The day in Chianti was so full of life that I must record the recent events to ensure that not one olive tree escapes honourable mention. It is 7:30 P.M. and the Tuscan sun is once again escaping behind the terrazos for the day. My Beloved urges me to walk the rolling hills to atone for our culinary imbibement yet again. I am more concerned with the immediate need to locate the rifuziato differenztale (recycled garbage). He promised I will return empty handed if I am willing to traipse along. My favourite landmark (only landmark) the bar, does not disappoint me yet again. I am satisfied to relinquish vestiges of some fine dining a la K2 and us in the appropriate bins.
Wondering if I should call my insurance agent about Act of God / dangerous activity insurance – I walk beside My Beloved relishing the beautiful surroundings. As far as we can see vineyards controlling themselves in rows so straight I wonder where they buy the Italian ruler that is one hectare long. Amazing precision is what strikes me. My Beloved, a self proclaimed photjournalist is taking advantage of the opportunity at every sun-kissed angle.
Dodging cars and olive gazing, we are comfortably engaged in typical conversation as we stroll up, up. up the hill. A lady hears us coming and throws open her window with an ever so cheerful ‘buena sera’ – we exchange a few wrods like Bella Italia, Canada (which made her smile widely) and she says bueno vacanze…So warm are these country dwellers – it feels like we are home. We wind our up a terrazo above Dudda where once again we meet residents seated, chatting, sharing and saying CIAO. The Tuscan hill country is a musky hug as we make our way back to Dudda for the night.
Earlier the same day…we enjoyed the most engaging afternoon with Chef Barbara from a wine and cooking school in Florence. This was the first of two intentionally planned activities I had organized prior to leaving Canada. (www.vinarium.com)
We had arrived from our own shopping and were organizing our menial foodstuffs when Chef Barbara arrived. Cheerful, energetic foodie (former lawyer – now turned chef/wine expert). Like a fresh Tuscan breeze she deftly unloaded her her ware, did a quick inventory of the kitchen with a laugh and proceeded to set up the tools of her newfound trade – the pasta machine. We quickly made a salad and the group graciously created their own riposa on the patio, while we listened with rapt attention about local Tuscan cuisine, organic foods, eating what is available in season and wine talk – particularly why she thought Vernaccia wine was THE best wine. We couldn’t agree more, already having sampled it in Florence. It was satisfying that our tastes are in line with Tuscany. She taught us the simple tasks of pasta making and forming tedious little bowties, ravioli riccota spinaci (traditionally Tuscan) and my personal favorite tagliatelli. Each shape had a delectable sauce – fresh cherry tomato, fresh pesto and sage butter. Just for more challenge and ending delight – Tuscan tiramisu. Can I simply describe this meal as explosions of flavour in my mouth of grand proportions? We dined and gasped at the unbelievable simplicity of what was accomplished in 2 hours, Barbara cleaned the kitchen, then as is her manner, warmly served the dessert. My soon to be required stairmaster – Rio Maggiore will be worhwhile if I can sample the scrumptious flavour any time soon!
Barbara packer her things and kindly told us we were great to work with – Gucci and I were in our element actually, but we accepted her sincere compliment.
So prior to cooking our heads were wrapped around a little venturing to find a market and perhaps a deal on a treasure. We had a Pratesi brochure (www.pratesi.it or .com) that promised deals and a selection of the finest leather all made locally. Sounds good to us. Shoe shopping and grocery shopping on the same day equals happy girls. The guys always graciously accommodating – planned the route. Main K of K2 exercised the route instructions as offered by My Beloved with great precision and ease to the guests in the back. Not an easy task on a Tuscan road, let me be very clear on that point.
We actually happened upon the Prada outlet before Pratesi and we ventured in with our tickets for admission in hand. Prada reductions equal many hours of hard work – let it be noted. I did find the most adorable pink and white shoes but walked away thinking there might be a better buy somewhere else.
We press on to Pratesi determined to focus within our relatively short time span with other afore mentioned activities of the day. Once at Pratesi, my thoughts wandered consistently to my daughters because the leather bags were so them! Artisanal craftmanship of orange and purple and green – hand made masterpieces for around E50. If only I could buy them all – my girls would look so pretty with an adornment such as this…how are my kids? where are my kids? Which would I choose if I had to pick one? I diverted my attention to My Beloved’s activities – trying on very stylish shoes with long pointed toes that would make Armani applaud. I cajoled him to consider this purchase as I hope he wears them with jeans or pajamas when he’s 80 just because we went to Tuscany and bought them. My reticent fashionista negotiated the cash price (ever the bargain hunter), Gucci selected some very ‘now’ shoes’ that will wow anyone who has a love of shoes.
We proceeded to the market where we embraced our own confusion over the cultural hurdles surrounding produce, cheese and meat and left with bags of choices to maintain our active Tuscan kitchen for another day. We also felt the greatest relief at buying dish soap – our dishwasher is unable to keep up with our activities.
We began the day with me as barista making three pots in the moka and storing the liquid gold until it could be happily and generously shared over breakfast. Who knew I needed to come to Italy to learn to make good coffee? I had pre-planned panini for the morning as a departure from eggs, which whether consumed in Canada or Italy are absolutely pallid. My affection for the Dudda bar and my first name relationship with the owner helped me courageously sample pecorino like a local, and buy a generous supply of prosciutto with a crisp fresh loaf of unsalted Tuscan bread – ready for toasted ham and cheese, Tuscan style for breakfast, as we will plot our adventures for Aug. 3.
As a side note we were marvelling at how we had ice in the freezer, compliments of My Beloved. He took a salami tray and washed it with body wash and placed a thin layer of water on it and created frozen shards for our tepid water. He admitted this in his own sheepish, laughing manner, as he knows his survival instincts are not appreciated by all participants, yet ever so useful to the desperately thirsty.
Again, another memory of laughter that is ear marked ‘the love of my life and there he goes again.’
As a final note in the quiet house – I am blessed beyond measure, standing in this shower. I am blessed to be washing away Tuscan soil, Chianti air, Italian sun. The friendship, fellowship, food and fun has made it another glorious day. Time is passing in unknowing increments, but it simply doesn’t matter. I am here. Present. Knowing and understanding all that I do. God, my Provider has given me this gift. I bless HIS Name for all of it, as I am undeserving. It’s joyous and magical – all from the hand of God.