Monday, May 27, 2013

The La Petraia Experience

A Special Meal in the Hills

My only concern in writing about La Petraia is not to do it justice. La Petraia is not simply an agriturismo or country inn with fine dining, it is a lifestyle project, a way of life, a very particular choice to create a sustainable environment where the leitmotif is quality.

approaching La Petraia

This is obviously a big ask but the two owners and creators of this reality are passionate about their project and in twelve years have achieved remarkable things.

the entrance

Like Le Ripe, where we live, La Petraia had been abandoned for 40 years. It was fallow ground just waiting to be resown, restored, nurtured and to bear fruit. Which it has, in a big way. The abandoned farm now produces its own fruit and vegetables, honey, poultry, cinta senese pork, eggs, the first wines and olive oil, cheeses and milk and essential lavender oil and soap. And it offers hospitality and cuisine with extreme graciousness and charm.

the terraced gardens with a glimpse of the dining terrace above

one of three vegetable gardens

the dining area inside

the immaculate kitchen

the view from the terrace for dining outside; Siena in the distance

The lunch tasting menu, which changes frequently, is articulated in 8 or 9 moments:

Chianti Muddle
Serra e Selva
Egg of the Day
La Pietraia Cinta Senese
Tutti Frutti
Petraia Rocks

Each of these moments revolves around different dishes over the season, according to what Petraia has to offer on the day. On our visit, our Chianti Muddle was composed of a delicate leaf of tempura-like fried sage and elderflower; La Petraia's own cinta senese salumi (indigenous pig bred for centuries, in this case raised at La Petraia) - prosciutto and salame - accompanied by delicious homemade raisin and nut bread with olive butter. The Sorriso was a fragrant, miniature pappa al pomodoro (tomato and bread 'soup') followed by a succulent pork rissole with its flag of rosemary. 

our Serra e Selva
Serra e Selva was a fresh sheep's cheese decorated and flavoured with oil, petals, cloverleaf, crisp buckwheat grains, a sliver of asparagus and radish and a spice which may have been cumin. Egg of the Day was a delicious slow-cooked (poached?) egg on polenta with a parmesan sauce and a sprinking of garlic dust on the side. The Primaria was a beetroot-flavoured risotto on a slice of capofreddo (pork brawn) with tomato-water foam and a rice cracker.  

our Primaria
La Petraia Cinta Senese, a tender slice of roast pork on zolfini (special Tuscan white beans) sauce with poached quince and a nub of crackling was followed by a delicate sheep's milk sorbet flavoured with verbena, not listed on the menu. Then came the Tutti Frutti, a delightful bowl like a glass terrarium in which the various cubes and hemispheres of fruit mousse and other delicacies lay like exotic plants: delicious and tart, perfect for the end of the meal. Finally, an excellent coffee with Petraia Rocks, the homemade dark chocolates, one, wittily based on North American peanut butter balls, the other filled with sesame seeds. All served on individually designed porcelain and glass dishes. 

The wine list was small but carefully based on local organic wines. We chose La Petraia's 2011 white which was perfect for the day and the feast. 

La Petraia serves lunch tastings from Tuesday to Friday at 1300 and dinner on Wednesday and Friday at 1930. For more information see their luminous website: La Petraia  

lovely memories of a day with scudding clouds and fine dining

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are welcome but will be checked before publishing.