September 1, 2010

New trip announced: Olive Harvest/ Wood Burning Oven/ Photography Workshop, November 8-14

Full itinerary

11:00 Arrivals to Chiusi train station, which is halfway between Florence (catch the 9:13 train at SMN) and Rome (catch the 8:43 train at Termini).
We will head for the old part of Chiusi, the heart of the Etruscan world. Our first stop is the celebrated Etruscan museum for a quick overview of Etruscan civilization, then a pasta demo and lunch at Pesce d’Oro, a lakeside trattoria. The meal is what we imagine that the Etruscans ate: fresh perch from the lake smoked over canes and dressed with local olive oil, pici (the local pasta with ancient roots), and the local Sangiovese wine.

Once we have settled into Poggio Etrusco, we will head to Enoteca la Porta in the medieval village of Monticchiello where we will have a demonstration of a dish using farro, an ancient strain of wheat. We’ll have some time to stroll around charming Monticchiello, then return for dinner and a lesson from a wine master on the spectrum of wines in Tuscany (tasting a range of sangiovese in purezza).

Morning olive harvest, farmhouse lunch. Today we boost our energy with risotto al porcini, grilled sausage and peperonata, a tasting of local pecorino cheeses, and fresh ricotta with chestnut honey. After lunch we will visit a local cantina (winery).
Tonight we will learn about cheesemaking from a local cheesemaker and have dinner at his organic farm.

Morning market and a cooking class to make a classic Tuscan lunch: crostini fegatini, Ribollita, roasted chicken and potatoes. Dessert is a fig crostata.
Continue with harvest.

After we freshen up, we will head the charming Renaissance hilltown of Pienza, famous for its Pecorino cheese. Dinner tonight in the private home of a Marchesa whose ancestors count several cardinals and the mother of Pope Pius II. She is also renowned locally for the meals she serves.

This morning we bring our olives to the frantoio (olive pressing mill). After our olives are pressed, we will toast fresh bread, rub it with garlic, and drizzle on our very own fresher-than-fresh olive oil.
We then transfer to meet Peggy Markel.
Welcome to La Cucina al Focolare! Get settled in your rooms then come into the kitchen for a heartwarming lunch.

Take a break in the afternoon to rest~ or take a nice long walk through the country roads to sink yourself into the Florentine Hills. Come back to the kitchen for an aperitivo. We'll stoke the wood-fired ovens for pizza, foccaccia, letting you make your own and teaching you how to use the pizza peel. Expect music, laughter and a few folded pizzas.

Drive into Florence, destination Cibreo Cafe for the most sublime cappuccino in the city. We will meet and have a rare and candid discussion with Fabio Picchi, chef owner of Ristorante Cibreo , the Cafe', the Trattioria and now the Teatro del Sale. Fabio has two books under his belt now, rather biblical titles, 'I Dieci Commandamenti Per Non Fare Peccato In Cucina'. 'The 10 Commandments To Not Be Shameful In The Kitchen', and the new 'Senza Vizi and Senza Sprechi'. More or less the 7 deadly sins, but more importantly, ' Virtues in the kitchen and a passion for leftovers'.

We'll shop the outdoor market of St. Ambrogio for our afternoon class. Lunch at Teatro del Sale. We'll take a walk through the historic 'centro' of Florence, cross the Ponte Vecchio and have a glass of wine at the 'Volpe e L'uva' before heading up the hill to cook. The late afternoon and evening will be dedicated to hearty Tuscan cool weather dishes like pate of cauliflower and fennel seeds, a mixed roast of stuffed pigeon, pork loin with aromatic salt, deboned chicken rolled rolled an herb frittata, and local sausages, creamy zolfini beans and sage, cavolo nero, and biscotti di Prato.

We'll roll across the valley to Bombone, where we'll meet Peggy's dear friend Pierre Cusseau. A French shepherd of aromas. Pierre has a fabulous way of sharing his passion for culinary herbs. His gift is not only in growing them, but mixing them with tasty grey salts from Normandy. Smelling the various mixtures in the jars, while smelling them in the air is indeed an aromatherapeutic experience not only for the nose, but the palate.
Lunch and a wine tasting at Selvapiana Winery. Afternoon will be back in the kitchen for more flavors of fall using chestnuts, winter squashes and wild game. Tiramisu for dessert. Wine tasting proceeds dinner wine expert Bernardo Conticelli.

Departures after breakfast

Cost for this program is 3180 Euros per person (approximately $4074 USD at 9/1 exchange rate).

For more details and to book, please contact us at

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