Returning from Sicily where the temperatures were still hot, Tuscany was a little cooler and fall is starting to show it’s colors. The wine harvest has started and the roads are full of trucks bringing grapes to be crushed. The roads are stained with grape juice and the fragrance fills the air.
Fall is my favorite season in Tuscany. My week-long program, Kitchen in Chianti is filled and we will be cooking and visiting the people that create the food we eat. It is also truffle season and am looking forward to hunting with the Savini Family. We end the hunt with a great tasting of their truffle products and pasta with the fresh truffles shaved on top. The white truffle season is just starting, so hope we get lucky.
My village has a food festival the first weekend in October, Boccacesca. Certaldo is an incredibly lovely small hill town, which comes alive with the festivalsdiv. I will be doing a class for children on old time snacks.
There is also the Steak and Porcini dinners, which are a fundraiser for the local swim team, held down by the city pool, this is also a wonderful meal.
The wild mint, nepitella, is growing around my garden, this is used in cooking the porcini mushrooms and with a little garlic is a pleasant surprise. Mint was also used a lot in Sicily in many of the savory dishes. I always add it to my grilled pumpkin recipe which is Sicilian.
One of the reasons I stayed on in Sicily was to travel to the other side of the island to Bronte, to see the pistacchio harvest. They only harvest every other year and my friend Laura of A ricchigia pistacchio’s was kind enough to arrange me visiting their farm.
I will NEVER complain about the price of pistacchio nuts. They are grown on Mount Etna, on the old lava flows. Harvesting them by hand, in the hot summer sun, on uneven lava is ridiculously hard and dangerous. We climbed the mountain to watch and were exhausted!
Like for harvesting the olives, they wear a basket around their necks and pull the pistacchio off into the basket. The basket is then passed to someone above them on the hill and put into a large bag of 25 kilos. A tractor comes up the hill and gathers the bags.
I will be writing more about the pistacchio and some recipes I am working on, but they are incredible as is!
Did someone say GELATO? We found the BEST pistacchio gelato and then they dipped it in more pistacchios. No such thing as too much of a good thing.
If you are interested in joining me in Sicily in November, the new oil will be out and it is a great time to come. I am just looking at dates now.
In 2016 i will be going again in May. I can always arrange custom tours for groups of 4 or more and also do a coast to coast tour.