Tuesday, September 18th

A meal without wine is called breakfast.

Up early today to get to cooking class on time!

Badia a Coltibuono

Badia a Coltibuono (meaning abbey of the good harvest) was founded in 1051 by an order of Benedictine Monks.  From the original chapel it expanded over the years to its current structure.  Now in private hands it consists of a B&B, restaurant, chapel, and of course the cooking school that we are attending.  The cooking courses originated over 20 years ago by Lornza de Medici who also authored a number of cookbooks.  Since retired, the courses are now instructed by chef Andrea Gagnesi who is both informative and entertaining.

Together along with 5 other students we learned to make Panzanella un po’ crocante (bread salad), Minestra dei macellai (butchers pasta), Parmigiana di Melanzane (eggplant parmesan), Crostata di ricotta (Ricotta tart), and focaccia.  The focaccia was an extra thrown in when one of our fellow students suggested it.  The obvious key to the various dishes was the freshness of the ingredients.  The day was a combination of observing and hands-on participation.  Overall it was a great deal of fun.  And perhaps the best part of the day was that we got to eat what we had prepared, accompanied by wonderful wines.  At the end of the day we were awarded our “graduation diplomas”.

Diploma

Proud graduate

It was a long day and we were pretty tired by the time we got back home to the barn.  As we walked from the car to the barn Keith intercepted us and invited us to have drinks with them at 7 pm.  That gave us a short time to have a bit of a nap before joining them.

The Richmonds had friends (David and Eleanor) visiting them who were leaving in the morning.  We joined them on a small patio beside their house and continued learning a bit more about our hosts.

Helen and Keith Richmond are a wonderful couple and more gracious and accommodating hosts you are unlikely to find anywhere.  They are expat Brits who have been living in Italy since the early 60’s.  Keith bought Boggioli in the mid ‘70’s while working for the UN in Rome.  At the time the farm was pretty run down and in the middle of nowhere.  It still is in the middle of nowhere but Helen and Keith have done miracles restoring not only the farm but the buildings as well.  The farm makes award-winning extra virgin olive oil: the grape vines have long gone in favor of olive trees.  As Keith remarked, grapes take way more care than he could offer while living in Rome and commuting to the farm on weekends, etc. while olive trees pretty much look after themselves until harvest time.  When Helen and Keith retired they moved to the farm fulltime.

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