Rural Tuscany (1)

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Agriturismo Aiole

On the third try, we made it out of Rome and up the autostrada to Southern Tuscany.

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The neighborhood reminded me of southern California.

We had a nice dinner in the near-by village and settled in. Gnocchi lessons will start in the morning.

Audrey and Noella get started. They are gently rolling out the potato flour mix and getting the shape just right. The sauces made with duck, guinea hen and fresh tomatoes are on the stove. Three separate sauces and one large batch of potato gnocchi.

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Paolo checks things out then adds just the right amount of cheese. Lunch will be ready in a few minutes and be over in a few hours.

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Ready for the fun part.

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Just a short drive up to Chianti and the village of Adine (4 homes) and we start a series of cooking lessons with "Tutti a Tavola."

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Cooking started with Marisa and Lele at "Alla Casa" in Gaiole.

The menu included: Pizza Margherita, Lasagna di Magro, Arista Pillottata, Peperonata and Rotolo alla frutta.

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There was no doubt that this was simple good home cooking and everyone had fun with it.

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After a tour of Franco Lombardi's olive oil mill, cooking was in Mimma's kitchen. Mimma seems to be the "Mother Superior" of the ladies.

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Today's menu was: Crocchette di Melanzane, Taglierini alla Trevigiana, Pollo al Finocchietto, Patate in Padella, Monferrina and Prugne con Salsa al Caramello.

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The crocchette were wonderful balls of eggplant stuffed with provolone cheese. The plan was to make a taste for everyone -- we ended up with three times that many. Very tasty.

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Mimma's deck with a hilltop view was a great place for an antipasti of cheeses and a few remaining crocchette.

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