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Trip Report - part 4 - Umbria

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Trip Report - part 4 - Umbria

Silverwing | Nov 17, 2011 06:38 PM

This is the last of my trip reports, having already posted reports for Venice, Florence and Rome. We spent a week in Umbria, having rented a house within the walls of Todi. It was wonderful to spread out into the space, enjoy the outdoor garden (with still great weather in early October), and we made a few suppers at home.

Trattoria La Grotta - Cortona - Saturday
Before arriving in Todi, we stopped in Cortona on our way from Florence. We weren't entirely certain where we would stop, so we didn't have a list of restaurants. We did a quick check of our guide book and on the internet and wrote down a few possibilities. We came across Trattoria La Grotta and appreciated the quiet yet accessible location. The atmosphere inside was so charming, with stone walls and lovely wooden tables and chairs, that we should have had lunch indoors, but we enjoyed the weather and chose to sit outdoors. Service was prompt and friendly. S had the crostini, K and I each had an order of bruschetta - all flavourful, with crispy bread. S liked hers so much she didn't share (a rarity on this trip!) S then had the ricotta and spinach gnocchi with tomato sauce, K had the mezzaluna special with zucchini flowers, and I had the ricotta and spinahc gnocchi with truffle sauce. All very good, though I would have to say K's special was the winner. With a 1/2 litre of house red and water, the total was an amazingly low 27 euro. I almost wonder if I wrote that down wrong.

After the drive to Todi and settling into the house, we didn't really feel like going out for dinner. We walked up the hill to the piazza and picked up meat, cheese, fruit and breakfast fixings in various shops. We also found Dige's Pizza and bought assorted slices to take back to the house. Perfect for a quiet night at home!

Antica Osteria della Valle - Todi - Sunday
We had a completely relaxing day on Sunday and were ready for an evening in Todi. We made reservations for 7:30 (early, yes, but we didn't have quite enough fixings for breakfast and lunch, so we were hungry!). We received a very friendly welcome and were seated in one of the tables of this small restaurant. It was a wonderful meal, with friendly, helpful and knowledgable service. We started with melon and proscuitto which we shared amongst the three of us. Then K and I each had the gnochetti with fresh tomatoes and basil and S had the ravioli with truffles. S was an amazing friend to share her ravioli with us, and we all agreed we had to return just so we could each have this dish! K and I enjoyed our gnocchetti, which were light, with a lively tomato sauce. Hard to compete with ravioli with truffles, but as we were looking for something a little less rich, this was perfect. We all ordered secondi, S had turkey with balsamic sauce, K had the filet of beef with truffles, and I had the roasted sea bass. We also shared an order of grilled vegetables. First, the food was so plentiful. S couldn't finish her turkey. She found the balsamic sauce a bit too strong for the turkey, but I enjoyed tasting it! K's beef was tender and she was very happy with the truffle sauce. Of course, I think my sea bass was the winner. Beautifully cooked, almost slightly underdone in places, it was seasoned so perfectly with a variety of herbs. I could eat this fish weekly! With a 1/2 litre of house red and water, the total was 107 euro. We didn't have dessert, instead we walked to the creperie up the hill and had nutella crepes on our walk home. Divine!

Wine Tour with Gusto Wine Tours - Monday
We booked this tour in advance and were picked up by Mark in the piazza in Todi at 9:45 a.m. We went to three wineries around the Bevagna and Montefalco area, sampling Rosso Montefalco and Montefalco Sagrantino. We started at Moretti Omero, where we had one white wine, two red, and the Sagrantino passito, as well as sampling their olive oil. We then went to Raina, where we had three red and the passito. We took a break for lunch, as food was definitely needed by this point, and had a wonderful lunch Camiano Piccolo. We started with melon and proscuitto, then tagliatelle funghi, follwed by pork medallions wrapped in pancetta with potatoes and eggplant, and finally, tiramisu. We also had wine with lunch (well, I didn't!) and espresso to finish our meal. It was a delicious meal in a beautiful setting, and was included in the price of the wine tour. After lunch, we finished the tour at Fongoli, where we had one white, three red and the passito, as well as their olive oil. The wines at each location were wonderful, and while we couldn't take too many bottles with us (and shipping charges to Canada are much higher than to the USA), we bought a few at each winery and also bought some olive oil. The friendly welcome by each family was much appreciated. Mark was a great host, knowledgeable, funny and it was truly a great day. No driving for us, we could relax and enjoy the scenery. Mark stopped to let us take photos on several occasions and we returned to Todi around 5:30 p.m. The cost of the wine tour was 135 euro each.

Trattoria Degli Umbria - Assisi - Wednesday
I haven't overlooked Tuesday, we had a very forgettable lunch out and supper at home. We spent the day in Assisi on Wednesday and had lunch at this restaurant in the piazza. A pleasant spot with excellent food, I had the fettucine with mushrooms, guanicale and sage. The earthy flavours of the mushrooms and sage blended beautifully and the guanicale just made it more amazing. So simple, almost no sauce, and so delicious. I neglected to note what K and S had. We all had cake for dessert, and I enjoyed my cake with custard and a cup of espresso. While I didn't note the total, I did note that the prices were very reasonable. Once we returned to Todi, we had a quiet night at home and made supper with fixings we had picked up.

Cooking class - Umbria Cooks 4 U - Perugia - Thursday
We actually missed lunch - we were having a great time at the fossil forest and Carsulae, that we just didn't have time to eat before the cooking class. We booked the cooking class in advance and just like the wine tour, it was just the three of us. Nonie met us at an easy to find place outside of Perugia, and then led us to Tito's home, which was also outside of Perugia with beautiful views of the hills. This was another highlight of our trip and we felt like we were with friends by the end of the day, laughing and sharing stories! The cooking class was about three hours, and then we enjoyed supper together - so it was about five hours or so altogether. Nonie and Tito showed us how to make a couple of tortas, a chick pea soup, spaghetti with roasted tomatoes, veal with fresh herbs and tomato sauce, baked broccoli, and chocolate lava cake. With red and white wines and espresso, it was an exceptional meal - even if we did make it ourselves! We took the extra tortas home with us for the next day. The cost was 110 euro for each of us, and was definitely worth it. We have all made one or two of the recipes at home so far, and look forward to trying more.

Pane e Vino - Todi - Friday
We stopped in for a glass of wine and some snacks. Just a perfect refuge on the coldest and windiest day of our trip. Very friendly service, great choice in wines...we could have stayed for supper but the ravioli with truffles were calling to us...

Antica Osteria della Valle - Todi - Friday
It was our last evening in Todi, the week ending far too soon. We didn't order an antipasti this evening, although they all looked wonderful, we knew the portions were large. We all had an order of the ravioli with truffles and it was just as good as it was on Sunday. We all ordered a secondi, and we probably should have shared - again, large portions of rich flavourful food! I had the arrosto misto, K had the lamb and S had the sea bass. All were superbly cooked and plated. The arrosto misto had good sized portions of four meats - more than what I could eat. Service was warm and friendly, the atmosphere here is cozy and the chef/owner made a point of coming to visit each of the tables. This was a delicious end to our week in Todi and well worth the repeat visit.

That brings an end to my reports on Italy. Again, many thanks to those who post here - these forums truly are a valuable resource. We were so fortunate to find so many amazing restaurants throughout Italy - thanks to your help - and we know that there are many more, we just need to return!

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