Archive for the Food Category

A Long Lazy Ferragosto Lunch At Trattoria Del Verziere, Montone

In the middle of August there is a bank holiday called Ferragosto in Italy and the whole country pretty much shuts down for the day. This year the 15th fell on a Monday and we booked a table with friends at Taverna Del Verziere in the nearby hilltop town of Montone. It had been a few years since we had eaten at Taverna Del Verziere and we thought the shady outside terrace would make an ideal place to celebrate the Virgin Mary’s assumption into heaven (at least, I think that’s what this holiday is about!).

 

I chose to cycle the 15km to Montone on my electric bike whilst everyone else travelled by car. It was an intensely hot day and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the lowest gear and highest battery output combined with some pedalling made light work of the long climb up to the village.

 

The long climb up to Montone means that you can enjoy marvellous views across the Upper Tiber Valley and the outside terrace at Taverna Del Verziere is an excellent spot from which to enjoy them. There was a new roof which provided shade for everyone until about 15:30, however, by then, the restaurant was emptying out and we were able to move the table in.

 

We had an excellent lunch, most of us had three courses, sharing two large plates of antipasti at the start and a combination of primi, secondi and dlci at the end. The restaurant seemed a little understaffed considering that it was full and we had to wait a little longer than we would have liked for a drink or something to eat, however, once the first plate arrived everyone began to relax into the holiday mood.  The wine list was extensive but every bottle that I recognised was marked up nearly three times from it’s shop price, an unusually high mark up in Italy. As a result we ordered the house wine, a red and white from the Pucciarella Winery, always perfectly drinkable, but priced at €12 when you can buy it at €3.50 in the shop.

 

The view and the food made this a great location for lunch, I would definitely return here for a special occasion, our meal cost around €30 /head. I am willing to accept that our (initially) slow service was because the restaurant was exceptionally busy but the price of the wine would be the only thing that might make me decide in favour of a different location. If you are here on holiday this is likely to be outweighed by the stunning location, the great food and the fact that you probably don’t have a list of local wine prices stored in your head!

Lunch In Assisi, Osteria Piazzetta Dell’Erba

Osteria Piazzetta Dell’Erba, a Restaurant in Assisi

Last Sunday we drove to the Umbrian town of Assisi, we started our day out with Sunday lunch at a great restaurant, the Osteria Piazzetta dell’Erba, a short walk from the central piazza. The weather was quite unsettled last week so we had a table inside but there are a few tables outside where you can sit in good weather.

The entrance to the Osteria Piazzetta dell'Erba in Assisi

The entrance to the Osteria Piazzetta dell’Erba in Assisi

The food really was delicious, we chose a starter and some of us went on to have pasta whilst others chose a meat course before moving on to dessert.

Pureed tomatoes with basil and olive oil

Pureed tomatoes with basil and olive oil

I can thoroughly recommend the food here, whilst many of the dishes were based on traditional Umbrian fare, they were presented imaginatively and the ingredients used were slightly different.

Octopus starter

Octopus starter

Our meal cost €140 for 5 starters, 4 primi (pasta course), 1 secondo (meat course) and 4 desserts plus half a litre of house wine, coffee and water.

A plate of tagliatelle at osteria piatta dell'erba

Tagliatelle

Le Logge, Restaurant In Città di Castello

On Friday night I went out in Città di Castello with a group of my Italian friends from the sommelier course that I’ve been doing over the last year.

Tagliata at La Logge Restaurant in Citta di Castello

Tagliata at La Logge Restaurant in Citta di Castello

Being Italian and trainee sommeliers, they have a strong interest in eating good food and drinking great wine, Le Logge was the choice of restaurant made by the group and I was very happy to go along and try it out, they have been telling me for a while now how good it is there.

Inside La Logge restaurant in Citta di Castello

Inside La Logge restaurant in Citta di Castello

Tucked away inside a cloistered courtyard just off the main piazza, Le Logge is easy to miss, this would be a shame as the food was excellent and not expensive.

A plate of gnocchi served at La Logge in Citta di Castello

A plate of gnocchi served at La Logge in Citta di Castello

We drank some interesting wines, starting with a bottle fermented prosecco and a couple of Italian Rieslings, however, my favourite was a 2009 Sagrantino from the Trabalza winery, well balanced and delicious, intense flavours.

