Thursday, July 1, 2010

Parampa’mpoli: The Liquore You Set On Fire

This is the first of several tales from the Summer Fancy Food Show at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City in June, 2010. As you might expect, I spent all of my time in the Italian Pavilion. As I was walking down an aisle, I saw a woman stirring a small amount of dark liquid in a pot that was heating on a portable 2-burner stove. Then she lit the liquid on fire with a lighter and poured it into small white and purple cups, and served. I had to stop and see what she was doing.

She was Maddalena Giordano, from the family that owns the Rifugio Crucolo Company. She was demonstrating one of their unique products: Parampa’mpoli. It was invented in the 1950's by Giordano Purin sitting in front of a fireplace and combining coffee, grappa, sugar, honey and other flavors. When the flame was added, Rifugio Crucolo’s signature drink was born. I tried it (of course!) and loved it. Although the drink was literally flaming, it cooled quickly in the cup and I was able to enjoy it almost immediately. It’s both relaxing and energizing, and I took a bottle home.

Here’s how you make it: shake the bottle well and pour the desired amount in a small pot. Heat on a high flame and as soon as the first boiling bubbles appear, set fire to it with a match or lighter and pour it into cups as the flame burns. (Make sure that the cups can withstand the heat.) Sit back and enjoy.

The Rifugio Crucolo Company has an interesting history. Located in Val Campelle, it’s just outside of Valsugana, between Venice and Trento. At the start of the 19th century, the Purin family managed a small inn called Crucolo, which in time became known as Rifugio Crucolo (Mountaintop Refuge). Its guests were shepherds and farmers who passed by while bringing their flocks and herds from Valsugana to the high pastures. At Crucolo they enjoyed a good meal, wine, conversation and rest. During World War I, Crucolo was turned into a military outpost, burned down and rebuilt.

Through the years it has become a favorite spot to enjoy traditional meals and atmosphere. It’s known for its cellars, which in addition to Parampa’mpoli, hold wines, grappas, cheese, salami and cured meats. The Rifugio Crucolo Company ensures the quality of its food by controlling every aspect of its production, from raising to butchering to processing. The results are authentic products, locally produced in Valsugana and whose every ingredient can be traced to its origin.

To order some Parampa’mpoli for yourself, get a few Crucolo recipes and learn more about the company, visit

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