Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Chiusi, Nonna Rosa's, Kamars and the Real Fagioli Toscani
Ceramica Kamars Being such a ceramic fanatic, she wondered why in all the years she had spent near Chiusi, she had never ventured into this Etruscan jewel. Founded in 1958 Kamars takes it’s name from the ancient Etruscan name for the town of Chiusi. They export unique place settings all over the world and provide the tableware for a few of the Etruscan restaurants in the old part of Chiusi (such as, La Solita Zuppa). The artist’s reproductions of antique forms, colors and shapes are a refreshing contrast to the infamous Deruta collections. Everything is hand painted of course, and with his small oven capacity, he produces these wonderful pieces in a very unhurried manner. If you ever have the chance to be in the triangle of this area, Chiusi, Chianciano Terme, Sarteano, stop in to see his wares and have dinner next door at Nonna Rosa’s located in the Hotel Rosati; you will be enormously satisfied.
Nonna Rosa is one of those surprises one does not expect in a “hotel” zone let alone, a three star hotel. This family owned and operated affair offers a step back into the past with wonderful vintage and antique pieces from the 1900’s (to note his collection of Lambrettas).
They are warm and welcoming doing all they can to accommodate needs. Within this environment lies a fabulous restaurant run by the family of course, offering not just local fare, but a creative variation on a theme (the classic Tuscan fare with a flair). The restaurant is decorated in every angle lending the feeling as if in ones own home. There is a wonderful fireplace, sconces rendering soft lighting, candlesticks and candelabras here and there on various tables, chandeliers and lovely drapery not just on the windows. Once the ordering is complete, the time between dishes disappears while studying all the vintage pieces, which in turn, spurn many a conversation as memories related to some of the pieces arise.
Do not be shy when ordering, the portions are not huge and they are fabulous about giving half portions for pasta, you will probably pay for a full one but at least you do not have to throw away half of it. You must have an appetizer (one of their best is the tagliere with pecorino, bruschetta in varying flavors, mini onions, homegrown honey, and fabulous cinta senese cold cuts), a pasta course and main dish. The portion size of the main dish is small and really, just the right size allowing a little bit of room for desert; definitely try their chocolate fondue.
Fagioli Toscani – Simply the Best About Tuscan Cannelini or (White Kidney Beans). Beans must always soak overnight no matter what you read. Before cooking, rinse and add fresh cold water for cooking and do not salt the water until the very end.
For 6 500 gm or 18 oz or 1lb of Cannelini beans 10 Large leaves of Sage, or more if small 20 gm or, a tad less than 1 oz Butter salted 2 Soup spoons of hearty flavored olive oil 2 Soup spoons of tomato sauce Bring the beans to a boil on medium heat, as soon as they begin to boil, turn down low. Cook uncovered until done, not mushy, they need to hold their shape. When done, drain reserving a few spoons of cooking liquid and set aside.
Melt butter and oil together in a large saucepan, (large surface area) When the fats begin to bubble, add the beans the sage either as whole leaves or cut with scissors into three, salt and pepper to taste. Sauté and when almost all the liquid has been absorbed, add the tomato sauce. Stir together well and cook for another two minutes (If the mix seems too dense, add a few spoons of the cooking water from the beans). Serve hot as a side dish, garnished with olive oil and accompanied with crusty bread either plain or toasted and rubbed with garlic.