The cuisine in Friuli

Where to begin? There was no way to try everything on the Friulian menu in one week as several of the plates I had in mind were more common in the winter months. We focused on eating at osteria/trattoria/gostilna (the slovenian term for trattoria) that kept to tradition in the kitchen, and this was more difficult than it sounds because the hot climate demanded the lighter kind of fare that diners expect. Nevertheless, our determined pursuit of tasting the classics yielded some satisfying results and added even more inches to our waistlines.

Since we were at a hotel not more than 4 miles from the Slovenian border, our curiosity was piqued about influences in the cuisine. Although we did hop across a couple of times, the border towns that we drove past catered to the tourist crowd. Pizza in Slovenia? No thanks. Friuli is also known for some DOP – Denominazione di Origine Protetta (denomination of protected origin) products, among which reigns the Prosciutto San Daniele. Smoked Prosciutto di Sauris (following post), local cheeses, olive oil, and other meat products make it enough to cover atleast a couple days of nibbling. Of the dishes we both enjoyed, the ones in bold print are marked for the kitchen.

A specialty of the Carnia area, this stuffed pasta (typically in the shape of a half moon) has no standard recipe. According to a local resident, each one differs from area to area, village to village, (and even between cooks if there are more than two bright ones in the family.) Served in melted butter with grated, smoked ricotta.

Gnocchi di susineGnocchi di susine
Swimming in melted butter with a dusting of cinnamon and sugar, these oversized plum (susine) or cherry-stuffed gnocchi all that! We tried these at a place near Gorizia so I’m thinking maybe there’s some slovenian influence with the sweet flavor? They were listed as a first plate, but we ordered one as a dessert. The most unusual dish yet in friulian cuisine.

Gamberi di fiume alla busaraGamberi di fiume alla busara
The size of these crayfish were amazing! On the island of Kauai it’s possible to catch them but I’ve never seen crawdaddies so big.
Alla busara has an interesting history behind its origins. The name seems to have come from a particular cooking vessel used by mariners on board.
There is also a dish named spaghetti alla busara.

A coiled yeast bread filled with a mixture of several types of nuts, sugar, sultanas, rum, and cocoa. It certainly breathes of slovenian culture as it is typical to serve a slice with a glass of slivovitz, a profumatic distillate made from prunes (it has a floral scent). The best gubana is made during the xmas season, or so we’ve been told.

Why is it that ground meat in little shapes are always so good? These have equal portions of ground beef, pork, lamb, and seasonings and are formed into small, oblong rolls and grilled. Served with a wedge of grilled polenta, onions, and ajvar, a tasty sauce made with red bell peppers. I really enjoyed this simple dish as it’s the sort of thing where you can’t just stop at one.

Frico croccanteFrico
A “pancake” of melted cheese that is cooked in a frying pan to piping hot perfection. Two versions – morbido (soft) or croccante (crispy, shown at left). The former has potatoes in it; the latter has none and is sometimes shaped into a bowl by draping it over an inverted dish.

Lubjanska (slovenian) – veal cutlet sliced and stuffed with ham and fontina, then breaded and deep-fried. Think Chicken Cordon Bleu.

Rigojanci (austrian) – pretty much a simple chocolate mousse dessert.


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