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Near Spoleto, Cooking Up the Goodness – and Not Only!

Date: April 5, 2019 - categories: , , , , , , - Leave your thoughts

A “cooking lesson” is a banal understatement to describe our day at the farm estate near Spoleto of Gianluca Polidori.  Here’s a tidbit of his invitation to an event centered on “food & territory promotion criteria based on the maintenance of a strong territorial identity”:

“The laboratory kitchen is the beating heart of a stately home of the late eighteenth century, where the farm is located.  The proposal is based on the ancient agricultural and culinary traditions of Umbria: the kitchen and the museum (note: right nearby) are designed to re-create a fine atmosphere, reserved for a food-and-wine tourism.

Jennifer (a guest in our Assisi apartment Nido Tranquillo) and I had no idea that this cooking class would start with Gianluca’s guided tours for us guests through the “museums” he has created in the family’s 18th-c olive oil mill and adjacent wine cellar: 

           Gianluca shows the immense vat for olive oils to guests, Richard and Fiona

          Gianluca’s artisanal diorama re-creates all the phases of olive oil production

Part of the olive oil mill is now a lecture room (with screen) for presentations on rural life and agriculture:

In the adjacent wine cellar, Jennifer noted the antique wine jugs lined up above the smaller kegs and the small press used for the making of the vin santo (the sweet wine, made of grapes dried until they are almost raisins). Next to the press, a wooden box held tiny terra-cotta cups for the sipping of this “holy wine”:

After the “museum” visits, time for a tasting of the estate’s wines and olive oils.  Gianni and Maria – who take loving care of the lands, the buildings –  toasted us bread for bruschetta on the grill:

Polidori olive oil was drizzled on top:

…..and a table was set with local Umbrian country bonta’  (“goodness”) for an aperitivo before our cooking class.  The antipasti were set out right in front of the old wooden door opening into the limonaia (sheltering about ten lemon trees in huge terra-cotta pots, perfumed lemons dangling from their branches)

Sheep’s milk ricotta from a local shepherd was a tasty highlight of our aperitivo:

            A co-participant in this astounding day, Diana, is eager to taste that ricotta

Naturalmente, Gianluca offered buonissimi wines to all his guests:

           Gianluca and guests,  Roberto and Luca, join in a “Salute!”

 

The  17th-c church of San Cristoforo backdropped our pre-cooking class aperitivo:

On to the cooking class!  Fulvia, la nostra cuocastarted the class off with pasta-making:

 

I mostly took photos as everyone cooks – but had to get my hands on a sfoglia once again (nostalgia for the long-ago days when I made all our pasta…..):

….and what a sugo for our homemade tagliatelle, starring wild asparagus (found on the surrounding hills by Gianni): 

  Roberto (guest) and Luciana (assistant cuoca) flank me and Jennifer – (and oh, what pasta!)

Gianluca had brought glorious artichokes from Rome, carciofi romaneschi,  for our tasty vegetable dish:

  Richard and Jen approve of the artichokes

Fulvia taught the class how to clean the artichokes to put them in lemon before frying:

Sformati (flans) followed….

……. and then our gran finale, il tiramisu:

Outside the kitchen, we all feasted with our Umbrian bianchetto enhanced by the wines that guest Sabrina Morami had brought from her vineyards near Lake Trasimeno.  As she poured the wines, Sabrina explained each one:

A perfect ending to an unforgettable day.  I can only conclude with Salute!”  to each of the wonderful new friends I met – and a most sincere mille grazie to our gracious host, Gianluca Polidori.

Gianluca, I hope to be back, bringing others to share in a similar experience.

(Who’s ready to come with me?)

Click here to read about – and see – the Azienda Agricola Polidori

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