Paste your Google Webmaster Tools verification code here

The Art of Living Beautifully » Live with purpose. Live with faith. Live with beauty.

Masthead header

Guest Blogger-Patrizia Montanari

PrintOne month prior to launching this site, I decided to use a little bribery as a way to increase subscribers. My first of four giveaways was admittance to the Summer Harvest Cooking Class taught by Chef Robert Lyford, the famous sandwich-smyth at Patina Green. Few people realize he is more than just a panini maker with a knack for flavor combinations and a love of all things local and organic. He is actually a classically trained chef, and his farm-to-table approach to sandwich making appears to be paying off. The line during lunching hours is always long, albeit quick–patrons don’t mind waiting for one of his sandwiches, though. Not only are they delicious, but the setting within Chef Robert’s storefront is gorgeous as a result of his wife’s eclectic taste in European and American antiques. It’s a unique business for the downtown McKinney Square, but one that was incredibly necessary and very well received. An upscale antique store stocking vintage and one-of-a-kind objects, many of them made by local artisans, paired with a sandwich bar and organic produce market. Whooda thunk?

As a result of Chef Robert’s training and stellar reputation for inspired ingredients, you can imagine how quickly his cooking classes fill. When I announced the winner of TWO tickets to the class was Patrizia Montanari, we had never met, nor did I know she was a Milanese transplant or a fellow blogger. We stayed in touch after the giveaway, and she agreed to be a guest blogger for The Art of Living Beautifully, recounting her flavorful experience at the cooking class. Her words are below along with a few of her gorgeous photographs which she posts regularly on her own blog, On The Square Blog. This month she added a page to her site called The Shop where you may purchase greeting cards with her photographs of downtown McKinney on the front; a beautiful way to share the simple pleasures of our small, but thriving square. Enjoy her words. Enjoy her pictures. Then go and enjoy a sandwich at Patina Green.

Ciao for now-Lauren

The day Lauren announced I had won the Summer Harvest cooking class with Chef Robert Lyford from Patina Green Home and Market I just could not believed my eyes!

I never win anything, but I also never really try very hard… this time it was different. I saw a post about the Art of Living Beautifully on Facebook and I thought it sounded perfect and with such a lovely title for a blog that I wanted to support it. Whatever she was going to talk about sounded delightful and graceful so I was already a fan of the Art of Living Beautifully.

I do try to live beautifully, sometimes is hard with two toddlers but I do enjoy and appreciate beautiful and tasteful things.. I grew up in Milan, Italy and I spent a couple of months every year in the south of Italy at my grandparents farm in the country. Smell and taste are my favorite senses and if I close my eyes sometimes I can day dream or remember beautiful moments just adoring or tasting beautiful food.

 The evening of the cooking class I was very excited as well as curious. I drove up to the Luscombe Farm, where the class was held, with my dear friend Maria, she is from Spain and we both welcomed a couple of hours of fun and relaxation in the middle of the country in Anna TX. 

The Luscombe Farm is owned by Leslie and her family, her jams are very well known locally and sell all over the country. She makes delicious flavors like Jalapeño Blackberry or Jalapeño Peach and Sweet Fire made with apricots, purple onions, habaneros and red peppers, all from her farm. Her aunt, Martha, lives across the street and owns Martha’s garden, a breath taking Iris Garden that opens to public in Spring and is the most beautiful place to admire Irises in bloom.

I am a regular at Patina Green or as I like to call myself, a local. I knew it was going to be amazingly amazing but what I didn’t really know is that I was going to celebrate the preciousness of healthy and real food. 

I do not follow recipes, I never did, I never wanted to. I hate cooking programs and I can’t stand going to the grocery store with a list. But this was different, this was pleasant, natural and special, just how I love it. Just like my mother has always taught me, just like how I cook for my family everyday, from my heart and following my instinct.  

Chef Robert was accompanied by Chef Andrew, who also works at the Restaurant, and his beautiful wife Kaci. His introduction to the class was this: “We are about to learn techniques not recipes”.

That felt great as I would rather take photos than notes!

Patina Green preserves are on the cover of the Summer issue of Edible and I have tried them several times and they are just to die for – my favorite is the sliced onion – I used them as a Christmas gift for a couple of friends and they still talk about it every time I see them!

Robert was very engaging and thorough, he explained he was going to show us the process of preparing a summer menu using fresh ingredients from local farms and absolutely on season. Some ingredients were from Austin, which is ahead of Dallas climately and some others from East Texas but we also got to enjoy some pork belly from our friend Matt at Local Yocal Farm to Market in Downtown McKinney and Feta cheese from Full Quiver Farms in Kemp, TX. He taught us the importance of talking to our farmers at the farmers market, get to know them more and to find out about what we buy and eat. Because ultimately we are what we eat.

This is the menu and ingredients from that wonderful evening and a few images to dive into the wonderful ambience. But please don’t ask me about recipes, just join the next class!


Filed Peas, Beets, Buttermilk, Cornbread

*Field Peas (Vinaigrette – 1/3c Vinegar, 2/3c Grapeseed Oil, 1T Mustard, Dill)

*Beets (Butter, Olive Oil, Salt)

*Creme Freiche (Equal Parts Cream & Buttermilk)

*Cornbread (2 1/2c All Purpose Flour, 1 1/3 Cornmeal, 1c Sugar, 3T +1tsp Baking Powder, 1T Kosher Salt, 4 Eggs, 10oz Melted Butter)


Braised Leeks & Pork Belly

*Leeks (Butter, Chicken Stock, Salt, Lemon Juice)

*Pork Belly – 2.25Kg (Cure – Charcuterie/Ruhlman: 50 g Kosher Salt, 50g Brown Sugar, 12g Pink Salt, 60ml Maple Syrup)


Peaches, Feta & Pecans

*Peaches (Lemon Juice, Sugar, Salt)

*Feta (Full Quiver Farms)

*Pecans (Brown Butter, Ribbon Cane)



Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *