Dreaming of Spring
from Tuscany  
From the vineyards of Montepulciano,
through the rolling hills of Siena   
to the cobblestone streets of Florence...
Table Talk
Primavera, the first green, is here in Italy.  Artichokes, the first asparagus of spring, green scallions and sweet peas, radishes, garlic, spinach and celery, are sprouting in our garden. Winter may have been long and cold, even fooling us a bit in February disguising itself as a warm spring day, but primavera, springtime, has arrived in Italy. And, we are happy!
To celebrate the occasion, we share with you newest cooking tours, featuring Tuscany, and recipes from our Tuscan kitchen. There's wine pairing recommendations and dolce, dessert too!  We've traveled the quiet roads of Tuscany this winter crafting new cooking tours for you and yours, while taste tasting pici and pappardelle pasta and sipping a little wine along the way.    
In Pico, the small town where my great-grandfather Costanzo was born, they are making marzolino cheese at this time of year.  Marzolino is a local cheese made from 100% goat's milk.  It takes its name from the month of March, during which goats graze freely on the sweet spring grass.  My grandfather was famous for his artisan marzolino.

Although each month in Italy brings its own beauty to the table, we are happy April is here.  Time to open the windows, grill up the first veggies of the season and pick the first lettuce of the season.
Buon Appetito!

Siena, Chianti, Florence
Peruse, Cook & Savor
New Tuscan Culinary Tours

Join us for our new Tuscan Cheese & Wine Tasting Tour in Siena. A day in Italy is best spent drinking wine, savoring cheese, and sampling local fare. There is perhaps no place more perfect for such succulent activities than a farm in Tuscany, spanning over 700 years of family-owned production.  Choose from a variety of quick and delicious Tuscan tasting experiences set to introduce you to Italy's world-famous artisan wine and cheese - straight from farm to table.  

Join Pino and Chef Anna in the kitchen for our deliciously tempting Tuscan cooking & wine program in Chianti, Tuscany. Gently sweeping hills adorned with pristine vineyards and grey-green olive groves, pretty country churches and imposing stone castles provide the backdrop for your cooking school vacation.
Set in six hectares of vineyards and producing award winning wines, this beautiful residence will be your home for a week as you allow yourself to become intoxicated by your hosts' unique organic wines, savoring their many healing properties and discovering their hidden secrets.
Take a tour of the property's winery, visiting the vineyard, tasting wines and learning about the Chianti Classico; enjoy accompanying your meals with a delicious selection of house reds and whites; and opt to discover the wonderful healing properties of wine and grapes by adding on a wine therapy massage and Jacuzzi at the relaxing spa

Join Anna Maria in her family's historic mansion for a unique cooking experience blending Tuscan and Emilia-Romagna traditions in the village of Marradi. Luxury accommodations accompany delicious cooking, and local wines from Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna complete this colorful palate. Our week-long program offers Marradi's local traditional flavors along with excursions to local cheese makers, artisans and the stunning Mosaic city of Ravenna, creating a blend of tranquility and excitement that sets apart the Italian lifestyle, la dolce vita.

Happy Cookers At Cooking Vacations  

Recipes From Our Kitchen


~ Toasted Bread with Garlic and Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Get The Recipe

Pair with Donna Olimpia Bolgheri
The vineyards of Bolgheri Bianco produce some of Italy's very richest Vermentino. Light, brilliant straw gold and of medium intensity. Ample and clean perfumes with mineral hints, citrus fruits, white flowers, candy and honey. The palate is full and tasty, with a long lasting and pleasing aftertaste. The name Donna Olimpia 1898, was given in 1898 to the estate in honor of Gherardo della Gherardesca's wife Olimpia Alliata of Biserno to commemorate their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary

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Insalata di Carciofi & Olive Nere

~ Artichoke & Black Olive Salad

Get The Recipe

Pair with Vernaccia di San Gimignano
Hailing from the hills of Tuscany and the medieval town of San Gimignano, this elegant wine is one of Italy's oldest white wines and the first to reach DOC status. As far back as the 13th century, royals were sipping this white, and since then, the dry, bitter-after taste of this wine remains characteristic of the region.
The full-bodied nature of this white makes it a perfect match for artichokes, pecorino or parmigiana, and herbal dishes such as pesto.

