First my thanks to Lisa Banchieri for coming back to London from Florence in December to give us more great cookery lessons!
We have a lot of repeat visitors, some bringing their friends to this session but still room for a few more on both days
As a Personal Chef Lisa has worked for many of the great and the good in Tuscany, so I feel very privileged to share her skills with my friends and colleagues in London
I am learning a lot from Lisa and so, it seems , are my friends – our first session is on Saturday morning when we make a truncated version of a Tuscan Christmas Eve menu – truncated because some ladies in Tuscany – as in the UK – started months ago preparing the sweetmeats for the pies and puddings.
As always, and especially because it is Christmas, our preparation will be gaily washed down prosecco, with plenty more wine accompaniment to come with the meal complete with instruction from our Sommelier Alessandro – if we can stop him playing with -she might say torturing - Calze cat!
- Crostini Toscana – a specialty of the region – a rich chicken liver pate smoothed with special Tuscan dessert wine – Vin Santo
- Red and green Christmas pasta Ravioli filled with ricotta, parmesan and spinach
- Roasted Sea Bass cooked with olives and cherry tomatoes – al’Isolana
- Chocolate Flan – aka molten chocolate cake
- Finally – Vin Santo with almond biscuits
Eileen was jubilant after making her pasta parcels for our ravioli – fun to make for all the family! This time they will be Christmas coloured – red and green!
We had some spare pasta left after making ravioli so Lisa showed us how to cut tagliatelle and tagliatellini as well and everyone had a pot of fresh pasta to take home for lunch the next day!
In this picture from September Lisa wraps the pancetta round the pork and ties it in place with cooking string – it adds even more flavour to the pork and goes deliciously crispy !!
Also in our previous UK session in September some time was spent discussing the best way to chop fresh herbs – Lisa’s advice is that it is better to go without altogether than not use fresh herbs -so I have to chuck out those handy little tubs and go down the garden whatever the weather!!
I give printed hand-outs to enable copious notes to be taken – this is because Lisa always develops a recipe idea as she is talking to us – so most people go home with another three recipes to try out scribbled on their recipe sheets – her favourite response to “Could I try…..?” is ”Why not? – and you could always add a little ….” whatever little inspiration comes to her mind to make it perfect!”
- On Sunday 2nd December we will made a typical Tuscan Christmas lunch – which is usually huge and goes on for hours so no healthier than a UK Christmas lunch!
- The menu is
- Aubergine crostone
- Lasagne with asparagus – my special request – I had this last week – I couldn’t believe how delicious it was
- Pollo arrosto with lemon zest and Italian sausage served with Tuscan style roast potatoes and vegetables
- Mixed Fruit flan …………….mmm!
- Coraggio Miei Bravi - it will be delicious!
Lisa’s next Tuscan Cookery class in Florence is on Thursday 13 December – to be held at Da Pinocchio, Piazza Mercato Centrale , Firenze from 10- 14.30 – on request we can shop in the nearby Mercato Centrale for fresh produce to use in our cooking before we start the class – please contact email@example.com for more details
Wine tasting at Montirinaldo – lunch in an original hunting villa in the heart of Chianti
All under the sign of the Black Rooster – the Gallo Nero symbol of Chianti Classico
We enjoyed a fantastic lunch in the old dining room of the hunting lodge, hung, as is traditional, with paintings of previous successful forays for game and fish!
We ate everything on the table – starting with the mixed Tuscan appetizers served with a simple Chianti Classico, then the freshly cooked pasta with a gentle vegetable sauce was superb with the Riserva – followed by the thinly sliced Roast Beef – with , especially for us English, truly yummy Tuscan roast potatoes complemented with the special wine the vineyard made for it’s half century – Mezzosecola, and also their super Tuscan IGT Pesanella !
Finally with our dessert we had a delicious Vin Santo - not served with Cantucci for a change but with a wonderful home -made sweet blackcurrant tart.
We also had the tour of the works and the storage but this visit was about our lunch and we were made to feel very welcome – and quite possibly overstayed this – so our grateful thanks to Fabrizio and Mauro for your time and hospitality – but be warned – it was so good – we may come back again!!!!
Grazie Mille !!
Val D’Orcia – just as beautiful in Autumn as in the Spring!
I am so happy that this area of outstanding national beauty is protected by UNESCO and hope it lasts – it is too pretty to spoil . We have just come back from a wonderful day enjoying the rolling Tuscan hills that create this beautiful countryside !
Today as part of our week of garden tours, Katie Campbell and I ,plus nine guests, visited Pienza in Val D’Orcia to see the birthplace and childhood home of Pope Pius Piccolomini II – and the views are just as stupendous in the Autumn as they had been when we visited in the spring.
la Foce itself was full of Autumn splendour and quite busy, with a much larger tourist group so it was a special pleasure for our little group to be allowed to go around quided by Katie on her own – but what a difference from two years ago when hardly anyone visited Italian gardens – we have Katie and Monty Don to thank for this resurgence of interest !
On Friday – changing from the original programme we are planning a trip to Sansepolcro, birthplace of Piero Delle Francesca – shown below in a believed self portrait as a slumbering soldier in his painting of the resurrection of Christ (1450)
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