Absolutey Tuscan

I have to remember for the next olive oil tasting to have a pitcher of water waiting on the table, because it is not everyday that people are asperating oil into the back of the throat, and it can be a trick to make it go down smoothly. We only had one casualty, and even she held on tight to the medieval table until she got her breath back. I am always impressed with how my students are willing to try anything. The prize was, we all know now how to tell the difference between a good olive oil, and green gasoline dressed up in an olive oil suit.
From slow cooked sauces to drizzles on a salad, using a good olive oil can raise the flavor of your cooking by olympic leaps and bounds. It’s like the difference between the Italian you speak if you are trying to remember it from what you learned in the tenth grade, and the Italian you speak if you have a boyfriend who speaks only Italian. Am I right? There is a big difference.
Last night we had dinner at the majestic Villa La Macchia, the home of Chiara Scarpaccini and her family since before 1300. Dinner was absolutely Tuscan, and one of those meals that you know is going to be imprinted on your food brain forever. Tuscans have a way of making food so simply and with a purity that transports you to a hundred years ago.
The first course was nothing more than a soup made from the broth of the simmering chick peas, with a little rosemary, garlic, and short tube shaped pasta. Some of the chick peas were smashed to thicken it a little, and a tiny bit of tomato was added to the garlic in the oil at the beginning for flavor. The secondo were speidini, with pancetta, local sausage and veal, and every other piece of meat was threaded next to a sliver of onion or a crouton cut as large as the meat, to soak up the juices. The dessert was bread pudding infused with Vin Santo.
We ate so well, and laughed so much, I felt we were waking the walls.

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