Pamela Sheldon Johns’ new book, Cucina Povera, is the inspiration for this wine and food workshop seven-night tour around Tuscany, from the mountains to the rolling hills to the seaside. Pamela is a cookbook author with a diverse culinary background. A former cooking school director, she now travels and lectures to groups such as the International Association of Culinary Professionals, the American Institute of Wine & Food, the Southern California Culinary Guild, Women for WineSense, and the Smithsonian Institute. Her first book, The Healthy Gourmet Cookbook, was a James Beard Cookbook Award nominee. Parmigiano! received a foreign journalism award from Maria Luigia in Parma. Italian Food Artisans was recognized in the top three Italian cookbooks in 1999 by the World Cookbook Revue.
Here’s what the trip including the wine and food workshop in Tuscany will include:
DAY ONE Victory gardens of wartime Florence
Independent arrivals 4pm welcome apertivo with Miriam Casalini to hear a few stories about life in wartime Florence, a stroll along the Arno with her and dinner at a local trattoria. Overnight Florence (additional nights can be booked if you want to arrive earlier)
DAY TWO Peasant farmers and foragers
Rise early to visit the Sant’ Ambrogio market , then off to the precious hilltown of Artimino. Here we meet Carlo Cioni at his renowned restaurant Da Delfina. Carlo will walk in the campo with us to forage ingredients for our lunch, cucina povera at its purest. After lunch we make our way to Lucca with a few interesting stops along the way, including the chestnut museum. After we check in, you will have some free time to roam inside the city walls, meeting at a local trattoria for dinner. Overnight Lucca
DAY THREE The Appenines and the church of the holy chestnut tree
Above Lucca we visit some of Pamela’s favorite secret spots where Sauro Petroni and his wife Daniela will share the culture of the chestnut tree, an important source of sustenance in hard times. From the wood and leaves to the nut, the chestnut provided shelter, tools, and food. We will have a snack of Sauro’s necci, chestnut crepes with fresh ricotta. We’ll visit the Regoli mill, and have lunch at Andrea Bertucci’s fabulous Osteria Vecchio Mulino. Dinner tonight at Pamela’s friend Aurelio Barattini’s Antica Locanda di Sesto dal 1368. Overnight Lucca
DAY FOUR The Tuscan coast
In the morning we head for the Versilia coast with a stop for coffee and a taste of Renza del Bianco’s Scarpaccia, zucchini cake shared with a few more characters from the book. We end up in the resort coastal town of Viareggio for lunch and a walk on the boardwalk, then finish the day in Livorno with a demo of cacciucco, seafood stew, and dinner. Overnight Livorno
DAY FIVE The Tuscan archipelago and island of Capraia
If we can get up early, we’ll hit the marvellous central market of Livorno before catching the ferry to Capraia. The landscape of this quiet island is remarkable, and we’ll share an aperitivo with Anna Bessi. We’ll also sample a local fisherman’s unique product, bottarga (cured fish roe), and have a cooking class. Overnight Capraia
DAY SIX Southern Tuscany: the Maremma and Pitigliano
On our return from Capraia, we follow the coast south to the Maremma with its wild horses, butteri (cowboys), flamingos, wild boar, and the amazing horned Maremmana cattle. Our destination is the hilltown of Pitigliano, also known as La Piccola Gerusalemme, or Little Jerusalem. We will meet Elena Servi and hear the story of how her family survived difficult years around WW2. After lunch at a nearby farm, we finally arrive at Poggio Etrusco, Pamela’s organic farm in Montepulciano. After a break to rest, read, or take a country walk, we head to the Pesce d’Oro to watch Enrico Agostinelli prepare brustico, the Etruscan version of grilled perch from the lake.
DAY SEVEN Home in Montepulciano
This morning we visit the local market and buy what we need to make our local pasta, pici, with Lina Mazzetti. Joining us for lunch will be our family’s adopted grandfather, Virio Neri, a prominent figure in the book. We’ll enjoy several local specialties from the cookbook. Our final dinner will be at a local organic cheesemaker’s farm, a tasting of local products such as farro, pecorino cheese, and salume. Overnight Montepulciano
DAY EIGHT Return to Florence after breakfast.
2850 euros per person, double occupancy
More info: www.foodartisans.com