On this occasion we enjoyed the famously polished service of the restaurant staff and an enormous amount of personal attention from Sommelier Benjamin Richardson. We all dove in for the fixed price menu and put our wine care in the hands of Benjamin.
We wanted macerated wine and something to kick off Ned's intro to the genre in style. Benjamin pulled a gem from the list: The 2008 Zidarich Prulke - 60% Sauvignon, 20% Vitovska, 20% Malvasia. This beauty was a bit less ostentatious than a Gravner or Radikon, and it still fired home the unique elegance of Friuli and the hum of my Sauvignon Blanc from my favorite growing area for this grape.
The Prulke was singing and as usual the salumi, prosciutto, and speck married perfectly to the high acidity in the wine. The spice of the horseradish in the Rafano(creamy creme fraiche yumminess) paired with the local sausage made just for Frasca by the boys down at Il Mondo Vecchio in Denver was high theater and one course into our evening we were hooked.
Juliet and Ned both had this wonderful Farro' and artichoke salad which screamed with tasty bites of another locally produced sausage.
I coerced my non-Uni eating compatriots to order the Risotto con Riccio di Mare (sea urchin) for the table. I loved the dish and Juliet even enjoyed most of it while Ned was remained a little gun-shy for the briney sea friend. At the end I wanted the chef just to send out a few pieces of the urchin with a touch of salt and their amazing "nuovo" olive oil. I wanted to just eat urchin and drink Prulke; however, it was time to move forward and bring my team back to Vino Rosso and our entrees.
In 1995 I got a book called The Wines of Italy by David Gleave MW. It was from this small book that my Italian wine education began because it was this guide that informed all my buying decisions in that development period of my new wine life. In this book D Gleave waxes poetically about a brooding and fascinating grape called Pignolo from Friuli. Until 2 weeks ago I had never gotten my hands on one of these and on this night at Frasca Benjamin presented me with a 1995 from Le Vigne di Zamo (accredited with saving this grape from extinction). It was fate and good fortune that the year I began to study Italian wine was the vintage of Pignolo we shared.
The wine was not as brooding as my memory of Mr Gleaves words suggested; however, there were secondary and even some tertiary components that reminded me of great vintages of La Conseillante from Pomerol. This was "right bank" Friuli with a definite spice component and some still gripping tannins. In short, this was my kind of bottle and I think the table was pleased to accommodate my curiosity and fulfillment of destiny.
My entrée was Faraona (guinea hen) white polenta, pomegranate, and Peverada (a meat based condiment from Friuli made with yummy giblets). I am a sucker for guinea fowl and order it almost without fail if on a menu. The crispy skin and interplay of acid, salt, and crunchy tart pomegranate left me smiling and hungry for another plate.
Our favorite dessert on this evening (aside from the Amaro) was this lovely Torta di Cioccolato with caramel butter-cream and bad-ass banana gelato. I wanted way more dessert and ate every bite of my cheese plate and anything else the others were willing to share.
To finish our evening we had two different Amari (herbal digestive liqueurs) including the always awesome Nonino. As usual Frasca was well above our station in price and service yet this was certainly a splurge we will happily make again whenever we have good friends in town and we make our way to lovely Boulder, CO. This is a world-class experience and one of the top restaurants in the country.