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Trip Food Report - Umbria

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Three couples spent a week in a farmhouse in Umbria in October 2011 (sorry to be tardy with report). We brought along a collapsible cooler on wheels. The plan was to go to a market in a town and buy the food we'd use to make our dinner (store in cooler). Sightsee. Then get lunch in a great place. I used a Locanda i Restaurante in Italia (Slow food publication) and Food in Italy (old publication but still relevant) to chose the place we ate each day. Dinner was prepared in the farmhouse.

Our first meal was in Montepulciano - lunch at La Grotta which was across the square from the church of San Biagio. Our table was outside on the really pretty patio. Brad was cranky and said he wasn't hungry. Bill had a hard time finding something he liked. Finally we all ordered. Luther started us with a bottle of very nice local white. Then a bottle of Vino Nobile de Montepulciano. I had the traditional Tuscan bread salad which was really nice and refreshing. Then I had the raviolis stuffed with ricotta in a tomato basil sauce. Very good. Others had the eggplant and zucchini tart the cheese tart, Bill had pasta with rabbit sauce. Luther got paparadelle with chicken ragu. Brad had a chocolate and pistachio ice cream dessert (and he said he wasn't hungry!). Everyone enjoyed the food and the day was beautiful. Perfect temperatures.

We spent 255 euro at the Coop for essentials (wine) for the house. Also some food basics.

Second day - Cortona. We found the Pane e Vino restaurant where we had a fine lunch. They had spectacular cured meats which they served like charcouterie. Luther had bruschetta with garlic and olive oil which was marvelous. I had an arugula salad and paparadelle with ragu of three meats. We had a local chardonnay and two local red wines and esspressi to wake us all up again.

Day three - Marsciano/Orvietto - Marsciano had a very nice outside market on Monday so we hit it for our dinner food. In Orvietto we chose Ristorante Palumbo for lunch. It was pretty small and was completely full by the time we left. I had an antipasti typico platte and tagliatelle with wild boar ragu. 4 others got the same pasta. Sophie got the arrabiata pasta. Most got bruschetta or the meat plates. We had a crisp Orvieto white to start and a red from the same producer. At the end the owner asked if we wanted grappa. He brought little shot glasses and limoncello and amaron (sic) both sweet liquors.

Day four - We drove to a little butcher recommended by our hosts. It was in a town called Collepepe. They had wonderful cured meats. We then went to Deruta to look at pottery and hit the farmers market there. Wonderful roma tomatoes, spinach and onions for dinner pasta. Then we went to Todi for lunch and sightseeing. Up at the top there's a really big square with a church on one side and the town hall etc., We walked to the Ristorante Umbria and BOOOOO it was closed. I forgot to look to see what day it was closed. So now we had to punt. We were directed to 4 small restaurants by a hotel lady. We chose Pane e Vino because Luther remembered it was in one of our books. We were seated in a back room (sad because it was beautiful outside) at a big table. It was very cluttered with wine on all surfaces. We got a nice Orvietto white and a Sagrantino de Monte Falco. The most fun thing was we ordered the typico platter which had about 15 things on it. We got two to split. Brad got his own. The first part was a plate of meats. Game, venison, duck, boar, pork cured meats. The second platter was small cheeses with a wine jelly to pair with it. The third one was melted Roquefort cheese and a half tomato on top. A bread with lardo on it. Chewy bacon like meat with balsamic glaze and a cabbage leaf stuffed with very pungent melted cheese. Whew! My main course was beef filet with balsamic glaze on arugula. It was of varying thicknesses so parts were rare and parts were well done. It tasted great.

Day five - we were meeting friends who had retired in Florence for lunch this day. Our restaurant was called Piazzetta del'Erba. We met up with Ron and Linda were in front of the restaurant. Our table was set on the terrace which was nice except for the construction noise. We figured they'd quit for lunch but they packed up all their cranes etc. and actually drove off. Then it was quiet. We had a really nice lunch and everyone enjoyed meeting Ron and Linda. There was lively conversation. I had what they called a tower of vegetables which I liked a lot. It had eggplant, mozzarella, tomato, and pesto. Very interesting. Then I had paparadelle with funghi. It was excellent. Others got the braised beef. Sophie got her whole grain fix with quinoa. Luther got caprese salad. We had two bottles of white and two of red. It was a very fun time. The food was wonderful.

Day six. Off to Montefalco. It is a tiny little place noted for it's olive oil and wine. It has a town gate that you walk through and then straight up the hill. This is the only street in town with any shops on it. When you reach the top there is a big empty piazza. There's a row of parking there and on one side two restaurants with outside tables. Across from the road that enters is an Enotecca with wine, olive oil and specialty grains etc. Next to it is a food specialty shop.

Our lunch spot today was L'Alchemista - highly recommended by Louie and Deborah (our hosts). We had called for reservations and they had a table outside ready for us. We sat down at about 12:30. As usual we were the first patrons.

I had carpacchio - marinated on a salad which was exquisite. My other course was strangiolli with fresh truffles. Also very good. Luther got a farro salad and pasta with sausage, Sophie got a melted cheese dish with ham that she put on bread and the farro salad. Bill got the carpacchio too and a gnocci dish in Sagrentino sauce. Cindy got the caprese salad and the truffle pasta like I got. Everyone loved everything and got very full as usual. We had a bottle of Fongoli white and two of Tenuta CastelBuono Sagrantino. All were perfect. A great meal.

Last day - Perugia - We went to the Piazza VI Novembre. There is the town hall there and facing it, the Duomo. In between is a 25-sided fountain of pink stone (left). Quite pretty. We spied our lunch restaurant and made a reservation.

We went and had a coffee or hot chocolate in my case (right) and people watched for a while. We headed to the west side of town. Great shopping along the streets. Down the tiny streets we went. There were arches and churches and Etruscan gates. All very cool. We went back to the Piazza and to our restaurant da Cesarina.

We had thought we had to sit inside because they were having an event but when we arrived they put us outside. So nice! There was a pretty good breeze and it was cool but not too cool. I split the Norcia ham plate with Luther and then Carpaccio again. It was covered with shaved parmesan and arugula. I drizzled olive oil over it and it was wonderful. We had Montefalco wines. Luther and Bill got the veal steak, Sophie got the arabicatta pasta, Brad got the Umbricelli pasta with truffles, Cindy got the spaghetti with olive oil, peppers, olives and anchovies. Everybody pronounced it one of the best lunches.

So that was our week in Umbria. If you want to see pictures of the food go to: http://www.iowebworks.com/travels/201...

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