Today our local guest is Umberto Ferrari, owner and head chef of the Albergo Miramonti in Comano.
Located at 600 metres in the Parco Nazionale Appennino Tosco-Emiliano, the Albergo Miramonti offers views across Lunigiana. Its restaurant, which is well known for its fine food and use of local produce, offers a range of Italian dishes, including specialities from Lunigiana. Umberto also runs cookery classes.
Umberto has kindly offered to tell us about the Miramonti and the cooking lessons he offers.
Umberto, do tell us about the Miramonti
The Albergo Miramonti, which includes a hotel, restaurant and bar, was established in 1913 by Aristide Brunelli, called Il Gallo (the rooster) by the locals. Brunelli was an important figure in the tourist industry because, at the beginning of the 20th century, Comano was the only place in Lunigiana to offer tourist accommodation and people from the nearby cities came here to relax and enjoy the scenery. The area was known as La Perla della Lunigiana, the pearl of Lunigiana, or La Piccola Svizzera, little Switzerland.
My family bought the hotel in 1960. We come from a long line of innkeepers dating back to 1918 when we first owned the Apino hotel and restaurant at the Cerreto Pass, not far from here. My family’s roots are in the village of Scanderaruola, the village on the rock on the road from Comano to Sassalbo.
Today, the Miramonti is run by my sister, Laura, and me. We can accommodate up to thirty guests in our hotel, which by the way has a lovely swimming pool. We believe in taking special care of our guests. For us this means offering them our traditional, courteous hospitality and great food in a wonderful location – we think it makes all the difference.
You are responsible for the Miramonti’s reputation for fine food, tell me more
In the Miramonti’s restaurant, we specialise in both traditional dishes from Lunigiana and Tuscan cuisine. And of course, we source as many of our ingredients as possible locally. Our eggs, chestnut flour, porcini mushrooms, vegetables, the fruit for the jam we serve at breakfast, as well as lamb, chicken and rabbit are all produced locally. We make our own bread and focaccia using flour from Mulino Zangani, and our cheese and ricotta come directly from a local shepherd.
Many visitors to Lunigiana are interesting in learning more about the food of the region. I believe you offer cooking lessons.
Yes, I regularly run cookery classes, particularly for visitors to Lunigiana. The classes are tailored to the client’s interests. Some people want to learn how to make the traditional dishes of Lunigiana, others are interested in dishes from Tuscany or other parts of Italy. I can also offer lessons in specific cooking techniques such as how to make pasta, bread, sauces, arrosti, or my speciality, pastry. I can manage up to ten to twelve people maximum in a class, which I can teach in English or Italian. If you prefer and you have a good kitchen, I can conduct the lesson in your holiday home. Just give me a call or send me an email and we can discuss what suits you best.
As a chef, you have worked in many places. What is your background?
I have worked in many restaurants both here in Italy and in the United States, so I have a good solid training as a chef. My speciality is pastry, and I love to bake cakes, such as the typical Easter cake of Comano, the Carscenta, which my grandmother taught me how to make. I am a certified sommelier and recently I qualified as a cheese taster. When I was away in the big cities learning my trade, my heart always remained in Lunigiana. Having gained the necessary experience as a chef, I finally returned to manage the restaurant and kitchen of my hotel here in Lunigiana, which is where I prefer to live.
What are your personal favourite dishes?
From Lunigiana, my favourite dish is testaroli with pesto. From other parts of Italy, I love ossobuco with peas, risotto alla Milanese, and papardelle with hare sauce. They are all simple dishes but delicious.
Finally, would you mind telling us a bit about yourself
I live with my sister and my nephew, as I am not married. I am a self-made man and work hard so, in the winter when the hotel is not so busy, I like to travel the world. I am a very keen sportsman – I ski, play football and I love dancing. I have had horses ever since I was a child, and am very excited to be involved in a very interesting project here in Comano where, together with the Appennino Tosco-Emiliano National Park, we are soon to open a new equestrian centre. I am also hoping to write a book about the Miramonti and Comano to celebrate the centenary of the hotel in 2013.
Thanks you Umberto. It is great to learn about the Miramonti and your cooking classes.Albergo Miramonti Via Roma, 51
54015 Comano (MS)
Tel. 0187 484563 Website: www.miramonti-albergo-ristorante.it Email: firstname.lastname@example.org