm: Alberico Appia Antica 400 Rosso 2016 paired with Stracci di antrodoco
Terri at Our Good Life: Pietro Est! Est!! Est!!! with Crab Dip Crostinis Our Good Life
Susannah at Avvinare: Cesanese del Piglio, Classic Wines From Lazio
Gwendolyn at Wine Predator: “If You See Kay” — Lazio in Paso Robles? #ItalianFWT
Marcia at Joy of Wine: Bellone – one of Lazio’s Great White Grapes
Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles: Lazio – Exploring low intervention wines inspired by tradition and nature #Italian FWT
Jennifer from Vino Travels: Frascati: The White Wine of Lazio
Katarina at Grapevine Adventures: How Wine in Lazio is Reimagining its Past Greatness