Le Casellacce sits almost exactly in the center of an imaginary line between Parma and Florence, in a very scenic setting with beautiful views of the surrounding landscapes of Emilia Romagna. Italy stirs the soul – and whets the appetite too. Together with her husband, Benedetta Samori runs an Agriturismo business here which perpetuates old recipes and traditions, adding a few modern twists along the way. The talented cook speaks about her homeland, her inspirations, and her philosophy of pleasure.
Anyone seeking impressive natural experiences, rest, recuperation, and authentic Italian cuisine will be richly rewarded in Le Casellacce. Visitors can explore the local flora and fauna and relax on the panoramic terrace, which more than lives up to its name.
Just a stone’s throw from Benedetta Samori’s restaurant is SWAROVSKI OPTIK’s Italian showroom, where our philosophy of “inspiring people with the beauty of nature” is practiced on a daily basis.
Le Casellacce is my homeland. It is a beautiful place, but it also involves a great deal of work, passion, and commitment. For us, it is the long-term vision of each individual employee, the many different components of a company, looking toward the future. Le Casellacce is our garden, as familiar as the taste of an authentic recipe. It is sport, bird watching, and the outdoors. Le Casellacce is each and every one of us.
My passion for game cooking dates back to my childhood as I grew up in a family of hunters. Even my mother, Monica, was a passionate hunter, starting out with one of the first Fratelli Piotti rifles.
This environment has been the air I have breathed since childhood, and this now stands me in very good stead as chef in a restaurant where the menu revolves predominantly around game dishes. So it wasn’t difficult for me to put my mother’s cooking tips into practice in Le Casellacce. But we all want to continue to learn and develop, so I look to great chefs such as Massimo Bottura in the Osteria Francescana in Modena for inspiration, with his signature dish “La lepre nel bosco” (The hare in the woods). But ultimately, the real highlights in our countryside restaurant are dishes that remind you of sociable evenings at the end of a long day hunting in the forest.
The only way to truly get to know nature is to profoundly experience all its seasonal changes. We have learned many things from people who have spent their entire lives in close contact with nature. But the rest comes from our own careful observations or our discoveries in relation to cultivation techniques or management of green spaces. It is very important to us to ensure that all human interventions in nature now consider the aspect of sustainability. This also applies in relation to animals and hunting. I grew up in a family that believed in “hunting for need” rather than indiscriminately. It’s almost a philosophy of hunting to meet our own right for sustenance.
While our move from the small neighboring village of Montese to Le Casellacce meant a change in the family organization, there was no great adjustment process for us. Both my husband and I have always been accustomed to living in harmony with nature. The choice of Le Casellacce was a professional decision that also satisfied our need for authenticity.
The culinary principles
I enjoy cooking lighter versions of my mother’s recipes to appeal to a younger audience. For example, my pheasant breast cooks in its own broth, with the addition of a slight exotic twist to meet the taste of generations of world travelers. Of course, all ingredients of the dishes in Le Casellacce follow the “zero-kilometer principle.” In other words, they are all sourced in the local region.
The menu reflects the changing seasons: in fall, we have mushrooms and truffles; in summer, edible berries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries picked along the streams of the Cascate del Doccione waterfall. These are my favorite ingredients for game dishes and venison tartare. The carne salada with taggiasca olives, anchovies, capers, and cherry tomatoes from the garden is a classic dish that I prepare all year round, along with hare in oil, cooked and stored in a glass container with rosemary, sage, garlic, and juniper berries.
La dolce vita
A low-alcohol liqueur is an essential accompaniment to any game-based lunch, reminiscent of the Renaissance cuisine tradition: nocino, blueberries and sloe berries, like at the court of Catherine de’ Medici.