This past October, I was lucky enough to stumble upon and attend a wonderful special event dinner in Siena. Girogustando basically means "tasting tour", and it is a very apt description. Local restaurants, invite chefs from other regions of Italy to cook a quattro mani or "with four hands". If you think having a dinner prepared by a great chef is wonderful, just think what it is like with two great chefs!
I already had plans for my tour group to have a wine tasting at Uccelliera winery, owned by Andrea Cortonesi. I love his wines, and knew my clients would enjoy them as well. When his cellarmaster, Agnes told me the winery also had a restaurant in the town of Siena itself, I knew I had to pay a visit.
Upon contacting Enoristorante Casato for a reservation, I was told, yes, there was room for me on the requested night, but that it was a special dinner with a set menu, and set price. Chef Cornelio told me all about Girogustando, and I realized I was one lucky girl to have called when I did. I was going to be in for a real treat!
One, when I knew two chefs would be collaborating, I assumed I would get one dish which the two of them had joined minds and hands on. But this was not to be the case. There were two appetizers; one prepared by each chef. There were two first courses, followed by two second courses.....you get my drift. Yes, I had to eat two desserts!
Two, as luck would have it, the chef who had been invited to join Chef Cornelio in the kitchen was from the region of Lazio; one of the areas I am most familiar with, and offer tours to. The pairing of wines meant I would have the opportunity to drink not only a lovely Brunello from Andrea Cortonesi, but also a wonderful Cesanese del Piglio.
And Third, Girogustando is more than just food as it turns out. It is not only about two chefs in the kitchen, it is about the meeting of culture and cuisine. On hand, to give little talks between the courses were an author and a painter. To be honest, I had a hard time catching it all with the language barrier, especially from the author. But the painter had his work on display that night, and it was quite lovely.
So, it begins.....We start with the appetizer on the left from the Lazio's Chef Oliviero. It's a skewer of cheese and pear wrapped in pancetta on a bed of fried, grated pumpkin with a sauce reduced from Cesanese wine. On the right, is the appetizer from Siena's Chef Cornelio. It's a tartare of Chianina beef with crunchy bits on top. Whew. (And there's so much more to go.)
On the left from La Trattoria Consolare in Ferentino, Lazio is a tart made with ricotta cheese and chocolate with a pear caramel. And on the right from Il Casato Enoristorante, Siena is a layered pastry and cream dessert with white chocolate.
This is seriously the most full I've felt in a long time, and honestly, it takes away from the joy of the meal a little bit for me. However, having said that, the meal was absolutely stupendous.
I think both chefs did a fantastic job. The appetizers were so delicious, and I loved how in both of them, there was a great juxtaposition between sweet and savory, and crunchy and creamy textures. The sauces on both first courses were divine and neither tasted gamey at all. The texture of both pastas was perfection. The meats of the second courses were both so tender. I don't get to eat lamb or Cinta Senese pork very often, so it was a real treat to get both in one meal!
This really was a meal made in heaven, and I was so lucky to be able to be a part of it. If you are ever in the regions of Lazio or Tuscany, I highly recommend you partake in a meal prepared by Chef Cornelio and/or Chef Oliviero. Or better yet, drop me an email. I'll organize a tour for you and be sure to include these restaurants as stops on our itinerary! Email me at: email@example.com