My time spent living in Italy will always remain an experience that I will never forget nor regret. Padova, my first expat home, is the birthplace of modern medicine, the final resting place of Saint Anthony, and the setting for most of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.
There are frescos in The Scrovegni Chapel by Giotto, and a collection of telescopes in Galileo’s Observatory, who also taught math and mechanics to the university students of the time for no less than 18 years of his life.
I know that it is easy to overlook this area of the Veneto on a whirlwind trip through Italy, but it certainly is worth the stop; and if you have time, settle for a while for a better look around and to experience life as a local rather than a tourist.
And part of ‘living like a local’, in my opinion, has always been the food. In Italy, food is almost a religion, and if that is the case, then the best thing you can do on any day of worship is to head to an agriturismo (a farm designed to receive guests, whether for food (lunch and dinner), holiday accommodation, or a combination of the two) and bring plenty of family and friends for an afternoon of culinary bliss that will certainly be hard-pressed to ever be matched.
Savor Quality & Tradition
The Turetta – Cà Bianca winery is such a place and is personally my go-to agriturismo in the region around Padova known as ‘i colli’. Located just a 40-minute drive from the city center in the heart of the Parco Regionale dei Colli Euganei a Cinto Euganeo (Euganean Hills Regional Park in Cinto Euganeo) the Turetta family produces sparkling and still wines with the DOC and DOCG classifications from the 25 hectares of vineyards that drape the slopes of the park where the volcanic soil, sun exposure and generations of cultivation traditions generate the best characteristics and quality of the grapes.
But in addition to that, it’s a great place to escape to on the weekend. And that’s what we did. The dreary and damp November weather added to the ambiance, and consequently we were happy to be cozy and warm in the restaurant with a glass of fine wine in our hand and home-made dishes in arrival.
Our ‘antipasto’ was a selection of in-house sliced meats from the cellar. Produced completely in-house, organized on a serving platter were 3 distinct columns of Italian favorites, each of which offered a slightly different flavor and texture depending on your individual preference.
First there was the usual suspect of Capocollo, which is always a crowd pleaser and goes exceptionally well with everything or nothing at all. In the middle we found some of Cà Bianca’s thinly sliced specialty Sorpressa which is my personal favorite, especially when I have a thinly sliced piece of bread drizzled with a tiny bit of extra virgin olive oil. And finally, something you need to acquire a palate for, mainly due to the texture, was some Lardo (which is usually cured for up to 10 months in marble containers and covered with herbs and garlic). It is exceptionally creamy in texture but can take some getting used to. Most of the time, if I don’t tell my dining companions what it is prior to them giving it a try, the results are much better.
For the Primo, or first coarse, due to the many options available and the fact some of my dining companions had never before experienced such an afternoon, we opted for the ’bis’, which basically means ‘two’. Since the Primo is typically a pasta dish, in this case it meant that we were going to try ‘pasta in two different ways’.
Our bis was (from the left in the photo) house fettuccine with mixed vegetables, mushrooms, and bacon; and (on the right) bigoli with a chardonnay and pepper ragu sauce. Both exquisite in their own right. I’m not a huge fan of mushrooms, but from the way it was prepared, you could barely tell that mushrooms were the vegetable of choice. I am, however, a huge fan of bigoli; which essentially a thick kind of spaghetti, but much creamier in texture. Normally, I will almost pillage and maim for a bigoli and duck ragu, but I certainly wasn’t going to complain about the chardonnay and pepper version and it was ransacked accordingly. It was bigoli after all, and the one thing I’ve learned is to ALWAYS trust your Italian chef.
At this point, in part due to Italian tradition, some of us took a short break and a walk outside before continuing on. We were only but half way through the afternoon’s culinary delights.
Next up was our Secondo, or second coarse; the mixed grill. Slightly unconventional if you think about your usual grilled steak at any steakhouse, Cà Bianca uses an iron grate within a wood burning fireplace. I personally believe that it is this aspect that makes the mixed grill platter the personified muse of my carnivorous habits.
Squeezed onto a serving platter to the point that one wasn’t enough, we had a ‘Tagliata di Manzo’ grilled and sliced beef sirloin, grilled ‘costolette di maiale’ pork ribs, chicken breasts, and 'Cotechino' – a boiled sausage that is far more tender and juicier than anything you’ll ever experience. All of it side-by-side with the other non-meat Italian Grill staple, grilled polenta. If you make it this far, then you will discover why food is a religion and why the meals extend hours instead of minutes.
For dessert, I needed very little convincing on which way I would turn. The chocolate salami is one of my favorites, and funny enough, something we had all been discussing just a day or two before.
Chocolate Salami is a Portuguese and Italian dessert made from crushed up biscuits or cookies, depending on which area of the world you’re from, cocoa and a host of other baking ingredients to form a cold, chocolate dessert that is only enhanced by a lovely drizzle of chocolate or caramel sauce, powdered sugar. We all ordered an espresso to compliment; however, my personal propensity normally ventures away from tradition, and is inclined to a well-aged Port.
…Ma Bevi Meglio!
It would have been a semi-wasted afternoon had we not ventured to the wine cellar following our meal. Cà Bianca wines are some of the finest of the region. Their production lines are expansive depending on your personal palate for fermented grapes. My personal favorites, ones that I always bring home are only a handful. For Red I always choose the Rossura Dei Briganti, which is a full bodied, oaky wine. There is also the Rosso Del Poeta, which is a dessert wine with hints of chocolate and berries.
On the white side it is always the Serprino Millesimato, extra dry but very slightly fruity, it is an easy drinking wine that never disappoints the skeptics. And finally, you have the Fior D’Arancio Spumante. For all of you lovers of your Moscato D’Asti, I will challenge you to give Fior D’Arancio a try and never buy another Moscato ever again. It is sweet and has an essence of Orange. Perfect with dark chocolate, or any other dessert you fancy, or simply just on its own.
If you like something a bit stronger, there is also a wide selection of Grappa, which is made by distilling the parts of the grape that aren’t used for wine; i.e. the skin and pulp. Great as a digestive at the end of a long meal, much like the one we just encountered. I am a firm believer due to personal experience that a simple shot of grappa will make you hungrier than you’ve ever been the following morning.
If you’re looking for the heart of Italy that is made with the freshest and cleanest products of the countryside, then Turetta Cà Bianca should be on your holiday dining list the next time you’re in the area. With such a wide selection of wines, olive oils, sausages, and homemade pasta combined with years of agricultural passion, guests have the unique opportunity to taste excellent seasonal dishes and homemade sweets, all paired with brilliant wine in the tranquility of the refined atmosphere of time and tradition.
Hours of Operation:
Friday & Saturday
7pm to 10pm
Lunch: 12pm to 2:30pm
Dinner: 7pm to 9:30pm
CANTINA (Wine Cellar)
Mornings: 8am to 12pm
Afternoons: 2pm to 7pm
Holidays & Sundays
Mornings: 10am to 12pm
Afternoons: 3pm to 6pm
Via Cinto 5 – 35030 Cinto Euganeo (PD)
Tel. (+39) 04-299-4288
Email: Email for Reservations
Online: Book Reservations Online
Dave Soucy at A Photographic Memory
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