Al Cacciatore (La Subida)

Cormons, Localita Monte

22 Tel +39 0481 605 31

Fax +39 0481 623 88

April 2008

I can’t imagine visiting Friuli and not having a meal at Al Cacciatore, known by everyone simply as La Subida. This comfortable, rustic restaurant is perched atop the picturesque, undulating hills of Cormons, in the prestigious Collio. The cuisine reflects an elegant interpretation of classic dishes with an added flair that pays homage to the influences of Eastern Europe that make Friuli such a fascinating region. Proprietors Joško and Loredana Sirk are fanatical about seeking out the best ingredients, whether they are locally-farmed organic vegetables, small-production artisan cheeses or the wines of their friends that adorn the very comprehensive wine list.

Springtime is of course the season for asparagus throughout many parts of northern Italy. The local white asparagus are pretty hard to beat when they are in season, but the local wild (green) asparagus were unlike anything I have ever tasted. These small, slender spears were about the size of haricots verts and were literally bursting with an intensity of flavor I had never encountered. They were sublime. The homemade tortelli with spring vegetables and fresh tomatoes were also phenomenal. We caught Gravner’s 2003 Ribolla at an adolescent stage. Gravner believes hot, dry conditions (such as those of 2003) are ideal for his wines, yet on this day the Ribolla offered just a glimpse of its potential. It was a big, racy Ribolla packed with fruit, but also deftly balanced and incredibly harmonious. Subsequent tastings have revealed a wine of compelling beauty.

Among the main courses, I especially enjoyed the roasted veal shank, which is one of the house specialties. The meat was cut tableside and the portion was hearty. Diners with large appetites needn’t be shy about requesting a second serving! The lamb chops were seasoned with coriander and a fragrant olive oil from the Carso Mountains above Trieste, a combination that worked well. It was much too young, but I simply couldn’t resist drinking Miani’s 2003 Calvari (Refosco). Made in miniscule quantities that are allocated down to the bottle, the wine is virtually impossible to find, even in Friuli. It was utterly mind-blowing in its sweet dark fruit, graphite, coffee beans, spices, sweet herbs and new leather. With air the wine gradually came to life in the glass, where it offered supreme pleasure in a big, full-bodied, yet supremely balanced style.

Dessert was on the fly as my son’s patience had run out, but we did sample the strawberry custard pre-dessert which was topped with small wild strawberries. It was another dish that perfectly captured the essence of springtime in Friuli.


Lightly Gratinéed White Asparagus

Wild Asparagus with Wild Chicory

Tortelli with Spring Vegetables and Tomatoes

Roasted Veal Shank with Potatoes

Grilled Lamb Chops Dressed with Olive Oil from Trieste



Breg Ribolla



Miani Calvari


--Antonio Galloni