Wine is Important, but Food Fosters Friendship

Taverna al Frico.

(Don’t know what Frico is? Be sure to read the sidebar below!)

While she is a superb and internationally recognized chef, and founder of the local chapter of Lady and Chef, Silvana doesn’t speak much English. She asked my wife and me to be there at the class to translate.
Naturally, we jumped at the opportunity to watch her work, meet some new Wine Friends and score a free meal in the process.

No authentic Italian cooking class excludes a glass of Prosecco to start the evening right.

No authentic Italian cooking class excludes a glass of Prosecco to start the evening right.


During the course of the evening, we sipped regional wines as Silvana supervised the preparation of:

If you are making risotto, you'll need to do some stirring.

If you are making risotto, you’ll need to do some stirring.


  • Risotto con zafferano (Risotto with saffron)
  • Risotto con crema di tartufo bianco (Risotto with white truffle cream)
  • Spaghetti alla carbonara (Spaghetti with egg sauce and bacon)
  • Gnocchi di patate (Potato gnocchi)
  • Tiramisu’ (I am guessing you know what that is)

I won’t put the recipes here, but if you are interested, let me know and I am happy to send them to you. Just go out and buy some quality Italian olive oil, onions, and garlic and you are pretty much ready. You’ll need plenty of parmesan cheese, too.

Now I think I am pretty smart when it comes to Italian wine and consider myself an expert when I have a fork in my hand. I’m still an amateur in the kitchen, though. Here are some things I learned that are pretty cool.

If you need to saute' something, bunch it together in the pan to prevent burning.

If you need to saute’ something, bunch it together in the pan to prevent burning.

  • Need to saute’ something? Bunch it together in the pan rather than spreading it out evenly – this prevents burning.
  • Veggies that grow above ground get put into already boiling water. Veggies that grow below ground get put into cold water that is then brought to a boil. I am not sure why, but if Silvana says to do it, that is how I am doing it from now on.
  • Fresh-made gnocchi can be kept in the fridge for about a week. Once cooked, run cold water over them, put in a container with oil, cover and refrigerate. When it’s time to eat, pop them into boiling water. When they float to the surface, they are ready.

Over the course of the three hour class, my wife and I enjoyed terrific traditional Italian treats, made fresh for the first time by an enthusiastic group who are now our friends. They, in turn learned much more than a few new recipes. They experienced first-hand the art of an authentic Italian meal. Buon Appetito!

Here is the sidebar I mentioned earlier…

What is Frico, anyway?

A Frico is a traditional dish from northeast Italy. Potatoes, cheese and onions. Yum.

A Frico is a traditional dish from northeast Italy. Potatoes, cheese and onions. Yum.


Owing to the agricultural history of northeastern Italy, traditional foods here are made from simple, inexpensive ingredients that come from local farms. The basic ingredients of Frico are a mildly aged cow cheese, cooked potatoes, and onions.

Tradition has it the first Frico was served some centuries ago by a farm family to a wanderer in need of a hearty meal. Cooking methods of the day involved heating ingredients in a pan over a flame. The farm family grew potatoes and onions, and had cheese from their neighbor’s cows. The wanderer, who, as it turns out, was a traveling Archbishop from the city of Aquileia, was moved by the poor family’s kindness and impressed by the magnificent taste of the simple Frico.
Today pretty much every restaurant in the region that claims to serve “typical dishes” offers some form of Frico.
Traditionalists will say to add no fat (butter or oil) to the pan. The fat from the cheese is enough. You can experiment with that as your Frico skills improve.
For ten super (and easy) Frico recipes, check out this E-book on Amazon.


5 thoughts on “Wine is Important, but Food Fosters Friendship

  1. Frico, gnocchi, and wine – sounds good to me! Maybe the recipes should specify how many bottles of wine you should keep on hand to drink while cooking. Okay, time to check out that ebook. Happy Thanksgiving.

    • Happy Thanksgiving right back at you, Tom. As for how much wine to drink while preparing dinner, I am a firm believer in the axiom that says “More is better than less.”

  2. Okay, James. Bought the book on Frico, but have not had time to take a peek. If you get the chance to pass on the recipes for Risotto con zafferano, and Gnocchi di patate, I’d appreciate that. Just not in a position now to whip up some truffles for the other recipes….I could try the markets here in Islamabad, but think they may be lacking! 🙂 Happy Holiday season.

      • Thanks James! Got them. I also read your book on Frico. Love the story of how this guy from northeast Italy dazzled the judges by making a dish they had never heard of. I also looked through the recipes – seems you can do a lot with three versatile ingredients as a basis. Okay, off on vacation soon, but want to try your gnocchi recipe when I return in the new year. They shall be put to the test of an amateur cook. Much appreciated!!

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