A New dining Experience in the Land of Prosecco
Italy is slowly opening its doors to you again!
Masks off if you stay in the open air, more and more vaccinated people: life is getting back to some kind of normality!
And as summer moves along, I also am getting slowly back to live my life just as I did before Covid-19: visiting new places, experiencing new food and restaurants, being a blogger again!
The Area of “Strada del Prosecco”
The “Strada del Prosecco”, that is the Prosecco road, is one of the best-known destinations if you want to spend a day out in Veneto.
There are many things to see on the Prosecco Hills, recently part of the Unesco heritage, and one day alone will not be enough, especially if you want to include various walking tours or food & wine tasting stops.
But let’s start from the beginning!
The Prosecco route was the first wine route in Italy, established in 1966 and now redesigned in a 120-kilometer track, branched into thematic itineraries that climb boldly on the edges of stunning green hills.
The increase in the popularity of this territory of Northern Italy was due, in 2019, thanks to the World Heritage Committee of Unesco, which included the “Hills of Prosecco di Conegliano and Valdobbiadene” in the World Heritage list, praising: “the protection of the rural landscape, the maintenance of vineyards, banks and other fundamental characteristics for the conservation of local traditions and the protection of biodiversity and associated ecosystems”.
The Conegliano / Valdobbiadene Prosecco and Wines Road winds through steep slopes woven with vineyards and patches of wood in a landscape that encompasses Conegliano, Refròntolo, Valdobbiadene and Pieve di Soligo, where the following wines stand out: Prosecco, Cartizze, Bianco dei Colli, the Refrontolo Passito and the Torchiato di Fregona.
Solitary churches covered with medieval frescoes, like the one in San Pietro di Feletto; tiny inhabited areas of ancient beauty, like Follina, with its mystical Cistercian abbey; and Rolle, “a postcard sent by the gods”, as described by the famous Italian poet Andrea Zanzotto.
And Rolle is the area where Duca Di Dolle is located and where I stayed for one night in June.
Rolle is a small hilly hamlet of Cison di Valmarino, in the Upper Treviso Province, a few kilometers from Vittorio Veneto, Conegliano, Follina and Valdobbiadene. The village is made up of a few houses, but what distinguishes it is the magnificent landscape surrounded by vineyards.
Rolle was the first Italian village to be protected by the FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano), thanks to its ancient vineyards that represent a precious reserve of a rich viticulture biodiversity that survived the processes of cultural homologation typical of modern viticulture, which bases its production on the use of one or a few genetic lines.
Duca Di Dolle
On a hot sunny Friday in June, after leaving the motorway at Vittorio Veneto Sud and driving through a very tiny tortuous road through the hills of the Prosecco Road (better follow the longer route indicated by the GPS, if you are not a skilled driver) , we finally arrived at our destination.
The sign on the entrance gate read “enter slowly”, anticipating that this was a suitable place for those wanting to relax.
Imagine a 15th century building in the heart of the hills of the Prosecco territory: this is the Relais Duca di Dolle, a charming farmhouse, obtained from an ancient Benedictine hermitage, renovated in full respect of the original structure, consisting of several buildings located right on top of a panoramic hill, a few minutes from the village of Rolle.
In the 16th century the estate was the seat of a monastery of medieval origin of which the entrance portal and the arches of the cloister still remain today. It was the Benedictine monks who started the wine tradition to the point of making the hermitage a point of reference for the area. Later the property passed to the Brandolini family and, in the first half of 1900s, to the “peasant poet” Nino Mura, passionate about nature and culture, who, between the 50s and 60s of the last century, loved to organize convivial meetings with artist and literate friends, such as the poets Giovanni Comisso and Andrea Zanzotto.
Owned from 1974 by the Bisol family, owner of the famous winery of the same name in Valdobbiadene, the estate was finally bought, in 2011, by the Baccini family who, coming from the world of Research and Development, immediately decided to focus on innovation, on product quality and environmental sustainability. Since 2015 the area of the estate has expanded by a further 53 hectares of vineyards, woods, meadows and pastures: an investment by the Baccini family for the enhancement and protection of the enchanting territory of Rolle.
On our arrival, we were immediately shown to our large apartment; we asked if we could relax for a bit by the swimming pool before attending to the special dinner event, “Under the Stars”, which I had been invited to; we really needed to rest from the heat and the “interesting” drive.
So after quickly putting on our swimming suits, we dipped in the large and refreshing swimming pool in the garden of the Relais, enjoying a cold drink and the incredible scenery, soon joined by a couple of green lizards, who bathed alongside us in the warm water.
The delight of the spaces and the care that is felt in every detail of this location makes the stay totally relaxing and almost spiritual: looking out from every window of the building and from the garden, the thought arises that in all things of nature there is something wonderful.
The entire structure consists of nine double bedrooms and four apartments, equipped with every comfort. Our apartment had a fully equipped kitchen, two bedrooms and a very large modern bathroom!
After a couple hours by the pool, lulled only by the sound of crickets and bird chirping, we decided to get ready for the upcoming dinner event, while the staff started to set up the garden for the evening.
NEW EXPERIENCE AT DUCA DI DOLLE
Under The Stars Dinner Experience is a new format of exclusive healthy dinners in collaboration with a well-known TV chef. An unmissable appointment which gives the opportunity to taste a menu that combines healthy local food and Middle Eastern flavours, paired with exceptional DOCG sparkling wines in a magical setting like that of the Duke of Dolle.
