Apologies for the delay… Major problemos with my computer and I just couldn’t upload photos! What’s the point of tormenting you with my trip if I can’t supply the photos, eh?😀
Darn, with each new day came new adventures but also brought us closer to the end. This day was a fun one, for sure! We were off to Podere il Casale, a 100% organic, self-sufficient working farm where sheep and goats were raised to make the famous Pecorino cheese. As well, the outdoor wood-burning stove was ideal for bread making. Aww shucks. We were going to learn all about cheese and how to make Tuscan bread and foccacia. How sad. Broke my heart, really.😀
Tuscan bread cooling off
All kinds of pecorino
Dark shows how aged these are
The owners of the farm, a lovely couple named Sandra and Ulisse (originally from Switzerland) were wonderful hosts. Ulisse is a self-taught cheese master and Sandra does hostess duties.
Allora, first things first. As bread and foccacia need time to rise, first thing to do was to get the breads started. Piero, our bread teacher was so very sweet and charming. Most of us were put on foccacia duty while four were put on Tuscan bread duty. Mixing and kneading and resting – interesting note: as salt was once so expensive it was used as currency, the Tuscans did not salt their bread. They’ve kept up the practice.
Time to rise
While the dough was doing its magic, Sandra took us on a tour of the farm, introducing us to all the animals and showing us her impressive garden, then showing us where the cheese is made and stored to age. The farm is fully functional and many young people were on hand doing their stages, learning all the inner-workings.
We then hung out with the Cheese Doctor, Ulisse. It was amazing to watch the cheese come to life before our eyes. There is an obvious joy to his doing his craft. To think he is self-taught and is now one of the top pecorino cheese guys in all of Tuscany!
Ulisse with a pot of fresh goat’s milk
Holding a pot of fresh rennet
Gathering the curds which will be put in molds
Time to bake our foccacias! Piero showed us how to roll out our dough, prick it all over with a fork, pour olive oil over it and smooth it all over, sprinkle with fresh rosemary and salt… except Piero filled the salt bowl with sugar! We couldn’t figure out why it was so sweet… That situation got rectified soon after amidst lots of laughter
Pricking all over
Sliding it in
Everything is better with wine
So, of course, now that we have opened out appetites, it was time for lunch! This ended up being a vegetarian meal, ending with a sampling of some 15 different cheeses! Is there anything better than dining al fresco?
Dining al fresco with Rosemarie, Venetia & Alison
Salad – finally!
Cheese balls, chickpeas, figs, oh my
Organic pasta made on site
The cheese platter with fig jam, honey and fruit
One of each, please!
As if the day wasn’t already fabulous, we were off to truffle hunt with PierPaolo (not sure how he spells his name) and his interpretor, the lovely, Geraldine. When not giving a tour, PierPaolo takes all four dogs out with him but since he had all of us to worry about, he only brought two! It was the funniest thing to see these dogs get all excited and not want to give up their truffles!
PierPaolo & Geraldine
Give it up
Handful of black truffles
PierPaolo with the kids
After such an exciting day, it was back “home” at La Costa for pizza and salads and frankly, I think we’d had quite a bit of excitement for the day!