re-posted from The Telegraph & edited by AIV
May 21, 2020
A visit to another hillside town, Spello, and its morning market put things back on track. As Rener explained: “Umbria has a very rustic and country-style cuisine. Only a few central ingredients are used, but the quality of them is so good.” A panino con porchetta – a roll filled with thinly-sliced slowly roasted rolled and stuffed pork belly – sold by a mobile vendor was a delight, and ample evidence of why Umbrian pork is so highly prized.
On our way up the steep, cobbled lanes we passed L’Angolo del Tartufo, a shop selling black and white Umbrian truffles, the region’s best-known delicacy. It appeared in every conceivable form, from fresh examples to truffle-flavored beer.
Meanwhile, Enoteca Properzio restaurant and wine shop has what must be one of the finest collections of Italian and Umbrian wines in the country. We also tasted some superlative oil from Trevi, a few miles south of Spello, which produces Umbria’s best olive oils and which was to be our next stop.
Sorelle Zappelli Cardarelli Farm, set between Foligno and Spoleto, is run by three sisters who produce olive oil from 37 acres of trees. Olive oil production has been the family trade for centuries – a fact attested to by the antique oil mill, built in the 1600s and thought to be one of the last of its kind in Umbria.
After a short tour of the picturesque mill and farm, we settled in for what proved to be a long and memorable lunch, prepared by the family’s nonna, that included a vast array of antipasti, including ricotta with local black celery and chilli marmalade, followed by courgette flower omelette, pasta with vegetables from the garden and a Crescionda di Spoletina, a soft cake with chocolate and lemon rind.
Within its verdant greenery, Umbria has become renowned for its viniculture. The communes of Orvieto and Montefalco, have become standout producers within the region, creating acclaimed varieties of white and red wines. Umbria’s most celebrated wine is Sagrantino di Montefalco, a powerfully structured—at times fiercely tannic—red made from the local Sagrantino grape. Better wine making techniques now allow producers to craft Sagrantino with riper, albeit still bracing, tannins. Rosso di Montefalco is a savory and much more approachable blend of Sangiovese and Sagrantino. The region also makes crisp, refreshing whites like Orvieto, a blend of Procanico (a clone of Trebbiano) and Grechetto. On its own, Grechetto produces fresh and fruity wines, while the recently revived Trebbiano Spoletino yields creamy flavors brightened with a vein of racy acidity.