Top 10 herbs to cook Italian – 1.

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Too often, herbs and spices were considered, in Italian Cooking, simple additions, optional ingredients to use in some occasion or when you remember. 
Yet herbs and spices can be crucial for the success of a dish, and they are perfect in healthy food for their therapeutic properties

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Today we talk about : Sage = Salvia

  • “Chi ha la salvia nell’orto ,ha la salute nel corpo”
  • Who has the sage in the garden health in the body

SALVIA   SAGE in Latin its name means Healthy.

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There are many recipes that use sage. It can never be missing out on roasts and kebabs, because it combines very well the taste of the meat, especially red ones.

Wanting to try a use different from the usual, you can put it in the mixture of finely chopped eggs and flour used to make pasta and noodles and season them.

The ideal use is on some fish like trout and sole cooked in butter, but it also combines very well with white meats, such as using it as a flavoring for stuffing rolls, and borlotti beans or cannellini beans and pork in general.

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The leaves to be dried for storage, should be harvested before flowering

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10 Years of Hands On Italian Cooking Classes in Tuscany

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10 years, Toscana Mia Cooking school  is now really 10 years old.

Today we have an  another Half Day Cooking  class but it’s like the first time. We are waiting for our students here in Chianti, tomorrow will be here and in Florence.

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We are  fixing the last ingredients in our kitchen while waiting for 7 students: different ages, different nationalities, they are staying in hotel, B&B and agriturismo. Always maximum 10 persons  so all of them will have the possibility of cooking, and  asking questions. Only sometimes we have organized large  groups, :people  who  already know each other ,related by family or work.

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Today’s lesson is in the morning and now at  9:30  they’re all here: oh no, two of them are  late, we’ll wait sipping a cappuccino.

Then aprons, a  look at the recipes and off to cut  with the  mezzaluna, stir, turn   the wooden spoon while  chatting about cooking, our countries and lifestyles.

Cooking Class Tuscany

We teach Italian cooking, we  like immersing ourselves  into this way of cooking . Italian food is nice, cooking Italian is a pleasure, not a competition,  pure flavor: the important thing is the final taste .Recipes do not have to be complicated but the fresh,organic ingredients have to be  well chosen. Techniques are not complex, but require patience and love.

Cooking Lesson at Toscana Mia

Menu of the day: two students have requested fresh pasta, one of them absolutely no veal, a young lady insisted for a tiramisu better than what she has  tasted till now…. and then a Traditional Italian Menu: Black Olives Crostini, Tagliatelle with Mushroom White sauce, Oven bell peppers / capsicums, Turkey in Milk, Tiramisu.

Fresh Home Made Pasta

You might ask: How is it that  you like being every day in the kitchen? Have you really been there for the last 10  years? Yes, we like to cook: today a menu,  tomorrow another one. Today we have to put together  a menu for  vegetarian and not vegetarian, tomorrow for gluten free and not gluten free, the day after  cooking with children and the other day a group of young chefs looking  for something more complicate .

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To organize a class we experiment recipes, we keep update with new ingredients and tools, we slightly change traditional ones so that they can become  dishes you’ll   recreate  in your own kitchen . On the other hand you cannot imagine how many things we have learned in recent years meeting people from all over the world :you come to meet  locals but it is as if all the locals of the  world  were here..

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Then we all eat together, sitting around  table , taking our time as the Italians say “ a tavola non si invecchia mai” “at the table,people do not age ”.

            Turkey breast with Cherry Tomatoes

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Secrets to unveil travelling to Italy: wall socket

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Definitely one of the most common problem  for travelers in Italy  is electricity.  We read a wonderful blog about  the subject . We’d like to add that, in case you arrived to Italy without  the  proper adapter the best  thing to do is to enter a shop  of electrical devices or supermarket, point at the plug : people  will understand your need.

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Remember :Italian people use  and understand hand gestures. This is one of the secrets.

In case you want to properly ask for, let’s say

Power converter   convertitore 

Plug adapter          adattatore

Have a look at this article:

Electricity in Italy – Plugs, Adapters and Transformers

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Food Shops in Chianti,Tuscany

DSC_0379-1Years ago  newly arrived in Chianti, entering  small  shops we were  just thinking” are we going to find everything  we need ,here ?”

DSC_6673Now we know that shopping here is great because  there is not the confusion of shopping  in town  and  even if  there is not the  large choice you’re used in  groceries and supermarkets, here you can be sure   that all ingredients and products are very well chosen.

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There are so many  places  with delicious  products to cook or with ready made dishes.

Of all the nice shops we must immediately name  two so similar  as based on the family,  a typical Italian familiar  business. What does this mean? Sincere concern for the customer and product knowledge!

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We start from the grocery store in Lecchi in Chianti, known by everyone as ” da Palmira” Here you always find Palmira with her son Paolo, always nice and smiling . and the great help of Samuele.

