Spring 2022 menu of Chef Gianfranco Chiarini and why it is worth visiting Dieci for the third time

The dinner starts at 6.30 pm, always. And we cross the treshold of the home of Chef Gianfranco Chiarini and chef Anna Chiarini – Dieci restaurant in Devino village, Bulgarian, right at 6.30 on a beautiful spring day.

6.30 pm
6.30 pm

Each time it feels like the first time and each time we see something new. It is amusing how the landscape around has changed in the past two months since our previous visit. The snow on the gorgeous trees and hills has made room for fresh grass. The almost disappearing asphalt on the road is surrounded by blooming trees, hiding the old abandoned houses in the village.

And although our short walk before dinner makes us a bit sad with its deafening silence and the abandoned old houses around, the building and yard of the former school sparkle in their full glory and bring positive mood . We don’t know what the village looked like before Dieci, but it is obvious that the new role of the former school is bringing some movement to the village. At least one of the old houses is now turned into something like a guest house.

In 2022 Dieci will host 5 special dinners with Michelin Star chefs, who will cook together with Chef Gianfranco Chiarini to present a unique 10-course menu, produced entirely with Bulgarian products. Learn more about the initiative in this article: A CONSTELLATION OF MICHELIN STAR CHEFS COMING TO BULGARIA TO COOK WITH BULGARIAN PRODUCTS.

So, they invite us to come inside. And upon entrance we are stunned by a very beautiful novelty

The paintings of Galina Abadjimarinova

Around the Chiarini family you will always discover some good cause. Nowadays this is the beautiful exhibition of paintings by local artist Galina Abadjimarinova. We do not know her in person but her works immediately touched our hearts. We will be happy to greet her personally some day. She is from Targovishte, where she currently lives and works. Abadjimarinova is a graduate of the National Academy of Arts in Sofia, Bulgaria. Currently she works at Targovishte Drama Theater as a stage designer.

The paintings of Galina Abadjimarinova
The paintings of Galina Abadjimarinova

Her other passion is abstract painting. And when she met the Chiarini family, they got inspired by her works and invited them in their home. The paintings themselves shine with a variety of colours, life, emotions in different shapes and shades. Just like the abundance of emotions everyone visiting Dieci feels. Happily for all art lovers, the paintings are for sale and you can have one of them as soon as you visit Dieci.

6,30 pm

We are lucky to be seated every time on the table between the sofa and the beautiful white cupboard (also acting as a bookshelf). From one side is the large and comfortable sofa, opposite the stove. On the other side is the beautiful white cupboard that hosts the books of Chef Gianfranco and chef Anna Chiarini and other interesting readings. The walls show memories of beautiful moments, including with the legend of French cuisine Paul Bocuse, a teachef of Chef Gianfranco Chiarini. On the table this time we are a company of four. We were very happy to share this moment with friends and connoisseurs of really good cuisine. And while we still explore the novelties in the room, we feel the scrumptious scent of freshly baked bread with saffron. The dinner begins.

Freshly baked bread with saffron
Freshly baked bread with saffron

Dieci’s Spring 2022 menu

Our hosts briefly introduced us to the spring menu and why it is so interesting and difficult to prepare. The spring menus are always the most difficult for seasonal chefs, because there is almost no harvest and fresh products in this season. Everything just starts blooming but harvesting is far away. This is why chef Gianfranco not only cooks with that the season offers, but follows the rhythm of nature to create the stunning things he puts on our table today. So, the spring menu features aged and fermented products, some of them harvested in the autumn. They have passed through the natural rhythm of winter and its peculiarities to return to the table in new light. And the spring blooms from every dish.

The Spring 2022 menu of Dieci restaurant in Devino village
The Spring 2022 menu of Dieci restaurant

The amuse of the night

At Diecie you have the menu in front, you come prepared to some extent but you never know one thing – what is hiding beneath the Amuse Bouche dish. “Most likely something amusing”, says the menu and this is always correct. This time the amuse comes on a stick, covered with gold dust. Inside the elegant sphere is a paste from plums and walnuts from Dieci’s garden, truffles from the nearby forest and just picked plum flower. A warm memory of the past season, but also a colourful entrance to the spring that has already arrived. When they serve you such dishes, you always wonder whether to eat them immediately or treat them like works of art and keep watching their beauty for a bit longer. This is the Dieci experience – emotion for all senses.

