The food of gods continues. But before I get into the food, lets talk about the service in the evening – some may be confused that we cook all day and then chuck it on a plate and snarf it down. Not so. Dinner is as structured and choreographed as the Viennese Waltz. It begins at a pre-agreed time, with a table set for the finest restaurant. Fresh flowers, leaves, two bottles of special fine wine (and usually a number of bottles of table wine which is also fine!), a selection of wine glasses, maybe fresh hazelnuts or pine cones for a splash of texture. All set on a backdrop of fine linnen with a custom made set of chargers and plates for Casa Umbuto. Music is playing in the background along with a monster fire. This is all wrapped in a cosy almost underground dinning retreat.
Ahhhh, and then the food. Traditional italian procession. Appetizer, first course, main course, desert, aperitif. The pattern is delightfully predictable. Of course, each course also comes with a detailed explanation from Paola. You could be eating cardboard and still really enjoy it, but you are not – you are sampling all of the labour from the day’s cooking lessons. The ultimate is that you really do get to eat your own cooking.
Last night, we started with a ricotta cheese soufflé over a bed of lambs lettuce greens and a butter and an brilliant sauce. The sauce was over the top. The next dish blew everybody’s taste buds away. After an incredible labour of love, tortellini with butter and sage sauce and piche noodles with pigeon ragu were presented and devoured. They piche noodles were sublime. The tortellini had a taste that would put a smile on any Italian grandma. The hand made noodles were soft, silky and had a delicate covering of pigeon ragu (with bigger pigeon bits as well). Paula made sure to mention to gently, ever so gently nibble all the bits of meat next to the bones to ensure we got the really good parts. Next came the unlikely pairing of vegetable muffins with pork loin slices. For those of you who have seen the foodie show “you’ve gotta eat here” you’ll understand our looks and the ooze of happiness as we tucked into these delectable morsels. Last but not least was a desert of Nutella and orange shortbread tart. This was not something your grandma ever made. Soft fluffy and capable of filling the final small almost imperceptible tiny spots left in your stomach while putting a smile on your tongue.
This was, naturally, followed by a full table of aperitif’s. You would almost think that we would be getting bored of this. Really – you were thinking that. LOL.
This was all just to get us ready for our day off. A day of cooking withdrawal. But one not devoid of drama. Did I mention, in Italy, there is always drama.
Gina’s update on the drama and day off…..well we came down for a lovely leisurely breakfast (first one we have made this week) before our day trip. Much to our surprise, we were the only guests ready to go on our trip. After a couple of cappucino’s, toast and yogurts we asked when the bus would arrive to pick us up. Well…imagine our reaction when we were told by our wonderful but very Italian (aka…no english) hosts that the bus had already left. What? Well there was a scurry of telephone conversations which resulted in Bryan and I hitting the road with sketchy directions to meet the bus at the tractor garage (really I am not kidding). We headed off with a trusty GPS and discovered she was not well. Her directions came about 45 seconds after we passed the location she was talking about. We had to rely on signs. Not ideal for two people who thought we were starting the morning in a leisurely way. After 30 minutes of racing through the Tuscan countryside, we saw the other guests standing on the side of the highway waving frantically. They were indeed in front of the tractor garage. So after the confusion subsided we were off and on our way to a marvellous day of typical Tuscan delights. Will provide more details later. Just glad we made the day tour in the end. The adventures never subside.