Since the beginning of July ’17, we’ve spent about six weeks focusing on different regions of Italy. We are moving on to Lombardy this weekend and I realized when talking to two customers last night what I love about this project. It’s as much about us as it is about you.
I’ve been tasting wine for 20 years but I never spent two weeks tasting everything that was available from Umbria or Abruzzo and my appreciation of some lesser varietals, like Montepulciano or Trebbiano, and what can be done with them in great land tended by thoughtful winemakers like the folks at Annona in Abruzzo or Belmonte in Lombardy has grown. The way we get to train the staff, one region at a time means that they are being immersed and, if they stay with us for atleast a year, they will have tasted through all of Italy. In Austin, this means our servers are leaving L’Oca d’Oro with knowledge that is unique in the service industry. Italy is a hard country to conquer from a wine knowledge perspective because they play fast and loose with rules and the regions frequently don’t agree on what grapes should be called, how strict their DOCG regulations should be or, certainly, best practices, with 500 year old producers butting up against 10 year old wunderkinds.
On the menu side, we are also getting to discover little known (over here, that is) regional specialties like the Casunziei Ampezzani – a beet and mascarpone filled mezzaluna from Veneto that is dressed with a poppy seed emulsion. We guarantee that our version is the best that anyone has ever had because it is, invariably, the only version most of our customers have ever had. Last night, a few regulars asked if we would do Sicily and I said we had done it in July and we’d probably get back to it over the summer when eggplant and peppers and tomatoes are back. And they remembered a stuffed Pork Loin dish we made, Farsu Magru, another great discovery that they said was one of the best things they’d eaten at L’Oca.
So, all the Lombardy wine is in as of today. I can’t wait to share the Teroldego and Groppello, the Franciacorta and Manzoni and to see what is going to be on the tasting menu. Thank you for learning with us.