Experts will tell you that Tuscan food is exceptional because it is based on “fresh ingredients.” Fantastic! What does that mean?
Imagine holding a fresh egg that is still warm from the hen. Hear the distinct snap as you crack that egg and place it on a flat surface. Take in the fresh smell. See the shiny orange (yes, orange) perfectly round, thick yolk that stands about ¾ inch high. Notice the compact and lustrous white of the egg, so very distinct from the yolk. Observe that the entire circumference of the egg is around 4-5 inches. Perfect.
You combine this egg with freshly ground (Italian) flour to make pasta dough. The color of the dough is a vivid gold, the smell of the pasta is enticing and the texture is smooth and firm in your hands.
Toss that pasta into briskly boiling salted water. It retains its shape and easily cooks to an “al dente” (firm in the middle) phase.
Finally, combine your perfectly cooked pasta with your favorite sauce or ragú (that you made using all the freshest possible ingredients). Heaven!
Compare the egg used in this case with that of an egg bought from your local grocery store. Crack it and the shell might crumble into many pieces. Place it on a flat surface; you will often see a pale yellow yolk that blends into the white of the egg. The egg white is runny and quickly spreads all over the surface.
You may, of course, not be able or willing to reach under a hen’s rear end to retrieve a warm egg. The point is, always be meticulous about using the freshest possible ingredients. Learn to read the signs of freshness and quality.
This is how the Tuscans approach cooking – with simplicity, attention to freshness and details and love. This is how my 99-year-old mother still cooks today.
Try this approach, no matter what you are making. This can apply to cooking, sewing, writing, painting or whatever you enjoy. Your outcome is only as good as the attention and love you put into each detailed step of the process, each moment along the way.
And, when your end result is something totally wonderful? Like the Tuscans, share it joyfully with people you love!
If you are a lover of food and/or Italy, this enthusiastic Vimeo video from the Perennial Plate will make you happy.
Among the top 10 things to love about Italy are, of course, pizza, pasta, espresso, prosciutto, parmigiano, gelato and more.
I am already drooling and homesick!
As reported in our post from May 1, 2013, “Gelato University in Italy for International Students,” Carpigiani (the world leader in gelato machines) has opened a gelato university at their headquarters near Bologna, Italy
This is the headquarters of Carpigiani, the world’s biggest gelato machine. Next door are the and Museum of Gelato Culture and Technology.
People from around the world are anxious to attend this new university.
Now NPR reports on an actual visit to this delicious and unique university.
When Lorenza De Medici, famous author and cookbook writer, founded the Badia a Coltibuono cooking school over 20 years ago in the Chianti region, she provided an idyllic setting for visitors to learn the secrets of authentic regional Italian cuisine. Highly-trained Tuscan chef Andrea Gagnesi is carrying on her original idea while adding modern techniques and recipes to his teachings.
I was fortunate enough to visit the school when I visited Italy last September and witness an actual class. Chef Andrea’s English is excellent and the group of tourist/students were captivated and enthusiastic.
The rustic kitchen in this 1000-year-old abbey is amazing. Add to that ambiance the juxtaposition of the freshest possible display of simple-but-exquisite ingredients (like fresh sheep milk ricotta, beautiful garden vegetables, and the abbey’s own organic e.v.o.o) and you have magic.
On the particular day I visited, Chef Andrea created a number of courses.
Among these were freshly made Paccheri (a rustically cut pasta) with a sauce made from uncooked tomatoes and fresh herbs, individual servings of eggplant parmesan, and an aromatic Panzanella (a Florentine summer salad of bread and tomatoes). The dessert was individually baked crostate (tortes) with extra virgin olive oil dough instead of the usual butter dough (pasta frolla).
My fellow traveler Ginny and I were lucky enough to sample all the courses among the general ooohs and aaahs of the students.
The cooking courses are held from March to November, and offer a splendid chance to immerse oneself in the unique lifestyle and hospitality of a 1000 year old abbey while savoring the fantastic tastes and sights that this beautiful region offers.
The lessons are taught by Tuscan Chef Andrea Gagnesi who has a perfect command of English , a natural easy going style and a hand’s on approach, Andrea ensures that guests bring home authentic Italian recipes and menus to be used year round for all occasions.
Cooking School: http://www.coltibuono.com/pagebase.asp?s=18&s2=61
Chef Gagnesi’s Blog (With Recipes): http://andreagagnesi.blogspot.com/
Whether you are a passionate home-based gelato enthusiast or a professional pastry chef, these courses are designed to maximize your gelato-making talent.
