Aug 072013
 

It wasn’t a surprise that the meals at Al Vecchio Convento in Portico di Romagna were delicious since we knew ahead of time a bit about their history. Before the Cameli family opened their hotel and lodgings (albergo diffuso) in Portico di Romagana, owners Giovanni Cameli and Marisa Raggi had for many years a thriving restaurant in this small village of Emilia-Romagna. In 1975, they had moved from Milan to Portico di Romagna, which was Marisa’s hometown, and opened their restaurant. Their success grew based on the reputation of their exceptional cuisine.

At Al Vecchio Convento, they abide by the “slow food” principles of preserving traditional and regional cuisine prepared with locally-sourced meats, dairy, fruits and vegetables. The menu changes daily and seasonally. Much of what is served is grown in their own gardens and, as we learned first-hand, you may be served truffles that were foraged earlier in the day by their son, Matteo Cameli, and his truffle-hunting dogs.

In the kitchen

Giovanni Cameli is the master chef who cooks in the kitchen alongside his sons, Massimiliano and Matteo, each having their specialty dishes.

"Giovanni Cameli in the kitchen of Al Vecchio Convento in Portico di Romagna, Italy""Massimiliano Cameli in the kitchen at Al Vecchio Convento""Matteo Cameli in the kitchen at Al Vecchio Convento"

We were fortunate to be staying at Al Vecchio Convento to enjoy their fresh, traditional and innovative dishes — breakfast, lunch and dinner. These are a few of my favorites of which Mr. TWS and I managed to get photos before we eagerly dug in with our forks!

Starting with a good breakfast

I don’t have a photo of the breakfast buffet, but here’s a taste of the offerings. On the left, is a frittata with fresh bread. In the photo on the right, the shavings on the scrambled eggs are from the truffles that were found during our truffle hunt in the woods the day before. The bread is baked fresh daily and I had a lesson in bread-making from Matteo (more to come). There were also delectable pastries and an assortment of meats and cheeses — more than enough to prepare us for our active days.

"Frittata and freshly-baked bread with jam""Scrambled eggs with fresh truffles"

These are just a few of the dishes we enjoyed. I think that he photos speak for themselves, but everything was beautifully prepared, presented and paired with just-right wines selected by Massimiliano, who is also the sommelier.

Tortelli di erbe e ricotta al burro e salvia
Herbs and ricotta tortelli with butter and sage

" Tortelli di erbe e ricotta al burro e salvia at Al Vecchio Convento"

Tortelli di erbe e ricotta al burro e salvia

This was the first meal that we were served upon arrival at Al Vecchio Convento as we sipped an accompanying white wine at a table on the quiet, secluded back patio. It was a good sign of more wonderful meals to come.

Crespelle con ricotta e fiori di zucchine e zafferano
Crepes with ricotta, zucchini flowers and saffron

"Crespelle con ricotta e fiori di zucchine e zafferano at Al Vecchio Convento restaurant"

Crespelle con ricotta e fiori di zucchine e zafferano

Gnocchetti di ricotta al gorgonzola
Ricotta gnocchi with gorgonzola

"Gnocchetti di ricotta al gorgonzola"

Gnocchetti di ricotta al gorgonzola

Porcini fritti
Fried porcini mushrooms

"Porcini Fritti at Al Vecchio Convento ristorante"

Porcini Fritti

Ovine croccanti con spuma di parmigiano e salvia fritta
Crispy lamb with parmesan mousse and fried sage

"Ovine croccanti con spuma di parmigiano e salvia fritta, crispy lamb at Al Vecchio Convento"

Ovine croccanti con spuma di parmigiano e salvia fritta

Risotto al porcini e galletti
Risotto with porcini and chanterelle mushrooms

"Risotto al porcini e galletti, risotto with chanterelle mushrooms"

Risotto al porcini e galletti

Melanzane alla parmigiana ,muffin di zucchine e squaquarone e rucola
Eggplant Parmesan, zucchini muffins and rocket squaquarone

"Melanzane alla parmigiana ,muffin di zucchine e squaquarone e rucola at Al Vecchio Convento"

Melanzane alla parmigiana ,muffin di zucchine e squaquarone e rucola

“Squaquarone” is one of the typical cheeses of Emilia-Romagna.

Tagliolini in insalata con pomodori basilico e cipolla rossa dell’orto
Noodle salad with tomato basil and red onion from the garden

"Tagliolini in insalata con pomodori basilico e cipolla rossa dell’orto"

Tagliolini in insalata con pomodori basilico e cipolla rossa dell’orto

On our final day in Portico, we enjoyed this dish while having lunch at tables set on the lawn with artist Luca Freschi and Here-Everywhere curator Matteo Lucca of the Portico in Arte project.