A delicious Sagrantino di Montefalco from the Trabalza winery in Umbria

A delicious Sagrantino di Montefalco from the Trabalza winery in Umbria

 

Sunday Lunch At I Girasoli di Sant’Andrea

A couple of weeks ago we booked an outside table at I Girasoli di Sant’Andrea, the restaurant at the front of our local winery in the Niccone Valley.

Artichoke starter at I Girasoli di Sant'Andrea

Artichoke starter at I Girasoli di Sant’Andrea

The weather was perfect and the food delicious, a starter of artichokes cooked in three different ways, delicious fresh pasta and a chiannina steak served with greens and oven roasted potatoes, all washed down with a bottle of the vineyard’s Malvasia Nera.

Chicken cooked in a Mediterranean sauce

Chicken cooked in a Mediterranean sauce

It was so good that I’m already looking forward to eating there again.

Chiannina Steak at I Girasoli di sant'Andrea Restaurant

Chiannina Steak at I Girasoli di sant’Andrea Restaurant

Our meal cost €105 for 4 people, we ate a starter, two pastas, two large secondi (meat dishes including vegetables), three desserts, water and a bottle of wine.

La Trattoria In Pissignano

On our trip out to visit the Fonti del Clitunno last Sunday we went for lunch at La Trattoria, a restaurant on the opposite side of the road to the natural springs. We had first eaten here on a trip to Pissignano Antiques Market and a visit to the springs seemed like a good excuse to go back.

Rigatone al Rancetto pasta at La Trattoria, Pissignano

Rigatone al Rancetto at La Trattoria, Pissignano

It was a sunny day in late March and we booked a table outside on the terrace at the front. To start we ordered a couple of antipasti to share between five people, this came in three servings staggered over about 15 minutes and comprised appertisers of  meats, cheeses, olives (flavoured with orange zest), small fried fish, frittata with asparagus and fried battered zucchini flowers filled with mozzarella.

An outside table at La Trattoria, Pissignano

An outside table at La Trattoria, Pissignano

I had pasta with artisan ricotta and truffles from the primi menu, it was delicious, I didn’t try anyone else’s but they all raved about their choices. For the meat course I had a homemade hamburger, I think the best I’ve ever eaten, and others chose liver and salad. If you are in the area and it is a nice day I can definitely recommend eating here.

Telephone 0743 275797 to book a table.

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Lunch at Trattoria Gozzi

Trattoria Gozzi, San Lorenzo, Florence

Yesterday we went to Florence to meet up with some friends. The time we could spend in this beautiful city was limited, so we didn’t do very much other than eat lunch at Trattori Gozzi in Piazza San Lorenzo and visit the Santa Croce church on our way back to the car.

The entrance to Trattoria Gozzi in San Lorenzo, Florence

The entrance to Trattoria Gozzi in San Lorenzo, Florence

We first discovered Trattoria Gozzi a few years ago when friends took us there after a visit to the Uffizi Gallery. It is family run, ingredients are bought from the nearby food market every morning and is only open at lunchtimes Monday to Saturday. The entrance is unassuming and easily missed, often being hidden behind a clothing stall in the Pizza San Lorenzo. If you plan to eat there, go before 12.30 to ensure that you get a table, it is incredibly popular with locals and, thanks to the internet, more visitors to the city have discovered this restaurant than would otherwise be the case. So many people want to eat there that I don’t think they take bookings – it’s done on a first come, first served basis. The San Lorenzo district is just to the north of the road that runs between the Santa Mari Novella Station and the Duomo so it can easily be reached on foot from anywhere in central Florence.

Dining at Trattoria Gozzi, San Lorenzo, Florence

Dining at Trattoria Gozzi, San Lorenzo, Florence

We arrived at 12.20 and there were still plenty of free tables but within 15 minutes the trattoria was packed, a few tourists whose restaurant research was about to pay off and a lot of locals on their lunch break. The service was efficient and very friendly, within a few minutes of our arrival we had house wine and water on the table and the orders for our food were taken shortly after.

Pici (thick spaghetti) with sausage and Tuscan black cabbage

Pici with sausage and Tuscan black cabbage

The food was as good as I remembered, for our first course we had passata di verdure soup and pici (thick spaghetti) with a sausage meat and Tuscan black cabbage. Afterwards, we ordered dishes of meat balls (polpette), rabbit and saltimbocca (thinly sliced meat rolled up with herbs and fried with a cocktail stick through the middle to hold it all together). We ordered baked fennel and spinach to accompany this, and we were impressed that the waitress came back to check that we would be happy with another green, cima di rape (turnip tops), as there was no spinach that day. This was, as they almost like to say on Masterchef, genuine Italian food at its finest.

