Our day in the town of Greve in Chianti began yesterday after another night of power dining; it was our last class at the villa and we cooked several items including dessert, and went to bed after a long evening of food and wine. Of course we had to begin the new day with a cappuccino when we arrived in Greve, even though we had a huge breakfast with coffee Americana already.
Some of you know that what we mean by power dining is experiencing as many dishes as we can in a small period of time in an area we want to know better. Our plan for this trip was to immerse ourselves into the Italian cuisine culture as deeply as we could, and we are doing a pretty good job so far. Let me put it this way, no one has been “starved” before sitting down to the next meal. Or perhaps better said no one has been even mildly hungry. That said let’s talk about the food.
From the appetizer spreads for bruschetta to the tiramisu, we have savored every morsel. The Tuscan way is what we signed up for and it is what we are getting in every venue. We hear the words, “this is the typical way of the region.” Or we may hear, “the north makes their tiramisu this way, no alcohol!” Only in the south will you find it with alcohol. So after 150 years of a united Italy, they still do battle on the plate. The competition between the regions can be seen in the way the different areas produce the same dishes.
Osso Bucco was the star of our cooking class last night. We enjoyed the gentle braise with some veal stock and a little tomato sauce finished with a gremolata, which was also put back on the heat to warm it. Chicken liver on our bruschetta was prepared in class last night as well, and the story around why it is so popular here in Tuscany also begins with, we don’t waste anything. And of course, since Paola loves chicken liver, we did see it a few more times on the menu, too!
Despite the wonderful abundance of food our Italian hosts are lean and fit and we are trying to put great dining together with that. (maybe running a villa, giving cooking classes, attending an olive orchard and grape vines and full culinary garden with chickens and turkeys might answer this mystery) Our hope is to learn more than just how to cook while we are here in this proud deeply rooted culinary country.
Images: top:Bob, chef hosts, Sergio, Stefano, and Lenore; right: one of the castle’s many courtyards overlooking the country side; bottom: a typical cookie platter