The restaurant at the Tenuta le Silve was named after the nearby hamlet of Armenzano whose inhabitants herded their sheep from the lower plains to the high grounds of Monte Subasio, outside of Assisi, where this restaurant is located. On this crisp autumn evening, flames dance over fragrant logs in the large stone camino, adding warmth and atmosphere to this lovely dining room, rescued from a structure where sheep once sheltered. The terracotta floors show the patina of the ages; the stone walls and wood-beamed ceiling whisper stories of the past. Skirting the tables are linens with needlework inserts reflecting the grace of by-gone times. The ceramic plates are individually painted by a Deruta artist. Every detail invites guests to sit back and savor the cuisine of Umbria.
Chef Giorgio Valiani doesn’t simply cook. He celebrates – the flavors born of the land that surrounds us. The sheep cheeses and wild boar, the mushrooms and truffles, the fragrant herbs and wild berries… A delicate leek flan on a pool of creamed lentils from Castellucio or pastry filled with pecorino and porcini mushrooms? Which to choose? One of each. Assisi pork and truffles of the season make up the chef’s “white” ragu served over freshly made maltagliati – pasta that has been “poorly cut”. An extensive menu features wonderfully rich choices of wild boar, locally raised beef and veal specialties, and flavorful pork, but we resist and move on to dessert.
A wise decision on our part, as October is the month that Umbria celebrates EuroChocolate, a festival designed to please the most ardent chocolate lover. The specialty this evening is a rich concoction of Chantilly cream with crunchy pastry, topped with wild berries and a chocolate sauce. My daughter selects the chef’s soufflé made with dark bittersweet chocolate. Both desserts are sinfully delicious. When we confess this to our waitress, her response is “that in life we must perform acts of charity and indulge occasionally in sin. It is what makes us grow.” I like the way she thinks.