Tuesday, April 26, 2016

POGGIO ALLORO.....A Visit To A Family Farm In Tuscany

There it is, San Gimignano in the distance, recognizable by all it's medieval towers. We have been there to see some of the important and beautiful fresco cycles, and  now it is time to visit a family farm we have heard and read about for the past few years.....Poggio Alloro.

Once again we are on the wine trail with Paul and Betty.  After arriving and all the introductions and hugs went around it was only minutes before a chilled bottle of Poggio Alloro wine showed up with four glasses. As family members came to greet their old friends Paul and Betty and meet their new friends James & Elizabeth, more bottles chairs appeared along with additional  glasses and bottles of wine.

This is a true family farm where they raise what they eat. This is Chianina territory, the ghostly white cow...steer raised in Tuscany. Chianina is the beef used for Fiorentina steak that is famous here, generally huge and cut thick, grilled quickly so that it is barely cooked through.
After a glass or two of wine walk down to the barn to see the Chianina to find just how huge these white specters are! 

We pass Amico's vegetable garden. Amigo  it seems is the patriarch here  at the farm and this is just one of the chores he tends too. We later find that the fennel salad at dinner is from his garden. Everything here at the farm, including the wine is 'biological' or organic.

 Sarah, Amico's daughter, who we met at  her wine tasting in Yarmouth , Maine, of all places, invites us to join the family for dinner.
Local cured meats are served first.

Then......Amico shows up with the steaks, Chianina  beef, of course.
We understand that he is a master at grilling these fine cuts of meat.

On this night he grills in the spacious dining room fireplace.
Amico, as nimble as an acrobat, moves in and out of the fireplace with ease as he  tends to the steaks.

Finished with her work for the day Sarah joins us and pours wine  first for Betty and Paul, then for all at the table.
A fennel salad is brought to the table, along with bread.....everything from the farm.
The wine is delicious.

Steaks are ready. Amico salts them. They are ready to be served. Can't wait!!!

The beef is amazing and cooked masterfully. 
"Bravo!" Amico.  

After a perfect night's sleep, James wakes early and finds a place on the terrace overlooking San Gimignano ( San G.! as he calls it) to draw. He spoke of his interest in the rising and terraced landscape between the farm and San Gimignano. He makes a drawing, which will become a painting, so, that probably means a return visit here.
No problem!

Vineyards surround the farm.

It seems that everyone here on the farm has a task. When we arrived Russell was mowing and weeding, another  was in this shed cutting wood. Down at the cantina there were cousins putting 
labels on bottles........so much work goes on here from dawn to dusk, with great food and wine in between the work. Incredible.

The wood that was being cut in the morning it put in a wheelbarrow and wheeled up to the outdoor brick oven. Amico is there to arrange the wood for cooking the evening meals for the farm's guests. In conversation we come to understand that nearly everything that is on the family table is grown or raised on the farm. It is a tale of hard work with rich results, good work, good food, good wine, family and friends. We are all sorry we will not be at the table for this meal!

Sarah had a group coming to Poggio Alloro for a cooking class. The dining room is rearranged and readied for a lesson in pasta making. Sarah is a woman of many talents.

A Family Farm in Tuscany , by Sarah Fioroni

A Family Farm in Tuscany is a lovely book that Sarah has written about living and working on her families farm, Poggio Alloro.  She includes some of the traditional Tuscan recipes that are prepared here. James and I bought the book a couple of years ago, but now, being here it all comes to life. After meeting the people in the book and not only seeing the amount of work they do...everyone is in constant motion, I am so delighted to be here. You can bet that James and I will be using some of Sarah's recipes.

Before leaving we stop in the cantina to buy a few bottles of wine to take back to Panicale.
Paul imports this wine, so we will buy more when we return home.

Another final look at San G. before leaving.

Hugs go around. Betty walking arm in arm with Amico back to the car. He gives her a  potted rose, an old rose from Poggio Alloro. She will loving put it in her garden.
This is how great memories are made.

Mille Grazie, Sarah, Amico and all at Poggio Alloro.

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