Biking Friuli: Cormons

** Mi dispiace! That means I’m sorry. These posts have taken too long, but I’m having some terrible problems with my blog host. We’re working on getting them fixed. Keep your fingers crossed for me!**

If ever there is a time of year to bike between Cividale del Friuli and Cormons, early October is the time to do it.  It was sensory overload.  The smell of ripening grapes is everywhere, the leaves on the vines are vibrant shades of yellow and red looking like revelers at Carinvale, we followed small, slow moving tractors towing large crates of just picked grapes, there are sun warmed figs hanging from the trees when we wanted a snack. Can one die of bucolic?  Somewhere around Dolegna del Collio we were riding on a single lane country road and the vineyards rose up on both sides of us and we were literally enveloped in grape. The problem with all this grape-iness? Fruit flies! We had to ride with our mouths clamped shut, but the little buggers were hell bent on getting stuck to us.  We were in Wine Central. 
We came into the town of Cormons around 1:00 pm and sitting in the sun at a wine bar were three farmers, you could tell they were men of the earth because their hands were as gnarly and strong as the vines they had just been working. What struck me about these outdoor man-hands were the beautiful, delicate wine glasses, gripped in their thick fingers. The straw colored wine shimmered in the sun, and the men sipped their wine with an equal mix of nonchalance and reverence. For that little moment in time, all was right with the world.

Our destination that evening was La Subida, a restaurant and country inn just above the town of Cormons.  I had been there four years ago, as a student with Ital.Cook, the regional Italian Slow Food School. I’ve wanted to bring Jeff here for years, as the combination of food, hospitality and rustic setting was sublime in my memory.  Please let it be as good as I remembered…. You know that chant.

We arrived in the early afternoon and they gave us a key to our ‘room’.  Turns out we weren’t in the main building, but the down the road a few hundred meters, which just happens to be in Vermont.  It was as if we had clicked our heels together three times and were transported to Vermont. Our ‘room’ was actually a small house, all knotty pine and very cleverly designed to make the maximum use of light and space. Someone put a lot of good thought into the layout of our little country hideaway.  Fluffy down quilt, snuggly bathrobes, a huge 2 person soaking tub, an enormous wooden terrace off the bedroom, nicely outfitted kitchen, and other little outdoor spaces on the ground floor. It was incredibly deluxe at a very fair price.  We thought about taking a hike in the woods, we thought about going horse back riding, we wound up taking a bath and a nap. Divine.

This was to be our big, blow out meal. Coming here was a treat that we were both looking forward to, so we took the plunge and went with the tasting menu and had the excellent sommelier pair the wines for us. What a feast
Tartar of Cervo (a type of local deer) served on a bed of fresh fennel salad. Paired with a 2007 Tercic Ribolla Gialla.  The acid in the fennel salad was a great counterpoint to the richness of the tartar.

Herb Gnocchi that literally melted when they hit your tongue, balanced with a bit of smoked Montasio cheese and beet.  Paired with a lavender scented 2007 Petrussa Sauvignon.

Fregola di Faro in a mushroom sauce.  Fregola is a popular Sardinian pasta; it’s like a huge grain of couscous, with the added flavor that comes from toasting. It’s perfect for absorbing mushroom essences.

Then we were treated to a nice, light, herbal sorbetto interlude.

The final meat course was capriolo, a small wild deer found in the mountains around Cormons. It was a long wait between the sorbetto and the meat course, so the sommelier treated us to two delicious reds: le Due Torre 2004 made from the local Refosco grape.  This wine reminded both of us of a Sagrantino, it’s not a sipping wine and it needs some sort of protein to mellow the tannins.
The other red was a lush, delicious, sensuous come-on of a wine, a 2001 Carlo di Pradis merlot.

By this time we were beyond full, and ready to throw down our forks, when the desserts arrived.  Fortunately, a little glass of Doirigo’s 2006 Verduzzo helped us to polish off the deserts.  We rolled home. No. We waddled. The dining room is cozy rustic, with one of the dining areas literally filled with taxidermy animals; it’s amazing.  The staff is warm and extremely professional. It’s a family run operation, and it’s clearly a labor of love.

I’m mentioning all these wines, not because I want you to drool at your computer, but because, maybe, if you get lucky, you’ll spot one of these gems at your wine store. In particular, the Petrussa Sauvignon blew me away. It’s a clean wine, with a floral scent that gives way to a long, lingering finish.

The next morning, we came for breakfast with a bit of trepidation….please, don’t feed us too much, don’t tempt us too much. I shouldn’t have worried, it was a perfect breakfast: a little fruit, some home made breads and jams and a small plate of house-cured proscuitto. La Subida was everything we could have wanted, I was a little sad as we rolled out of Vermont and we were back on the road heading towards Gorizia.

La Subida
Cacciatore della Subida
Localita Monte 22
Tel: 0481 60531

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