Trulli yours

In Photo: At the l’Escoffier dinner at Massimo Trulli Fashion, Food & Wine (from left) Chef Philip Golding, Atty. Gale Atienza, Chef Victor Manuel, Chef Davide Lombardi, Junior Masterchef Louise Mabulo, and Adriano Stefanutti.

Cecile G. MauricioFROM where I sat at the bar, the drama in the kitchen was there for everybody to watch. It was extra busy that evening when a team from the Disciples of Escoffier Philippines took over the kitchen duties at the boutique Massimo Trulli Fashion, Food & Wine. Two young chefs, Louise and Victor, were doing the cooking for the wine dinner under the eagle eye of Chef Philip Golding, president of Disciples of Escoffier Philippines. In the case of Louise Mabulo, this year’s Philippine representative to the Disciples of Escoffier Young Talent Trophy Competition, it was an occasion to practice for the upcoming event this September in Hong Kong. For Victor, the boutique’s resident chef, it was a great opportunity to work alongside a veteran chef.

The idea of bringing fashion, food and wine under one roof was brought about by both entrepreneurial spirit and the passion for all three.

Adriano Stefanutti, former diplomat-turned-sommelier and his business partner, Gale Atienza, practicing lawyer and wine enthusiast, had to have a storefront for the wines and gourmet products that they had been importing from Italy. But the space they were envisioning had to be as unique as the products in their inventory. When the offer came to be exclusive importer of Massimo Trulli fashion and home accessories, the concept finally gelled.

Wine cellar, bar, restaurant and showroom intersect seamlessly at Massimo Trulli. Here, the tables and chairs are not just on display, but are used, as well. Like the furniture, the leather bags, purses and shoes are produced in limited editions—there are only 999 pieces of each worldwide, authenticated with a certificate and progressive number and signed by the artist. The wine portfolio is as unique, carefully selected from boutique wineries across Italy, most of the winemakers personally known to Adriano and Gale.

At the core of the menu are Italian specialty food products: cheeses (like ubriaco, montasio and blu ramandolo from Friuli), organic olive oils and the famous prosciutto di San Daniele. On a regular day, customers who buy Massimo Trulli items linger at the bar with a glass of wine or end up having a meal to celebrate the purchase of a limited-edition item.

But it is in the evenings when the shop shines. This is the time when guests come especially for the wine and winetalk, when Adriano and Gale are holding court at the bar or the wine cellar, explaining the merits of the house wines (which are always surprises) or the latest additions to their product inventory. At the Escoffier dinner, they again brought out prime examples from their stellar winelist.

The Gatta Franciacorta Brut 2011 set the tone for the dinner’s wine selection. No ordinary bubbly this one, but a pedigreed sparkling wine from Lombardia, made in much the same way as France’s Champagne. From Lombardia, it was on to Friuli with the Collavini Broy Bianco “1986” Collio 2013, a beautifully perfumed, softly textured Friulano-Chardonnay-Sauvignon Blanc blend. To cut through the creaminess of caramelized cauliflower soup with aged (34 months) parmggiano-reggiano, there was the bright, zesty d’Alessandro Catarratto 2014 from Sicily. With the main courses—wild mushroom risotto and volcanic rock-grilled steak—Adriano brought out the new gems in their portfolio: the Piedmontese Icardi Barolo “Parej” 2010 and the Tuscan Lionello Marchesi Brunello di Montalcino “Col di Sole” 2008, both award-winning wines. With the Valrhona chocolate tart with raspberry purée, the Valturio Moscato d’Alessandra “Abstemio” 2010 was spot-on, just sweet enough to ride along the richness of chocolate.  Adriano had also chosen wines that showed the diversity of Italy’s winemaking regions.

That diversity is, perhaps, the unifying element of Massimo Trulli Fashion, Food & Wine. The Italian spirit is pervasive here, but there is a warm welcome for other persuasions, as well. So the shop opens its doors to business meetings, poetry readings, product launches, mini concerts or gastronomic events, such as the l’Escoffier dinner. And the curious just walk in to ogle at the merchandise and sit on the Audrey Hepburn-print leather wing chair. Still, there are those who come by on Friday night’s “happy hour” when special bottles can be had by glass.

I come for the winetalk, the prosciutto San Daniele, and the gorgeous olive oils that are offered for drizzling on the salads. Washed down with the wine of the moment and a generous helping of the shop owners’ infectious zest for life—and love.

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