I have many things in common with Maria Luisa Scolastra. If she publishes a recipe it is a cooking story. Hardly any one who tries to follow, will get the same result. I share her love for "guanciale", pig cheeks, the essential ingredient for Umbrian cooking. Despite of having ample use of "guanciale", she does not disdain the generous use of Extra quality olive oil and good butter. Me too. I love cooking that sends to hell existing diets. Kitchen need to be dedicated to create great taste and not (low fat, low calories, low carb, low nonsense).
I met Sig.ra Scolastra the first time at the northern end of Germany near Husum. I was guest at Gut Backensholz, the biggest organic cheese production in Germany. Among the books of my friend I found "Maria Luisa kann nicht anders", written by 2 German lovers of Scolastra's cuisine. I fell in love immediately with this way of cooking and at my next birthday my gift to myself was a trip to Villa Roncalli a Foligno. This is now 2 years ago, but "Maria Luisa kann nicht anders" is since then one of my strongest source of kitchen inspirations.
Yesterday I prepared "risotto ai pistilli di Zafferano, peperoni dell'orto al profumo di menta with nocetta di agnello con funghi porcini". Well, I prepared something else, I call it "Soffron risotto with lamb shoulder", but any idea to this dish is due to Ms Scolastra. I had no "nocetta di agnello", but only "spalla", but I prepared it just as she told: pan frying the meet on olive oil with garlic and rosmary until nicely coloured, then adding a big glass of Nuricante (Grechetto del Trasimeno), boiling away the alcohol and adding the same amount of freshly prepared vegetable broth. Cooking at low to medium temperature for 40 minutes until the liquids are concentrated to a wonderful sauce. I often prepare nice stuff, but the taste of the lamb mad me really crazy. (the lamb was purchased from my neighbour...)
Risotto was not my first love, similar attitude to all kind of rice. Main function seems to be filling. But I am changing mind. Using the right type of rise (a kind of round semi full grain), fresh vegetable broth, rich soffritti and aromatizing veggies, you can create amazing stuff. The risotto for this dish was made with saffron and porcini, not something for every day. But the special risotto was owed to the lamb.
Another area where I learned from Maria Luisa are potatoes. As a German I learned them to be uttermost boring, mostly cooked, sometimes pan fried, mash for children and then yes, there were the mythical Potatoe cakes from my aunt Gertrud. Cakes from raw grated potatoes fried in pork lard. A Villa Roncalli you can have potato cakes made from potato mash, very interesting. ( https://www.winesong.biz/node/5807)
A standard in my kitchen has become potato mash with veggies ( https://www.winesong.biz/node/5828). Maria Luisa proposes Savoy cabbage, but many other vegetables can be used to give some more flavor and Juice to Potato mash .(https://www.winesong.biz/PorkFilletPotatoMash)
I love Carpaccio ( https://www.winesong.biz/taxonomy/term/1925, https://firstname.lastname@example.org/carpacci-and-tartar-e68aa19fe897) . From Villa Roncalli I learned a swordfish capaccio, which is interesting because it uses Cheese in the marinade, a very Umbrian twist. I liked it, but the use of cheese to prepare fish carpaccio will stay exceptional in my cuisine.
On the other hand there was a spelt salad proposed with this carpaccio ( https://www.winesong.biz/node/5813), Lukewarm, this pairs exceptionally well, so did the diced crunchy fried potatoes and carots.
Italy is a food paradise. Umbria is in the heart of it. Villa Roncalli is a genuine expression of our cuisine. Thanks Maria Luisa! And go there; you do not need to drive a car after dinner, they have wonderful rooms at the villa.
With enthusiam I remember the wine selection at Villa Roncalli, Umbrian and National. Only quality wines, but also affordable. I even got a bottle for my birthday.