Abruzzo is an Italian region on the Adriatic coast in the center of the country with its western border less than 50 miles east of Rome.
The Apennines mountain range runs through the region and, as a result, Abruzzo is one of the most mountainous regions in all of Italy.Its spectacular peaks include the Corno Grande, part of the Gran Sasso massif and the highest summit in the Apennines, and La Majella ("Maiella" in Italian), part of Italy’s Majella National Park, both pictured below.
On April 6, 2009, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck central Italy with its epicenter near L'Aquila, Abruzzo’s capital. The earthquake caused 290 deaths and over 1,500 injuries, and left almost 30,000 individuals homeless.
A few weeks back we received an email from La Ciccia, one of our favorite restaurants in San Francisco, advising that they would be hosting a dinner for Sustain Abruzzo. Sustain Abruzzo is a project initiated by Lorenzo Scarpone, a San Francisco-based wine importer and SlowFood leader who was born in Abruzzo, to aid small agricultural producers in Abruzzo who were affected by the earthquake. The La Ciccia dinner was to help raise funds for the Galano family, owners of the Galano Dairy Farm near the town of Fossa, not far from L’Aquila.
The Galano’s home in Fossa, as well as many of the structures at their dairy, had been destroyed by the earthquake, and they are seeking to construct a temporary facilities to protect their cows during the coming winter.
So, on Monday night, Alex, Cass and I headed to La Ciccia for the dinner. Although La Cicca’s traditional focus is on Sardinian cuisine, in honor of Abruzzo Massimo prepared for us a number of dishes from Abruzzo:
~ Polpettine di Capra e Agnello in Verde (Goat and Lamb Meatballs with Garlic, Basil, Capers and Pecorino)
~ Rosticcina di Agnello (Roasted Lamb Skewers)
~ Maccaroncini con Frattaglie d'Agnello (Maccaroni with Lamb Heart and Liver Sugo)
~ Brasato di Capra e Agnello al Ginepro e Porcini Essicati (Braised Goat and Lamb with Juniper Berries and Dry Porcini)
~ Riccotina Fresca con Miele e Limone (Fresh Ricotta with Honey and Lemon Zest)
The meatballs were particularly good - a wonderful texture and a great sauce.
The meal was accompanied by two wines:
~ Torre dei Beati Pecorino Primo Bianco 2008
~ Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Scarpone 2007
Torre dei Beati is an organic producer from near Loreto Aprutino. I had never heard of the Pecorino grape used for the white wine, but learned it is an indigenous Abruzzo varietal that has been rediscovered and is making a comeback there. The red wine came from Lorenzo Scarpone’s own vineyard near Guardia Vomano.
It was an enjoyable evening for a good cause. Our best wishes go out to the Galano family and the other terremotati abruzzesi who are struggling to pull their lives and beautiful region back together. Thanks again to Massimo and Lorella for their generosity, and to Lorenzo for his presentation at the dinner and for his ongoing work with Sustain Abruzzo.