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The smell of spring and the artichoke come at lunch

The smell of spring and the artichoke come at lunch

The smell of spring and the artichoke come at lunch

The smell of spring is in the air, it is fresh, it is light, it is green, it smells like pollen, it blows gently in the morning and at dusk, it brings new life into nature and into us.

The smell of spring is in the artichoke that accompanies us between the end of Winter and the beginning of spring - it is bitter and fresh, light and lingering .... I prepare it in a variety of ways: raw in pinzimonio, boiled with oil and lemon, sautéed with garlic and parsley or stewed with ginger and sage.

March is also a perfect month to immerse yourself in cooking for a whole afternoon: it is not too hot, and between simmering pots and the stove you can keep warm, helped along by a good chat and sips of liquid the colour of rubies! Chianti is splendid, silent in the morning mist which gives way to mild and sunny days.

People who choose this period to visit us are rewarded by the green landscape bursting with life, the mild temperatures and a relaxed and welcoming environment.

Suzanne and her Californian friends decided to celebrate their 50th birthday by cooking together their own birthday dinner in an agriturismo near Montespertoli.

What better opportunity to propose a carpaccio of artichokes - very tender, seasoned with oil, lemon and flakes of Parmesan which has matured over 24 months? Here you find the recipe.

Together we chatted about culinary traditions, and shared anecdotes from our family lives; I gesticulate a lot when I speak of things that excite me, often leaving my "students" with a fascinated and surprised expression!

Fresh pasta is a must for a celebration such as this though I include it in all our cooking classes because I see it as a sort of test that reveals the personality of each one of us. Making pasta brings us back to childhood - we can mess a little as if playing with Ping Pong. Who, becoming  a little 'annoyed" would like to keep the order in the dough of flour and egg so as not to have to dirty the cutting board, and who,  wanting to make a mess of everything, would never stop until they did just that!! In short, a nice exercise for everyone.We made the egg tagliatelle and the gnocchetti with re-ground semolina flour and water. Two similar doughs which produce two completely different results: the tagliatella is delicate with a delicious taste while the gnocchetto"s texture is elastic and tasty We served the tagliatelle with a tasty "cacio e pepe", which is a favorite dish of our guests; while the dumplings were seasoned with the classic "pomarola": peeled summer tomatoes preserved in a jar cooked together with the classic trio (onion, carrot, celery) also called "the Trinity" ... Please forgive my  irreverence, none intended!

After a refreshing salad we were ready for dessert: soft apple cake served with cinnamon whipped cream and vin santo.

The dinner ended with a coffee, some group photos, plenty of hugs and of course memories to take home. The chattering together continued as we moved into the living room and later the kitchen was filled with the buzz of the dishes being washed and the water flowing. Everything became clean and tidy again as it always does... sometimes tidier than it was before our visit!



Once finished, the Chianti cooking experience team pack up all the tools of our trade and go home until we set out again ready for another new adventure in the Tuscan countryside.

If in some unusual place you happen to see a white car parked with two perplexed -looking people inside - people who seem to be trying to figure out where they are  (because of course in these circumstances Google maps do not work) .... then its probably some of us, maybe we are looking for your home!!


 Recipe : artichokes the first color pf the spring

Carpaccio di carciofi e parmigiano

6cfresh artichokes, 1 lemons, 6 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tbsp chopped parsley, salt and pepper

150g 24 months parmesan cheese, shaved

Prepare the artichokes by peeling the outer leaves enough to reveal the heart.

Using a sharp knife cut about 2/3 of the tops off the artichokes and then cut them in half
removing the fibrous interior.
Slice the artichokes into thin slices and soak them
in cold water and squeeze in the lemon.

Combine the olive oil with lemon juice, parsley and salt and pepper.

Drain the artichokes and layering them onto a platter.
Pour over 1/2 of the dressing and the shaved parmesan, drizzling over the remaining dressing.
Serve with crusty bread.