Prevue September-October 2016 - 74

Renaissance Tuscany Flavors of the past spark ideas of the future [ON LOCATION] JOHNALEE JOHNSTON W e're running in between raindrops, or that is the plan, as we dart in and out of laneways, across multi-colored cobblestone and beneath many a merchant's tent to get our hands on Castelnuovo di Garfagnana's freshest produce. The Italian town, situated in Tuscany's Lucca province, is bustling as it did in the 13th century, when traders sold and bartered before boarding their ships and easing on down the Serchio and Turrite Secca rivers. At this moment in time, sous chef Stefano Vincenti and I are embarking on our own journey, which bears the responsibility of loading up on tomatoes, eggplant, mushrooms (the occasional glass of wine) and other seasonal favs to boot for a future indigenous culinary cooking class at the Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa. We won't be heading down the river, but if our class goes south, we may be heading back to this nook of the world for a little cioccolato therapy. IN ITALY, WE EAT It figures that I would start churning out some halfway decent gnocchi once I've reached the end of the dough. Vincenti made the entire process (formally called the "Indigenous Cooking Experience") look easy. Assume the toque blanche, knead together spelt flour, potato, egg and salt, roll it out into a log, slice into 1-inch bites and then gently rock a fork over each piece to poke a few holes for our cheesy sauce to escape into. It's this last step that has me all perplexed. I'm laying tracks across our gnocchi instead of digging holes and it's not pretty. But Vincenti repeats the demo as many times as I need and by the end of the log, I'm confident my dumplings will ooze respectability. They'd better. I'll be dining on them this evening at La Salette, one of two restaurants at the hotel. We've customized tonight's menu to accommodate all of the random ingredients we bought in the market. The jar of truffle butter from L'Aia di Piero is going to rock our spinach and cheese ravioli; the limes will give just the right pop to our asparagus. Vincenti runs off into the hot summer's day while I'm rolling out a new batch of dough and returns a few minutes later with a hot teapot and selection of teas. It's hard work being a hotel chef and we take a moment to indulge. He points to a rack of freshly made cookies and beckons me to pick what I want, while handing me my own binder of authentic Tuscan recipes that I can take home. Groups also partake in this customized culinary experience-Vincenti says some have even begun with a variation of this grand finale: cupcakes and cappuccinos. HOME IS WHERE YOU ARE Home for the next week is the Renaissance Tuscany, which is brilliantly positioned about an hour away from Florence and Pisa "Attendees can experience a way of life of the past as if time has stopped and just enjoy the food, wine, locale and culture." 74 | prevuemeetings.com http://www.prevuemeetings.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Prevue September-October 2016

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Prevue September-October 2016 - T1
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Prevue September-October 2016 - S1
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