Should I eat it or watch it for a bit longer?
Should I eat it or watch it for a bit longer?
Amuse Bouche
Amuse Bouche

The spring menu and wine

We missed to mention that before we were served the first dish, we ordered wine – no such exquisite dinner could go without good wine. The wine list is familiar and features the wines of lovely Villa Melnik winery. This time we felt even more privileged. For the first part of the menu we ordered a bottle of Aplauz Chardonnay Sur Lie 2020 – probably one of the last bottles of this wonderful wine. A week earlier we had tried to buy a box of the chardonnay straight from the winery but they told us vintage 2020 was sold out long ago. So here it is, our lucky last bottle, on the table of Dieci.

Aplauz Chardonnay Sur Lie 2020
Aplauz Chardonnay Sur Lie 2020

And because we mentioned wine, here we will add our next pairings for the spring menu and later we will share more details. After we finished the first bottle, somewhere after the third dish, we continued with a light red wine – И понеже споменахме виното, само ще добавим тук какво още комбинирахме с пролетното меню на Диечи, а по-нататък ще добавим подробности. След привършването на първата бутилка, някъде след третата чиния, избрахме да продължим с по-леко червено вино – Bergule Melnik and Pinot Noir. For the main courses we selected something really special – Rare Varieties: Ruen.

Aplauz Chardonnay Sur Lie 2020
Aplauz Chardonnay Sur Lie 2020

A walk through the seasons

Speaking of fermentation and ageing, here is one great example of these techniques. In the next dish we have spicy pickled red radish and 75 days aged kashkaval cheese. The radish is pickled for 3 months and has preserved its crunchiness. The kashkaval arrived at Dieci fresh and then it was placed in shapes and aged for 75 days in a pit underground. Then it was cold smoked so it doesn’t lose its texture. Finally, in the dish we have incredibly soft and creamy texture and delicate flavour, which, in combination with the spicy radish, is a real explosion. In the dish we also have home-made rose hip mayo which contributes to the amazing symbiosis between all products. В чинията има още домашна майонеза от шипки, която допринася за страхотната симбиоза между всички продукти.

Pickled red radish and aged kashkaval
Pickled red radish and aged kashkaval

Did you notice the fresh micro green? This is sorrel. Chef Gianfranco loves using micro greens in his dishes and we also love this.

Classics of Haute Cuisine

Paying tribute to the classics of haute cuisine is an honour for every chef. Here comes the Pâté de campagne, made of duck, pork and quail liver. There is also pistacchio and dried cranberries. Garnished with porcini crumble, orange jam and something really special that contributes to the WOW effect. This something is the home-made balsamic, made of the rare variety Melnik Jubilee 1300 wine, making the result stunning.

Pâté de campagne
Pâté de campagne

Foie gras? Oh, yes!

We just adore Foie Gras! In all versions. And each time we are looking forward to try the next variation of this amazing product that brings us a wonderful emotion. Our friends on the table, who have spent the past 10 years living in France, were even more excited. And there was a reason for this.

Foie gras
Foie gras

But let’s get back to the dish. Foie gras from Yambol with bacon and fermented jujube. Served with Banitsa crisp and beets dust. The micro greens here are radish and sweet peas. They taste exactly like the fresh vegetables, it is incredible how you can witness an explosion of tastes in such a tiny leaf.

Here we ended the bottle of chardonnay and proceeded to the next wine – Bergule Melnik and Pinot Noir.

Strozzapreti or pasta time

Pasta is something always present in the menus of chef Gianfranco, as a tribute to his native Italy. Strozzapreti is elongated, hand-rolled pasta, typical for the regions of Emilia-Romagna, Toscana, Umbria, Marche. The sauce, from the other side, comes from the typical Bulgarian cuisine. We are always happy to taste chef Gianfranco’s home made Lyutenitsa (peppers, tomatoes, eggplants confit), approved from the local grannies in Devino. There is also tender pulled lamb shoulder, 22 hours sous-vide, that stole the hearts of the girls on the table, who usually do not like lamb. Everything is prepared with fresh olive oil from Italy.

Maria and the strozzapreti
Maria and the strozzapreti

The seas come to us

You cannot imagine how excited Mimi can get when she sees approaching seafood. The fresh langoustines that just arrived on the table, together with smoked bread crumbs and trout roe mayo, made her tremble so intensively that she made a small mess on the table. Here our notes stop for a while, but we all remember that moment. When all of us, full of excitement, started exploring and tasting every single piece of the amazing raw langoustines. After we calmed down, we learned that the langoustines are being delivered from Italy 5 times a week to Dieci restaurant in Devino village. Another proof that everything is possible – you only have to be confident in what you are doing and keep doing it with passion.

