Saturday, April 26, 2008

Discovering Tuscany

For several years, my sister Elisabeth has been running a popular evening class in Italian cooking. This year, the class wanted to test their skill using local ingredients, so the whole group set off for an extended weekend in Tuscany. Ritva, who is well into a second career as wine expert, was invited to select wines for the meals and to introduce the wines. I was allowed to tag along as guinea pig/baggage handler..

We rented three apartments near the beach in Castiglione della Piscaia, a small town which has graduated from fishing village to posh resort, but still retains a lot of local color. Each day, the ladies gathered to plan today´s shopping excursion to the local markets, and in the evening three teams prepared a delicious dinner.

To get some relief from kitchen duty and some more inspiration, Sunday was devoted to an excursion to the the Poggia Antico vineyard, in the heart of the Brunello wine district, which produces some of the greatest wines of Italy. The vineyard also has an excellent restaurant: Their "light" lunch menu consisted of six delicious courses, accompanied by local quality wines.

As we travelled through Pisa airport, we spent the last day exploring this beautiful city, which has a lot more to offer than a leaning tower. It was aweinspireing to realize that construction of its magnificent cathedral began before William the conqueror set sail for England, at a time when my viking ancestors were still living in windowless long houses..