Thursday, 25 August 2005

Country House Montali

The Lakes mentioned the other day wasn’t our first holiday this year. In June, we went to this wonderful vegetarian place in Umbria, Italy.

The owners of Country House Montali have flown the vegetarian flag for about 20 years in a country where there are very few vegetarians.

We got the impression that Country House Montali is not a money-spinner. We are sure that the place would be more profitable if it employed fewer people, catered only for non-vegetarians, and served bland food. It’s our good fortune that they are passionate about vegetarianism and put quality first.

All sorts of people stay there. One couple we met had returned for their second stay – and they weren’t even vegetarians. Incidentally, they did the cookery course and spent four hours preparing an evening meal. They were very tired at the end of it and said that the chefs had started on the meal a few hours before them!

There are about eight people who work at Country House Montali, four of whom are chefs! The chefs spend several hours a day preparing meals. The care and attention put into meals is unparalleled. All the staff have been trained – and it shows. They were helpful, courteous, flexible, and unobtrusive. We always felt relaxed when they were around.

One of us is a vegetarian and the other is a vegan. We did not pay any surcharge for the vegan meals. We have eaten vegetarian and vegan food on six continents. It’s difficult finding vegetarian food in many places; vegan food is almost impossible. Often, we’re relieved when we find something edible. Nonetheless, we have had some great meals, for example, in Vietnam and Sri Lanka. However, the meals at Country House Montali were probably the best we’ve ever had. The flavours were exquisite. The meals were unique: you will not find the recipes anywhere. You could tell that the meals were lovingly prepared by people who had a real passion for food.

If your idea of a great meal is a burger served in a few minutes then Country House Montali is probably not the place for you. The evening meal usually took about two hours. Each course was well paced to allow people time to savour and digest it. You could describe it as gourmet food. However, when we think of gourmet food, we think of well-presented food, in a rather formal setting, that leaves us hungry! This was nothing of the sort. We have large appetites but the portions filled us up – and we were swimming twice a day and sightseeing for six hours a day.

There was a relaxed atmosphere in the dining room too. We frequently talked and joked with the other diners. Some of the diners were not staying at the place but came simply to dine there. We were also pleasantly surprised by the excellent and eclectic music that played in the background. There was something for all tastes.

As if the delicious food was not enough, Country House Montali is located on the top of a plateau. There are picturesque views in all directions. When you add the homely rooms and large swimming pool, you have all the ingredients for an ideal holiday.

We hope you’re beginning to realise what an extraordinary place Country House Montali is. It is, obviously, a labour of love. If you want to eat some of the best food in the world in beautiful surroundings and believe that hotel owners should be passionate about vegetarianism, then Country House Montali is the place for you. We wholeheartedly recommend it!


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