*** 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?
Entrance to restaurant
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!
Stuffing the flowers
Venetia stirring the risotto
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…
Zucchini and blooms
I would claim this for my own
A view I would never tire of
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.
Fig and Caramel Ice cream
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.
Hiding amongst the ruins
Donna, Dania, Sandy, Me
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.
Laura & Vittorio Innocenti
Gifts – and Vittorio doesn’t drink!
Careful walk to the terrace
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.
Trio of Crostini
Paula, LaCosta co-owner