Sunday, June 08, 2008

Quick Summertime Dessert

On this last tour through Tuscany, I was able to introduce many new foods to this incredible group of travelers. For a few, this was their first time to this part of the world and their excitement level was off the peg! How refreshing to be around such a positive and upbeat group! 
Having one more stop to make before calling it a day, we stopped for a special treat - a drizzle of balsamic vinegar on a scoop of rich and creamy vanilla ice cream. What a treat this was! The combination sounded a bit strange to some, but after their first spoonful, opinions changed! The key here is to pour the most expensive vinegar you can afford on the ice cream. This vinegar is not the one used for salads and such. I have to admit, I do not own a bottle of  I could use for a dessert. I wish!

Saturday, June 07, 2008


Maybe it's just me, but I swear the displays of gelato seem to grow larger and larger each time I visit Italy. The creations and new flavors are endless! I would never think to throw in a few coconut shells or melon slices to show off these mountains of creamy masterpieces . So many times I would see the attendant scoop into the gelato and I would hesitate to look for fear they would destroy this piece of edible art before I was able to get my shots.(pictures) Never fear. A few pats, quick movements with the hand and the mountain appeared again, just as lovely.  Down the road, on the other side of the street were two more gelato stands. Then more and more!

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Tuscan Man, Dario Castagno

    Meet another Dario, the writer. Maybe you have read some of his books or have even had the pleasure of meeting  or spending time with him when he was conducting tours in Tuscany. Dario recently toured the U.S. last spring promoting his book, Too Much Tuscan Sun.  I was able to catch up with him a few weeks ago in Tuscany where we shared an incredible lunch at the Relais  Borgo Scopeto and attended a brief, but very captivating history session learning about the famous Palio, held twice a year in Siena.
 Dario is a proud member of Siena's Caterpillar contrada, which actually won the Palio in 2003. Although Dario does not actually ride bareback around the Campo, his spirit and sense of community is overwhelming. He is truly "The Tuscan Man." 

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Butcher of Panzano

  Drive twenty five miles south of Florence, IT,  you will arrive in the small historic town of Panzano, where an intriguing "macelleria"(butcher shop) is located. Dario Cecchini is the owner, also the chef and quite the entertainer! As you step through the doorway you are immediately treated like one of his best friends and offered a sample of his local wines and meats. An aroma of fresh herbs overtakes your sense of smell while your mouth waters as you spy the incredible display of rosemary-stuffed pork displayed on the massive chopping block towards the back of the store. While we were standing next to a side table, draped with various cheese, breads and sausages and unusual meats, additional visitors were entering making it feel more like a reunion of wonderful friends rather than strangers from across the globe. I can't tell you when I had more fun in a butcher shop.....