Ancestral flavors with a note of noble rural tradition.
In Monetemerano, a medieval jewel set in the Tuscan Maremma, a labyrinth of alleys within ancient town walls brings us to the prestigious gourmet restaurant Relais & Chateaux Da Caino. More than forty years ago Angelo and Carisio (dubbed Caino) opened a wine shop, which laid the foundation for what would become one of the most renowned two Michelin star restaurants, run by the elegant mastery of Chef Valeria. Just a few steps away, rich in precious rarity, the cellar is under the watchful eye of Maurizio Menichetti, who grew up in the midst of superior “tannins.” Quintessential cooking, rural elegance, unusual hues all give way to dishes with a creative delicacy, precisely for those who have passion and a desire to tell and remind of a feel for native pleasantries.
Innovate without deviating, because “Buon Gusto”, or good taste, must always be triumphant at the table.
GSM: Tradition, territorial culture and passion: these are the lasting ingredients to the added value of Ristorante Caino. What is the clientele looking for in a world-famous place such as this?
VP: I believe the clientele come to Da Caino in Montemerano from other parts of Italy or from abroad because they are seeking and expecting true flavors, and also because they are attracted by the allure of our land, the Maremma, which is still a bit wild. Finally, they come to follow a taste itinerary which draws upon memory, yet moves towards the future.
GSM: From a long-standing village trattoria to a top of the range restaurant, with territorial continuity: How did this evolution come about? Which taste does this tradition prefer?
VP: I would say that the transition took place gradually, thanks to my –and my whole family’s – love of both cooking and the area, together with observation and study of Italian and international haute cuisine culture.
GSM: For a chef nowadays, is it more important to impress or seek tradition?
VP: It is still necessary and essential to be rooted in tradition and study it in order to be better acquainted with it; after that, thanks to technique and personal inspiration, you can amaze the customer.
GSM: Is the Chef more of an artist or an artisan?
VP: I think the Chef is a bit of both. An artist because her creations are works of art, virtual ideas which then are developed into reality and brought to life on the plate like on a blank canvas. An artisan because she works with her hands, transforming raw material.
GSM: Michelin Star Chef – what qualities does a chef need to get to this level?
VP:First of all, it takes considerable preparation, and working your way up, hopefully flanking a great chef. Then study, perseverance, and humility: qualities that are increasingly hard to find, especially in the younger generation.
GSM: What is your leading dish next season?
At New Year’s, customers really enjoyed buffalo’s milk Cagliata (curd), almonds, sea urchins, black truffle, and bottarga (salted fish roe). We’ll put it in writing soon, but for spring we’re working on new dishes with pigeon and fish.
Author: Chiara Melani