Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Cooking with Chef Marco at Enoteca Properzio

Last night Chef Marco Gubiotti taught a class at Enoteca Properzio for a group of bicyclists who were in town on their trek across Italy.  Marco is a gifted chef, and teacher, and I've had the pleasure of being in on these classes to help translate (a bit) and to write out the recipes for the participants. Recently featured in the publication Gambero Rosso, Marco is the chef/owner of CucinaA in the nearby town of Foligno.  It's always a pleasure to watch him, to see the students interest in his work, and their delight in eating the final creation.  While the cooking class is going on, Roberto and his son Luca are pairing the wines that will be the perfect match for the foods that will be served.

First up was a poached egg with herbs wrapped in clingfilm, and poached

Wrapping it up

potatoes for mashing with olive oil 

Nest of mashed potatoes for the egg

Gently unwrapping the eggs after poaching

A dusting of bruschetta crumbs, and that's it
Next up asparagus risotto with organic goat cheese

A bit of green garlic sauteed in oil, then the rice, then stock

Adding thinly chopped asparagus

Add the goat cheese and parmigiano

A little parsley

Finish with salt and pepper


The main course was Bacala Perugina, cod in a tomato sauce with zucchini

The cod will cook confit style in herbed olive oil

zucchin for garnish
the skin of the cod is seared, then put into the oil

Tomatoes sauteed with green garlic, raisins, and chick peas

Final plating

An exquisite main course

Dessert was what Marco called Minestrone of fruit, building on pastry cream

Fruit and chocolate crumbles with mango and raspberry puree

edible flower garnish
It's always a pleasure to watch someone as talented as Marco put together an exquisite meal and to hear the diners exclaim in delight with each bite.  I'm grateful to Marco for allowing me to photograph and document his meals when I'm here.  Grazie Marco and Enoteca Properzio.

Asparagus Risotto with Goat Cheese

I posted this on Instagram last night before I devoured it, and thought I'd share the recipe before my post about Chef Marco Gubiotti's cooking class.  Marco is a 1 Star Michelin chef who teaches cooking at Enoteca Properzio upon request.  He owns a gastronomia in nearby Foligno, but his real gift is his teaching, and this risotto was a revelation.

Adding the stock

Adding finely chopped asparagus

Goat cheese and Parmigiano

Yep, that works


Last night's students were in a for a treat, and I will write that post next, but thought I'd share this for those of you who asked for the recipe.  Buon appetito!

Asparagus Risotto with Goat Cheese
Serves 6

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped shallot
1 teaspoon chopped green garlic
1 1/2 pounds asparagus
2 cups Carnaroli rice
6 to 7 cups vegetable stock, kept simmering on the stove
1 1/2 cups goat cheese
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Salt and pepper

In a Dutch oven, heat the oil, saute the shallot and garlic, for 1 minute. 
Cut off the tough stems of the asparagus, then cut off the asparagus tips, to set aside. 
Cut the remaining asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces. 
Saute the 1/2-inc pieces with the shallot and garlic, for 2 to 3 minutes. 
Add the rice, toss in the oil mixture. 
Add one ladle of stock, and stir until the stock is absorbed.  Continue to add stock until the rice is just short of al dente. 
Stir in the goat cheese, and continue to cook, then stir in the Parmigiano. 
Season with salt and pepper.  Decorate with the asparagus tips and serve.

A note about risotto:  It should take about 20 to 30 minutes to cook, and you may not use all the stock.  


Here in Italy, as in the rest of Europe, meals are shared with family and friends, and you don't eat; you dine.  Webster defines dining as partaking of a meal.  Here that means slowing down, enjoying the food, the company and your surroundings, whether it is a beautiful terrace, a small subterranean dining room, or your own eating space, meals and the conversation that is shared are meant to be savored.  Dining here is not a track meet, with loud music blaring in the background to get you out as fast as they can.  (yes, that's why some restaurants blare music, so they can turn over their tables faster) Don't believe it? Check this out.
On Monday after our tour at Arnaldo Caprai, we headed up to the top of the hill to the town of Montefalco and one of our favorite restaurants, L'Alchimista.  The Giro d'Italia would be coming through town on Tuesday and we figured this was a great day to come and sit in the piazza and enjoy the day with our London friends.  Our family here in Spello helped to put together the wine list for the restaurant, and we were in for a treat.
Located in the square, there is indoor and outdoor seating; on perfect days, you want an outdoor table

The square is all dressed up for the Giro (think Tour de France, Italian style)

We sat down at a lovely table under umbrellas, on the piazza.  As we were deciding to order, we sipped a lovely Rosato: before you turn up your nose, this is not your mamas rose, but Sangiovese grapes, and the flavor is fresh, light and refreshing.  I'm in love with it for an aperitivo.
 Deciding what to eat was difficult but we decided on a special homemade ravioli stuffed with pecorino and ricotta, topped with fava beans and oil.  As they say here, Spettacolare!
I decided on the fava souffle with artichoke sauce

Artichoke parmigiana
As the clouds turned darker we heard rumbles of thunder, and then came the rain.  We headed inside to finish our lunch.  To pair with our main courses, we decided on a Montefalco Rosso called Ziggurat from Lunelli.
Chicken stuffed with sausage--Mama Mia!

Described as a lasagna, this was really thin crepes, again, simple food, elevated

As we were eating, our friend said, I'm not leaving without having dessert.....who could argue with that?  Three of us had what they describe as their cappuccino and one had a chocolate and pear tart with cinnamon ice cream, again, Mama Mia. 
Creamy chocolate on the bottom, meringue pieces in the middle, and mascarpone creme on the top.  No words!

Chocolate and pear tart, cinnamon ice cream, and pastry cream

As the weather cleared, we rolled ourselves out of the restaurant, and down the hill to car.  We'd spent 2 1/2 hours at lunch and it was a joy to enjoy each and every bite, along with great conversation.  We did a bit of a walk about and then headed home.

Pink bicycles were everywhere in celebration of the Giro arriving on Tuesday.  The riders went from Foligno up the hill through Bevagna and into the square in Montefalco for this stage.

For over 17 years,  when we come to Montefalco, I take a photo of this garden, tended by an older gentleman, it is beautiful year round.

You never know what is behind a door, this small chapel is usually closed, but we were able to enter and see the amazing frescoes on the walls here.

Perfect days here in Italy include great meals, wine, and conversation. Our two days with our friends from the UK were exactly that.  So grateful to be here and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us.  Ciao for now.