It was a dark and stormy night … wait a minute, wrong story line. It was dark. It was bloody early and there were pigs. Yes, pigs. The kind And that we had been eating for the last two weeks except these were wanting about in front of our car while we were travailing at a rapid rate of nots down hill. What’s this got to do with food? Let me back up. Our last post was about Osteria Francescana. Our trip back from there involved a side trip to the east coast for some shopping and of course a little taste of the local cured ham salami sticks. Like salami but small bites. Delightful. Easy to take with your cappachino to go. The exciting part was of course the trip over the Italian mountains that make up Tuscany. Narrow twisty roads that made the ones we came in on the first time look like a beginner driving course lesson. These guys were the real thing. Twisty, tiny roads with hair pin turns, semi trailers backing up because they met an oncoming truck and parts of the road that simply were not there any longer. All of this as I was feeling my oats on the Italian roads. We may have mentioned that we were thinking of renting a Ferrari for a day or two. Raw unadulterated testosterone fuelled power. This of douse also comes with a $120 thousand dollar deductible. So much for that dream. Never the less, this didn’t stop us (okay, just me) from wanting to feel the road Italian style. And what better way to do that than to slalom down and all too narrow, all to steep Italian roadway at high speed. Gina would have said something but she was having trouble speaking. What a rush.
We made it back to Cassa Umboto for the final cooking class. It was a bitter sweet class – we could taste the end – we indeed, were cooking it. One of Pauola’s culinary friends joined us as did Alex. Ayny thoughts of this quickly disappeared as we cooked our way into the evening. I made two dishes that were simply amazing. Limincella Creama which is basically a high octane lemon infused cream liqueur that cleanses your pallet after dinner. Something you’ve got to try. The other was a puff pastry vegetable side dish that was served with the braised lamb. OMG. Yup, it was good. Gina made an amazing ravioli with sea bass and squid ink. Truly a fitting finish for a week of fine cooking and fine dining. There were many other courses and they all were matched with first class Italian wines as per every other night. One could say it was getting boring, but that would be foolish. A much better way of describing it is “that’s Italian Pauola style”. Amazing food, amazing chef and an amazing setting.
Special thanks to Pauola – you are truly a wonderful human being – funny, quirky, and a brilliant chef that loves her food, her land and has more passion in her pinky finger than most people in their whole bodies. More of us should be learning from you!
Thanks to Alex and the rest of his team for making our stay a world class pleasure. Your skills in the hospitality business are world class and you are a wonderful host.
We look forward to sharing this with our “foodie” friends and family and are planning our next trip already.
Bet you were wondering about the dark and stormy night part. Thats part of the next instalment!
Bryan and Gina