In This Issue
Italian Saying
Weird Things Italians Eat
Tuscany photos
Vin Santo - holy wine
Cantucci recipe
Update on Culinary Travels
Need a place to stay in Florence?
This month's Italian saying: 

Sogni d'oro
 
This is a dear one our grandmother used to say to us ....it means " Golden dreams", it is equivalent to
sweet dreams!
 
Vin Santo from Tuscany
White grapes
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Strange Things Italians Eat

So I'm looking at this big pile of
long white grisly looking things in the butcher shops and wondering what they are when I see " nerveti di vitello".
"Nerves??" I practically scream inwardly to myself. "Is that what a nerve looks like?? Do they eat those??"  And maintaining some semblance of calm, I ask the butcher what they are and he explains that they are the
Achilles tendon of a calf.  And as I walk away I wonder "how hungry do you have to be before you eat an achilles tendon??"
2018
Food & Wine Tours

Tuscany:  
June 1 -8, 2018 - 4 spots open
Sept 29-Oct 2018 - 2 spots open
October 6-13, 2018 - sold out

Bologna  
October 14-17, 2018 -open

Piedmont
June 9-15, 2018 - 8 spots open

Join us for a fun, full immersion to the regions of Tuscany, Piedmont and Emilia Romagna - great food, wine, history and culture!   
 
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Great times on our Tuscany 2017 trips! Lots of wine, food and laughter! 
Enjoying Lunch in the Garden 
Lisa, Tina, Amy, Val stirring risotto 
We made it up the hill! 
Rolling some pici 
Damiano!
Ciao amici!
We are back from our fall travels and the weather was beautiful - warm and sunny! The nights were just cool enough to enjoy big roaring fires at night, and we returned home to find that fall had settled in with cooler temperatures.
 
The drought has affected the olives and the harvest will be smaller, but it didn't hurt the grapes and they say the vintage for 2017 will be really great!  Sadly, there are no mushrooms due to the lack of rain and the truffle harvest from Tuscany is going to be light, but in Piedmont their truffle season doesn't appear to be affected.   
   
For those chilly fall evenings - try Vin Santo and a good batch of cantucci! Read on and:  
Buon appetito! 
Gina and Mary  
Vin Santo - holy wine
After dinner in Italy, a special sweet or sparkling wine often accompanies dessert. In Tuscany, the most common after dinner wine is the sweet, amber-colored Vin Santo . Made from the white grape varieties Trebbiano or Malvasia, the name vin santo translates to 'holy wine'. The origin of the name is in dispute, and some silly stories exist claiming a bishop tasted it and exclaimed "this is indeed a holy wine!" But most likely it was a wine that was made by the Church and used for Holy Communion. When the red grape sangiovese is used, the resulting dessert wine is slightly darker and is called Occhio di Pernice , or 'eye of partridge'.
 
Many Tuscan wineries produce vin santo and it requires skill to make a good one. The grapes are collected during the normal harvest time and laid on straw mats or hung from racks in an open, well-ventilated area. Left to dry until after the first of the year, the grapes shrivel and lose over 60% of their weight, concentrating the natural sugars. The grapes are gently pressed, and the grape juice begins fermentation. Since the timing of this is in the cold Tuscan winter, sometimes a small amount of finished Vin Santo from a previous year will be added to jump start the fermentation.  
 
Once the fermentation is over, the juice is sealed in small oak casks called caratelli, and stored in attics where they are exposed to the changing temperatures, expanding during the summer heat and contracting during the cold of winter. Traditionally, the caratelli were made of chestnut instead of oak, which gave high amounts of wood tannins, and was very porous, which promoted excessive evaporation in the barrel. Today, oak casks are mainly used, and many wineries will have their vin santo-filled caratelli stored in an area of the cantina alongside other ageing wines as more temperature control promotes a better finished product. Because the caratelli are completely sealed, they are not topped up to compensate for natural evaporation and the result is a slight oxidation of the wine. For the DOC designation, the  wines are required to age for a minimum of three years, but most producers will age their vin santo wine between 5 and 10 years.  
A typical vin santo has aromas of apricots and orange blossom, followed by a caramel, nut and raisin-some with a hint of honey. This sipping wine is the perfect accompaniment with cantucci, the almond biscotti of Tuscany. Because the wine is already oxidized, it is not necessary to consume the entire bottle after opening, but can be stoppered and kept for another evening.
Gina's restaurant At the Italian Table has several vin santo options for your after-dinner pleasure!
Cantucci  
Known as biscotti in America, these little cookies are traditionally eaten after dinner dipped into Vin Santo, the Tuscan dessert wine.
3 cups flour
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ teas baking powder
1 teas salt
zest of one orange or lemon
4 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
3 eggs
1 cup almonds, whole
 
Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, make a well in the center and add the butter, eggs, and citrus zest. Mix with a fork and combine well, pulling the dough together into a ball. Knead in the almonds. The dough should be rather stiff and dry, not too moist and sticky. If too sticky, add a small amount of additional flour.
 
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board, dust the dough and coat your hands with flour, then form it into three logs, one inch wide and one inch high. Place the logs on a greased sheet pan and bake at 350° for about 40 minutes. The logs are done when they are medium brown in color and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and turn onto a board. Cut each log on a slight diagonal into individual cookies, about 1 inch wide, and return to the baking sheets. Bake an additional 20 minutes at 300° until dry.  
Serve with Vin Santo wine for dipping.
 
Update on Culinary Travels to Italy
As many of you already know - our tours are a balance of discovering the wonderful foods and wines of Italy, seeing the sights and experiencing this unique culture along with extensive wine education!  In 2018 we'll return to Piedmont, Tuscany and Bologna, each with it's own beauty, foods and wines, castles and specialties! We still have a few spots open for next year.  
 
We are already planning our 2019 schedule - never too early, we've been told! So, 2019 we will be offering Piedmont (we love it!), Tuscany, of course and 2 new additions: The Palio of Siena (yep, we're doing it again!) and adding a new region - Puglia with it's wines, seafood, burrata, ancient olive trees and so much more.  
If you're interested in getting on the list, email Mary asap.
800 yr old Olive Tree!
 
Join us for an unforgettable Italian experience with us!

If you have questions, or want more information, visit our website but better still, call
Mary! 972-342-8308 mary@eccolacucina.com   
 
Florence Apartment
Our good friend has a spectacular apartment in a quiet area of Florence that she is renting. This is just a 7 minutes walk to the Duomo, but yet on a quiet street away from the partying crowds. It is in a former palazzo on the second floor and has amazing features - an original fresco from the 1700s along with all the modern conveniences.

Mary is handling the rentals, so contact her if you're going to Florence. Its a better alternative to AirBnB! You know what you're getting plus Gina and Mary have stayed there and can vouch that its fabulous! 972-342-8308 or mary@goitalyhomes.com
  Living area with original fresco ceiling!