Super Tuscan Wines, EVOO & Tuscany Travel,
Warming Winter Soups
Ciao a tutti!
For the past 8 years, we have scheduled our fall Tuscan tours in September and early October, outside the time of the olive harvest and pressing of late autumn . We've consoled ourselves by ordering the new olive oil from the upcoming harvest while we're in Tuscany. So, after the first of the year, we get giddy with anticipation waiting for the new oil from our producers in Tuscany to arrive as well as in our local stores!! We decided that this year we gotta be there to see them press the new oil ! So, we added an olive oil week at the end of October , and we want to take you with us. It's a fabulous week of olives and new oil, saffron, rich wines and warming fires!
We hope you'll consider joining us October 24-31, 2020!

As you've probably read already, Gina will close her restaurant At The Italian Table in Louisville in April. Read here about it. She'll be open until April 18th for nightly dinners and also special dinners (more below). If you're in Louisville before mid April, hurry and make your reservations on Open Table or call 502-883-0211 and get your spot 'at the table '!

We are finalizing our 2021 dates now. We'll be returning to Piedmont, Tuscany and Puglia ! Visit our website for more information and the 2021 dates. We're adding a new tour to the Veneto and Alto Adige regions!

Below our wine feature is about Super Tuscans. And for this month's recipe we've included a delicious and easy to make soup - a vellutata of a fresh seasonal vegetable . When serving this soup, put a drizzle of your favorite olive oil on top !

Buon appetito!
Gina and Mary
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil bright green
We're excited about the new harvest extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) as we are finding the 2019 harvest on the store shelves in our markets!

There is always a lot of press regarding authentic vs adulterated extra virgin olive oil, especially Italian, which everyone considers some of the best. In both taste and health benefits, extra virgin olive oil from Tuscany, Umbria, Sicily and Puglia can't be beat. You feel good about buying it for yourself and your family. Until they tell you it's all fake and you can't trust the label. Then what are you supposed to do?!

First, look for the DOP or IGP label that insures the olives are grown, pressed and bottled in that region . The year of harvest should be clearly printed on the label, ideally the most recent harvest. These olive oils are governed by a consortium that lay down rules and enforce the regulations governing the production. The producer doesn't receive the DOP/IGP seal until it is analyzed and approved by the consortium. This is your guarantee of authenticity.

One of our favorite Tuscan olive oils is from Costco! Their EVOO from Tuscany in the dark green glass bottle has the IGP seal with the traceable serial number . It is a high quality oil for a great price! It is in their stores now so look for it.

When planning our 2020 tours, we considered that we haven't shared with our clients the beauty of olive pressing time in Tuscany in awhile. So we planned an intensive olive week in late October to take advantage of this glorious harvest time! During our October 24-31, 2020 week , we will immerse ourselves in the traditional autumn events of olive picking and pressing , as well as cooking with and tasting the new oils . It's an incredible journey and learning experience.  There are still a few spots available ! Contact Mary @ 972-342-8308, go to our website or respond to this email and get registered!
Small producers and large - you've got to know where your EVOO is coming from!
Costco EVOO neckwrap
Here's the label where you know with the IGP or DOP designation and has the traceable serial number.
 This Month's Italian saying... 

" È meglio un aiuto che un consiglio."

(A helping hand is better than advice.)
Super Tuscan Wine
Super Tuscan wines are an unofficial category of high-quality, pricey wines that began to emerge in the 1970's . A term invented to describe Tuscan wines that previously could only be classified as vino da tavola, or table wine, they were considered innovative and fresh. These wines first emerged around Bolgheri , on the western coast of Tuscany .  Instead of indigenous Tuscan varietals, international grapes, such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc, were used . In addition, they were aged in smaller French barrels, or barriques . This gave them aging potential, but also made them more expensive.

Today, almost every producer in Tuscany makes a wine that can be classified as a super Tuscan . Many producers still use the classic international varietals , but just as many are making excellent wines with traditional, indigenous grapes . America is the key market for these wines, both because of industry marketing efforts as well as flavor profile.

On February 25th and March 31st, At the Italian Table will host a dinner showcasing three Super Tuscan wines , two from the Chianti Classico region and one from Bolgheri. It's an excellent opportunity to try a new wine classification or get to know this important wine better!
Travel with us to Tuscany this June or October!
Brolio to the west
We've had a last minute opening (2 people) for our spring Tuscany tour - June 6-13, 2020! This spring we'll be staying in a beautiful villa among the grapevines in the Chianti Classico region near San Gusme. Contact Mary to sign up: 972-342-8308 or respond to this email! Mary@eccolacucina.com

October is a great month to travel in Italy with less crowds and a more relaxed pace. As mentioned above, we have some open spots for our Tuscany week !
Our small group food and wine adventures in Italy are fun, informative and relaxing! The culinary tours are all inclusive during our week together. We'll take care of all the details and you can enjoy yourself on a wonderful vacation in Italy.

Mary can help you figure out what to do/see before or after our tours. Contact her to get more information and get registered! mary@eccolacucina.com or 972-342-8308

Vellutata di Verdura (Finished with a drizzle of EVOO)
Vellutata Broccoli soup
This basic recipe for a creamy vegetable soup, known as a vellutata, can be made with a variety of vegetables. Fresh asparagus or pea is lovely in the spring, in the winter try broccoli, cauliflower, butternut squash or leek and potato. Whichever you choose, I would keep it simple and not mix vegetables, with the exception of carrot and fennel, which are delicious together!
In Tuscany, it’s customary to finish the soup with a nice drizzle of the new extra virgin olive oil.
 
1 lb vegetable, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
olive oil
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth (homemade is best; if using store bought, dilute it)
¼ cup cream (optional)
salt
white pepper

Sauté the onion in olive oil until soft, add vegetable and continue to cook over a medium heat until the vegetable is coated with the oil and begins to cook, then add 1 cup of broth or water and salt & pepper. When vegetable is cooked, add additional broth and cook 15 more minutes, remove from heat and puree with an immersion blender until smooth. The consistency should be thick, add more liquid if necessary. Before serving, return to heat and add cream, if desired. Serve topped with a drizzle of the new harvest extra virgin olive oil.
Gina Stipo and Mary Stipo Potter | Ecco La Cucina | 1-972-342-8308| Email | Website