Torta mousse alla vaniglia e fragole con gelatina di ribes
Vanilla mousse cake with strawberries and currant jelly

" Torta mousse alla vaniglia e fragole con gelatina di ribes - Al Vecchio Convento restaurant"


Torta mousse alla vaniglia e fragole con gelatina di ribes

Zabaione alla birra coi frutti rossi e caramello
Beer sabayon (a light custard) with red fruits and caramel

"Zabaione alla birra coi frutti rossi e caramello"

Zabaione alla birra coi frutti rossi e caramello

"Marisa Cameli at the table in front of Al Vecchio Convento having dessert"

Marisa having a chocolate mousse dessert with us at the Portico in Arte festival

Buon Appetito from Portico di Romagna!

"In the dining room of Al Vecchio Convento"

With Alessandra Catania and Teresa Keane in the Al Vecchio Convento dining room

For more information: Al Vecchio Convento

 

  37 Responses to “Al Vecchio Convento: Buon Appetito!”

  1. […] Raggi and Giovanni Cameli opened Al Vecchio Convento as a restaurant in 1975 creating first-class, gourmet food of homemade local recipes — the type of cuisine […]

  2. […] ever had fresh truffles alone on anything. I was curious what it would be like. For breakfast in the restaurant the following morning we had scrambled eggs on which Matteo had grated one of “our” […]

  3. I’ve never had a truffle no less one hunted fresh by a dog that day and on my scrambled eggs. My eyes just lit up as that had to be crazy good! I must have scrolled up and down four or five times reading each description and looking at each picture. I would easily devour everything you posted here. I’m a pasta/cheese “addict” and I especially love lamb and want to see if I can find something online to even remotely replicate that particular crispy serving you had! Total sincerity, this is one of the most delicious food post I’ve ever read and I’m saving this link, Cathy. Wow and thank you! 🙂

  4. The food looks delectable! What a wonderful place to stay. The question is how did you ever make yourself leave?

    xo

    • It wasn’t easy to leave — believe me. But it helped that we still had more time to spend in other parts of Italy. And of course, I hope we’ll be able to visit Portico again!

  5. Looks delicious!

  6. Giovanni Cameli and his sons, Massimiliano and Matteo, are truly artists. Wow!

    • Indeed! I think this kind of cooking really is an art.

    • Yes Maria, I had the chance to participate at Portico Sotto le Stelle in july for my blog (21grammy.com). An international chefs meeting and it was a pleasure to see Matteo and Massimiliano, in particular. My project Romagna Diffusa Blog Tour wouldn’t have been possible without him and also Silvia Santolini of Le Case Antiche in Verucchio where we bloggers stayed for the second part of the trip! I hope you will have the chance to see Romagna again.

  7. Gosh, everything looks so amazing, I just had lunch — nothing as appetizing as this — and I’m hungry already.
    I don’t have to ask, I can tell you had fun. Hope all this sumptuous food didn’t add any to your waistline, Cathy.

  8. Taste-bud torture is what I would call this. . .my mouth is watering and my stomach growling. A wonderful tale and beautiful photos – hats off to you and Mr. TWS for sharing this delightful experience!

  9. I have to agree with Jackie…these pictures are torture, Cathy. I’m so glad I just had dinner (which now pales in comparison to these amazing dishes). They all look so delicious. What a fun and wonderful experience for the two of you. That beer sabayon is calling me 🙂

    • We really got spoiled with all the wonderful dishes we were served. It was one delicious surprise after another.

  10. Suddenly, I want Italian for dinner. It looks amazing.

  11. Ooh, the risotto looks divine! The Italians do know good food!

  12. That looks absolutely delicious, I think I’m going to have some Tagliolini in insalata con pomodori basilico e cipolla rossa dell’orto tonight 🙂

  13. YUMMMM… Now that’s how I like to eat! I want your life!! And man I love the name Massimiliano lol

  14. It all looks wonderful, Cathy. Italian food at its best is just so delicious, and much more varied than many people realise.

  15. That looks like it’s worth every calorie.

  16. Damn! Now I’m hungry!

  17. Your food photos have been notching Italy along up the list of places I want to return to next – yum!!

  18. Wow. I just ate pasta for my dinner and this makes me ashamed of my culinary skills!

  19. Excellent photos of the food making my mouth water. Ricotta, zucchini flowers and saffron seems heavenly, would love to try this one.

  20. Do you know that I have always wanted to go into a restaurant kitchen and see just how they go about it. I think to be a chef you would need to stay very calm! Great food pics – I am putting on weight looking at them. You have to be careful not to overeat on holidays.
    Have a great weekend, and thank you for stopping by my blog this week.

  21. […] small village like Portico di Romagna, you might be surprised to learn of the gourmet restaurant at Al Vecchio Convento prepared by master chef Giovanni Cameli and his sons, Massimiliano and Matteo (yes, the same Matteo […]

  22. […] a gourmet dining experience at Al Vecchio Convento. It’s about 45 minutes south over the mountain in the medieval village of Portico di Romagna, a […]

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