Home » Cook in Tuscany » Cook in Tuscany – La Chiusa, A Surprise, Innocenti and Farewell

Cook in Tuscany – La Chiusa, A Surprise, Innocenti and Farewell

*** EIGHT – yes, EIGHT!!  months have gone by since I returned from Tuscany.  I had so many issues with my computer that I had put this aside to finish later and later never seemed to come.  I am now, if you don’t mind, ready to finish the telling of this fabulous life-changing (for me) trip! ***

♣♣♣TWO YEARS – yes, officially TWO YEARS have, as of today, gone by since I started my Cook in Tuscany Trip.  I am not counting my day in Zug because that would have made yesterday the official two-year mark.  Though I am not pro-resoution, I have promised myself to finish every project I have started and that includes this one.♣♣♣

Now where was I….

Sigh, the last full day in Montefollonico, at La Costa with this fabulous group that made the start of my trip so wonderful. The next morning most would be hopping the van to Chiusi-Chianciano Station to continue their adventures elsewhere or return home.  But till then, we had a full day of wonderful stuff!

As per usual, we had our breakfast in the closed-in veranda before making our way to our last cooking class.  It is kinda funny that we had the van, considering how close we were!  We could easily have walked there and back but hey, why not?  And it’s not like any of us knew where we were going anyway.

This time we made our way to the restaurant La Chiusa, run by Michelin-star chef Dania, a woman who is somewhere in her 70’s but does not dress “accordingly” (whatever that is supposed to be)!  She is one sexy lady!  Though divorced, her husband still works with her.  How very European, eh?

Dania is very artistic and she showed us how to decorate plates with zucchini and beet purées.  We made stuffed zucchini flowers, pesto risotto, chicken stew, caramel nests, fig and caramel ice cream.  The colour of the egg yolks… I have no words.  And this standard for them!

Once most of the mains were started, Dania brought us through to her gardens, which were still amazing in September.  Huge kale, leeks, rows and rows of rosemary, basil, eggplants, peppers, fig trees, zucchini with their blossoms – it was amazing to walk through, while Dania chattered away, occasionally translated by the lovely Geraldine – same who had translated on truffle-hunting day.  I think I would spend hours on this bench, dreaming of what to pick next…

Group photo!

We then went into the “pasta” kitchen where Antonietta had us making ravioli stuffed with ricotta and lovely gnocchi.

All that hard work meant we got to eat al fresco on the terrace.

To return “home”, we decided to walk this time.  It was just up a hill, less than a kilometre and let’s face it, walking was not a bad idea.  As we entered the gates of Montefollonico, we were chattering and laughing when I heard “Dale?”.

What the… I spun around and there was Pierre.  One of Mick’s close friends and former clients.  Oh. Em. Gee.  You cannot make this stuff up!  I mean, come ON!  This is not THE rocking place of Tuscany.  This tiny village is tucked away in the middle of nowhere!  I can still hear Donna saying:  “You turned French Canadian in front of my eyes!”  Speaking of eyes, the whole gang got all misty-eyed at seeing us hug.  Pierre looked at me, then up at the sky and let out a “Mick, tabarnac!”  He said he was a little bit of a believer but now was full-fledged.  I had no idea he and his wife, Geneviève, were there on vacation.  And it was his in-laws who wanted to go visit there.  What were the chances?

Pierre and Me

We exchanged emails and made arrangements to hook up in two days.  So. Very. Cool.

We had a few hours to kill before our next adventure and Sandy wanted to deliver an apron to Dania in thanks.  So I joined Donna and her for a walk back to La Chiusa and Dania.

Our last excursion was down the street from LaCosta to Innocenti Wines.

We were greeted by Vino, Vittorio Innocenti’s sweet dog.  We entered and a few feet in, found ourselves in a fairly dark and musty wine cellar with the big casks.  Vittorio and Laura (Geraldine’s mum) were waiting for us to give us a tour.  Not a very big one!  The place is quite small and feels very intimate.

It was our last night together! How quickly it passed.  How much fun we had.  The memories created will remain forever, of that I am certain.  Friendships created and with the magic of Facebook, maintained.

Our last supper was at La Costa in the closed veranda as the evening was quite cool.  We had a lovely feast of pork chops and the lemon roasted potatoes and balsamic roasted cipollini, three types of crostini (mushroom, roasted tomato and olive), salad and a birthday cake for Cindi and Alison!  A perfect ending to a perfect week in perfect company.  Linda and George gave us each a lovely ceramic plate as a memento.  We would save our good-byes for the morrow.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

 

 

