On a little winding side street, in the old neighborhood of Cavana one finds TERRA MATER, a little gourmet shop specialized in bringing to market small producer delicacies native to the Friuli, Venezia Giulia Region. The shop opened a little less than a year ago under the guidance of Ervin Rama, and with the help of Linda, his assistant.
The building dates back to the 1700s and features a bas-relief of the 13 founding families of Trieste. But the neighborhood was once home to about 45 brothels and according to Ervin, his shop was the site of one of the most famous ones. “The soldiers of the allied forces would line up out the door to frequent the ladies that worked here,” he says with a glint in his eye. “A price list still hangs outside the door but the specialties are a little different…!”
The products you’ll find at Terra Mater come producers scattered throughout the region from Carnia, Timau, Tarvisio and the Carst. Producers range from the world renowned Nonino family — producers of Grappa– to small co-op members specializing in everything from pasta, jams, honeys, preserves. Ervin stocks a broad selection of local cheeses — I sampled a Frant made with pears and sesame seeds that was both creamy and piquant with a burst of sweetness that was sublime, and, a smoky salame that was practically spreadable and melt in your mouth.
The local Formadi Frant is part of the sustainable SlowFood movement . This cheese has been made for centuries and grew out of an effort to not waste good but otherwise defective looking mountain cheeses or those not suitable for aging. To make Frant, fresher cheeses are chopped up or cut into slices, while harder, more aged cheeses are grated. The cheeses are then mixed by hand, first with milk and then with cream, salt and pepper. The resulting smooth mixture is then packed into wooden molds. After a day or two of resting, the Formadi Frant is left to age in cellars for around 40 days.
Rama’s goal is to unite the producers of the region in order to raise awareness and appreciation of local foods and producers who preserve these old methods and traditions. And the resulting product, according to Rama, is singular to the region thanks to a wonderful microclimate combined with the “near and far” (vicino-lontano) element which is often used to describe this region as it is so multicultural and cross-pollinated with “mittle european” traditions ranging from Italian, Slovenian, Austrian, and Eastern European cultures.
Terra Mater is a great spot to stock up on local delicacies and sample some very select products. Wednesdays you can get fresh mozzarella, stracchino and ricotta, even calling ahead to place your order to ensure you reserve yours.
Tel. +39/040 965 0708