My Italian Kitchen Rules

My Italian Kitchen Rules

Ahh, #Italy. When you think of #foodanddrink hotspots, this country always comes to mind. So when I came here and was lucky enough to have two renowned #chefs doing battle for my stomach, it was a dream come true. The courses kept flowing and when it came time to choose a winner, it seems our two hosts were (rightfully) caught in a tie.

The Italian Restaurant Food Challenge

Move over Masterchef, Iron Chef and My Kitchen Rules. There’s a new cooking competition in town and it’s happening right in front of my eyes. Two great chefs, pitted against each other, are battling for my stomach. 

Two great chefs, pitted against each other, are battling for my stomach

Two appetizers, two entrees, two mains and two desserts. At the end of the meal a decision will be made on which menu was better. There will only be one winner, one loser, and one very full belly that can’t decide if it’s a winner or a loser.

The Italian Food Challenge

Tonight I am a guest at the Antico Casale di Monte Gualandro hotel and restaurant in rural Umbria, near Tuoro sul Trasimeno to be exact. 

from  $85

Hotel Antico Casale & Spa

 Via Montecchio 1, Perugia, Italy
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Our host, Vittorio Viterbi, had spent the day with us, a group of travel bloggers, but now he has changed out of his casual clothes of daylight hours and into a suit. The event is a surprise and most of us feel rather under-dressed for the occasion. Even the tables have better clothes on than me.

The Italian Food Challenge

That’s irrelevant inside the kitchen, though, where the two chefs are competing for the prize (of which no physical reward exists) and also sharing a work-space. The meals for the forty or so guests are prepared, cooked and plated on top of the others as they both use a kitchen designed for one. The pressure isn’t limited to the judgement in the restaurant but extends to the situation in which they make what they’ll be judged on. The chefs of Ristorante Antica Posta per Cortona 1745 in Umbria and Ristorante Il Cavalluccio in Sardegna, head to head and shoulder to shoulder.

The Italian Food Challenge

As the eight courses go by, a few belt buckles are loosened. The food seems never-ending. Animals, apparently, usually eat everything in front of them because they never know when their next meal will be. We are anything but animalistic and most people start to leave courses unfinished, unsure of when our current meal will end.

As it so happens, the meal – and the competition- comes to a close just as stomachs are about to hit breaking point. Quality is a pleasure but unfortunately quantity sometimes tries to spoil the party. 

Quality is a pleasure but unfortunately quantity sometimes tries to spoil the party

So, with a heavy heart and an even heavier stomach, the time comes for us to choose a favourite.

The Italian Food Challenge

The two chefs emerge from the kitchen to much applause. Declarations are made in fast and rich Italian. There is more applause. I grab Vittorio Viterbi and ask him who won.

“A tie, it seems,” he says with a sly smile. “Both were winners.”

Unfortunately you don’t have the chance to taste the dishes. I say ‘unfortunately’ because most of them were absolutely delicious and some of the finest examples of Italian cuisine you could try. Below are the menus with my photos of the individual dishes. Which do you think you would’ve chosen?

Ristorante il Cavalluccio

Seafood salad with artichokes and extra-virgin olive oil

The Italian Food Challenge

Fregola pasta with clams and smoked ricotta

The Italian Food Challenge

The dentex meet the wine

The Italian Food Challenge

Seadas with abbamele

The Italian Food Challenge

Ristorante Antica Post Per Cortona 1745

Flan of courgettes on a fresh tomato sauce

The Italian Food Challenge

Lasagne with parsley stuffed with mushrooms

The Italian Food Challenge

Fillet of cinta senese pork with hazelnuts and cream of truffle with fresh season vegetables

The Italian Food Challenge

Chocolate log with chestnut and mint

The Italian Food Challenge

You can check out the website of our host restaurant for the night, Antico Casale di Montegualandro.

Time Travel Turtle was a guest of the Umbria Regional Tourism Board but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.

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