This trip was taken with the Tuscany Ride A Bike foundation. You can find out more information about this activity by visiting http://www.tuscanbike.it/en/daytours-by-bike-slowbike/155-lucca-fattoria-biologica. On this trip, my family and a family from Belgium biked out to a small organic farm from the small town of Lucca outside of Florence. In this ride, we saw the majority of the city of Lucca. But the best part of the whole trip was the farm.
At the farm we met Paolo. He owns the whole farm, hotel, and wine and olive oil companies. The whole farm is filled with chicken walking around, grapes and other vegetables growing, and food food food! First, Paolo gave us a tour of the organic farm. Then, we sat down to an amazing dinner cooked by Paolo's wife. She described all the food to us, bust it was a bit hard to write it all down in time. Here is the basic list as close as I good get it:
- Potato, presley, garlic, bicorino cheese, and thyme
- Zucchini, zucchini flour, eggs, and onion
- Tomato marmalade with cheese
- Cheese, ham, oregano, and bread
- Tagliatel with marinara sauce and basil
- Spaghetti with marinara sauce
This meal was absolutely fabulous! I loved it!
For our 3 hour cooking lesson, we were allowed to pick three recipes (we ended up making 4) that we wanted to learn how to make off of a huge list Marcella emailed us. We made two types of ravioli inserts in 4 different colored pastas, a beef dish, and tiramisu:
- Pasta All'Uovo: Fresh Egg Pasta
- Tortelli Bicolore Di Pecorino E Pere: Two-Colored Tortellini with Pecorino Cheese and Pears
- Ravioli Ripieni Di Carciofi Con Salsa Al Pecorino E Timo: Filled Ravioli with Artichokes and a Pecorino Cheese and Thyme Sauce
- Bocconcini Al Rosmarino E Balsamico: Beef Morsel with Rosemary and Balsamic
Marcella first started off by teaching us how to make various types of pasta dough. Did you know that by adding a small amount of a vegetable or spice, you can completely change the color of the pasta? It's true. By adding spinach, we were able to make some of the tortellini green, by adding cocoa powder we made it brown, and we made yellow with saffron. Next, we worked to whip the egg to make an amazing but complicated Tiramisu'. After the Tiramisu' was in the refrigerator to absorb the flavors, we started on the sauces, fillings, and meat. Marcella taught us all the proper way to cube cheese and pears, which we ended up doing for a long time.
Finally, we finished cooking, and sat down to begin eating. You see, we kind of forgot that we wouldn't be eating until the very end of the lesson, so we hadn't eaten anything beforehand. By the time we sat down to eat, our whole family was starving. And the food went beyond anything we dreamed. The flavors mixed perfectly and everything tasted like it was made in a professional restaurant. But, of course, we were the actual ones who made it. And that's what made it so cool.
Before September 1st, you should be able to find a few of these recipes in the Italian section under Specific Cuisines, or in the category of the food. Unfortunately, I cannot post all the recipes because that would be unfair to Giglio Cooking School. But I shall post as much as possible. Also, please visit http://www.gigliocooking.com if you plan to go to Florence, Italy any time soon. This class will be a class you'll never forget!
This tour was done by a company called Urban Adventures. Check out more information about this tour at: http://www.urbanadventures.com/Venice_tour_Cicchetti_of_Venice_Tour. On this tour, we had an amazing guide named Cecilia. She showed us all around venice and took us off the beaten trail to extraordinary places that not only had tasty food but were also super authentic and cute.
Venice is one of those cities that it is easy to get lost in. Luckily, though, Cecilia helped us to get purposely lost in this magical city. Really, the only way to learn to love Venice is to get lost, wander around, and end up in a little tiny shop in the middle of nowhere. Then, you will see Venice.
Now, you are probably asking, "What is a Cicchetti?" Well, besides from being my cousin's maiden name (ironic, right?) it also means an appetizer or tappa in Venice. In the middle of the day, the people of Venice will often go out to little Cicchetterias and have a glass of wine and a Cicchetti. This way, they have enough food to keep going but aren't too full for dinner, and they don't get drunk. Frankly, it's a win for everyone.
On this tour we stopped at four places:
Stop 1: Pronto Pesce
- Sandwich with smoked Swordfish, Mozcarbonie cheese, and tomato
- Sandwich with smoked tuna, artichokes, and horse-radish
- Baccalá Mantecato fish and olive oil
Stop 2: Cantina do Mori
- Tail of Artichoke the is boiled with olive oil and salt
- Bolpette (mini bowls) with options of zucchini, eggplant, meat, or, what I had, tuna
Stop 3: Osteria alla Ciurma
- Salmon with dill and zucchini deep-fried
- Deep-fried shrimp with lard
- Zucchini flours
- Potato with asiago cheese
Stop 4: Sacro e Profano
- Artichoke with salami
- Mexican Sauce roll with chicken, veggies, sweet pickle onion, egg, artichoke, and pecorino cheese
- Roll with olive oil, cherry tomatoes, basil, and oregano
- Tomatoes with proscuitto, sage cream, and walnuts
This tour was absolutely fabulous. I highly suggest it!