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After a bit of driving around Umbria during our second afternoon at the Country House Montali, we were famished. Waiting for the dinner bell at 8pm was harder that evening because we knew from our first dinner that the chefs at Montali only made one kind of food – the best.

When it was finally time, the meal began with Pizza Rustico al Formaggio. I can only describe this bread as a cloud of cheese fluff. Fortunately I’d brought my copy of Vegeterranean (Montali’s cookbook) with me, so I immediately looked up the recipe to make at home (post coming soon).

It’s like a million tiny grilled cheese sandwiches united for the greater good.

Next came Calzoni, a Neapolitan fried pastry filled with buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, olive oil, basil and oregano. It was served atop a tartar sauce with a nice little arugula salad on the side.

Montali always serves two “main” course – a primi piatti and a secondi piatti. The primi for the evening was Risotto allo Zenzero e Limone (risotto with ginger and lemon). I’d never have thought of ginger in a risotto but with the lemon, it brightly complemented the creamy pumpkin-flavored rice.

The secondi was Sformatino Mediterraneo, a zucchini and ricotta cheese melange with a parmesan sesame crisp served over beet root coulis and garnished with fried carrots. It was impressive, no doubt, but a bit heavy after the risotto. We and many of the other guests couldn’t make much of a dent in it, though it was quite tasty.

However, when dessert arrived, there was a collective squeal of delight in the dining room. It was the famous Viennese Sachertorte and matcha green tea ice cream on plates decorated with caramel sauce. This delicious three-layer chocolate cake, filled with apricot jam and covered with chocolate ganache, is next on my list of things to make.

I don’t think a single morsel went to waste. The jovial Alberto didn’t miss the opportunity to taunt us all for claiming to be so full after the secondi. I managed to pull both him and his wife Malu (Montali’s head chef) aside for a picture.

Alberto and Malu are tall.

If you ever get the opportunity to go to the Country House Montali, do not miss it. Plan to stay for as long as you can. You will leave refreshed by the restful setting and inspired by the first-class cuisine.

Via Montali, 23
Tavernelle di Panicale, Perugia, Italy
0039 -075 8350680

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