My series of entries from my time in Umbria concludes with our last dinner in Montefalco at the award-winning Spirito di Vino. If I could go back in time to the day of our visit, I would change only two things:
-I wouldn’t have over-ordered.
-I would have made arrangements to stay in Montefalco instead of driving back late (in pitch black darkness) to Perugia.
Spirito diVino has got to be one of my most favorite dining destinations in Italy. Why? Because they’ve got a ridiculously solid wine list (boasting hyper-local and natural wines), and their simple farm-to-table cuisine is rustic yet luxurious. Aside from the copious amounts of Paolo Bea’s wine, it was one pasta dish that particularly blew me away. This, my friends, was the BEST pasta dish we had in Italy:
Handmade pasta with a light truffle cream sauce, generously covered in fresh white truffle shavings. OMG.
Need I say more? Had the meal ended right then and there, I would have been happy as a clam. My error was in thinking that this needed to be a multi-course affair. Once my (still delicious) pork tenderloin came out with a melange of sweet peppers, I began to fade into the depths of too much food & too much wine sleepiness. My couple of bites of the boy’s eggplant dish was cheesy, comforting goodness which also didn’t help in aiding my looming exhaustion from the day’s wandering.
The most clever ice cream presentation ever.
Paolo Bea has my Sagrantino-loving heart.
Tender, local pork w/ beautiful sweet peppers. Too bad I wasn’t hungry by the time this got to me.
Not your average eggplant parm.
Tiramisu and an espresso? Yes, please.
Luckily, dessert helped put the pep back into my spirit. A clever dessert of sorbets and gelato utilizing the shells & bodies of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts that lend them their flavors was an almost meta dessert experience. Walnut ice cream made with the walnut meat and then shoved back into the shell, a sweet green bell pepper turned into sorbet and scooped back into it’s body…flavors I wouldn’t have dared to consider as a sweet end to a meal. And on top of that, a small tiramisu because I’m just a sucker for those it seems.
Overall, this intimate meal was a memorable one. And while the prices weren’t as economical as other places we visited on this trip, it surely didn’t break the bank and was worth every penny. Be sure to make advanced reservations, and be patient with the service. Our lovely hostess was also the only waitress of the evening, but with that wine list, who can really complain?
Spirito di Vino is located at Piazza Mustafa 2, Montefalco, Umbria, Italy, 06036. www.spiritodivino.net.
Filed under Comfort Food, Dinner, fruits and vegetables, Italian, Italy, local eateries, local food, organic, Pasta, Pork, seasonal foods, Travel, Travelogue, Vacation, wine
To the average American, lemon caper chicken breasts served over a bed of pasta in a white wine sauce just screams Chicken Piccata! However, it would not be fair to call this recipe as such since traditional piccata is ” sliced, coated, sautéed and served in a sauce.” For accuracy’s sake, this simple recipe comes close, but with a few adjustments and substitutions for those in a pinch.
When I began prepping my kitchen to make this dish, I had no idea that it would turn out this way. I had just come home from an excruciatingly long day and my mind had run off somewhere in the far reaches of my brain. I had defrosted some skin-on boneless chicken breasts earlier in the day, but I didn’t remember what I had intended on making. As I stared at my kitchen cupboard to figure out what to whip up, a jar of capers called my name. While it would have been simple to remove the skin of the chicken, butterfly, then flatten the meat into proper piccata form, I decided to experiment with keeping the pieces whole as to create that oh-so-good crispy chicken skin.
Since I was doing away with the traditional approach, I decided to mix it up with the capers as well; frying them until they burst into nutty, salty little things far less intense than their former briny selves. The fried capers provided a nice umami flavor that complimented the chicken well next to buttery pasta and a bright lemon sauce. Continue reading
My mind has been all about summer lately and with that comes my appetite for things like fried chicken, fresh corn, and seasonal fruit pies. While jotting down my week’s grocery list, I got the idea to make my own crispy chicken tenders. Flipping through a few cookbooks and some recipes online, I came upon a recipe from none other than celebrity southern belle Paula Deen.
I tweaked her original recipe a little and added a bit of my own taste plus a couple of old fashioned techniques I picked up from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home. The result is a very flavorful chicken tender that is juicy on the inside and coated with crispy goodness on the outside.
Recipe and directions follow the jump. Continue reading
Inspired by the beautiful blood oranges that are still available at the Hollywood Farmers’ Market, we decided to make some blood orangello (a variation on the Italian limoncello/orangello) to help kick start the impending summer. I have made limoncello before with some of my favorite citrus, but it’s the delicate blood orange version that I often have a hankering for.
Orangello is incredibly easy to make. All you really need for the base is a couple dozen small oranges, a good microplane zester, an air-tight jug, simple syrup, and a whole lot of patience. You can use your choice of clear liquors (vodka, gin, or grain alcohol like Everclear), but I like to use a neutral-tasting vodka for a more delicate result. Absolut 100 does the trick without breaking the bank. The quality of the vodka does not need to be anything too fancy, but it is recommended that your spirit have a proof of 100 or more so that the mixture does not freeze when the simple syrup is added later on.
I have put my own spin on the simple orangello recipe by using high-quality, organic blood oranges. I also make a blood orange simple syrup as to not waste the wonderful juice — this gives it a really bright punch of flavor at the end, making it all the more flavorful. The beautiful thing about this recipe is that it yields enough juice to use for the recipe and enough left over to store blood orange simple syrup for other uses including cakes, Italian sodas, and cocktails. Continue reading