Toscana Mia

Trip Start Jul 19, 2009
Trip End Aug 06, 2009

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Flag of Italy  , Tuscany,
Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Yesterday began with a short trip to Castello Di Brolio - a Castle built about 1000 AD and then a small little Hamlet named Vertine.  Holly made dinner reservations for us just down the dirt road in another Hamlet called Barbischio.  There was a tower there and perhaps a population of about 5 residences and a restuarant that had the most incredible desserts.

Alas all is not perfect in paradise.  As warned there is a bit of a bug issue here.  Julia, having the "sweet blood" gets hit the hardest of us all.  Pharmacies make a killing (no pun intended) on creams and "after bite."  Last night when the girls returned to their rooms, they were appalled to find a few visitors in their bedroom and insisted on sleeping together in a spare room we have upstairs to ease their fears a bit.  Everyone insisted I take pictures of the creatures and Michael is still talking about the scorpion-looking insect found in Melissa's bed.  The other had several legs and relatives in our bedroom as well - although I took my sneaker to it and didn't tell anyone afraid nobody would sleep well. 

Awoke this morning and drove through Lecchi where I swear my Tahoe dare not go.  Maybe if I moved the outside mirrors in I might squeeze through, but am glad to have a Fiat and Michael as a driver.  Really now - why would you place buildings so close together on a road?  With acres of olive trees about would an extra 6 inches really be a problem?  Our destination was Toscana Mia - a cooking class for the family in a 13th century Italian farmhouse where Paola lives with her 2 girls, husband, and father - Luigi.  We found the little village and not being given any further directions were hoping the teacher would be looking for us so we wouldn't have to knock on doors - again maybe 4 in the village.  Luckily, Paola was outside to greet us and we were joined by 2 other ladies from Holland.  They were cute, intelligent and a definite plus as far as Michael was concerned!  One was an orthodontist and the other a law student turned Prada Marketer. 

Our cooking adventure begins with Michael working with the mortar and making pesto for the crostini.  Who would have thought of adding french beans??  I've put off using my pasta maker for 10 years or more and now I see just how easily pasta is made.  Time consuming yes, but easy no less.  The girls can't wait to make their own pasta at home now.  Since Julia has been a vegetarian for a couple months now I requested a nonmeat dish.  Melissa did a fine job on the Parmigiana di Melanzane (eggplant), and the panna cotta for dessert was creamy with melted chocolate on top.  Paola's husband poured the local Chianti and her Dad joined us when the meal was ready. Paola at times translated as neither spoke english.  Conversation consisted of some politics, travels, food preparations in various countries, and numerous topics as Paola seemed knowledgable of whatever mentioned.  She asked the girls if they were Miley Cyrus fans as Miley is popular here as well with her girls.  Although we ate in the downstairs kitchen it was still warm. The girls sat quietly throughout our meal with one or two squeaks when being eaten by a bug.  Paola suggested we take our onion and smear it over our skin - which we did although I'm sure she could of said just about anything and we'd try it if only for her amusement.

Ended the meal with Nocino which is a strong tasting liqueur made from walnuts (gathered in Italy the 24th of June) and bottled with alcohol, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, water, and a lemon and left in the sun for 40 days. We'd like to try this at home, but don't know if we want to wait until next June to collect the walnuts.  Returned to our villa for a dip in the pool while Michael napped - satisfied and happy.
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