First, the group and I took a field trip to downtown Mercatale di Cortona, population 800, to the one operational grocery store across the street from the gas station.  (There is another grocery store behind the butcher, but sometimes the gentleman who runs the store feels like opening/ordering stock, and sometimes he doesn’t.)  After that and before class actually started, I seared off a whole chicken the size of a small turkey-on the fly-because with 10 people that have worked up a heathy appetite during the week, you never know if one chicken, the size of a small turkey will be enough.  Part of the meal can be admiring what is left on the platter and considering it for later that night. 

We had the chicken with more of the roasted peppers that are now in abundance, string beans with whole cloves of raw garlic, salt and beatuiful olive oil, and a first course of my now classic, pasta with fried garlic, whatever fresh herbs look good from the garden (or grocery), arugula leaves, tiny fried croutons, toasted pignoli, lemon zest, a little parmesan and a few spoonfuls of ricotta, all thrown together with a spoonful of the pasta’s cooking water, salt and pepper, when the pasta comes out of the pot (al dente.)

For dessert we melted 1 part best semi sweet chocolate with 2 parts barely whipped heavy cream to make a chocolate truffle cake, with more cream on top.  And then, everybody in the cars to drive like bats out of church, on their way to the party, we drove to Montevarchi, to the very, very top.  Li si trova una paese si chiama, Ventena.  If you weren’t sure yet what your Heaven might appear as, it could be Ventena.  All shades of brown and greens, gentle fog, olive trees, grape vines, fig trees ancient stone houses, hills that roll one into the other, illuminated on unexpected creases with the light of the sun.

Then, half the group couldn’t resist a run to the Prada factory, while the rest of us drank Champagne back in town before we met up for a lesson with Silvio Bonci in foccaccia and tartarughe.  We had dinner with his family behind the pastry tables and next to the ovens of the laboratorio.

It is already the last day and I can’t believe it.  How did it get to be Friday when it was only Saturday a few minutes ago?

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