Michelin Bib Gourmand Recipient


Vinitaly2012 – Part 1 or Scooters, Fiats & Cividin

Some Delicious Large Format Bottlings

When asked, “What is Vinitaly” an easy American response would be “Google it.” There is no meta-description that can aptly describe, which this event certainly deserves ten-fold …..and then there are the scooters.

Vinitaly may have inspired the cantina scene in “Star Wars.” Italians, Brits, Americans, Chinese, leaning into the slickest trade-show booth’s that only an Italian could have imagined. Speaking languages that all are translated by hand-gestures & understanding of a common interest in uva-culture. Castles, enoteca’s….night-club, music-pumping booth’s manned by models across from modest looking vintner’s in jeans & sport coats. Entering its perimeter takes a careful eye, & knowledge of Italian terroir. Italy’s 20 wine growing regions, each represented in a building the size of the UIC Forum….within those buildings the individual territories broken down even further. Wine makers from these individual DOC’s & DOCG’s show their new vintages, and occasionally, if you are worthy, produce some of their older vintages, richer, deeper examples of their wine-making prowess.

Fresh Goat Cheese from the Farm on the Bulfon Estate

It was my first trip back in 11 year and it has grown, showcasing the ever vibrant, Italian wine scene. We were guided by true gems of this industry. Bevery Malen of Imports Inc. “Strong is the force in this one”….Beverly represents some of the finest Italian Producers, with special strength in the North, including Friulian Elder-Statesman Emilio Bulfon , responsible for championing the survival & vinification of the rarest varieties of this region. There is more though. It is a proud story of someone close to his land, his heritage, his maker. The varietal wines he produces have names like, Cividin, Ucelit, Sciaglin sounding very exotic and indeed they are some of the most interesting wines that will ever touch your palette. Showcasing an exciting diversity of flavors and styles.

Bulfon and his family are true custodians of their Region, his daughter is an avid conservationist and fascinating historian of the area and every inch of the winery and grounds are dedicated to preserving and showcasing the most authentic and very best traditions that Fruili has to offer. Bulfon has only visited this country once to proudly showcase his wines 8 years ago on North Michigan Avenue at Cafe Spiaggia…we were lucky enough to be there. In the fall, his son will return to do the same, right here, in Berwyn….as I write this I realize the parallel’s and it makes me grin…..but these are stories to be detailed in future episodes.

Oh those darn scooters!

Side View of Large Cask at Bulfon

Then there is Aldo Zaninotto of Wine D.O.C. Aldo is a citizen of the world & whom introduced us to Mariano Buglioni’s wines this past summer. We found ourselves staying at his warm & welcoming Locanda & witness to his old-world sensibilities peppered with new-world polish. Wines vinified from oft forgotten, secondary grapes are transformed into front-running contenders. He revels in doing this but also excels in more classic wines such as Amarone & Recioto. Interested? Well stay tuned for a personal introduction on Roosevelt Road later this summer as part of a very special dinner we are planning.

Buzz, buzz, beep.

Like bees around the daisies, these Vespa’s zoom in & out in front of your Fiat….if you’ve driven in Italy you know what I mean, stressful but we were fortunate enough not to directly feel the sting. This is why one risks to enter the hive…to come out with honey so sweet. Mission accomplished.

We can’t wait to share the new found treasures & relationships of our trip with you this year and beyond! The Voyage was not not only fruitful, it was inspirational. To see the owners of a little cafe in Berwyn U.S.A so warmly received by our Italian & Croatian hosts & inspirations….what..Croatian’s you say? Yes….but that is for a future episode. Look for more entries on VinItaly and our trip over the next few weeks.


Our 10 day trip to Europe

Rainy Morning Market Visit - Split

John & I have just returned from a whirlwind trip to Italy and Croatia. Three countries in 10 days with 5 of them at Vin-Italy in Verona, then a visit to Emilio Bulfon and his amazing estate in Fruili, then on to Trieste and finally a drive across the border and through Slovenia, down the spectacular coastline of Croatia arriving finally in Split. After several days there and a visit to John’s family to say hello and see their winemaking facilities we headed back up to Italy to stay at Lake Garda for a night before braving the Milan traffic for the flight home. All in all a fantastic trip which energized us and filled us with inspiration for the spring & summer menu and of course wine events.

Over the next few weeks we will share the trip with you and introduce you to some of our favorite wines & winemakers from the trip, many of whom you will have the chance to meet at the restaurants in coming months. Also, look for some new entries from our chefs on techniques they use in the kitchen and of course more on the greenhouse & patio!