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Food, wine & friendship in Tuscany

I have no left words to describe the past weekend, spent between food (a lot, either eating out and cooked together at home), wine (a lot, tasted and appreciated in its very place of origin and production) and friendship (even more valuable, the greatest gift, the secret ingredient of the weekend). These three days were infused with laughter, fun, discovery and growth, showered by a persistent rainstorm that forced us indoors for most of the time … but you are aware that four foodbloggers forced for long hours into the same kitchen know perfectly how to spend their time, aren’t you?! So, to cut a long story short, let me tell you the story of these three days through a few pictures to depict the fun and the joy of the time spent with Sarka and Pavel, Beth and Chris and Tiina and BeeGee.

Saturday was the only day without rain, so we decided to devote it to a quick tour of the Chiantishire and Siena. First stop was Castellina in Chianti and its small but typical Saturday morning market.

One of the biggest soppressata (a cold cut with orange peel and every kind of pork leftover) ever seen… and tasted so good! Talking together, we discovered that a similar product can be found both in the Czech Republic and the United States, with different names and traditions, of course.

My childhood candy: the first, bombottini with sugar and citrus flavour, and the latter, Rossana, a pleasant re-discovery in the market of Castellina.

The Wizard of Chianti spices, herbs of all kinds for every taste and every dish, a qualified and wise man, someone to listen to for hours as he opens one after the other his pots, illustrating combinations, flavors and origins.

And finally, Siena, a postcard with autumnal and bright colours: a trip to a city frozen in its medieval charm and a gourmet dinner at Papei, which ended with the most typical Tuscan dessert, vin santo and almond biscuits.

But we had even more surprises eating our way through the Tuscan countryside. On the road from Colle Val d’Elsa to Siena, under the castle of Monteriggioni, do not miss Bar dell’Orso, a cozy and easygoing place, loved by tourists and locals, who find a home-made appeal into its simple dishes from the menu. A long lunch streched for hours until mid afternoon, relieved by fresh air outside under the tents, talking and enjoying food and friendship.

One of the highlights of the weekend, the wine tasting at Dievole. No other word but enchanting can describe the experience: enchanting for the wine, for the atmosphere, for the competence of our sommelier (thanks Angelo!) and for the fascination of many small details that guided us in a tour from the cellat to the small desecrated chapel.

… and when the rain forces us into the house, we cook, we cook and we cook. And then we eat, we eat and we eat! and we laugh, have fun and try not to miss anything of this atmosphere. We have the sharp consciousness that this moment won’t last forever, and for this reason we want to enjoy it till the last drop!

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Fresh home made pasta, to make mushroom lasagna and ravioli filled with pumpkin and chestunt.

Tiramisu, a secret dream for everyone. We made it together, from scratches, and Chris made also a small video of it.. stay tuned! (Recipe down in the comments!)

And for breakfast? let’s go for pancakes, following Tiina’s recipe, served with apple, pear and star aniseed compote.

Last dinner could be nothing else but pizza, Neapolitan style, once again in Siena.

A last thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to the whole gang, you made it possible, you made it real, you made it fun and unforgettable! Let’s work to make it just the first of many other get togethers, spread in Europe and more! Friendship, when it’s real, has no boundaries!

(This is not one of the best photo, I reckon, but this is just us, without filters, maybe a little tipsy with happyness, tiredness and wine! A wonderful memory!)

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This Post Has 18 Comments
  1. Oh how fun!!! Your pictures are absolutely divine. 🙂 I can only imagine all the laughter, great stories and adventures that went on behind the scenes. 🙂 SO glad you got to have such a marvelous time with your friends. 🙂

  2. It looks like you girls had a lovely time, I love your photos, they are so evocative and make me pretty envious…

  3. Bravissima! This looks like so much fun and the photos are marvelous. I feel like I spent the weekend with you. Thanks for all the links to the recipes and other blogs. Oh, and I want a slice of that pizza! Was it from a pizzeria in Siena or did you make it?

  4. Oh Juls, what a beautiful post! We had some truly unforgettable time together! You are the best host I know and I’m so happy that I can call you friend! You can always make me smile! 🙂 xx

  5. Girls, you are just amazing! Thank you for your comment, remember that Tuscany is always here to welcome you, and me as well! 🙂

    @ Sari, Tiina, Beth: can’t wait to meet you again, we have so many things to talk about!

    @ Asha: I’ll give you the recipe here, it’s the most simple thing!

    500 gr mascarpone cheese
    5 eggs
    5 heaping tablespoons of caster sugar
    cookies live sponge cookies or Pavesini
    1 cup of coffee (espresso)
    unsweetened cocoa powder
    dark chocolate
    sweet wine, Vinsanto, rum, whiskey… something to give a nice aftertaste to the cream

    Whip up egg yolks and sugar until white and creamy.
    Add mascarpone cheese and stir until smooth.
    Add a few tablespoon of your favourite booze! 😛
    Beat egg whites until soft peaks form.
    Fold in gently egg whites to the egg and mascarpone cream.
    Soak very quikly cookies (just one side) into black coffe (without sugar) and make a layer in a larg bowl.
    Cover with a generous spread of mascarpone cream. Sprinkle with chopped dark chocolate.
    Do the same 2 – 3 times until you finish all the ingredients.
    Dust with cocoa powder and let it set in the fridge for about 2 hours.
    Serve and.. enjoy it!!

    @ Kathy: it was a pizzeria in Siena (Pizzeria Fontebecci, a real pizza from Napoli!)

  6. Dear Juls
    I just discovered your beautiful blog! I am sitting here with my eyes filled with tears and longing as I browse through your pictures of Toscana! Oh how I miss Italy!I live in Dubai and am married to an Italian and am now quazi italiana myself! I love Italian traditions around food and have adopted all of them for my South African/Italian family! I have found your pictures inspiring and definitely will plan a cooking holiday to Italy in the hopefully not too distant future. Thank you for being there!

  7. I am absolutely green with envy right now! It looks like you’re having a blast… Those food photos towards the end look absolutely amazing… I LOVE italian food, it’s one of my favorites. Sigh… this weekend just look so magical. I really want to visit Italy. If it were up to me it would definitely be my next place to visit but it’s just so expensive!

  8. Oh che nostalgia! Ho fatto l’universita’ a Firenze ed ogni scusa era buona per fare una cappatina in campagna con buon cibo e buon vino. Ho portato per la prima volta mio marito (americano) il giugno scorso. Voleva assolutamente tornare a Firenze ma quando poi l’ho portato in campagna…non se ne voleva piu’ andare!

  9. Oh my goodness! I was in Toscana this weekend as well- but near Pienza. The vin santo and almond cookies were such a sweet treat. Can I ask what kind of camera you were using? The shots you captured look like the trip of a lifetime!

  10. I am green with envy at this post. From everything from the market trip, to the dinner out, to cooking indoors, your time sounds like it was absolutely perfect. I’ve only been to Italy in the summer, but your Siena photos have me thinking my next trip will be in the fall.

    Oh and I refuse to use anything besides Pavesini for my Tiramisu;)

  11. Am looking forward to my trip some more… and hope we get time to catch up and see your beautiful countryside… 🙂

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