So where to start? Great drives, great scenery, great architecture, great George Costanza like statues, GREAT EATS. What should my first post about this trip be? I find my answer in my wallet. A card from Lilian Oliveira, the passionate Brazilian cook at Gattavecchi. The card momentarily takes me back to Lilian’s kitchen and the moment she gives me the card. You could see it in her eyes, as if she’s saying “You start with me, little man”.
But lets go back for a second, 2 hours earlier for the “Favor” that led us to Lilian. We get one ravioli, a small sample of Pici, Tagliatelle, and Pappardelle that we just made from scratch at our fun cooking class in Le Logge del Vignola. Not enough for a full meal. As good as it was, the idea that we almost ate our own cooking on that gorgeous day in Montepulciano instead of the once in a lifetime La Cucina di Lilian, makes me shiver slightly
The Gattavecchi Cantina, lies just outside the city center, an oasis far away from the tourists, at least it seems. The serene garden setting makes you feel like you’ve just driven 15 kilometers (far away in Tuscan country side standards) to eat here. Step inside and you are transported to a 12th century convent where you’ll find a large convent dining room and the wine cellars. Daniela Gattavecchi, who gave us a little tour, along with her 2 brothers, are 4th generation proud wine makers.
But we are here for the food. 4 outstanding dishes including a best of the trip nominee. The salumi platter was one of the best of a very salumi filled trip. The addictive truffled salami alone elevates this one to another level. Then, best dish of the trip nominee, an assorted Bruschetta plate we’ve never seen – died and gone to Bruschetta heaven. Salsa verde with melted cheese, savory liver pâté (best of the trip – Lilian makes it with wine and fruit), all kinds of great concoctions in a cup including a potatoes-onion-bell pepper thingy (blogger technical term), and my favorite white beans spread with bread and veggies (ribolita?). A plate as spectacular as the views around it
A second course of excellent gnocchi with mozzarella and light tomato sauce, and Taglietelle with Cinghiale (wild boar) ragu, a carnival in my mouth, capped this memorable meal. All washed down of course with a great tasting of Gattavecchi’s Rosso di Montepulciano, Nobile di Montepulciano, and Nobile Riserva.
One unforgettable moment was a visit to Lilia’s kitchen. It didnt take long to see that passion and realize that “We are not in Kansas anymore”, or NYC where I’m from. You just dont see this in an ordinary looking place like this in America where you may see perhaps 2 people chatting about the new record they just set in Doodle Jump on the last smoking break. In comparison, you have an army, a team led by a passionate cook that will not let anything less than perfect leave that kitchen. A kitchen filled only with the freshest, and finest raw ingredients. An eye opener.