A I prepare my simple dinner of lemon chicken this evening, I am reminded of the wonderful markets in Florence and how much I wish my lifestyle included shopping for dinner in a local market or visiting a local butcher or fishmonger for something fresh and delicious. This is something I've just got to figure out how to fit into my daily life, (my good friend Stephanie and I talk about this all of the time) even if it's a limited shopping - but fresh, organic ingredients are so important for a healthy diet and delicious food. With summer coming the markets will be more plentiful, and FHFB's garden will be providing us with delicious vegetables as well. Cooking with seasonal ingredients is also a basic part of the Italian diet - with fish and beef and fruits and vegetables growing very close to the city of Florence and having very little transport time to the markets and restaurants. Limiting our carbon footprints and buying local is something we all need to become more aware of - but it's not easy to do!!!
As you already know, FHFB and I recently spent 15 days in Italy, 13 of them in Florence and 2 in Rome.
Today's post will focus on a cooking class that we took with Sharon Oddson,
co-owner of the Garga restaurant on Via del Moro in Florence.
Sharon explains that
the cooking school began in August 1998 in a 14th century palazzo across the street from the restaurant. Today, she teaches from the kitchen in her apartment - with tremendous passion - the simplicity of recreating Tuscan culinary traditions into a grand culinary feast. The school offers intimate one-day courses where all guests are encouraged to participate in preparing and enjoying a superb for course lunch served in a renaissance atmosphere.
This is Sharon's simple kitchen in her wonderful Florence apartment.
Sharon has written a great book called Once Upon a Tuscan Table: Tales and Recipes from Trattoria Garga about moving to Florence from Canada, marrying and living with her husband Giuliano and of course about the Garga restaurant. This wonderful memoir and cookbook is full of absolutely hilarious and heartwarming stories as well as delicious recipes. Some of the chapters have very interesting names: The Girl from the Frozen North, How Giuliano Saved Our Marriage, Arm Wrestling and Going Underground.
Sharon created a wonderful menu for us to cook during our 4 hour cooking class on our recent visit to Florence. We received a lovely little booklet that described why and how herbs are used in Garga's kitchen, an explanation of the different types of Tuscan 'liquid gold' - otherwise known as olive oil - an indispensable part of Garga's kitchen. The kitchen equipment need for the recipes was also listed in this little booklet - with a focus on using very little kitchen equipment in order to keep the true flavors of the food that is being cooked.
The booklet from our cooking class - stains and all!
The menu also included the two wines we would be drinking that day, one white and one red. The white wine was called Pomino Bianco, a Tuscan wine from the Marchesi De Frescolbaldi. This delicious wine has an appearance called 'straw transparent', almost white, with paly grey reflexes. The nose is elegant, fruity and flowery and the taste is fine, clean, well balanced with a lingering aftertaste - it was just lovely. We had this white wine with our bruschetta.
The red wine served during the main course part of our class was called Nipozzano Riserva.
This wine is a Chianti Rufina DOCG Riserva, also from Frescobaldi. The color was an incredibly concentrated bright ruby red with a bouquet that offered an enticing array of ripe fruit frangrances such as cherries and prunes, layered with nuances of currants and hints of spices.
The delicious menu follows:
(recipe to follow in my next post)
Bruschetta con Pomodori Freschi al Forno
Bruschetta with Fresh Roasted Tomatoes
(these tomatoes were small plum shaped tomatoes straight from Sicily and so soooo sweet)
Taglierini del "Magnifico"
Thin Fettuccine with Citrus Sauce
Scallopine ai Carciofi
Veal Cutlets with Artichokes
Crema de Ricotta con Salsa Caramello all'Arancia e Madorle Tostate
Ricotta Cream with Orange Caramel Sauce and Toasted Almonds
In my next post I'll include each of the recipes for you to try. Till then, buon appetito!!