“The beneficial properties of food, the skillful care in cooking and extracting the taste which becomes almost magic, the choice of the right combinations for pleasure, the correct hormonal balance and tradition: this is the “healthy dinner” by chef Maradona Youssef, TV chef, and Monica Bossi, nutritionist and health expert.”
Maradona Youssef has taken part to Masterchef Italia and Masterchef All Stars. Today he is an entrepreneur in the restaurant business.
Monica Bossi is a doctor in Internal Medicine Specialist and Integrated Medicine. She is also an expert in Preventive Medicine at the San Raffaele in Rome.
We attended the first of a serious of dinners organized by Duca Di Dolle: the next ones will be on 16 July and 20 August 2021.
The greatest thing about summer? Eating outside. So, with the incredible backdrop of the surrounding winery hills, we took our seats at the elegantly decorated tables in the relaxing garden of the Relais and, while tasting the first of our wines, we waited for our dining experience to start.
The first dish to come out was a series of small appetizers, which we were strictly instructed to eat using our hands: Salted Cone with creamed Cod and black Olive Caviar; local Salami in puffed Amaranth crust with Ricotta and Williams Pear ice cream; a heart of Red Lettuce with Beetroot essence and Cherry nectar.
As you can see from the photo, presentation was the key in serving these canapés: talking about going for a dramatic effect! And they tasted superb too.
The cod was smooth and tasty and the fried local salami in puffed amaranth crust was divine.
With these appetizers, we enjoyed the Duca Di Dolle EXD, a sparkling wine, Spumante Extra Dry. Made with the Glera grapes from the Rolle vines, it won a gold medal at the International Wine & Spirit Competition in London in 2021 with 95 points.
This was the first time the winery participated . The first bottles by Duca di Dolle came out about 10 years ago. This wine has a very low sulfur dioxide level and a very fine perlage.
As a starter we tried a Royal Egg with Salmon Trout in the land of Prosecco.
This was the version by Chef Maradona Youssef of the classic Benedict egg, where the meat was replaced by a trout from the local river, the Piave. Maradona then marinated it for 24 hours, using the Swedish technique, with citrus, salt and sugar. The egg, lightly poached, was set inside a large semi-wholemeal bread square, paired with a Hollandaise sauce and colored with raspberry and beetroot powder. Divine!
It was paired with a bottle of BRT Spumante Extra Brut: of course, same territory, same vineyard, but with a much lower sugar content than the previous wine. A very versatile wine and their most popular wine.
At Duca Di Dolle there are 100 hectares in total, of which 75 hectares left to the woods and 25 hectares dedicated to growing wine. The oldest vineyard has 80-year-old plants.
The first course consisted of Raviolini in Ravioli, that is one large unique square of pasta, divided into small ravioli, filled with anchovy sauce, beans and paprika, wild herbs and Morlacco cheese. Each Raviolo had a different taste so each bite was totally different!
It was masterfully paired with a ROSE’ from 100% Pinot Noir.
The Pinot noir vineyard is located on a hill which is always in the sun, with a very good exposure, and even thought it is a grape which is difficult to maintain, it gives good aromas: this is a young sparkling wine, full of promises. Refreshing.
The main course was a Salmon Trout, again from the Piave River, served inside grilled leeks with Biancoperla corn pie and wild chicory cream, paired with a glass of NINO frizzante Surlie.
This sparling wine is obtained with the grapes cultivated in the surrounding hills, with no addiction of sugar and Sulphur dioxide, and re-fermented in bottle in it own yeasts for several months, until the following harvesting. It represents the “family wine” of the estate.
The dining experience was coming to conclusion and the first of two desserts arrived.
A typical Fregolotta shortcrust pie with Prosecco Sabayon and peaches in Elderflower syrup, with aromas of orange and lemon. Delicate and refreshing.
Paired with a glass of DDD, the Cartizze DOCG by Duca di Dolle. Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze is the tongue-twisting title given to a very specific set of sparkling Prosecco wines. Cartizze is like the Iberian ham of meats, the Mayfair on the Monopoly board and red diamonds when it comes to precious stones. It is the most desired and arguably the finest Prosecco style on the market.
Few people can produce it, because of the restricted area of production. This wine has a pleasantly soft, silky, harmonious and aromatic flavour.
And to conclude this incredible journey through flavours, chef Maradona, of Lebanese origin, decided to introduce us to its version of the Aish El Saraya, a middle eastern dessert much similar to a bread pudding trifle topped with Pistachio nut, spices and incredible oriental flavours. He called it the Bread of the King and served it with a warm Rose Orange Blossom Water juice syrup.
For a moment you feel you have been transported in “a thousand and one nights” experience.
The morning after a large and bright homemade breakfast welcomed us in the garden: the ingredients used in the kitchen of the Relais for breakfast and snacks (cakes, jams and preserves, bread and breadsticks, all homemade, typical cold cuts and much more) come almost entirely from the farmhouse itself, and only in some cases from other selected local producers.
We enjoyed some home made cakes, while sipping our coffees, lulled again by the singing of the early birds and the buzzing of the bees.
The Relais Duca di Dolle is a unique estate, loved by customers from the most disparate areas of the world such as Austria, France, Belgium, Denmark, Australia, USA as well as from Italy.
If you want to enjoy a stay in one of the most beautiful Unesco sites in Italy, this is the place to be.0