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Weekend in Tuscany

October 30, 2011

Tuscany landscape

I couldn’t believe I was actually in Tuscany! My fellow course mate, Gina, and myself took the weekend to visit Tuscany last week. It was quite a long drive, but it was worth it.
 
Tuscany(or Toscana, in italian) was made famous by an American film, Under the Tuscan Sky, in 2003. If you wish to find out more about the film, you can check it out here at wikipedia.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Under_the_Tuscan_Sun_(film)
 
It was through the film that both Gina and I first fell in love with Tuscany, and wanted to visit the region. However, to our surprise, most italians we spoke with, including Tuscans, never heard about the film.

Vineyard landscape

The hilly landscape was beautifully manicured with different crops and vegetation, and rows of pine trees separated one piece of land from another. It was truly lovely.
 
Our primary purpose was to visit the Tuscany Chef, Filippo Saporito, who had just taught at our school. His ristorante, La Leggenda dei Frati, is situated in the midst of the tranquil hills and beautiful landscape.

La Leggenda dei Frati

 
The ristorante occupies a historic buliding and has just been recently refurbished. It is located close to Monteriggiorni, in the direction towards Castellina in Chianti. The biggest landmark is the Cecchi winery just opposite the ristorante.
 

Pre-appetizer

 Inside the ristorante, the interior was modern, chic, and yet cosy. We started dinner with some sparkling wine and aperitivo, which is like a pre-appetizer.We were served a very light aperitivo of ricotta and dehydrated vegetables, along with an assortment of freshly baked bread. You can tell from all the fine details, that the chef is passionate about his food and pays a lot of attention to it.

First appetizer

 
When the first appetizer came, we thought it was grated radish on top, but it wasn’t. It was shaved ice, and not ordinary shaved ice, but with Gin Tonic, and sits on the marinated raw tuna. It was the first time Gina and I tried anything like this, and were most delighted. It was like an explosion of flavours in the mouth, and so refreshing.

Second Appetizer

 
The second appetizer that came was an onion tart served with a slice of Buffalo milk cheese. Special locally grown onions were used in this dish. The onions were soft and sweet and was contrasted by the crispness of the filo pastry that it was wrapped in. The plate was decorated with balsamic glaze and the cheese, but the garnishing or decor on the plate were not extra ingredients to decorate, but ingredients meant to complement the taste of the dish. A simple yet very well thought through dish.

Primo Pasta

 
After that came the primo piatto, which is usually a pasta or risotto. The tortellini was served in a light pumpkin sauce and delicately dressed with olive oil. It was the only traditional dish we had in the whole meal.
 

Secondo Piatto

 Although the servings were small, we were getting full, and we thought the pasta was the last, as we ordered the 5 course degustation menu. Then came the secondo which was chicken roll – 2 ways, dark and white. The smaller roll was made with flavourful dark thigh meat of the chicken while the bigger roll was made with the white breast meat and chestnuts. I like how the skin was carefully wrapped around the meat, to keep it juicy and yet seared to a nice crisp.

Pre-dessert

 
Believe it or not, we were served a pre-dessert of yoghurt, berry sauce and praline crisp to cleanse our palate to prepare for dessert. I felt like the character Anton in ‘Ratatouille’, when he told Remy  ‘Surprise me!’.
 

Warm Chocolate cake

 Finally, dessert came, and I think the chef wanted to serve us 2 desserts, but ended up serving us both a different dessert each, because our server had informed him that we were full.

 The warm chocolate cake which Gina had was covered in ganache and had a creamy centre, and it was  served with a scoop of nutty gelato. Usually, I would be very contented with this already. 

The utlimate Blueberry tart

 
But then, I tried my Blueberry Tart. It was nice with the icing sugar, the fruit reduction and the raspberry sorbet., but it looked a little understated for what I was about to experience.

Blueberries and mousse oozing

 
The tart was hot, and when I cut through the delicate crusty top, the blueberries and light warm mousse started oozing out. I had no idea the tart was so light, it was pure delight. The tart base crust was also light, buttery and crunchy.Everything just melted in the mouth. It was a perfect dessert.
 
I was told it was very difficult to make, because there were many steps of preparation. To serve the tart hot and fresh, and the sorbet cold and firm, that took effort, skill and precise timing.
 

Dessert wine and petit four

We even had dessert wine, and then coffee and petit fours to bring home. we finished our dinner at almost 11.30pm! We had such a great time and it really tickled our senses with all the little surprises.
 
Never did we imagine we’d find such fine dining experience in the midst of the countryside. It’s a true gem and I hope more people get to experience it. The ristorante currently has 8 tables and reservations are preferred. Filippo also has an enoteca, that can cater to private functions. 
 
La Leggenda dei Frati

Localita’ Casina Dei Ponti, 58 – 53011 Castellina In Chianti (SI) – ITALY

Tel: +39 0577 301222 – E-mail: info@laleggendadeifrati.it

 The dinner really was the highlight of our weekend in Tuscany. See you again, Tuscany!
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