The Casa Hotel’s Sapori Di Casa is delighted to announce our Feast of St Martin – an evening of superb northern Italian cuisine and fine wines in celebration of Saint Martin’s Day, or San Martino as he is known as in Italy.
St Martin was the Bishop of Tours and the patron saint of vintners (wine-makers), and is typically celebrated Italian-style with traditional food and wines. The feast is all about enjoyment of the fleeting moments of our life and sharing the experience with our friends and loved ones.
This term comes from the famous tale of St Martin, who reportedly cut his cloak in two to share with a lowly beggar. Immediately, the weather changed from cold and rainy to sunshine and heat, and so coined the phrase ‘San Martino summer’.
It is also known as an Indian summer in some parts of north Europe and both are a reference to the last embrace of warmth before the final onset of winter sets in.
The 11th November was the period when the peasants would settle their dues following the harvest. They would re-establish (or not) the ‘sharecropping’ contract for another year, and often they would eat goose so they didn’t have to move with it! The traditional Cassoeula – a cabbage and pork stew – was also popularly prepared in the Po Valley with goose meat (also called bottaggio). ‘Fare San Martino’ is a phrase still common today, and means ‘to change place of work’ or move house.
Mid November is the perfect time for chestnuts and novello wines, which play an integral part in the feast for the community. An old proverb says “At San Martino every must becomes wine”. This is because at this time of year, the wine harvested between September and October is finally ready to be uncorked and shared with a toast and good company.
The San Martino Feast includes:
This sparkling wine from the Province of Brescia, Lombardy has DOCG status. It is produced using the traditional method from grapes grown within the boundaries of the territory of Franciacorta, on the hills located between the southern shore of Lake Iseo and the city of Brescia. It was awarded DOC status in 1967.
A starter of roasted chestnuts soup with grilled porcini and crispy guanciale bacon. Guanciale is a bacon that comes from the cheek of the animal. It is sweeter and tastier than traditional belly bacon. Grilled porcini mushrooms from the Bergamasco region are renowned throughout Italy for their exceptional quality. They are considered by many to be the best in the world.
A DOC white wine to perfectly enhance the creaminess of the chestnuts and porcini. Its production is permitted only in the province of Mantua.
This typical winter dish is popular in Northern Italy is sometimes Italianized as cazzuola or cazzola or bottaggio. Usually, cassoeula is served with polenta and/or a strong red wine. It is traditionally eaten starting 11th November, after the first frost of the season to let the cabbage be softer and tastier. This dish mainly uses less popular pork cuts like ribs, rind, trotters, ears, nose and tail. Verzino sausage and sometimes other meats like goose are also popular. They are cooked in a casserole with ingredients such as onion, carrot, celery and black pepper for about three hours. After, the cabbage is added and cooking continues for a further half-hour. No feast of St Martin is complete without it!
When young, these wines offer a very intense aroma of fresh red cherries and blackberries. In the lightest versions, hints of cherries, raspberries and blueberries are present. Notes of blackberry and black cherries are common in wines made with more ripe grapes. Many producers employ the use of toasted oak barrels to provide increased complexity, ageing potential, and hints of vanilla notes.
Cups of macaroons, chestnuts and mascarpone are deliciously flavoured with amaretto liqueur. This autumnal dessert is composed of a soft and delicious cream prepared with boiled chestnuts is the perfect finale to our Feast of San Martino. It is complimented with dark chocolate and mascarpone and finished with a handful of crumbled amaretti.
This dessert wine is deep purplish red and has intense violet reflections to the eye. This wine has a nose rich in blueberries, black cherries and wild strawberries, and can remind of overripe fruits and a jam-like sweetness. Sweet and soft on the palate, vinous, medium-bodied and persistent, it really is the perfect end to a feast. This wine is worked only in steel and refermented in autoclave, and so takes us back to the most deeply rooted winemaking traditions of the Oltrepò Pavese lands. It is best appreciated with eyes closed.