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Gli Gnudi

~ Florentine Ravioli

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Pair with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Tuscany is world-renowned for its classic red wines, grown from the Sangiovese grape on the hillsides of Montepulciano. Delicate bundles of dark, purple grapes hang from the branches in vineyards surrounding the town. Once fermented, these sweet grapes produce a medium-bodied red with hints of cherry and plum. These red fruit aromas pair well with green vegetables and will highlight the spinach in your Florentine Ravioli.

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Tiramisù alle Fragole

~ Strawberry Tiramisù

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Pair with Vin Santo ~ Tuscan Dessert Wine
Vin Santo or "Holy Wine", is true to its name, a fabulous finale to any Tuscan menu. This dessert wine is made from grapes that have been dried on straw, producing a concentrated, sweet wine. With citrus aromas of apricot and orange, and a slight honey after-taste, this pairing will pop against the tart strawberries in this dish.

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With Love From Italy

You've Got Sole!   
Hand-crafted soles (and shoes!) from the heart of Tuscany for women, men and children. Visit Pretesi, the made-in-Italy shoe store for fine leather shoes for every season since 1857.  
Learn more at www.shoes-pratesi.com 

Penning It! 
Florentine books, hand-made paper, cards, dolls, maps, pencils and old fashioned post cards, Signum, located on Borgo dei Greci, 40, has been serving scholars, students and literati for centuries .
Nibble, Sip & Swirl
Giovanni Molesini opened his food and wine emporium, Molesini, in 1937. Today his sons Marco and Paolo carry on the tradition in the family wine shop that boasts 1,200 specially selected labels, fine cheese and Tuscan meats.   Stop in for a tasting or visit them at www.molesini-market.com

aly On A P late

Flavors Of The Season
By Germaine Stafford

We continue our roundup of what's happening in the culinary world in Italy and give you our chef of the month, book recommendation, and a list of seasonal foods for spring.
What's In Season?  
Pork products (salami etc.)
Sea Bream
Spring lamb
Wild garlic
Morel mushrooms
First fava beans (broad beans)
Jerusalem artichokes
First strawberries

Mangiare Bene

Dining in Florence
~ Enoteca Pinchiorri
Take a break from the kitchen and head to Florence for an evening of fine dining and exquisite wine. Executive Chef Riccardo Monco creates delicate, luxurious dishes served under the careful attention of his staff, whose detailed eye ensures that every guest is immersed in the tastes, smells, and beauty of Tuscan cuisine ~ 'a feast for the senses.' Choose the Discovery menu of hand-selected ingredients of the season, like fresh fennel and honey straight from the hive, or select your own courses from Chef Monco's traditional menu offerings. Accompany either menu with a glass of local wine, aged to perfection under the care of sommelier Giorgio Pinchiorri. Reservations are required and can be made online or by phone.

Via Ghibellina, 87
50122 Firenze (Italy)
t.+39.055.242757 / 055.242777
f +39.055.244983
Open for dinner from Tuesday through Saturday 
Book Corner  
Florentine: The True Cuisine Of Florence 
By Emiko Davies      
Florentine is a compilation of recipes and artistic photographs from Florence by Emiko Davies.

Since living in Florence, she has collected recipes from her experiences in the City of Art including antipasti such as fettunata, to the delicious pappardelle all'anatra, pappardelle in duck sauce, and crostata di mele, Florentine apple cake.

You too will be cooking like a vero Italiano when you purchase Florentine.

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 T: 617.247.4112 | 1.800.916.1152
Italy: +39.339.604.29.33
Lauren is always cooking & writing from Positano, Italy,
while welcoming cooking guests from around the world.

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