Fresh langoustines with trout roe and smoked bread crumbs in Devino village
Fresh langoustines with trout roe and smoked bread crumbs in Devino village

Intermezzo

We have mentioned before than the menu of Dieci includes an official 15-20 minute break, known as Intermezzo. It comes right on time, after the appetisers, so you can take some rest and start processing all the feelings and tastes in your head. We also use the time to ask questions about the products, the techniques and where chef Gianfranco gets his inspiration from. Then his inspiration to open such restaurant in Bulgaria inspires all of us to follow our dreams and not to fall victims to the scepticism around.

Risotto

When an Italian is cooking for you, there is also room for a risotto in the menu. Today’s risotto is with beet and Bulgarian yoghurt, sprinkled with gold dust. We adore the tender texture and the earthy aromas and the umami coming from the Parmiggiano cannot be mistaken.

Risotto with beet and yoghurt at Dieci restaurant, Devino, Bulgaria
Risotto with beet and yoghurt at Dieci restaurant, Devino, Bulgaria

From the Devino forest

Иначе казано – патешко магре. Тук то е приготвено су-вид, а след това завършено на тиган с кожата. А гарнитурата в чинията е повече от любопитна. Първо, има черен шалот, ферментирал 288 часа. До него е ракиен  компот от късна райска ябълка. Всичко е поръсено с прах от люспата на шалот и носи море от горски вкусове.

Here it came the time for a more serious wine – the incredible Rare Varieties: Ruen from Villa Melnik.

Dining at Dieci is also something very personal and special
Dining at Dieci is also something very personal and special

From the Targovishte countryside

Here we are before a challenge again. In our dishes we see a product we usually hesitate to order in general restaurants – beef tongue. However, the best places for food experiments are restaurants like Dieci, which you trust 100 %. So, the beef tongue is a tribute to the popular dish across Bulgaria “Ezik v maslo” – or tongue in butter. This one is cured for 48 hours sous-vide and then grilled. In the dish we also have grilled fennel veloute and Gremolata pesto with parsley, lemon and garlic. The micro greens that contribute to this beautiful picture are nasturtium and sunflower and contribute to a bit spicy finish.

Beef tongue
Beef tongue

Get lost in the dessert

With small steps we proceed to the dessert. We are both eager to try it but a little sad that the spring 2022 menu at Dieci is almost finished. Here we have a pre-dessert and dessert. The first one is home-made almond lavender marzipan with lemon chocolate ganache and gold dust. It is both tender and refreshing, making us dream of an idyllic summer afternoon somewhere in the countryside of south Italy. A soft preparation for the real dessert that will bring the memorable finish of the night.

The time has come for chef Anna Chiarini to present us the most amazing dessert we have ever tried at Dieci. This is the honey ice cream with edible stones from white and dark chocolate and Hay Sheep’s milk Creme Anglais. Refreshing, but still full of flavours, beautiful and emotional, this ice cream made us dream of an Italian summer with a hint of rustic emotion. We are already overwhelmed but there is something more for the final that will remind us that creativity and passion can make miracles.

Rakiacello

We will mention Italy again, but there is a reason for this. We have always loved the Italians’ tradition to drink digestives after dinner. They really help process the food after a rich dinner and the spicy bite of the alcohol brings one last sip of pleasure before the end. Today we are served Rakiacello – something like limoncello, but prepared with Bulgarian Rakia (a strong brandy-style drink), instead of vodka or pure alcohol. It is a wonderful symbiosis between the two products. The lemon taste is notable, but the flavours of Bulgarian rakia cannot be mistaken. Fresh but spicy – the creation Rakiacello is memorable. It comes in two varieties, similar to Limoncello. The second one is Crema de Rakiacello, which is prepared with milk, similar to Crema di Limoncello. And it is not surprising that the ladies on the table prefer the creamy option and the gentlemen – the original Rakiacello.

Rakiacello
Rakiacello

Without a final

The more we live the magic called Dieci, the more confident we become that we will come back again and again. It is definitely a place to visit more than once. The changing seasons sparkle in every dish of every seasonal menu and the creativity of Chef Gianfranco.Chiarini looks endless. Bulgarian and Italian products, world-class creativity and professionalism mix in the former kitchen of the old school in Devino, where Dieci’s kitchen is now hosted. And what comes to the table is a mix of pure elegance and emotion. It is just something you cannot forget or send to the past.

Mimi and the last moments of the evening
Mimi and the last moments of the evening

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