Vegetable Soup at Trattoria Gozzi, san Lorenzo, Florence

Vegetable Soup at Trattoria Gozzi, san Lorenzo, Florence

When you are staying at our villas on the Tuscany Umbria border you can either go by train, which conveniently brings you into the centre of the city at Santa Maria Novella, or you can go by car. We live 40 minutes’ drive from the station and therefore chose to go by car – our route took us via Città di Castello, Monterchi, Arezzo and up the A1 autostrada, we exited at Firenze Sud and, once we were on the inner ring road, we parked in the first car park, from the inner ring road, it’s 10-15 minutes’ walk into the centre.

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Torta al Testo

Torta al Testo is an Umbrian flat bread that you will often find served as part of a mixed antipasti. It is cooked in an oven on a round hot stone and  served sliced like pizza but split down the middle and filled, usually filled with a combination of either ham, sausage, vegetables and cheese.

Torta al Testo, Umbrian flat bread

Torta al Testo, Umbrian flat bread

 

Some places specialise in torta al testo, I stopped at a restaurant on the south east corner of Lake Trasimeno for a quick lunch where I took this photo. If you need something to eat and are in a hurry I recommend you try a slice of torts al testo, it also makes a great alternative to the standard unsalted bread that is usually served in Umbria and Tuscany.

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La Grotta, A Restaurant In Cortona

La Grotta is one of my favourite restaurants in Cortona, I last went there for after going on my Monte Ginezzo Walk in the hills behind the town. La Grotta is located just off the Piazza della Repubblica, right in the centre of Cortona. Despite its central location the prices have always remained reasonable and the food extremely good. It was a hot day and we secured a table in the courtyard outside the restaurant.

Mixed antipasti at La Grotta, Cortona

Mixed antipasti at La Grotta, Cortona

We started with a couple of items on the antipasto menu, a plate of mixed appertisers and pecorino della fossa served with honey. This is a sheep’s cheese that has been buried in an underground chamber so that it uses up all the available oxygen as it matures and becomes incredibly strong tasting and smelling – delicious! We shared some primi between us: potato gnocchi served with rocket, tomatoes and cheese; gnocchi made with ricotta and spinach (given top marks by everyone) and pici (thick spaghetti), with a spicy sauce of tomato, chilli and garlic.

For secondi we shared a plate of sausages and some grilled lamb. We drank a bottle of delicious rosato (rosé) Castello di Amo Rosato with the meal. Feeling extremely satisfied after such a great meal and, suitably fortified with shots of espresso coffee, we set off on my Cortona City Walk, a hike in and around the town that I have already blogged about in an earlier post.

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Sagra dei Bringoli

An Italian Village Festa in Lisciano Niccone

It seems that almost every village in Tuscany and Umbria has a festa of some sort each summer. If the festa is food related it is referred to as a “sagra” and Lisciano Niccone holds a festa in honour of a local pasta called bringoli. A hand made thick spaghetti, bringoli is very tasty and served at the festa with a choice of several sorts of sauce.

Bringoli, a thick hand made spaghetti type pasta

Bringoli, a thick hand made spaghetti type pasta

I chose a ragu (meat and tomato), but truffle, venison and seafood were all available. The dining area is on benches under a large semi circular tent and afterwards there is entertainment in the form of live music and dancing. The Sagra dei Bringoli takes place over two weekends in the middle of July each year.

The Sagra dei Bringoli in Lisciano Niccone

The Sagra dei Bringoli, Lisciano Niccone

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Pizza at Pizzeria Nestor

One of the great things about living in Italy is that you can go out and eat really good pizza for very little money if you know the right place to go.

Pizza at Pizzeria Nestore

Pizza at Pizzeria Nestore

One such pizzeria is Nestor in Verna, just outside the small town of Trestina in the Upper Tiber Valley. The pizzas are cooked in a wood fired oven, there is a huge choice that is almost overwhelming.  The menu at Nestor concentrates on what they are good at – pizza, so don’t go if you fancy a bowl of pasta!

Address
  • Via Nestore, 15 Verna
  • 06019 Umbertide
Phone +39 333 706 3308

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