When your interest lies in cooking, offering, procuring and serving Italian food and wine, where better to start your Spring odyssey than … Vienna! Why? It’s simple. If you want to offer the best cakes in town you need to go to the city of cakes, and no one does it better than the Viennese coffee houses.
I’ve learnt the presentation of tempting sweetness is just not resistible. In fact it is irresistible. Whether it is Demel’s Sachertorte with a smooth chocolate mask, or apricot and pistachio almond torte, I have no shame in saying Capriccio has looked and learned …
There’s a degree of sensory overload in encountering all the Viennese classics; jam-filled linzertortes, strudels wrapped in papery-thin pastry, pastel-frosted petits fours. But it’s all about channeling the pleasure I experience into what the customer at Capriccio needs to have the opportunity to experience. It’s my goal to take what is nothing short of a pleasure in life, and give anyone and everyone that opportunity. Our small tropical island doesn’t have to preclude such decadent European experiences.
The other great thing about visiting Vienna is that it had a charming overnight train to Venice! Waking up with coffee over the Dolomites is quite something and on arrival the more authentic inspiration tour to my roots truly began.
Wild boar, valpolicella wines, bigoli, risotto and nero di sepia…  Venice has more than striped shirts and hunks with punts. In the shadow of the Dolomites the cooking is rich in alluvial sediment-fed seafood, and deep red northern wines that will send you giddy in one whiff, as us amateur sommeliers say.
I’ve left Venice inspired to dig deeper into nebbiolo wines and perhaps the odd game dish to match.
This tour de force of BVI Italian food and wine research will largely feed into our new supply company, Mangia BVI Ltd (“Mangia”). Watch this space as we start to import some of these tastes so you too can share in this precocious display of Italian immersion.
But it doesn’t stop there. Capriccio’s intrepid taster then heads south to Tuscany, more particularly Valle d’Orcia. A heavenly green of Gladiator scenery and small hilltop villages peddling nothing but small tables of mama’s cooking. The meat is more steak and herbs, the tagliata being the most famous and of course emulated in our own menu.  Add the king of red wine, Brunello and its wineries oozing from Montalcino such as Banfi, and Le Prata and you have the perfect combination for deep nights of sleep and headache free mornings.
I spent 5 days at Villa le Prata near Montalcino. A family owned small winery producing maybe 10,000 bottles. But here it hides a secret.
The grape at the cornerstone of Tuscan reds is Sangiovese . It lies at the heart of the Brunello and in particular the Montalcino region. As we see below this reaches further north to the predominant grape of the Chianti Classico areas outside Sienna. Its notes of dark cherry , plum and raspberry and its slow maturing (brunello must lie for 4 years to be accredited) allows for wonderful pairings with most meats, and deep flavours. In recent decades the Sangiovese grape was decimated by a fungus imported from the U.S. as part of a Sangiovese variety. There remains room for some purists who resisted the blight to still produce from the original grape, and this is known as Sangiovese Grosso. Le Prata conceals a small field of grosso grown organically. This is the emperor of flavour and the foundation to the Brunello di Montalcino.
I’ve ordered some brunello for Mangia to supply on request.  It’s a treat not to be missed, and as Mangia rolls out its offering of private wine tasting events we can offer you the opportunity to follow me into that world of Tuscan delight.
Not to be outdone, the final stage of my little sojourn was to a winery not far from Sienna . San Giorgio di Lapi, otherwise known as our very own Walter Reich’s cousin, Iani. What an amazing destination. This winery literally straddles differing soil conditions that permits production of both Chianti, and Chianti Classico. What a treat. Capriccio and Mangia will definitely be seeing some of this good stuff soon!
Whatever inspires you , I hope it does for you what this little trip did for capriccio. Hold us to account if you don’t see some of this showing soon on your plate and in your glass.
buon appetito!

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