La patata e’ regina

I ate way too much today.  And if you have been keeping up with the blog, you know that is no understatement.  We took a cooking class from the fabulous Chef Moreno at his restaurant “Il Caminetto”.  A taxi picked us up in the main square along with another couple, Kim and Greg (I really hope I got their names right!) and zipped us up the mountain where we met Moreno’s wife, Rossella who prepared cappuccinos and hot tea for everyone while we waited for the chef to get set up.  We struck up a conversation with Kim and Greg from New York.  They were here celebrating their one year anniversary.  Awesome couple!

Enter Chef Moreno.   He began by welcoming us all and telling us to feel free to move in for a closer look when he was cooking and ask as many questions as we wanted.   The cooking started with the preparation of the main course, pork sirloin with lemon zest and rosemary wrapped in pancetta which is then roasted on a bed of chopped fresh vegetables.

Once that was prepped and brought to the oven, he started on the side dish of creamy scalloped potatoes with a grana cheese crust.

By the time this was finished up, he could sense we were all getting hungry.  So he brought out some sliced meats and cheeses with bread along with some large bottles of superb red wine.

This definitely took the edge of waiting to taste the masterpieces Moreno was creating, but the craving would not be satisfied until that food was on my plate.

Next up was the homemade pasta dough.   It’s a simple recipe of semolina flour and eggs mixed and kneaded on a wooden tabletop and then left to sit for about 30 minutes.  Then came the filling (as we were making torteloni) which was fresh ricotta cheese with aromatic herbs.  This had to sit for a while as well, so back to the dough it was.  Moreno showed us how to put together the torteloni and invited us up to help him get them all pressed and folded together.

Since everything was prepared and just had to be cooked, we all took a break to stretch our legs outside.  Moreno pointed out some of the houses in the village: where his father lives, a house that used to be an old chicken coop, etc.  Mom and I found this huge cherry tree and spared no time reaching over the fence and snagging a few to snack on.

This little deed was not without its consequences though.  I wound up ripping my shirt on the fence as I jumped down.  Nothing huge, just a little tear in the corner.  Moreno also showed us around the kitchen too.  He and I had a great conversation (fully in Italian, of course) about family and southern (Italian) accents and how I would love to teach English in Italy.  It was a very special treat for me.

Back inside, it was finally time to eat! The torteloni was served with a simple sage and butter sauce.  It was divine.   It’s amazing how satisfied one is with a small amount of really good quality food.  I understand now the logic behind paying a lot for a tiny portion.

Anyway, following the pasta were the potatoes and pork roast which was covered in a sauce made from everything left in the pan.  It was so good and I was so satisfied.  And this is where I went wrong.  Mom made the suggestion of going up for seconds.  Like I said, I was feeling fine but I figured I was not going to eat much of anything else today so I agreed to go up with her and have a bit more.  Again, so good.  But talk about a food coma when we got back to the room.  I needed some serious time to recuperate from the remarkable experience I just had.

I know this post is bordering on the tl;dr line so I’ll wrap it up quick.  The evening finished up with a little get together that Signora Vitali had arranged for everybody staying in the house.  So all 8 of us gathered outside for some wine and snacks.  It was a lot of fun and a nice way to wrap up the day.

Lake Como has made a really good impression on me.  I would highly recommend spending a few days here to anyone looking for excitement made at your own pace.  But if you come here, you absolutely MUST visit Chef Moreno at il Caminetto and say hello for me.

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6 thoughts on “La patata e’ regina

  1. an excellent, excellent post! my favorite so far!!

    ps: has all the eating of the sandwiches made you able to dance up stairs any better? just curious.

    love you!!
    Auntie

  2. Hey Girls! Just read the whole blog! I had lost the address and had to fb Bob!
    looks, and sounds like things are going superbly and deliciously throughout your travels! I love the blog…great job Lauren! I will be keeping up daily!

    Have a great time….stay safe! hugs! Michele
    p.s. I could NEVER do all the wine and limoncello!!! glad you two can!

  3. Ellen & Lauren, so wonderful to meet you both!! What a fun and memorable day we shared with Chef Moreno?! Greg & I both agree that it was the most delicious (and fun) meal of our time in Italy. You were right- Cinque Terre was so different but so special! We have been thinking of you both as you continue this amazing adventure– we will follow you via your blog this summer and live vicariously:). Enjoy this time together– the learning, the awe-inspiring sights, the people and all the treasures along the way. What an amazing opportunity– so glad we met you both! Safe travels..ciao from NYC! -Kim & Greg

    1. Kim, you are so sweet! Thank you so much for your kind words. Italy would not be as special if we did not meet so many wonderful people along the way 🙂
      Thanks for being part of our experience.

  4. Do you happen to have the recipe for the potatoes au gratin you mentioned? We had them in Moreno’s class and I foolishly didn’t write down just what he did. I want to make them for Christmas but haven’t gotten a response from Moreno. Ours had lots of Parmesan, cream, some bacon type meat , maybe some garlic? They were great. If you have your recipe, could you please send it to me. I would be very grateful !
    David Eychner

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