THE TALE OF THE ITALIAN TV QUEEN WHO FOR THE FIRST TIME HAD LAMBRUSCO AND SPECK IN A MAKATI WINE-BAR
Updated: Jul 28, 2021
A Lady enters a Wine-Bar in Makati and sits at the counter. The waiter asks her what she would like to drink and she replies thanks, maybe later. As the waiter leaves, the owner approaches, kisses the Lady on both cheeks and say: ciao Raffaella, come stai? Tonight we will make you taste a wine you will beg for a second glass! Raffaella smiles and says I don’t think so, but she still tastes the wine and…
In its six years of life, iTrulli Italian Wine-Bar in Makati City has been regularly visited by Filipino and Italian celebrities. Our Wine-Bar’s policy has always been to give them space and privacy avoiding using their images for social, marketing or any other purposes.
Besides, some of those celebrities are good friends, among them Raffaella, a rare and precious soul who, to our sadness, had recently succumbed to an illness in Rome. Despite the pain we felt for our loss and while still mourning, we tell each other the stories about the times her life crossed ours.
Raffaella Maria Roberta Pelloni, in arte Raffaella Carrà, was an extraordinary Italian actress, singer, dancer, anchorwoman and performer. She was hugely popular in Italy, Spain and Argentina from the 1960s to the 2000s and beyond as a result of her many successful television shows, concerts and records (60 million sold, 22 gold and platinum) in Italian, Spanish and other languages. Quite recently, a November 16, 2020 first page article by the U.K. daily Guardian celebrated her life’s achievements in Italy and Europe, as if somehow foreseeing her nearing farewell.
From the 1960s onwards, versatile Raffaella was a quadruple treat who could sing, dance, act and present equally well. She had a deep, unrivalled influence in Italian music and pop culture. Abroad she was considered a star who had a U.K. Top 10 hit with her song Do It, Do It Again (A Far l’Amore Comincia Tu, 1976). She was described in 1984, by the Italian magazine l’Espresso, as: “more applauded than President Pertini, more expensive than football player Michel Platini, more 'miraculous' than Padre Pio.”
She became a feminist role model across Europe by encouraging women, through her songs, to take control of their sexuality: one of her piece was notable for its focus on female point of view: Voglio Tutto, Sopratutto Te, she sang – (I Want Everything, Above All You, 1988) but without giving up her femininity like in her 1976 song: Forte, Forte, Forte (need translation?) which was also aired last July, 11 in London's Wembley Stadium before the UEFA Eurocup Football finals. Often wearing sexy costumes and daring outfits by the European TV standards of the time, Raffaella’s urged Italian and European women to be more confident with their bodies and their passions.
In 1978 she co-wrote a song called Luca which dealt about homosexuality so matter-of-fact that it was unheard of in Italy, and thus Raffaella became also an Italian and International gay icon, that she was given the 2017 World Pride award in Madrid. Raffaella no es una mujer, es un estilo de vida, said Spanish film director Pedro Almodovar. Indeed, Raffaella drove Italy into the future with her style, with both her belly on display and her ethical principles, one dance step and one successful song at a time.
No words could adequately describe the Lady sitting at iTrulli’s Bar counter on that early evening in 2016. Raffaella Carra’ was waiting her partner in life and our friend Sergio Iapino, who happened to have introduced her to the Philippines, where she regularly visited every year since 2008 and where she had financially sponsored hundreds of children.
..…and then Raffaella goes: Dio mio, what is this wine? E’ buonissimo! I have never tasted anything like it! What, it’s a Lambrusco? No way! I was born in Bologna, I thought all Lambruscos in Emilia Romagna were just sweet, this is amazing!
The bright, ruby red and aromatic wine Raffaella was appreciating for her very first time was the well-balanced, zesty and multi-awarded “Concerto” Dry Lambrusco 2015 by Medici Ermete, a winery founded in the 19th Century and located in the Via Emilia, in her home-town region. If on the nose she could pick scents of herbs, red cherries and violets, on her palate "Concerto" tasted crushed black currant, raspberry, blackberry, orange peel and fig, a wine drank at 12 °C to better acknowledge its soft tannins.
Lambrusco is a family of autochthonous red grapes produced in the hills surrounding Modena and Reggio Emilia. It is one of the oldest wines made in Italy, dating back to the Etruscan and Roman time. Lambrusco comes in a number of styles that range from bone-dry to sweet and can vary in color from light red to deep inky purple. It is typically frizzante (lightly sparkling) by the Martinotti method and it is relatively low in alcohol content. Brilliantly adaptable for food pairings, it is classically recommended with pizza, cold cured meats, Parmigiano Reggiano and – famously – with tagliatelle al ragu’.
But that wasn’t mouthwatering enough for iTrulli’s normal. Without Raffaella noticing, the owner had a platter of Wolf's Speck of Sauris settled nearby. And this Speck? Come e’ buono! went on our dear friend picking up the second slice, I thought Speck was hard, dark and chewy but this is lightly smoked and supple, pink like a prosciutto San Daniele!
Sauris is a mountain municipality in the Province of Udine, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, located at an elevation of 1,200 meters in the Northeastern Italian Alps. Wolf’s Speck produced in Sauris offers unique organoleptic properties with extraordinary texture and flavor. Speck is a dry cold-cured ham which is gently smoked using low-resin beech wood at a controlled low temperature to ensure that the meat remains sweet and takes only a mildly smoky flavor to compliment the distinctive seasoning.
Each Speck pork leg is carefully rubbed with a spice mix including salt, pepper, juniper berries and bay-leaves giving off, on the nose, aromas reminiscent of mountains valley. In Sauris, back in 1862, butcher Pietro Schneider, nicknamed “Wolf”, used to prepare hams and cured meats with the same ancient, traditional methods he later handed down to the family’s next generations.
What Raffaella experienced in the Philippines, and eventually kept repeating like a ritual, were two of the most authentic and traditional Italian F&B excellencies, inextricably tied to the respective regional cultures, reflecting their people, traditions and history.
Generous and upright, Raffaella often used to say: I have always been a free woman and a woman of peace. In fact she lived a full and rewarding life, we are so grateful we have met her and shared her journey even if briefly. Now she must be somewhere up there having Lambrusco and Speck with all her fans, after singing and dancing her revolutionary Tuca Tuca (1971)... because death cannot be the end of this wonderful and unpredictable show called life.
Thank you Raffaella, un bacione!