Letter from Lamole
I’m up in the hills of Chianti until Sunday, then we hit the road for the Adriatic. The house here is really cool not really a villa just a house stuck between two others in a dusty scenic village on twisted road. I have the top floor suite. From my bedroom I look down at the yard with the covered patio table where we conduct our classes and over the tops of the trees I see the tops of the other hills. The best part of compound is the wood burning oven that used to bake the bread for the entire village of Lamole. It’s large enough to hold 30 loaves of bread at a time. It took Kate and Judy two days to bring it up to temp with progressively bigger fires. Since Monday we’ve done all sorts of things in it. Seven pound Tuscan steaks to cassoulet to a day of a thousand pizzas. An ancient woman lives next door. She hangs out her window and tells us about how she used to stitch shoes for Ferragamo.
In our drives around the hills we’ve met two artisanal goat cheese makers, Dario the famous butcher who practically owns the town of Panzano, a very cute Swiss swineherd who looks like a blonde Clint Eastwood (he has lovely pigs with short bodies and long legs), the local sculptor who makes bronzes of people who look like cypress trees. Yesterday I stood in a room of leaking casks. Thirty five year old Salsa di Musto (balsamic vinegar) dribbled out like sticky syrup on the tile floor (thousands of dollars worth by my estimate). I wanted to lick the floors. I contented myself with a tasting of the various salsas and a tasting of the vin santo and amaro.
We have three students: a very religious woman from Kentucky who made her money in gated Florida trailer park communities, a South Africaaner from Boston who rented an apartment in Florence, and her 22 year old art student daughter. Both mother and daughter are blonde and very beautiful and very nice. Every day at about 4pm they are ready to go home from exhaustion. We shove just a little more food and information in them and perhaps some Lemoncello and prosecco then drive them back to their hotel at 5:30. Then the fun and the plotting begin.
I have eaten too much pancetta and lardo in the last 24 hours and my body has said “basta!” It is porcini season and last night I had a simple four course meal at Judy’s favorite enoteca: four crostini (chopped tomatoes and olive oil, warm chicken liver-anchovy paste, lardo, herring and oranges), a delicate terrine of quail on arugula, tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms, then a semifreddo with crushed biscuits and caramel sauce. Just right.
Today we go to a cashmere goat farm.