38 thoughts on “Cook in Tuscany – La Chiusa, A Surprise, Innocenti and Farewell

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  4. For once I had to start with the ending but right now my stomach is rumbling so badly that I will have to get this over with. A few things:
    Your Dania is ME… 😉 My hair is whiter than hers (I was white since I turned 40…) and my legs are terrible, which means my dresses are all long ones, but the craziness and fun-loving patterns and colours are all mine too! So, Bravo Dania 😉
    One thing I learned to love and copy in Firenze was zucchini flowers. Of course they are ‘usually’ far too expensive to buy as every flower eaten means one less zucchini/zucchetti for veggie. And I had them stuffed in many ways but actually prefer them just ever so lightly browned in a bit of butter or good olive oil and just sprinkled with some sea salt. I LOVE them, far more than any zucchini dish. The only reason for me to plant them would be for the delicacy of the flowers. I also love them when they just start to form a ‘fruit’, when the zucchini is no longer than 3cm…. aaaaah, the joy of good food.
    All the home produced mousses, sauces, whatevers…. that is the secret of a heavenly meal. When I stayed in Florence, I bought freshly made ravioli etc directly at the production place, a tiny ‘factory’ with a daily changing range of products and fillings, I still have the spittle running free in my mouth just thinking of it!
    Then the vines…. I simply cannot believe that there exists a vintner who doesn’t drink. The mind boggles – it is NOT RIGHT!
    For me, the Italian kitchen is the BEST. Full stop. Forget French cuisine, forget my beloved Swiss cooking (we ‘imported’ also from all the countries around us what seems good!), the Italians always win. They have learned to cook with few ingredients, it’s mostly a ‘poor’ cuisine, I know that for many decades and even now meat is a rare occasion or if it’s meat, it is the cheap cuts that need a long cooking time. I love everything Italian except their tasteless bread.
    Lastly, you are really beautiful…. and so tall! And when you pass next time through, make sure to visit us, either in France but hopefully – by then – in Switzerland!!!! Promesso?

    • Oh my goodness, Kiki!
      Love that you see yourself as Dania – that is a wonderful thing – she’s got a set of gams on her, doesn’t she?
      I am totally in love with all things Italian and more specifically, Tuscan. The food. Ohmygosh, do not get me started. Italian cooking is the BEST. It’s my favourite cuisine, and I like food in general. When you have to cook cheap, you have to add lots of love. That is the secret, I say.
      And, if you go to my first post, you will see I spent the day in Zug, Switzerland! I will definitely go back one day.
      Next stop is Burgundy with the same cooking company….
      And stop, you are making me blush…
      Promesso!

      • I know Zug well but thought that this couldn’t be the Zug I know…. Well now you know – I’m not nr la Bourgogne but who the hick knows where I’ll be living when you take your next cooking trip! Keep me informed and we’ll see if we can fit you in, or you me, or whateva…. 😉
        Now you’ll have to explain ‘a set of gams’…. my English isn’t THAT good!

        • Ha ha ha! Gams from those ’40’s movies with private investigators… nice legs 😉
          And, could there be more than one Zug?
          And my April 2019 trip in Bourgogne is not all set up yet, so we shall see…

          • OK, my legs are DEFINITELY not Gams!!!! Mine are pillars with an extensive net of marble veins… sorry that’s too drastic but sadly also true!!!
            There surely is only one Zug, at least in Switzerland – it’s beautiful and the tax haven of this country, therefore not for us, as we have no taxes to hide, sadly!
            And we might still be in France in April 2019, although hopefully not – it all depends on the sale of our house – we keep an open eye and ditto mind! 🙂

          • Ha ha ha! The joys of getting older…
            It is absolutely gorgeous and having my personal tour guide was a bonus.
            I talk of going, and my deposit is given but my house still isn’t sold despite being on the market since April… It might come into play. We shall see…

  5. Q,

    You are the female equivalent of Anthony Bourdain. Saucy and feisty and crazy talented at narrating the places and times that mean so very much to you. I read this once on my phone and then again just now and I just go WOW! You took me, the reader, and plopped me down on a table with all the trimmings . . . an ocean away.
    The pics are delectable, the narration is just as tasty and the soul . . it’s the soul that you lend to the things that matter most. That, is everything.
    I press like but it means love, times a hundred.

    This reads like a favorite book.

    Teary eyed thank yous and big hugs.

    B

  6. I’m so glad I ate lunch before I read this (coincidentally, leftover pasta). And I’m baking away making challah for Rosh Hashanah. I can imagine that this trip was life-changing. It looks and sounds amazing–and meeting up with your friend in the strange coincidence. These things seem to happen to you. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    • Ha ha! Pasta – can’t ever go wrong with pasta in my book…. Oooh… challah – haven’t tried to make that – yet. Meeting Pierre was like the cherry on the sundae, that’s for sure.
      Thanks for reading!

    • Hey Eric!
      I was going to return this September/October, but Cook in Tuscany has a new Cook in Burgundy and, well, I could not resist. So April I will be in France!
      However, there is no way I am not returning to Italy. No way.

  7. Oh my my my … you had me with the stuffed zucchini flowers … and then you added the ravioli and gnocchi … Oh you caused me to miss food from the homeland.

    How interesting that you unexpectedly met a Canadian friend … wow … small world … but glad you explained it because I thought you were hugging Bill Clinton!

    • So very glad you enjoyed my little last day with the Cook in Tuscany group… more to follow, of course. I am on a mission. Sorry to make you miss the food form your homeland, though. I miss it too.

      How crazy to meet him. This is not Firenze or Siena! This is nowhere-Tuscany! And… he’s too short to be Bill 😉 But I will let him know you thought so. Mind you, he’s just barely 50, so he might be offended…

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