Learn from gelato masters in Italy (classes are available in English) at courses that vary from one day to four weeks. You can study at the Gelato University in Italy (near Bologna in the Emilia Romagna region of central Italy), you can attend courses in a variety of countries or even online.
Carpigiani Gelato University is an international center of learning dedicated to training entrepreneurs who want to enter the gelato business or who already work with gelato and want to improve their abilities. Around 12,000 courses every year are donein our gelato school by top chefs.
Started by the manufacturers of the well-known Carpigiano professional gelato machines, university representatives state:
Indeed, our main goals are developing the art and science of gelato production, the comprehensive training of gelato entrepreneurs, and the promotion of Italian gelato as a natural and flavorful food suitable for all cultures.
For more information:
Festivities | 17 May 2013 from 12:00 a.m. to 26 May 2013 23:45 p.m. Florence (FI) –
In May 2013, the“Italian Gelato Tour,” road show involving the best ice cream makers and industry leaders from Italy and abroad, aims to promote this amazing, traditional Italian frozen dessert. Gelato was invented during the Renaissance by the versatile artist Bernardo Buontalenti.
The event takes place in some of the most beautiful locations in Florence.
The Italian Gelato Tour is designed by the creators of Firenze Gelato Festival to spread the culture of ice cream all over the country and increase the involvement of all the Italian regions in the values, pleasures, and traditions of the best-loved frozen dessert in the world. Particular attention will be dedicated to all participants, from professionals to entrepreneurs to amateurs, who want to get closer to the world of gelato.
The Italy Gelato Tour will stop in Florence from May 17 to 26, 2014 with the Firenze Gelato Festival.
One hundred days before the inauguration of Firenze Gelato Festival 2013, the selection of ice cream masters for all stages of the Tour began.
Firenze Gelato Festival 2013 and Italy Gelato Tour 2013 are indeed the perfect settings for any gelato maker: For those who make ice cream with passion, for those for whom gelato is a vocation and for those who have personality, charisma, communication skills and team spirit and want to propose a product that is innovative, creative and of high quality.
For info and contacts:
tel: 055 47891322.
Where it takes place
|Piazza Santa Maria Novella, 1 – 50123 – Florence|
- ‘Just say no’ to Parmigiano: I must agree with Mario Batali (one of my heroes) when he says that Parmigiano Reggiano is the “Undisputed king of cheese.” Italians sprinkle parmesan onto and into many dishes, from appetizers to main courses.
Exception to note: Italians to do not add Parmigiano to any dishes with seafood (pasta or main course).It is considered somewhat sacrilegious to add such a strong-flavored ingredient as Parmigiano to the (incredibly) fresh and delicate taste of fish or shell fish.I have actually seen waiters at restaurants in Italy refuse to bring Parmigiano to someone who has ordered seafood pasta!
- Names and sequence of courses in a meal:At a restaurant, or at home for special occasions, Italians meals flow in this order: Read more
I love Italian wines and always have a glass with my dinners. I also use Italian wines for cooking and giving dishes more depth.
Here, from L’Italo-Americano, is yet another way to use Italian wines – gelatin desserts!
From Campaya Holdiay Rentals and Emma Louise: There are at least 5 essential experiences one must have while in Tuscany. Have you done all 5?
by Allard One
In a recent event featured in the Wine Spectator, the :Wine Experience’s: final seminar, “The Best of the Boot,” panelists tasted a vast array of wines ranging from sparkling wine to Barolo to Amarone.
1) Ferrari Brut Trento Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore 2001 (91 points, $100)
2) Jermann Venezia-Giulia Vintage Tunina 2009 (NYR, $NA)
3) Falletto di Bruno Giacosa Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto Riserva 2007 (NYR, $NA)
4) Gaja Nebbiolo Langhe Conteisa 2008 (NYR, $240)
5) Castello di Ama Chianti Classico Vigneto Bellavista 2007 (93, $200)
6) Biondi-Santi Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Greppo Riserva 2006 (97, $600)
7) Antinori Toscana Tignanello 2008 (92, $105)
8) Tenuta San Guido Bolgheri-Sassicaia Sassicaia 2008 (94, $220)
9) Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore Ornellaia 2009 (94, $215)
10) Masi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Mazzano 2003 (93, $200)