Cucinare di Lillian

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Lillian Gattavecchi runs the tiny cucina, kitchen, at Gattavecchi, a ristorante and cantina nestled beneath a centuries old chiesa, church. The wine cellar is a former monastery with barrels that hold 3300 bottles each, and an Etruscan tomb lies beneath that.

But what beckons me to Gattavecchi is Lillian. . .her warmth, smile, and cooking. We were fortunate that during this week, as in my last trip to il Sasso, a cooking class was planned with Lillian, so off went Telma and Luisa for a culinary adventure.

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Greeted by Lillian’s son, who gave us a tour of the cellrs, we were treated to their vernaccia (grapes are grown near San Gimagnano), cheese, salami, and marmalade. Then it was time to hit the kitchen and make la cena, dinner, complete from antipasti to dolce!

Our antipasti focused on zucchini, both fried and grilled. Nothing leaves Lillian’s kitchen without a touch of fantasia.

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Lillian, who is exacting in her kitchen, sharpened each knife to perfection. I’ve never had a knife simply float through a tomato and create a perfect slice!

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We prepared a pork tenderloin which received chestnuts, both as a roasting accompaniment and a cream, sauce. It took four of us to peel all those darn boiled chestnuts, which by the way, were the sweetest I’ve ever eaten.

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The fun continued with making pasta that incorporated Vino Nobile.

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Under the tutelage of The “Mrs. Patmore” of the kitchen, we successfully rolled, floured, and cut out pasta into tagliatelle, although Lillian proclaimed that there were a we pieces of papardelle that snuck in!

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The final results. . .

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Well-sated after the sumptuous meal, with coats on and saying farewells, Lillian would have none of that. Back to the table we went for a pecorino cheesecake that was light and flavorful. Then, with gift bottles of Rosso in hand, we found our way back to the car and drove home over darkened Tuscan roads.

Thanks, Lillian for another memorable evening and delicious food. I’ll try to recreate it in Pennsylvania, but it will only be a shadow of its former self!

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