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This was  the very  first store we entered twenty years ago when we moved  to Chianti .They have everything, but really everything in such a  really  small “negozietto” ( little shop). Must: pecorino, anchovies and focaccia with tomatoes. Without  forgetting  wines and balsamic vinegars !

phoca_thumb_l_gz2754121Driving then into  Radda,  let’s  encounter a shop a little ‘bigger’, but always with the same  home style: Porciatti. Luciano always there, his sister Anna , his wife Simonetta and sons Riccardo and Francesco

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Fantastic grocery and wines.  Must: prepared sauces, olives and a wide selection of cheeses and cold cuts

Let’s ask for  tonno di Radda (it’s a cold meat ) and  hot bread sticks . And a great choice of wines, ask for Riccardo.

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.When Luciano will ask you “which is the most beautiful  town in the world ?” ,answer “Radda “ and you’ll make him happy !

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Toscana Mia on Fox News

Toscana Mia on Fox News  one of the 8 trips you must do once :isn’t it fantastic?

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Looking for something besides yet another trip to the beach for your next vacation? From cooking lessons in the hills of Tuscany to snorkeling the waters off Belize, these eight trips should be on everyone’s list. ……we also think it’s mighty adventurous to sign up for cooking lessons in the land that practically invented eating–Tuscany.

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Cooking Classes in Tuscany

Anyone who has tucked into a plate of fresh pasta or seafood—or, for that matter, just about any dish—in Tuscany knows that ohmygosh moment when you wonder, how on earth do they do this? It’s time to take the leap: Sign up for a cooking class with an expert in Tuscan cuisine.

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It may not sound quite as adventurous as hang gliding or snorkeling, but consider this: You’re pushing the envelope of your abilities and that plate of hand-made pasta you put in front of your guests at the next dinner party may impress them more than any adventure travel story ever could.

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There are a number of opportunities to immerse yourself in Italian cuisine both in Florence and in outlying areas, where you find yourself learning to craft bruschetta, gnocchi, and even tiramisu while surrounded by olive trees, vineyards, and rolling farmland.

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Get started: Toscana Mia offers hands-on culinary training in a relaxed, friendly environment in either Florence or the Chianti countryside.

http://www.foxnews.com/travel/2013/02/21/8-trips-must-do-once/

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How to Spend A Full Day In Tuscany

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You’re spending some days in Florence but  you would like to get deeper into Tuscan Landscapes  and meet with locals ?               

Combine  Cooking Class in an Italian home ,wine-tasting and a country drive through magnificent Tuscan landscapes in  Chianti, popular Tuscan region  acclaimed for its classic wines and natural beauty.

The day in  Chianti is not a group tour ,it is from 1 to 8 persons

DSC002138:02 a.m.  Florence train station. You get  a train to Montevarchi. You arrive   in a tiny tiny  station  for   a few  commuters and our  driver waiting  for you .He   drives you  to Podere Le Rose (Toscana Mia location in Chianti).

We welcome you with a nice “Cappuccino “ and a snack. Maybe a glass of wine   and private  necessities.

IMG_0764Then we cook , hands-on , traditional, home-style Tuscan recipes such as pasta or gnocchi or ribollita,   appetizer, bruschetta and savoury cakes,turkey cooked in  milk or roasted pork.And then dessert: complete with  panna cotta or Tiramisù.

IMG_2358Let’s enjoy the wonderfully intense flavours & freshness of traditional Italian dishes cooked in an evocative stone farmhouse in the hills of Chianti, surrounded by vineyard & olive groves.In a friendly atmosphere to prepare a complete meal accompanied by  good  wine  and  good chatting .

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After lunch we reach a cute place to enjoy wine and extra vergin olive oil tasting.

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Or we tour in the area, visiting Angela,the artisan of the  beautiful ceramics we use.

DSC_6631Then we drive you back to Montevarchi for catching the train back to Florence

A long  day but at the same time a good occasion to cook Italian ,to get tips about Italian cooking and lifestyle  !!! We have new  friends and  with  blog and FB we can keep in touch !

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Sites in Chianti which kids might enjoy

DSC_9029Certainly walking in  the uncontaminated Chianti or visit the ancient villages is a special experience for kids of all ages, but we  can expect  something more particular …

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In Greve, unless you are a vegetarian ,you may be attracted by the stuffed boar that is waiting in front of the Butcher Falorni. It’s so interesting to see up close how this typical Chianti animal is  then see the immensity of prosciuttos (hams) hanging inside
At the entrance of the village there is also a playground that offers the opportunity to let children play and parents relax a while. http://www.falorni.it

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If we drive to Castellina, the specialty is the ice cream. All’Antica Delizia  you can try many gelato flavours  and calling  ahead  you can organize a little explanation for the children. Culture of homemade gelato  was born in Italy and it is … saporitissima.Then take a stroll in an ancient medieval walkway. http://www.anticadelizia.it

DSC_4169But if you are interested in the Middle Ages,  talk about that time with your  children and drive to Castle Brolio

.Maybe  only in my  imagination  but this is the  typical castle with fairies and  princesses. I still see the princess, in reality this is a family of  Barons, but for children what’s the difference? ……. Well I see the Princess  locked in the castle  and  the Knights defending her and controlling  the enemy from the high walls  …. And then, Mom and Dad can taste the wine.
To rest you can drive to Gaiole in Chianti or Radda in Chianti, where there is a great bar(coffee shop) where to have  the very Italian cappuccino and a small playground with swings and slide.

