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Sunday, 26 November 2017

Ristorante il Caminetto di Perledo Lecco

On our last Friday we booked an all day cooking course with Chef Moreno at the Ristorante il Caminetto ( which is about a 15 minute drive from Varenne. We grabbed a 9:10 morning ferry from Menaggio and arrived about 9:30. We wandered around the town until our 10AM pick up by Chef Moreno. While we were waiting there were no cafes open for coffee. Just before our pickup we encountered a group of Americans having fun sharing "show tunes". Of course our hunch was right and they were fellow students for our cooking class.

Chef Merano picked 13 of us up, some in his large white van and a few others in a local taxi he arranged. We then headed up winding roads - and then came to a full stop. At some points the road narrows and cars honk to warn oncoming traffic to wait. At one of these points we encountered a large truck broken down and almost pinned to the stone wall. No cars could pass in either direction. There was a lot of commotion, loud words exchanged - which we mercifully didn't understand. Chef Merano took charge and called the local towing company. When they first arrived they were positioned in the wrong direction and more commotion occurred while he backed carefully back down the road to turn around and then back up to reach the stranded truck. Finally the truck was removed and we headed up the road to the restaurant, only about 20 minutes late.

The class began around 11 AM and lasted until about 4pm. Thirteen students sat around a L-shaped table. We were all served coffee of our choice and cookies as soon as we sat down, along with still and sparking water. The Chef was charming and spoke English well. He started with a description of how our day would unfold and repeatedly emphasized the importance of hygiene. He frequently cleaned his worktop, utensils etc.

He started with the preparation of the pasta - using a kilo of flour and 8 eggs he formed what looked like the dike of an ancient castle and used his hands to knead it into a nice round ball, which was set aside to rest.  He then showed us how to chop vegetables which would be used as a base to rest the veal loin on during cooking and later to make a lovely gravy. Following the veggie prep he demonstrated how to cut the veal loin, removing the bones and saving parts and pieces for the gravy. He then wrapped the loin in both Parma ham as well as layering it with a paste made from lard, garlic and other tasty ingredients. A three way tie of string and the loin was laid to rest on the veggies and sent to roast away.

We now got to have some cheese and meat and a brief rest. White and red wine was endlessly available.

The pasta filling was next and like all the previous ingredients was filled with tasty fats - this time 35% cream, ricotta cheese and many handfuls of Parmesan cheese!  Herbs included nutmeg, lemon verbena,oregano and basil. We each got to taste the filling and it was wonderful! Then Chef demonstrated how to roll out the pasta and we all got to build our skills shaping the  pasta and filling into perfect Tortolloni. I was very excited to learn the trick of how to twist the pasta into its final shape. We also learned how to make a rich Porcini sauce.

And then we got to eat. First the pasta which was wonderful. Very tasty and decadent. Next came the veal thinly sliced and tenderly covered in gravy. Also scrumptious and flavourful.  For desert we enjoyed a splash of Lemoncello.

The overall experience was enhanced by fun classmates and the constant banter and wit of Chef Merano. We recommend this experience. Be sure to also buy his apron.

We were so full that when we returned to our apartment we just had a few leftovers and wine for our dinner.

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