While researching new products in northern Italy we have been delightfully rediscovering the custom and culture of healthful sipping and snacking.
This has in part been made possible by our friend and colleague Gianluca Salamon, the masterful craftsman of Eysian and Terriero Proseccos, in Conegliano in the Veneto region.
After a hard day’s work at home or abroad we often enjoy a refreshing flute of Prosecco, just as workers throughout Veneto have done for centuries. In Veneto this celebratory sip is known as the ombra or shadow. A lighthearted toast to a good day made with fellow workers, friends, or neighbors. Metaphorically, the ombra was originally enjoyed in the lengthening shadow (“ombra”) of the village church tower.
Companion to the ombra is the cichetti; our next rediscovery. Over the years, we have enjoyed these small bites of food so much that at home we frequently make a meal out of them – much like tapas.
While in Italy, these delightful bites of food range from small sandwiches, crunchy snacks, chunks of meat and cheese and even tempura vegetables, to fried zucchini flowers and frittata. When we are busy visiting producers midday, these tasty foods tide our American stomachs over between breakfast and a skipped lunch, and on to dinner.
Since this trip included a visit to the production facility of Tavolozze outside Treviso, we got the inspiration to ask Tavolozze producer Filipo Albertini to conjure up some Tavolozze-friendly cichetti for us to pair with Gianluca’s prosecco. That way he could be providing locally-inspired advice for fans of his own crackers in the U.S. Meanwhile we could enjoy a cool ombra of our favorite sparkler.
Inspired to help out the Ritrovo team, Filippo soon wheeled out a serving cart with his food artist’s materials. His palettes: two boxes of Tavolozze crackers, al tartufo and all’olio. They were set to be decorated and then to be placed on a three-tiered glass serving platter. He hoped to show us and his customers in the U.S. how quickly a beautiful prosecco-friendly cichetti could be designed and eaten.
To “decorate” his boxes of Tavolozze all’Olio and al Tartufo he had set on the cart:
Soft fresh goat cheese
Sun-dried tomato bits
Capers in brine
Thinly sliced black olives
A pastry tube filled with light tuna pate
Like a crowd of art aficionados watching Caravaggio paint, we urged him on with our suggested combinations of ingredients. Filippo piled them artistically on top of the Tavolozze. He had to replace quite a few of his finished works as we crunched some of them along the way. But, in just a few minutes his platter was filled with beautiful and edible Tavolozze treats.
In true Ritrovo style, we turned our ombra with cichetti into a lingering and inspired rediscovery. And along with Filippo, our hopes that you will grab a box of Tavolozze and soon be doing your own food artistry at home.