Towards the end of our garden tour, Carmen looks at her watch, exclaims we are running late and says it’s time for us to head to the kitchen. Promised a hands-on experience, we are excited to see what’s on the menu and roll up our sleeves. First we meet our teacher, Loredano, a bona fide Italian grandmother-type, who used to cook full-time at Spannocchia, but is now retired.
We soon discover that the kitchen is her home. She’s deft, brisk, in charge, a tad bossy, very chatty and hyper efficient. Loredano speaks only Italian and we listen to her via a translator, Arianna, who is one of a handful of interns at Spannochia. The entire building has a medieval, built of the ages (and stone) feel to it, and the kitchen is no exception.
In the center of the kitchen is a huge well-worn square marble work table, which we all gather around. To the left, a much-used commercial cooking range, and under the window, a beautiful shallow, yet huge kitchen sink. This too is made of marble, and sensibly, the water faucet is operated by foot pedals on the floor. Side note: it strikes me that in the U.S. we install Carrara and other marble surfaces in our kitchens and then try to keep them pristine, panicking when a splash of lemon etches the patina or red wine marks the surface. But I think we’re missing the point. They are meant to do a job: keep dough cool, offer a smooth work surface and last for centuries.
Back to Loredana’s kitchen. While it looks like it produces a lot of food, it doesn’t have the militaristic order of many commercial kitchens. Used pots are placed on the floor, and the sink is quite full of dishes and vegetables – overall it feels busy but homey. We examine the menus after donning aprons. It looks delicious and ambitious – it’s already 10.45am and I’m starving.
- Crostone pere e gonzola (toasted bread with pear and gorgonzola cheese)
- Gnocchi al pomodoro (gnocchi with tomato sauce)
- Rotolo di petto di pollo (rolled, stuffed chicken breast)
- Sformato di bietola (swiss chard “pie”)
- Panna Cotta con le fragola (no explanation required – with strawberries) > Read more