Albergo Cristofori, Treppo Carnico, Friuli, June 3, 2011—VERY DIFFICULT TO WRITE about the food here. Carnica is a small region on the Austrian border, in the region of Friuli Veneto Giulio. Its cuisine is based of course on the products of its own soil and on its socio-political history. The first is fairly simple, dependent on soil and climate; the second is complex in the extreme.
The soil and climate gives wild herbs, corn, potatoes, milk and cheese, fruit and vegetables in season. The history gives influences from both Italy and Austria; from the Austro-Hungarian Empire; through Venice from Asia.
So tonight I began with an insalata di Speck: bacon salad. Lettuces, thin-sliced raw smoked bacon, and pickled zucchini, in a sweet-sour dressing. Then, Cjasons: something between ravioli and pot-stickers, filled with a sweet-savory mixture involving potato, mint, lemon-balm, cheese, and raisins. Afterward, Frico: potato and cheese cooked into a sort of thick pancake, served with a buckwheat polenta. Finally, a mixed salad of lettuces and grated carrot, simply dressed at the table.
This is heavy going, no doubt: cucina povera; peasant cooking. It's mountain food, and we were near snow today. It's a far cry from the simple fish and cichetti of Venice, but it's very much Veneto. What an interesting, complex world this is, and how beautifully it's expressed in its local cuisines!
White wine in carafe• Albergo Cristofoli, Treppo Carnico, Friuli