So much fun and food is scheduled for our final day. We begin early with a beautiful drive to Agritourismo Belagaggio. This is an old, established hotel, restaurant and working farm. There are several, large stone buildings, one of which houses a massive, wood burning oven where most of our food will be cooked. There are friendly goats that trot over to greet you, tails a-wagging, hoping you’ll feed them a handful of grass from the nearby field. There is a sparkling swimming pool, which tempted us all on this hot, humid day. Oh, to languish in this pool and take in the panoramic TuscanRead More →

My day begins with an early morning walk though our lovely town of Montefollonico. It’s a true neighborhood, where everyone knows everyone else and greetings are warm and genuine. As I walked, I imagined what my life would be like if I lived in a place like this. Nothing here resembles Los Angeles, including the slow pace and the steady calm. I have to capture this relaxed state of mind and tap into this consciousness the next time I am stuck in traffic on the Hollywood freeway. It would make my commute much more bellisimo. Our morning cooking lesson was with Isa, a local, noRead More →

No cooking lessons today! Today we travel to Sienna, one of the largest cities in Tuscany, and also one of the oldest. We are warmly greeted by Christina, our Sienese guide. She is an expert on the history of this region. A life long Sienna resident, Christina begins to weave a colorful tapestry of historic tales of Sienna. She points out many obscure architectural elements that illustrate the long, extraordinary history of this bustling beautiful city. Of all the places we’ve visited this week, this is most certainly the most urban. Crowds of tourists mingle with locals in the bustling central market place. We beganRead More →

Welcome to Montepulciano, another historic hillside Tuscan village with artisan shops and galleries. What sets this charming village apart from the others is the not-so-charming Torture Museum, filled with mediaeval displays of painful hardware. The front entry graphic display cases were grisly enough for me and I chose to pass on the rest of the exhibits, not wanting to risk losing my appetite, which would be my own form of personal torture. Next stop: Walter Redaelli, located in the Relais Leopoldina Inn, a luxurious inn hosting just a handful of well-heeled guests in four opulent guest suites. The grounds are exquisite and feature an infinityRead More →

Yes! More pasta cooking lessons today! I think about all the pasta I have eaten in my life. I reflect on all the macaroni and cheese and spaghetti I have cooked for my family; all the humble bowl of noodles and butter that substituted for dinner in a pinch. For me, pasta is the base of almost all the comfort dishes I love. We head back to Gobbi 13, the neighborhood trattoria where we had dinner on our first night. Today, the cooks show us how to make tagliatelle and pappardelle (my all time favorite noodle), served with a pungent garlic tomato sauce. We alsoRead More →

We do not have to cook our first dinner with Tuscan Women Cook. Whew! I get the sense some of the guests are pretty jet lagged. We drive up the hill in our little town of Montefollonico to our first dinner together at Gobbi 13, a local favorite spot. Their house specialty is Cacio e Pepi; fresh, hot pasta tossed in a giant Pecorino cheese wheel by the owner and his handsome son. Ah, what could be better than fresh, cheesy pasta prepared and served by handsome Italian men? The aroma alone has me light-headed. I carefully twirl my first forkful of these silky noodles,Read More →

Our home for the week is La Chiusa, a converted, centuries old olive mill. Each of our quarters is configured differently; some even span two stories. We are greeted warmly by Manuela, who offers me a glimpse into several suites. I get to pick my own room! I choose a ground floor residence with a hedge of fragrant rosemary etching the stone path leading to my quarters. My room has a high, curvy brick ceiling and a big comfy bed. My bathroom features an oversized tub positioned next to a massive stone fireplace. I stare longingly at that tub but there’s no time for aRead More →

I could have reached across the desk to kiss the hotel receptionist who kindly checked me in at 8am, seven hours before official check-in time. Could it have been my fragrant “overnight-on-an-airplane” ensemble that included a bent ponytail that defied gravity? Absolutely. I took a long, luxurious hot shower and tucked myself into the soft, white sheets for a catch up nap. I set the alarm for 1:30pm and when it chimed me awake, I bolted out of bed and headed out the door. Nowhere to be and all day to get there. Rome is the kind of city that creates indelible memories. And aRead More →

I am really doing this. I am going to learn how to cook authentic Italian food in a small, rustic village in Tuscany. And I am taking this gastronomical journey alone, the ultimate act of self-indulgence. Sure, I have plenty of reasons NOT to take this trip; plenty of work to do and people to take care of, but this trip is a personal challenge. And I am calling my own dare. Want to join me? I’ve packed carefully and thoughtfully for this journey, committing to carry-on only and expertly rolled each article of clothing into my suitcase to maximize my limited space. I tuckedRead More →

Today is the day I head to Tuscany! I check out of my Rome hotel and head for the train station, arriving in plenty of time to people watch and pay 1Euro to use the public restroom (Yay- it was clean). I boarded my train car and stretched out in the nearly empty coach. Lush, green countryside whizzed by as I headed to Chiusi, the closest train station to the village of Montefollonico, where I’ll be staying for a week. I am filled with excited anticipation, anxious to meet the other brave culinary travelers who have also left their jobs, their daily routines and theirRead More →