I’m home from Italy, where I ate and ate and ate. My wonderful Italian food experience ranks right up there with seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa and climbing to the top of the Duomo in Florence.
My husband and I consumed some excellent lasagna and a dish made with wild boar while staying in Florence, but the real Italian fine dining began once we joined our friends in a villa near the tiny town of San Donato, 45 minutes or so outside of Florence.
Here we were lucky enough to rent from Alfonsina (known as Fonsi), a woman who once owned a restaurant in Florence and, for a reasonable rate, would cook breakfast and dinner for us each day.
After our first delicious four-course dinner of lasagna with pesto, Florentine steak and potatoes, salad with homegrown tomatoes, and homemade gelato, we said sign us up for the week!
Each morning for breakfast, we had a healthy fresh-fruit platter. Then we forgot calories while eating an array of cheeses, breads, and cake. Our protein was a big plate of ham and some of the fluffiest scrambled eggs I’ve ever eaten.
One night’s entrée was osso buco, a dish I’ve never had. Osso buco is Italian for “bone with a hole.” Within that hole was a sauce that we could use on the surrounding meat. Delicious!
Wine was included with our dinners. The bottles on our table had no label but were filled with our hostess’ house wine, a local Chianti. One night we were served pre-dinner cocktails. The orange Aperol Spritz is a local favorite—we’d seen people drinking it in sidewalk cafes. It’s made with prosecco and a liquor called aperol. Our appetizer was a chicken liver pâté with capers on crostini.
The last afternoon of our visit, we ladies signed up for a cooking class with Fonsi. She showed us how to make homemade pasta, eggplant parmigiana, zucchini flowerets stuffed with ricotta, and potato gnocchi with pesto.
To be honest, I was a cooking school dropout, leaving after the first hour and a half before the pesto was made. I was tired and needed to pack for our middle-of-the night-trip to the airport.
Still, I enjoyed our last dinner, eating what was prepared that afternoon, relishing the gnocchi enhanced by the homemade pesto Fonsi and the other ladies created.