Deep in the caverns of a palatial kitchen, we sang and laughed, as we tasted the flavorful homemade food, high in the hills of Mercatello sul Metauro, Italy. I heard the sounds of many languages, laughter, and songs, as I popped fava beans the size of sausages into my mouth, after salting them on bread with a tiny slice of farmers cheese (Fave e Formaggio Fresco). They were delicious!
I then washed them down with Prosecco and red wine. The hours ticked away as the conversations flowed and the sounds grew louder and louder, as most things Italian.
This rustic region of Italy, LeMarche, has more charm in its little pinky toe than most places anywhere else on earth. It is nestled between and among Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, and Umbria.
I was so excited to be invited to the dinner from this group of nine Italian men who arrived at our Palazzo’s commercial kitchen to cook dinner for our group. During the day, we stopped by the kitchen several times to see their progress on triple ovens and multiple stovetops and then convened downstairs in the rustic kitchen with its flaming hearth stove and family style tables.
This cooking group calls themselves the Academia Del Padlot. They have gotten together every day for a drink, once a week for a dinner and one time a year for a trip for 18 years. They yearly rent a tiny bus and travel to other regions of Italy seeking out other Italian gastronomy.
Their name means “the academy of a giant ladle or spoon that is used to pour wine!” The wine was, of course, flowing when we arrived and it never seemed to stop. The glue that sticks this group together is the friendships they have formed, the love for wine, food and the joy of camaraderie.
Each member of the group brings a different skill set in the kitchen and are different ages, different professions and may have opposing political views, but they are united by food and drink! They are known to rarely prepare a meal for others outside of their group, but I was lucky and had a special feast prepared by them to help me learn about the culture of this region of LeMarche.
You, too, can have this experience, as it can be booked by your stay at the Palazzo Donati Villa, where they exclusively host dinners for their guests! I can vouch for both, Accademia del Padlot and Palazzo Donati, that they are both such unique and charming experiences!
Curious as to what was on the menu that night?
Here is whats for dinner:
Fave e Formaggio Fresco – Fava beans, salted with holiday cheese;
Charcuterie – salami and various cuts of meat;
Bruschetta - toasted bread slices with garlic, olive oil and salt;
Crostini con Paté – sliced baguette with sausage and liver pate;
Coradella – lamb’s liver with garlic;
Goletta con salvia e aceto o vino bianco - pig’s jowl with sage, vinegar and white wine;
Spezzatino di Cinghiale - wild boar stew;
Radicchio rosso in graticola - Italian red chicory grilled crispy;
Patate Sotto il Fuoco - whole potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil, cooked in the ash from the firewood;
Torta Pascuela, a traditional Easter cheese bread (made with gruyere, pecorino and romanesco cheeses)
Crostata - A delicately laced tart made with butter, sugar, flour and eggs and filled with plums, elderberry and tomatoes
Tuscany Region, Italy:
Lazio Region, Italy:
Campagna Region, Italy:
Emilia-Romagna Region, Italy:
Veneto Region, Italy:
Puglia Region, Italy:
Liguria Region, Italy:
LeMarche Region, Italy:
Calabria Region, Italy:
Disclosure: I was a guest of Palazzo Donati, who hosted Accademia Del Padlot to serve us this amazingly delicious and fun meal. The words for this article dripped from my very own mouth with glee!