Culinary Travels in Tuscany: Let This Journey Begin
It was breathtaking, romantic, beautiful and rustic with all its charm that I discovered each day I woke. I have never been to Italy, let alone Tuscany! And this trip did NOT disappoint!
The adventure was arranged by Jason Capps and Alessandra Wilson, who built a beautiful custom experience for us all. We were a group of twelve, all foodies, and the expectation was for the trip was to be culinary forward and for us to enjoy all the cultural aspects of the area in an intimate environment!
We landed in Pisa Galileo Airport, not only greeted by our host, Jason, but the magnificent sunshine. We took a short ride to Camporomano, which is a secluded, medieval property towards the top of a lush green mountain ran by our guide Niccolo and his family. We enjoyed an afternoon aperitivo, antipasti in the breathtaking atmosphere and at this moment I knew I could relax and enjoy our culinary travels in Tuscany! We dined that evening at La Piazzetta, a fabulously traditional trattoria in the heart of an ancient borgo! The sunset was magnificent, and it felt like we were one of the locals! We were dizzy with anticipation of the possibilities of what lay ahead.
The next day, we chartered an old world wooden ferry to take us along the jagged and colorful Cinque Terre coastline. To witness these ancient towns from the sea was truly remarkable. While we enjoyed the views, we were entertained by Chef Andre, who dined us on local cheeses, meats, olives, breads and wine–all the ingredients needed to make me say, “Oh, my. How lovely is this!?”
Yes, I can make basil pesto, but how I make it and how an Italian makes it–now that is something different. It is so wonderfully romantic, and yes, I do have to say, the Italians have a way and a passion that just makes every taste perfectly delicious!
Chef Andre described the basil pesto as he prepared it, in a way that only a true Italian could:
It is all about the size of the leaf.
You can buy the 40 percent leaf size or the 80 percent leaf size. Here we have the beautiful 40 percent leaf.
The veins are where all the flavors lie.
Just smell the aroma!
Only use EVOO there is no substitute and preferably Italian, of course! And the cheese, finely grated pecorino, of course!
Pine nuts. Buy quality, not those China imitation nuts, of course!
Okay, got it!
Although he had his Carrara marble pestle and mortar, he did “cheat” and make his pesto in a blender! Not that it detracted from the flavor, I might add! Chef Andre then prepared our lunch using the trofie pasta that originated in this region and is typically served with pesto–so tender and magnificently, favorably delicious!
More please! The skies were blue. The sites were marvelous, and we were able to experience the narrow streets and charms of the villages and walk off the delights of lunch and find ourselves a gelato. At sunset, we traveled for dinner at Sanzara at La Ghiaia Vineyard, a quaint spot above the harbor where we tasted wine and ate Ligurian barbecue to the sounds of jazz musicians.
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