Day 41: Wild Herbs and Flowers at Trattoria All’Angelo

We’ve been meaning to write about Ristorante Trattoria All’Angelo for a while as it has been one of our favorite places to frequent, and with good reason. A beautiful trattoria in a serene and picturesque setting in Piovene Rochette, chef Mauro and his wife Bari are welcoming, fun, and provide a service in The Veneto that we have yet to find elsewhere.  The restaurant acts as both a trattoria and a cooking school, with a wide range of cooking class choices to satisfy all palates and classes in both Italian and English to cater to many people in the community. Wild Herbs and Flowers 2 cooking class was PashbyMaul’s third class there, and we both agree that this was hands-down our favorite cooking class experience.

The whole group, including Bari and Mauro, searching for herbal treasures.

We began our morning around 10am as our group met, stashed our purses/jackets, and wandered into the surrounding hills to gather herbs. Yes. We were gathering wild herbs in the lush Alpine foothills this morning! They just can’t write anything better than this! Since Drew learned how to horseback ride last week, and we learned which herbs are edible this week, I guess we’re really ready for the apocalypse, but until then, it’s time to try and share all we learned with you.

Yes, I do find this to be quite exciting!

We gathered the following herbs: catch fly, nettles, and dandelion greens. Mauro and Bari found wild hop locally and wild strawberries for us, and they grow feverfew in their personal garden. In total, we used 6 herbs and flowers, some which I had never even heard of! What a shame that I had never thought to use these things before, but I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to emulate these dishes someday.  Since it will be difficult to tell you every single step that we used to accomplish the final masterpiece, I’ll briefly touch on the basics of each dish.

Antipasti: We began our class with a Wild Hop and Catchfly Strudel with Asiago Cheese fondue.  Usually when I picture fondue, I see winter days and overeating and poor digestion based on previous experiences.  This was certainly not the case with the antipasto!  The interior part of the strudel was made with wild hop, catchfly, onion, garlic, and boiled eggs.  The puff pastry dough was rolled out, the filling was placed in the center, sides were brushed with egg, and the ends were rolled closed.  This was baked in the oven.  The fondue was made with whole milk, asiago cheese and corn starch.  The final product showed the fondue as a garnish with the strudel expertly placed on top.  No overeaten, heavy, messy fondue on this plate!

This is Wild Hop, which Bari and Mauro found before the class at a local market.
This is Catchfly.
This mixture is the green part of what will become the inside of our strudel: Wild Hop and Catchfly.
The strudel is covered with egg and chia seeds before baking in the oven.
Here’s our strudel in its’ post-baked glory.
Slicing the strudel.
Our finished antipasto.

Our primi consisted of Potato Bundles filled with Goat Cheese and Nettles. Think of a glorified gnocchi made with an amazing filling, almost like a pirogi, with this amazing green goodness inside!  The secret to this recipe is that there’s lardo in it.  Yes. Pig fat.  Although I don’t eat pork, I even succumbed to this dish because it was so necessary!

Putting the potato, egg and flour together to create the gnocchi-like “bundle.”
Rolling out the mixture.
Creating little circles from the gnocchi substance.
The nettle-goat cheese mixture is piped in small dollups onto the gnocchi.
The bundles are then folded over and pressed around the edges with a fork for the finishing touch.
The cooked bundles were placed onto plates in pinwheel form and then drizzled with olive oil, chives and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. They didn’t stay on the plates for very long!

The secondo tantalized our tastebuds with an Herb Filled Chicken Breast with Fried Dandelion Greens.  Chicken breasts were carefully cut in “butterfly” fashion and then pounded thin.  After seasoning with salt and pepper, the herbs (which had been sautéed with olive oil and were combined with breadcrumbs to create a light stuffing texture) were placed on top of the pounded chicken, which was then rolled up, seasoned with salt and pepper, and placed in an olive oil coated pan.  Overall, this seemed like the most involved recipe, but Drew and I rose to the risk-taker challenge and each tried to create one of the chicken rolls.

The filling for the chicken rolls.
Drew “butterfly”‘s the chicken breast.
Pounding the chicken thin.
Mauro rolls the chicken roll in aluminum foil before placing it in the pan.
Here’s what our fired dandelion greens look like.
The finished secondo. Both Drew and I agree that we could have had seconds on this secondo!

Finally, we enjoyed a scrumptious dessert, Wild Strawberry and Feverfew Cake to top off the perfect menu. I have to be honest and say that the dessert section was at the other end of the table, and Drew and I don’t consume a lot of sugar.  So I can’t give you a super-duper play-by-play, but I will tell you that this dessert was amazing!  The secret seemed to have been the amazing wild strawberries paired with sugar sprinkles, which were out-of-this-world and like nothing I have ever had before.  When paired with a light and fluffy cake, fresh feverfew herbs, and whole milk ice cream this cake tasted like heaven and we were glad to get our sugar fix for the week!

Cake before baking.
If you didn’t know these two, you’d think it was a tense moment, but something tells me Mauro was being cheeky as Rebekah dressed the dessert plates with a strawberry sauce.
Looks delectable enough to eat, doesn’t it?

If we had to choose our favorite course, Drew would say the secondo, but I would honestly tell you that I couldn’t decide!!  Everything was quite scrumptious, and I believe that we will need to attempt to emulate the dishes at home (maybe not all of them before we move, though).  All of these dishes were paired with corresponding wines.  As we put the finishing touches on each dish and made our way from the kitchen and into the dining room, Bari would come to point out each wine’s nuances and guide us all in proper wine pouring etiquette.  Finishing our experience with some good Italian coffee, we reluctantly left the foodie paradise and wandered into Bari and Mauro’s backyard, where they keep two goats who each just had babies.  It was very fun to see the 3-days old goats interacting with their mommies!

Trattoria All’Angelo is a charming place mainly because of the tone set by Bari and Mauro and their intentional work.  What a testimony for life together!  Mauro is outgoing, approachable and has a very wonderful sense of humor which can make trying new and challenging recipes seem effortless.  Bari is hospitable, knowledgeable and welcoming.  Jazz music soothes you upon arrival and you are instantly able to breathe, slow down, and begin to appreciate the flavors around you.  If you have not yet attended a cooking class at Trattoria All’Angelo, remedy that by writing it on your Veneto Bucket List ASAP!

Drew expertly opens a bottle of Colle dei Tigli to serve with our antipasti.
One of the newest goats!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s