Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cooking in Como

If you need a reason to go to Lake Como, here's one. Even on a rainy day, it looks like this:

You'd think that after Cinque Terre I'd be desensitized to picturesque towns perched on hills above water, but no. Lake Como is another world entirely.

I took the train to Varenna and the ferry boat across the lake to my destination of Menaggio. My hostel was perched up on a hill overlooking the lake. As seen from the ferry, my hostel is the yellow building in the center.

I walked the town in search of wifi, and ended up trapped under a cafe umbrella during a downpour. Something about it felt quite cozy.

The town was empty due to the rain and chilly weather, but I found dinner, a cheap liter of delicious red wine, and all the company I needed back at the hostel. It's hard to overstate the stunning view.

The next day, I took the ferry back to Vernazza and waited in the main square to be picked up for a cooking course at a local restaurant. Rosella, the chef's wife, picked us up and drove us up and over the hill on a series of winding one-lane (but two-way) roads. The restaurant is tucked away on a small street in a building which the family has owned for eight or so generations (they've lost count).

Moreno, the chef, showed us how to make Tagliatelle Putanesca and Gnocchi Gorgonzola, every bit of it from scratch. Perhaps the most impressive moment is when a thin sheet of pasta dough, folded over itself, magically becomes tagliatelle.

YouTube Video

I got to try my hand at making gnocchi. It isn't particularly hard, but I could have done without the fifteen person audience. The most fun part is dusting the flour, which must be done from up high for both evenness and showmanship. Oh, and I liked making the ridges by rolling it off my fork.

We savored every bite of our meal. Food tastes much better when you've salivated over every step of the cooking process.

No time to linger. I said goodbye to Moreno and ran outside where Rosella was waiting to drive me to the train station. I'm a busy guy, you know, and I wouldn't want to keep Zurich waiting!

Location:Menaggio, Lake Como, Italy


  1. Lake Como is on my list! I want to hear more about it. You are truly on a life adventure, so glad you are taking it all in. Best. K

  2. Noah, tu sei benissimo! Buona fortuna a Zurich. A nice town but awfully expensive. You're a fine travel writer!- Jeff