Cooking and Wine

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Meetings for the cooking school continue.  I met with Iacopo earlier in the week and he outlined his menu ideas and basic program and then I typed it up for Saverio.  Then yesterday, we all met at the Agriturismo.  I still had some reservations about how this is all going to work and if, at the end, Iacopo and I are going to make any money, but I kept reminding myself that at least I’d be learning some secrets of Tuscan cooking.  Saverio’s excitement was contagious and after a few minutes we were all readily trying to nail down a menu that will be fun to learn as well as delicious.  Just to give you an example, one day we will make crostoni, pici pasta con ragu, ribollita, cinghiale and a torta della nonna.  These are all classic Tuscan dishes and I can’t wait to learn the recipes.

Saverio let us know that there is a large group coming in October who is interested in the class.  It will be three afternoons over a weekend and we basically have a month to get ready– if you saw the current state of the kitchen we are working with, you would see why I’m a little worried.  It’s not exactly what you’d call professionally equipped.  Iacopo looked depressed after spending five minutes in there.   He also kept muttering something about all the dishes we’d have to wash…I hadn’t even thought about the clean up!  We did ask Saverio to get us a real work table for the center of the kitchen.  The little table there is way too low.  I think we succeeded on that front, but the oven is a little dodgy also.  Iacopo thinks we are fine using the wood oven outside, so I’m going to put my trust in him.  I suggested we try a practice weekend with friends before our debut, but I wasn’t clear if they thought that was a good idea or not.  Should be interesting!

After we finished up the business side of things, Saverio took us on a tour of his wine operation.  After seeing the huge operation last week at Francesca and Anna’s house, it was interesting to see a small-scale one.  We saw where the wine is bottled and stored, and then we walked through the vines and he showed us the various grapes that are just about ready for cutting.  He tested the sugar levels of the grapes with a little instrument that you smoosh the grape onto and it gives you a reading.  Most of the grapes were around 22 and when they get to 24 it’s time to make wine.  Saverio’s enthusiasm for the process of wine making is evident and he has plans for expanding his operation as the years go on.  He gave Iacopo and me a bottle of his chianti to try, so I look forward to sampling it!

We parted with plans for Iacopo to write some descriptions about all the dishes he will be teaching and for me to transcribe it into English.  Then the hard work begins…getting the kitchen ready.  I see a lot of scrubbing and heavy lifting in my immediate future.

Saverio gives us a tour of his wine-making operation

Saverio gives us a tour of his wine-making operation

The grapes are almost mature

The grapes are almost mature

checking the sugar content of the grapes

checking the sugar content of the grapes

un bel posto!!

un bel posto!!

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