A surprise at Lodola’s

Carlo Porcu, in his restaurant in Val di Chiana, stands out thanks to his vegetal and harmonious cuisine

01-08-2016
In December 2014 Carlo Porcu, born in 1978, launch

In December 2014 Carlo Porcu, born in 1978, launched in Marciano della Chiana a culinary offer that is as ingenious as himself and his family: La Cucina della Lodola, a great and extremely modern countryside restaurant. Food harmony. Identità Golose paid a visit

Photogallery

Le Verdure sull'Aglione (le foto della fotogallery sono di Tanio Liotta)
Tartare di Fassona all'Acqua Cotta di Porcini
Risotto al Basilico mantecato all'Aromatico De Magi
Il Rosso

«...as for meat, we have some excellent Fassona». Not Chianina in Val di Chiana? At La Cucina della Lodola this is how it works: only the best. So since chef Carlo Porcu – half Tuscan, half Sardinian – knows a breeder of beautiful specimens of the Piedmontese breed in Sinalunga, he’s not scared to opt for these. Besides, «they’re organic, I know what they eat. I buy and personally butcher the animals, and then use every single part in various recipes. If I use this meat raw, no other kind can guarantee it’s as delicate». Perhaps this is also why, in an excellent meal, what strikes the taste buds the most, together with the brain and the soul, is a steak tartare. Had it one thousand times already? Not like this one: the meat is strictly served at room temperature and cut into large pieces. When biting them, they reveal an extra fine nature. The cake hides inside a mellow acqua cotta with porcini; yet the crucial touch are the fresh wild herbs completing the range of aromas, and fixing a perfect balance in your memory.

This small, unexpected masterpiece says a lot about this surprising countryside restaurant opened in December 2014 inside an old tile factory from the Twenties in Marciano della Chiana, which is also the location for design firm Officine904, the brand founded by Carlo’s brother, Paolo Porcu Rodriguez, and his partner, designer Silvia Pavanello.

It’s clear architect Paolo gave a big hand to his brother Carlo in defining the spaces and in the nice design and aesthetic choices that can be also found in the very elegant plates.

What strikes us as food lovers, however, is most of all the choice of presenting, in the heart of carnivorous Tuscany, a cuisine mostly based on vegetables – many coming from the family organic farm – which can also be found in La Dispensa della Lodola, the store selling jams and sauces. There’s always a gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan dish. Thus the meal begins with Le Verdure sull’Aglione, which gives a contemporary look to traditional flavours made even rounder thanks to the Val di Chiana stracciatella made with Maremman milk. Over here, they know exactly what they’re serving you. Then, after the beautiful steak tartare, there’s the Basil risotto with aromatico De Magi cheese (that is to say the iconic pecorino cheese matured with rosemary, sage, bay leaves…): Porcu doesn’t surrender to the temptation of giving it too much sapidity. Even in this case, the herbaceous notes dominate.

Carlo Porcu with Angela Tucci and, to the right, Lorenzo Koene

Carlo Porcu with Angela Tucci and, to the right, Lorenzo Koene

Il Rosso is even more interesting: tortelli made with egg and tomato dough filled with stracciatella, tomato and basil and served with a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar reduction, spheres of vinegar and Parmigiano Reggiano, that is to say «Italy in the summer», delicious. L’Animella e la Cavolella is cooked perfectly and has an excellent pairing of notes and textures; the most ambitious and risky recipe is La Quaglia, a quail served with corn cream, rocket salad, crispy pepper, French beans and scorzone truffle. Many elements, often muscular, which find a remarkable balance, enhancing the aromatic notes (sweet, spicy, earthy, vegetal) of the tender meat of the bird, which comes from a breeder in Florence. Finally, L’Albicocca, a fresh fruity apricot finale.

Born in 1978, Carlo Porcu at Lodola sums up the family tradition in the best way: his uncle is a cook, his mother sells antiques (the shop in Pienza is now run by his sister Anna), his brother is an architect and designer... It’s as if his cooking synthesised atmospheres and existential itineraries devoted to elegance, deliciousness and beauty: truly remarkable. In his style, there’s a clear, evident and very modern harmony (this restaurant would work perfectly in Milan too). This is not a result of his meeting great masters, but seems it spontaneously sprung from his experiences in life: while he was still attending the Saffi catering school in Florence, he worked as a chef for the noble Budini Gattai family. He later took sail as cook first on the Parsifal, also owned by the Budini Gattai’s, then on the Zaca, a historic sail boat built in 1929, also owned by actor Errol Flynn.

Years spent sailing in the Mediterranean Sea, «cooking at sea is a challenge against yourself and nature. When the sea was throwing tantrums, I had to tie my waist to stay in balance and cook in the small pantry. Every time we docked, I went shopping: there was minimal space so I had to be very precise. It was a precious lesson which is still find useful as even now using the right doses is essential in the running of a kitchen».

In 2005 he returned to Tuscany with the opening of Osteria della Lodola, inside the family agritourism Villa La Lodola in Pozzo della Chiana, where you can still taste traditional dishes. In late 2014, as mentioned above, came the further step, made possible also thanks to the forming of a young, close-knit, enthusiastic and brilliant staff, in which 27-year-old Angela Tucci from Arezzo and 29-year-old Lorenzo Koene, Italian from Pomezia (Rome) but with Dutch origins, stand out. Everyone is great. A great, pleasant surprise, even in terms of prices.

La Cucina della Lodola
Via dell’Esse 1
52047 – Marciano della Chiana (Arezzo)
cell. +39.347.3321247
www.lacucinadellalodola.it

Open daily, except on Monday and Tuesday, from 7.30 p.m. till 10 p.m. Open at lunchtime from Friday till Sunday

Average prices:
starters 12 euros
first courses 14 euros
main courses 15 euros
desserts 8 euros
(cover 2,5 euro)


Sections

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Photogallery

Le Verdure sull'Aglione (le foto della fotogallery sono di Tanio Liotta)
Tartare di Fassona all'Acqua Cotta di Porcini
Risotto al Basilico mantecato all'Aromatico De Magi
Il Rosso
L'Animella e la Cavolella
La Quaglia
L'Albicocca