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A t the same time  contemporary art culture  and fun: an outdoor sculpture collection  . Do not run and damage, but it’s so nice to walk into the structures of modern art, and live them and understand  what they mean to the artist and to us . http://www.chiantisculpturepark.it/

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Gaiole an idyllic place in Tuscany

DSC01726Gaiole in Chianti,the most Idyllic Place to live according   Forbes’s  article in 2008

For me, Chianti is all about mountains, vineyards, wineries, country inns and walking,” says Gay Gillen of travel consultancy Brownell, based in Birmingham, Ala. “There are equestrian centers and opportunities to hike and play tennis, and the food is amazing.”

IMG_3346What else could I add to invite people to Gaiole ?

Castelli : there are several ancient  castles  which  bring you back  to Middle ages, castles worthwhile to be  to visited or  even better to live in

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L’Eroica:a unique atmosphere bike ride on unpaved  Tuscan dirt roads and  most of the riders use vintage bikes and wear old style wool clothing.

Many Chianti Classico wineries   are  spotted in Gaiole territory  to enjoy a  wonderful tasting  and the beautiful colour of vines. Not to forget the wonderful extra vergin olive oil

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Tiny shops of ceramic or things for the house

Butcher with special local meats  such as chianina perfect for the  well known bistecca  fiorentina ,cinta sense,the special pork meat and  wild boar.

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Vegetable shop with fresh  and seasonal vegetables  with their incredible fresh and ripe taste

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Grocery with beautiful  cheeses  especiallypecorino

and much more……

Read Trip Advisor for info

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Chianti Tuscany not only Wine

 

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Chianti is not only a wine………… These words are so describing of Chianti area : *The style of farming in Tuscany makes the countryside beautiful. Farms are mostly owned by families, not corporations. Frequently they grow many different types of crops. In the Chianti region the hills are laid out like a beautiful quilt: straight rows of dark green grapes vines here, a misty green olive grove splashed with bright red poppies there, a lush forest in-between, all of it topped with a perfect blue sky.

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Off in the distance a town sitting at the crest of a hill. That is the color palette in June, it changes through the seasons. Even in the areas of new development, the Italians do not build our American-style sprawling suburbs. The development is usually three-story apartment buildings or smaller houses close together. Italians want to be close to their caffe, to stores, to each other. They respect and love their historical towns.

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These towns are not museums. People live in them, shop in them, and gather on the main street every evening for the passagiata. They drive their cars through town gates that may be over 2000 years old (built by the Etruscans and remodeled by the Romans).

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The towns in the countryside are alive. I can’t say it often enough: Italy is a wonderful place…… By Pauline Kenny in Slow Travel Italy   Thank you Pauline………for an Italian who has chosen to live in Tuscany, yours is a perfect description of the reason to live here…………     .

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2 Day Radda Cooking Experience

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Radda Packages  New Creation in 2012, for guests who like to live in the village town of Radda, enjoy the view, the shops, cafes and restaurants and at the same time wishing to participate in cooking classes, Italian dinners with  Italian friends and be guided  on tours in the area

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 Radda Package 2 

1 Day

  • Arrival in Montevarchi by train from Florence   Transfer by private car to the chosen Hotel or B&B
  •  At 7:30 pm Transfer by private car to Podere Le Rose Meeting the other  guests
  •  Welcome dinner offered by the de’ Mari family
  •  Transfer back to your hotel

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  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Transfer by private car to Podere Le Rose
  • Hands on cooking class We prepare together 4 or 5 different recipes
  • Lunch together We eat our recipes and taste the accompanying wine
  • Guided excursions in the Chianti area : visit to a winery with wine tasting and to a beautiful  ancient town with traditional  artisans (ceramic, leather goods,  kitchen stuff etc.)
  • Dinner at our home, talking about Italy and Italian culture and lifestyle
  • Transfer back to your hotel

DSC_64133  Day

  • Breakfast at the hotel  and check out
  • Transfer by private car to Podere Le Rose
  • Hands on cooking class We prepare together 4 or 5 different recipes
  •  Lunch together We eat our recipes and taste the accompanying wine
  • Transfer by private car to Montevarchi and train connection to Florence

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