Lunch with Lilian in Montepulciano

As I drive south, leaving behind the manicured vineyards around San Gimignano where I’ve lived for the past 20 years, I am eager to visit one of my favorite towns in Italy – Montepulciano.   There is something so special about this place in the countryside between Val di Chiana and Val d’Orcia. With its breathtaking views, unique wines of Noble origin, famed traditional cuisine, hospitality of the locals and fewer tourists to share it with, Montepulciano is simply unforgettable.
A couple of weeks ago I met Lilian Oliveira, the passionate Brazilian native and cook at Gattavecchi Cantine. I’ve heard so much about her great food that I could not resist the kind invitation to visit her family’s cantine and taste it myself. Tucked beneath the Santa Maria dei Servi church, the Gattavecchi Cantine lies just outside the city center and welcomes me with a beautiful and secluded outdoor terrace. With just a couple steps inside I am transported into a 12th century convent where upstairs there is a large dining room. The wine cellar found below the altar end of the church reminds me of an Etruscan tomb and is strangely inviting. I meet the Gattavecchi family, and am enveloped by the warmth of this 4th generation of proud wine makers: Daniela Gattavecchi, her brothers Lucca and Gionata and his wife Lilian, who is the super chef and my new acquaintance.

Gattavecchi Cantina in Mpntepulciano the wine cellars with what looks like an Etruscan tombDining at Cantina Gattavecchi in Montepulciano

The Gattavecchi Cantine lies just outside the city centerget to know Lilian's Cantina in Montepulciano a 12th century convent where you will find a large dining room upstairs   Gattavecchi wines

I just love the rustic look of the cantina’s interiors and the sweet little shop/wine tasting area on the ground floor where the air is filled with both the aroma and lively discussion of wines.

 I came today to sample Lilian’s cuisine and I am surprised when this Brazilian chef fills me with one of the best Tuscan meals I’ve ever experienced – it’s like a culinary tour of the region and all paired perfectly with Gattavecchi wines.  This is truly a very special place in a very special town. The Gattavecchi Cantine is like a microcosm of the city itself; both offer gorgeous views, amazing food and wine, and genuine hospitality.Take a look at Riccardo’s photos to get a glimpse of my experience.  Even though he is an excellent photographer, it really is a place you need to see for yourself!

Here is what we had for lunch starting with antipasti:
pomodorino di benvenuto – a tiny sweet tomato filled with creamy ricotta cheese / a very yummy starter

Our menu in Montepulciano

 a tiny sweet tomato filled with creamy ricotta cheese / a very yummy starter

 “Tagliere di Lilian” –  a salumi platter with truffle salami and great pecorino cheese “Fantasia di Lilian” – one of my favorite – an assorted Bruschetta plate with melted cheese, salsa verde, savory liver pâté and white beans spread  and vegetables – a very colorful presentation, a wonderful combination of all fresh indigence  makes it a very spectacular plate indeed!

a salumi platter with truffle salami and great pecorino cheese   an assorted Bruschetta plate with melted cheese an assorted Bruschetta plate with melted cheese, salsa verde, savory liver pâté a salumi platter with truffle salami and great pecorino cheese 

First course:Tagliolini al Vino Nobile, home made pasta with a touch of red wine, that gives it that beige color, with duck sauce

Tagliolini al Vino Nobile, home made pasta with a touch of red wine,

Second course:
Sliced beef {tagliata} with rosemary and pink pepper – very tasty and aromatic if you like meat dishes

Sliced beef {tagliata} with rosemary and pink pepper - very tasty and aromatic

 Dessert: we had a  delicious  Pecorino cheese flan,  that  literally melted in my mouth. I’ m in Budino al Pecorino Heaven :-)..

Pecorino flan to go for served at Cantina di Lilian Gattavecchi in Montepulciano

It is always  such a pleasure to see foreign chefs revisiting traditional local recipes and always being able to create such fantastic results. I guarantee that Lilian Oliveira Gattavecchi  won’t let anything less than perfect leave her kitchen.

Lilian Oliveira Gattavecchi is a passionate Brazilian chef in her Cantine

it has the views you see in movies, read about in books and about which you daydream. As with all picturesque places, getting there is never easy, but the payoff is more than well worth it.” John David Quate

Natalia

Venue: Cantina Gattavecchi

Styling: Natalia Music

Photography: Riccardo Pieri

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Natalia Music