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 13 Gobbi  

Bar Sport

Letters from Italy

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bar sport sign

When you are with us in our village, you'll find yourself stopping in for a pick-me-up caffè at Montefollonico's popular hangout - Bar Sport. Though the name may conjure up images for Americans of a male-centric-beer-drinking place, this is actually a typical Italian village gathering place, a simple spot where locals come for a quick morning cappuccino and pastry at the counter, in the afternoons for a tramezzino (delicious sandwich made with thin white bread) and jolt of espresso, and evenings for a pre-dinner aperitivo. In keeping with Italian tradition, retired male villagers hold court all day at the bar's outside tables playing cards with their lifelong cronies, while their wives, the nonne (grandmothers), sit on benches at the town gate, watching the children in the playground. All keep tabs on the teenagers, who slip into the bar to play video games. These oldsters represent Montefollonico's version of "checks and balances".

   

caffe bar sport

 

Esterina, the barista-in-charge, who is also a hairdresser, greets all who enter Bar Sport with quintessential, enthusiastic Tuscan hospitality. You also may meet her husband Ivano, and handsome son Tomasso, who helps out at the counter. All have grown accustomed to Tuscan Women Cook guests popping in, and they'll welcome the chance to practice their English with you, as you blend in with this delightful, friendly local scene.

esterina bar sport
 I asked a friend to take a photo of Esterina. She proved to be a little camera shy, but did send a sweet note to me.

"Bill Ti voglio bene baci baci Esterina."

"Bill I love you kisses kisses Esterina."


letters from italy headerOne of our favorite authors and friend, Susan Van Allen, just wrote an excellent book on Italy. We thought you might enjoy it.

 

letters from Italy  

Susan Van Allen, author of 

100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go has a new book-Letters from Italy: Confessions, Adventures, and Advice. Susan featured Tuscan Women Cook as a top choice for cooking schools in Italy in her first book, and is such a big fan of our school and Montefollonico that she's been back many times since her first visit in 2003.  

 

Her new book is an entertaining collection of her experiences in the Bel Paese - full of rich memories, fascinating details, and laughs, to be enjoyed whether you're 

arm-chair traveling or packing your bags. For more information-

www.susanvanallen.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 2013. Tuscan Women Cook, LLC
Greetings!

It was difficult to select a photo for our lead-in photo above. We finally agreed on this spectacular photo of zucchini flowers that we used in one of our classes. We had to choose from other photos of the hills covered in bright red poppies in early June and the enormous fields of sunflowers as they emerge in the last weeks of June. Being the foodies that we are, we had to choose the zucchini flower photo. We hope you enjoy.

 

Our classes for 2013 are rapidly filling. From May through September, every class is sold out, so we decided to add two new weeks - June 2-8 and June 23-29. June is one of the most beautiful months in Tuscany and we now have some open spaces should you decide to join us in Tuscany.

 

 -Bill and Patty Sutherland 

 
join us in june 3

Our classes are nearly completely sold out, so we just added two new Tuscan Women Cook weeks (June 2-8 and June 23-29). There are still spaces available for you to join us during this beautiful month.

 

In June, Mother Nature puts on an amazing show here in our corner of Tuscany. Spring rains have passed over and turned the hills a shimmering green. As summer approaches, the warm sun inspires breathtaking flower displays. Carpets of bright red poppies transform fields into visions from The Wizard of Oz. Yellow ginestra (broom) and purple thistle spring up. Window boxes overflow with vibrant, blooming geraniums. Lavender bushes thrive, softly scenting the air. Roses are at their peak, adding romance to the landscape.

   sunflower/poppies

 

And in this land that's world famous for olive oil and wine, June showcases its pretty beginnings - tiny grapes pop up on the vines, and amidst silvery green branches of olive trees, small fruits appear.

 

For us foodies, it's time to indulge in delicious spring lamb, and the first vegetables sprouting in our orto (vegetable garden). On a personal note, we are lucky to have Alvaro, the husband of one of our cooking teachers, here to help us with our June crop- different lettuces, radishes, early tomatoes, onions, lemons, pears, artichokes and the list goes on. Alvaro is a classic Tuscan contadina (farmer) who knows every detail of cultivating his native land - where, when, how, and what to plant. He brings part of our garden's bounty back to his family, working in an arrangement called mezzadria (sharecropping), so even though Alvaro doesn't have a big home plot to grow food on, his family can still enjoy the freshest vegetables of the season.

 

field/lavender  

The June star of all the gardens are is zucchini flowers. We love preparing these treasures in our cooking classes - fried or stuffed with ricotta and simmered in tomato sauce. We always try to include these in our cooking classes each week.

 

And this is the season for cherries that appear on our trees in luscious, abundant clusters. We eat the big sweet ones right off the branches, or cook them in a crostata (fruit tart). We also have a couple of trees that produce small tart cherries, beloved by our Tuscan Women Cook driver, Fabio. He picks them and makes a fantastic sauce, perfect to pour over ice cream.

 

raw food 2    

In this land of celebrations, June brings on many. The month's name comes from Juno, Goddess of Marriage, so you'll see weddings around the small town churches, with gorgeous brides and grooms posing for photos. June 2 is the Festa della Repubblica (similar to America's Fourth of July), a holiday with parades and fireworks that commemorates the date in 1946 when Italians voted to become a republic and throw out the monarchy. And if you stick around for Pisa's June 16 Luminaria festival that honors their patron Saint Ranieri, you'll see the city stunningly illuminated with 70,000 candles lining the banks of the Arno.

 

Every day we celebrate La Dolce Vita (the Sweet Life), Tuscan style, that bursts forth deliciously in June. So come join us in June!

 

13 Gobbi header 

Italians believe 13 Gobbi (13 hunchbacks) bring good luck. We consider ourselves lucky to have the wonderful 13 Gobbi restaurant in our village of Montefollonico. The moment you enter you're charmed by the quaint décor, and the warmth of the Steffanucci family who runs it - Albo, his wife Simonetta, and their son, Matteo. They were born in Montefollonico, then lived and worked at high-end eateries in Rome. Five years ago they decided to return to their homeland, bringing a refined, creative touch to the local cuisine.

  13 Gobbi 1

 

The restaurant's most famous dish is tagliatelle with Pecorino - a fettuccine-like pasta that's tossed in a hollowed out round of Pecorino cheese until richly coated, then garnished with white pepper. We love it so much we order it every time we dine there.

These days 13 Gobbi is always packed with locals and in-the-know travelers who rave about everything from their tasty crostini, pasta sauces, and bistecca (beefsteak), to their extraordinary desserts.

 

pasta makers  

During our Tuscan Women Cook week, there's a morning class at 13 Gobbi where we typically make such scrumptious dishes as pici all'aglione (a thick spaghetti specialty of the region with garlic sauce), tagliatelle al sugo (pasta with tomato sauce), roast chicken with vegetables, and fruit-filled crostata for dessert. The class concludes with lunch in the lovely restaurant garden, where we clink wine glasses and dig into the delicious food we've made. We feel we are the "lucky" ones to have 13 Gobbi in our village.

 

13 Gobbi pasta video  

 Click to see a YouTube video of 13 Gobbi's famous tagliatelle with Pecorino. 

 

sunflower field  

 

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Again, our classes are rapidly selling out. If you are considering joining us in Tuscany, we still have space available in June and October.  Please enroll soon to assure your reservations.  


Sincerely,

Bill & Patty Sutherland
Tuscan Women Cook, LLC
www.tuscanwomencook.com

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