Friday, December 15, 2017

Grape Tours Christmas lunch at stunning Villa Calcinaia

I couldn't have been more thrilled when Count (yes, seriously, he's a count!) Sebastiano came up with the idea of hosting our Grape Tours Florence team for a Christmas lunch. We're a pretty big number when you start adding spouses and kids, so when suddenly the prospect of being inside the historical Villa Calcinaia, it was just perfect. Most of us even managed to come, I was a little skeptical as all our super active guides are always either working (ha, ha!) or ever curiously traveling around the world.

So I'll share with you some pictures from our lovely get together last weekend, perhaps you'll get a few ideas for a Xmas lunch yourselves :)

Antipasti - mixed appetizers

 Home made wild boar lasagne - yum

 Crumble with gelato

Mammolo is a local variety usually used for blending - here it is made into a very fresh plummy single variety wine. 

And then we had a try of some CA wine - not too bad ;)

l'ABC made in joint venture by one of the members of our Grape team

 Count Sebastiano who put villa and food to our event :)))

Picture of almost all except self and some who didn't want to be mortified...

 Self in the Vinsantaia room - with a bottle of the lovely Villa Calcinaia wines - one of the wineries you could visit with Grape Tours in Chianti Classico.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Bologna & Modena in 2 awesome days!

Recently I (together with around 90 other international operators) had the humongous luck to participate in a workshop in Bologna which would take us on two fabulous field trips, and b2b at the new FICO Eatily world (opens to the public on Nov 15th). I was swept off under my feet by the enormous work done by the organisers and how well executed the field trips were. Our groups were divided into smaller teams and off we were to discover the edible delights of the Emilia Romagna region.

So in 2 days we managed to do all this:

Visit to the Carpigani Gelato University for a short hands-on gelato class (highly recommend) where people can also take a month long course to become proper gelato makers (thinking of this for perhaps a second - wait - third, fourth, whatever...) career when I retire one day.

Visit to organic vegetable farm Podere San Giuliano where we had a walk around the gardens and discussed artichokes, cabbages and much more... Followed by an amazing lunch.

We transferred from Bologna to Modena to hang out in the kitchen of Michelin starred Luca Marchini all night long, preparing a delicious meal whilst enjoying various large amounts of delicious wines that were brought out. Check out the Amaltea cooking school if you're in the area.

After a short nights' sleep off we went to check out the process of Balsamic vinegar in one of the oldest makers in Modena called Giusti. It's always great to hear about the history of such a singular product, and walk around the sticky floors of where the balsamic ages sometimes for decades. We tasted several ones including 100 year old balsamic!

Then it (finally) became time to visit a Lambrusco winery Garuti where we were treated to a quick vineyard and winery tour before tasting various types of Lambruscos all dry pink and reds, even ones that did natural fermentation in the bottle (a new fad in the area). Once again a magnificent lunch was served with local traditional dishes featuring of course local Parmigiano cheese and Mortadella.

Back in Bologna only in time to refreshen before dinner and then the whole group was bussed off to an organic winery in the hills around Bologna (I trust there were hills because by the time we got there it was pitch dark) to try the local Pignoletto wine (a dry white sparkling). Corte d'Aibo then served up another lovely meal with the most succulent piglet ever (still dreaming about it) - no photos from this evening as it was dark.

After all this food & wine the best possible follow up would have been a day of resting and fasting, but off we went to see the new Fico Eataly World just outside Bologna. Due to open the day after this is posted, it felt like an empty house before a move just 2 weeks ago. This is to be the Worlds' largest food theme park with endless restaurants, shops, workshops. etc. There will even be daily departures from Florence by bus, for those coming to Florence and interested in a day trip!

So a few photos from the different experiences:

We were divided into 4 teams to make different flavors of gelato.

There's also a gelato museum for the geeky gelato people

Parmesan gelato topped with 12 yr old traditional balsamic vinegar

Podere San Giuliano - just outside Bologna

Amaltea cooking school with 1 star Michelin chef Luca Marchini - in Modena

Puff the tartar with smoky air - totally cool!

Snif snif

Acetaia Giusti just outside Modena

Garuti outside Modena - Lambrusco di Sorbara