Friday, May 16, 2014

Wanda's Birthday Week In Italy

32 years ago the start of many family traditions began, including celebrating our May birthdays with as much gusto as possible. Swine and Dine International was also initiated and when you combine the two it creates a fantastic culinary month.  Buon compleanno!

Take out Food in Florence! 
Generous slices of porquetta, mushroom sauce (unbelievable sauce!), pomodoro and arugula with olive oil on a just-out-of-the oven foccaccia bread.  A much needed break after climbing the 400 steps of the Santa Maria del Fiore - Duomo!
 We read Calvin Trillin's book "Alice, Lets Eat" (a very good read) 32 years ago and live by many of its principles regarding eating while travelling, including when it is time to stop looking at monuments and start enjoying the local food. Thanks Mr.Trillin.

Yes, birthday celebrations for us are always longer than the day we were born - we usually stretch it out for the entire month of May since Richard's special day is in May as well. 

A visit to the Chianti region in Tuscany. 
 If the bottle of Chianti Classico you are drinking does not have the black rooster on it, it's not authentic.

Wine tasting in the Chianti Classico region.  
The longest established viticulture area in Italy marked out in 1716 by the Grand Duke Cosimo III de Medici.  The bottles are marked by a Black Rooster logo which sets it apart from standard Chianti.
I'm not sure if this is true of every winery here - we shared 3 bottles among 4 people, so we got more than a taste!

Jenifer and Jacopo of Colorado are honeymooning through Italy - 
Jacopo's dad is from Venizia -  so he looks right at home here.
Salute to your new life together!

Richard leads us all into La Toppa to end our wine tasting tour with more wine and food

Our wine tasting group enjoyed a TipicoTuscan meal of 2 types of pasta - penne with meat sauce and tripolini with pomodoro, sausage and Tuscan beans, pork loin and potatoes, topped off by my birthday cake of the best Tiramisu.  (Sorry, pictures of this wonderful meal were too blurry to use- I wonder why?) 
 Fellow Oenophiles were from Canada, Sweden, Australia, and USA

Grazie mille, Suzette and Carl!
From the Land Down Under- this delightful couple celebrating 40 years together shared a very special bottle of wine with us.  Felice Anniversario!

We were not expecting (but very happy) to be invited to dinner with Elena and Harpert.
 Richard Messina, a founding member of  Swine and Dine, and whom you may remember from our earlier Amsterdam post, introduced us. Richard was always good with pairings.

The Tuscan meal Elena, prepared for us was a Panzenella Salad, Pear and Gorgonzola Pasta,  fresh artichoke Frittatta, and for dessert Panna Cotta topped with a homemade blackberry sauce! 
Welcome our newest member of Swine and Dine International, Italian Chapter.
Harpert, a wine connoisseur, was saving his extraordinary 2003 Chianti Classico Riserva for a special occasion - well when he opened it,  he sure made us feel special!
(How did he know it was my birthday? : )

After a wonderful meal from chef Elena, we were ready for our Grappa lesson from Harpert.
We were feeling europhic at the end of the evening or I mean wee hours of the morning!
Grazie Grazie mille!!!

Thanks Richard and Renata!
I have to say this was one of my best birthdays - it was a great week and the month just started!!