Truffles, Wine and Italian Hospitality: The Angelini Family Brings a Bit of Italy to Houston
Photo by Mai Pham Strangozzi pasta, wild mushroom, black truffle, cheese fondue, freshly shaved black truffle by Maurizio Ferrarese of Quattro at the Four Seasons.
It happens more often than not: I taste a dish and it transports me to somewhere far away, to another country and another culture, to the place where I'd tasted that dish before. I recently attended a wine dinner that had that same effect, but it wasn't because of the food. It was because of the Angelini family -- Roberto, his wife Daniela, his son Luca, and his daughter Irene, who took me on a trip to Italy through their wine and hospitality.
The Angelini family owns Enoteca Properzio in the small town of Spello in Umbria, the third oldest wine shop in Italy, founded in 1800. The family has been in the business for seven generations -- they are experts in Italian wine, with more than 2,200 labels in their shop. I knew none of this before meeting them at the truffle wine dinner that they hosted at Quattro at the Four Seasons Hotel, but I felt their warmth and hospitality immediately when I set foot inside the restaurant.
Photo by Elysia Sutherland From left to right: Roberto Angelini, chef Maurizio Ferrarese, Irene Angelini, Luca Angelini
It was Luca Angelini that greeted me first. Clad in a light-colored jacket and bow tie, the smiling host stood just inside the entrance, coming over to offer a taste of olive oil that they'd brought from Italy. "This is the same olive oil that is served at Alain Ducasse in New York City," he said, as I bit into a crostini drenched in a vibrant, boldly-flavored extra virgin olive oil.
We exchanged pleasantries before I was seated, and this is when the magic began. The Angelinis travel all over the world for three months out of the year, putting on special wine dinners to which they bring their own wine -- carefully curated, top-notch wines from Italy -- hoping that they'll introduce you to something so extraordinary that you'll fall in love and want to order it. That's where Enoteca Properzio comes in.
Photo by Mai Pham The Angelinis (shown standing) were the consummate hosts, pouring wine and mingling with guests throughout the dinner.
Any wine that you want can be ordered directly from their shop, shipped directly from Italy to your doorstep in just two weeks. Many of the dinners are held in private residences, homes of people who have been to Enoteca Properzio, or who know the Angelinis personally. In these cases, the chef and matriarch of the family, Daniela, cooks an authentic Italian meal, while Roberto and his children pour the wines and walk you through the unique properties of each.
For the Enoteca Properzio dinner at Quattro, executive chef Maurizio Ferrarese had prepared a special five-course black truffle menu; each dish was finished with black truffles from Umbria.
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