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A Tuscan Feast

“The preparation of good food is merely another expression of art, one of the joys of civilized living…”
Dione Lucas

 As this is a post about food and Italy, here’s a little dinner music to keep you company as you read 😉

I thought for sure that this morning I would be suffering from dysania, but no.  The alarm clock went off for François at 6:25 and I was wide-awake.  Dammit.  I had been planning on sleeping in and being totally lazy today.

For those of you who don’t know, in September 2016, I went to Tuscany all by myself.  BEST. TRIP. EVER.  My first week of that trip was spent with the fabulous Cook in Tuscany group, created by the wonderful and irrepressible hosts, Linda and George, and 13 other fantabulous participants, learning how to cook Tuscan food and experiencing a lot of what the area had to offer.  A dream of mine since forever.

Fast-forward to last night.  Okay, maybe not so fast.  It has been one and a half years since said trip.  It was about bloody time I had my sisters and their hubbies over to show off what I had learnt.  (Thank you, Tracy, for nudging me…)

I warned them to come bellies empty because I had a lot to show them!

“I like a cook who smiles out loud when he tastes his own work.
Let God worry about your modesty; I want to see your enthusiasm.”
Robert Farrar Capon

To get us started on the right foot, I served Aperol Spritz – did I take a picture?  No.  So right.  With our cocktails we had two kinds of bruschette.  Bean and onion and the classic tomato.  I only cut and toasted so many slices so that no one over-exaggerated…

Once they had a little food in their bellies, I put them all to work!  To truly appreciate Pici, one must roll with the dough 😉

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”
Laurie Colwin

Having worked for their supper, they were then allowed into the dining room for the first course, a Tuscan tomato and bread soup.  Now.  I may have screwed up a bit.  I had toasted my bread ahead of time and was supposed to add it to my soup in bits and pieces till I felt there was enough.  In my usual over-zealousness, I dumped the whole bowl into the pot.  Um.  Can we call it Bread and Tomato soup instead?  No one seemed to mind and hey, Tuscan cooking is all about stretching out what one has….  All around, it was declared delicious.

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
Julia Child

As I had not quite finished preparing my crumbs for the pici, I had them all come back, with their glass of wine, into the kitchen to keep me company (next house, OPEN CONCEPT).  This was a very interactive meal, in case you’ve not noticed 😉

When in Sienna, I went to visit one of the Frescobaldi vineyards, Castel Giocondo, in Montalcino.  I splurged (BIG time) and bought two bottles of their Brunello.  These I kept for this special night.  We decided to decant each one and oh wow.  They were both fantastic.

Pici now cooked and sautéed, it was back to the dining room!  Before Tuscany became the “go-to” vacation spot, even for Italians, they were quite poor.  Salt was used sparingly on food, kept mostly for preserving.  Not everyone could afford cheese, so they “cheated” by cooking stale bread crumbs in olive oil.  It truly gives incredible flavour.  Everyone loved their pasta – it was theirs, they rolled it, after all!

“Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.”
M.F.K. Fisher

While we were enjoying our pasta, the pork tenderloin and grilled veggies were being warmed in the oven so there was no longer a need to dance between rooms.

I did, however, remember that I had a bottle of Grappa.  Instead of sipping it as a digestif after the meal, we used it as a “Trou Normand” – a shot which, as they say, serves to make room for the next course.

This was a cheat in the whole Italian evening and I may get a frown from a true Italiano but I’m willing to take my chances.  Besides, the deed is done.

We’re still smiling.  Certainly  not because we are overstuffed.  Yet.

You still with me?

The meal is not quite done!  Time for dessert.  I made panna cotta with two sauces, chocolate and strawberry.  Pick one, pick none or pick both!

“A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch. ”
James Beard

Coffee was served and one would think that it ended there, right?  Wrong.

A little Vin Santo and Cantucci to cap it all off… hoping no one would be feeling crapulous after such a feast!

“I lurched away from the table after a few hours feeling like Elvis in Vegas – fat, drugged, and completely out of it.”
Anthony Bourdain

 

88 thoughts on “A Tuscan Feast

    • Cara Rochelle,

      Grazie mille! I am so very glad you enjoyed my feast virtually. That music was playing in the background all evening.

      Gracias y mucho amor

      Dale

  1. Oh my, Dale! What a wonderful feast you prepared–and the interactive meal makes it more special and fun. I would eat it all (except the pork)–YUMMY! I’ll take the chocolate sauce. 🙂

  2. I loved to read about your Tuscan Feast Dale. So nice to know that you are using the recipes back at home and having so much fun too. That’s what it’s all about. Having fun and sharing good food with loved ones!! I loved the fact that they all joined in with making pici. It all looked delicious!!! Brava Dale 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • I am so very glad you took the time to read this, Professore!
      I tried to take at least one item from each class… just so happened to make three from You! Cannot find barlotti beans here!
      Yes. They enjoyed participating. Makes it so much more fun.
      Grazie! 😘

  3. Quebec,

    What a feast! This is worth 10 “love” buttons on FB, at least. I am gaga over the succulent souvenirs you brought back from Tuscany. Such a brilliant gift you have, that you can replicate the dishes of a certain region as if you were still basking in that sun.
    You have sated my appetite while at the same time whetting it even that much more! BOTH!

    Bravisimo!!!

    Peace and Tuscany

  4. It sounds and looks amazing! One place I would love to go is Tuscany. I cook but I am horrible at following directions and recipes! It works for Mexican food because that’s in my blood but not sure basic meat sauce!

  5. Had to come back and say thank you for this delightful post, even if it is the biggest tease. It’s delightful. You’re quite the food writer, tell ya what.
    And so . . . pour vous.

    • And I thank you again… Maybe I should market myself, eh?
      And thanks for the video. Who doesn’t love Abba? And fun ily enough, I rewatched Mamma Mia 2 weekends ago – and sang my guts out while watching/cooking. My son protested. I woke him up at the bright and early time of 2:40 pm…

        • Think so? Well lemme see what I can do.
          And, it’s not that late! Wasn’t much past 7! My 3.5 hours of sleep the night before was insufficient. One must try to get one’s beauty sleep, ya know.

  6. First off, when can I move to your neighborhood? I will just happen to “stop by” around dinner hour quite often:). Second, beautiful! You made my mouth water with those pics. And third, happy to see you continuing with joy. Here’s to oodles of it . . .

    • Thanks so much, Kristine. I love to entertain, so come on over! The more the merrier, I say…
      So very glad you enjoyed my feast, albeit virtually.
      Yes. Joy. Always finding joy.
      Here’s to oodles right back at ya! 🥂

  7. Your Tuscan night speaks to this humble peasant and more importantly to the vernacular of food. A side from the bottled octane fueling the fun, the food prep, the food, the family, as it should be enjoying simple pleasures with great spirit. Just a guess, this was not a quiet affair.

    My fav, pici alle briciole.

    • My dear Calvin. Food, wine and yes, you are correct. My sisters and brothers-in-law – and yes, yours truly, could easily pass for a true rambunctious Italiano famiglia.

      I cannot lie. Pici was a hit and my fave as well.

      • I grew up kinda-sorta rough and tumble. Food was simple, most, if not all of it grown in our gardens. But food was never just nourishment but rather love hugs. Your Tuscan Hug Fest brought back some memories.

        • I think that’s great – to have been brought up with a garden. Food is definitely love hugs. But then, I am repeating myself, aren’t I?

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