Saturday, June 14, 2008

Learning to cook in Tuscany - Day 8

Our 8th day had an all day cooking class and tour planned. We were picked up just outside of Florence (as it costs a lot of money to drive in the city center, it is almost pedestrian only) and were taken off to the hills of Tuscany along with a couple from Toronto and a family from Georgia (the parents were celebrating their 30th anniversary and their daughter was a sr in college studying in Florence for the summer) so we had a nice small group.

We drove about 45 minutes outside of the city to a little winery. I forget the name but it is on pictures somewhere and Teresa wrote it down. They don't make enough to ship anything to the US though. They also make olive oil as do most winerys as our guide (originally from Arizona) told us. The tour was interesting but I wish I knew more about wine and wine making before hand so I could have asked some better questions. The specialty in the area we were in is Chianti.

After the tour we had a little wine sampling. It was all different reds and I wasn't thrilled with them but they did get better as we went a long (they also got more expensive). The last one though was a desert wine that we saw where they keep it in barrels for 5+ years. It was really sweet and really good. It was also €30 for a .25 liter bottle! We decided not to get any wine from them but we did pick up some olive oil. Look for a dinner party with pasta and oil coming to a home near you soon (family only, sorry any other readers).

After the sampling, we drove through the hills with tons of olive and grape groves. Looking at the GPS they took us the long route specifically for that. I didn't retain all the details of the different varieties of grapes and things but it was still interesting.

Next we arrived at the house of the owner of the tour group where we learned how to make pasta. They lived in an old moestary I think. It was huge and they had a lookout tower too. (It was the smoking balcony.) We didn't cook as much as I wanted too but we did learn how to make pasta. It turns out it is really simple. Pasta is just eggs and a specific type of flour. You mix it up, roll it out, flatten it and then cut it up. I imgine this would be a lot harder without a machine but I was told you can use a rolling pin or even a wine bottle if desperate.

With our dough, we first made spinach ravioli and then we made some fettucini. After all our hard work, the owner, who had been cooking the whole time, served us a plate with beans, bread with melted cheese and honey and a potator quiche type thing. They were all excellent. Next course was the spinach ravioli we made. They were also excellent. The third plate was a pasta from the fettuchini noodles we made. It was a little spicy but got old after a bit (as pasta has started to do most places in Italy for us so far). I still cleaned my plate! For dester we had fresh peaches in a desert wine sauce with crumbled cookies (giner maybe?) sprinkled over top. Also excellent. And that was our cooking class... (Oh yeah, our tour was through Accidental Tourist.)

And now for a video Teresa made of me rolling out pasta...

We got back from our tour a little earlier than planned so we met up with Laura again. We hiked up to Piazzale Michelangiolo for great views of Florence. I talked them into staying until sunset and it was well worth it.

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