Articolo disponibile anche in: Italian

Rita Bellentani is from Emilia, she’s been living in Romagna for 20 years and has been working at Il Cavaliere di Gabbiano Restaurant for four.

She’s very passionate about her work and we’ve really enjoyed hearing all about it. We’ve met her in the farmyard of the Castello di Gabbiano restaurant, an enchanting place set between Mercatale and the Greve valley.

She told us about her passion for cooking, fresh ingredients and teamwork. But also about herbs, spices, scents, tastes and textures.

Lo staff del Cavaliere di Gabbiano

Rita, what is the philosophy behind the Cavaliere di Gabbiano?

“The land, without a shadow of a doubt: our cuisine is fresh, seasonal, and authentically Tuscan: every few weeks our menu changes”.

How do you create your menu?

“We like the idea, for example, of dishes to share, to give our guests the opportunity to taste more than one of our specialities. We have the privilege of working in an exceptional and
well-equipped kitchen. Take our “rabbit bruschetta” for example: we vacuum cook the meat at 60 degrees for 12 hours, and it comes out wonderfully tender and fragrant “.

The philosophy of the short food supply-chain is vital to you…

“We use our extra virgin olive oil, a Dop Chianti Classico produced in our olive-press.The dishes are of the Tuscan tradition and always freshly prepared. For example the “crostini di fegatini” (croutons served with chicken liver pâté) are made by hand.The recipe? Sage, rosemary, marjoram, chicken livers, Vinsanto, red onions and aromatic herbs, directly picked from our vegetable garden. Finally we add a few anchovies and capers”.

What are you trying to convey with your dishes?

“Our dishes speak of the land, authenticity, freshness and taste. We also appreciate good presentation, but the most important thing is that they taste good”.

Is there a dish that you particularly love preparing?

“There are many, for example, I love preparing the fresh pasta that we serve in the restaurant: gnocchi, cavatelli, tortelli, pappardelle. It’s all hand-made including the fillings. I’m from Emilia, and there we have a great tradition of pasta making, even the fillings follow the seasons”.

Second courses…?

“Here we follow a centuries-old tradition. Our lambs and ducks are boned by us and we use the bones for the stock. One of our signature dishes is the “faraona al mattone”, guinea fowl with a seasoning of juniper and lemon; people drive for miles to come and taste it. We cook it in a pan and put a weight on top to make the golden crust.”

You love to go into the garden and pick the aromatic herbs…

“It’s a real privilege to have an aromatic herb garden. We grow four types of sage, three types of thyme … For our roast potatoes, we use the aromatic herbal salt which has six types of herbs” .

“We have a great variety of desserts, all homemade.The technology allows us to create things that would be unthinkable if done by hand: crema inglese, zabaione with vinsanto, Italian meringues, sauces and fruit compote … I have excellent ingredients and I use a machine that is perfect for preparations like these. This year we’ve started to offer our selection of homemade ice creams. They are real Italian artisan gelati, made with fresh fruit”.

In short, here we are light years away from the TV chefs and celebrity cooking shows…

“We are interested in the quality of the ingredients, the slow and well-executed preparations of the dishes. In a word, good traditional cooking”.

Matteo Pucci