Have you ever wondered what a Game of Thrones grand banquet would look like if it was set in rural Italy with an world class chef in the kitchen? Well wonder no more mi amici… This is it.
This is rustic extravagance at its finest. I mean…. just look at it… Its a Castle for God sake. Correction. An Italian Castle.
Apparently at the beginning of the 8th (yes 8th) Century, Castello di Monterone in Perugia became one of the templars’ of San Bevignate properties and most probably the place where laic servants of the order were hosted.
It is every inch the fairytale castle with its suits of armour, paintings dating back centuries with stone walls and winding corridors. Personally, I think the only way to eat a Gnocchi Colfiorito is with a side helping of Cote of Arms.
While old in era, it is definitely modern when it comes to its hosting and great staff. Particular praise must go to their front of house Anna for accommodating us and organising what can only be described as the birthday cake to defeat all birthday cakes for my friends birthday. However, that deserves its own paragraph….
Not to be upstaged by its building, the food was determined to steal the show. Before even ordering, the Black Squid Ink Bread was enough to cause momentary mutism on the table. If you knew the group I was in, you’d know that this was a serious feat. This was then followed by a delizioso amuse bouche of thick tomato cream/mousse and Goats Curd.
Now, I love and I mean Love an antipasto. What is better than sharing a plate of meat and cheese with your nearest and dearest. Frankly, I’d share this antipasto with a table of total strangers, it is that good. Full of insanely flavoursome local meats, highly coveted cheeses and a green tomato sweet chutney that is literally beyond. It is Molto Buono.
The starters. Now. This is where it got competitive within our group. I would say that my starter of layered aubergine Parmigiana with tomato, fresh basil was the best eggplant dish I have eaten. It was light enough so that I was not narcoleptic afterwards, but threw enough of a punch that I knew that the basil and the tomatoes were seriously fresh.
Other real noteworthy contenders were the Rigatone cheese with pepper and salt cod. Also the tortello amatriciana and finally, The balls oxtail on polenta with celery crisp. It is every bit as good as it sounds. Why? Because the Italians don’t play around when it comes to food, and they certainly dont take their dishes lightly in this restaurant.
For a main, I had the Slow cooked Lamb with artichoke. My guests had the same and the Fillet steak cooked on coals with seasonal vegetables. These were perfectly cooked and the hot stone added the kind of rustic theatre that gave this dish the edge.
OK. Lets just say it. The Italians know their wines. I mean, they KNOW their wines. We asked for a bottle of Prosecco. However, our sommelier suggested instead that we have a local sparkling wine…. Well hello, Trebbiamo Brut, La Palazzola, made in Terni, Umbria. If you like heady, rich fizz (Lets assume that you do), then this is your drop. I should say that we stopped there, but we then made our way through a couple of glasses of bold Red and my new favourite tipple… Nocino. (Which must always be said in an Italian accent with a grand hand gesture)
OK. The Cake: It was a very close friends birthday during the visit and so I had emailed ahead to let them know. On their far better suggestion, they put together an off menu Giant dessert in the form of a “mille-feuilles” of pastry with custard and chocolate filling and miles of fresh cream. This really made the evening incredibly special and the cake itself was Sen…Sational.
This place is understated and romantic. No, this place is idillic and dreamy and the perfect setting for an Umbrian Wedding. The restaurant overlooks views of vast, rolling green fields and rustic Italy and is frankly straight out of a coffee-table travel book. Amo questo posto.