As I sit here working on the website, I’m looking out the kitchen window watching the snow fall and cover what was a green/brown yard just a few hours ago.  I can remember when winters in Toronto (I’ve been here almost 46 years) were really winters with a lot more snow than we have now, but still not like they get in Ottawa, Montreal or London.  Anyone who has heard me speak of winter in Toronto would have heard me say “this is Toronto, we don’t get snow in Toronto (and if we do we call in the Army – oh the humiliation).  Normally it would have made my mood grey but in developing this website and blog, I’ve spent much time looking through old albums for food pictures.  It brought back some amazing memories of the times we had with our kids (when they weren’t quite kids), especially in Italy.  I must say, travelling with your kids when they are older is so much different than when they were younger.  It was like travelling with friends.

For one of my “special” birthdays, my wife gave me the gift of a “Day with a Chef” at a lovely Inn, Il Borgo de Vescine, in Tuscany. It was even more special as you had to have 2 people for a lesson and the second person was my son Scott (he must have been 18 at the time). Using no more than 3 – 5 ingredients per dish we came up with 16 different dishes from 3 types of Bruschetta to Seasonal Dressed Fruit for Dessert. It was awesome! A picture of the spread (and a part of the amazing courtyard) follows.  Day with Chef - Full Table

There was so much food, we invited our wait staff to join us.  While this might be routine to a native Italian, to us, it was a feast for the eyes and the stomach.  What it showed me (with my 30 ingredient Indian cooking background) is that the beauty of good tasty food lies in the quality of the ingredients and the simplicity of preparation.  And, combining the right flavors allows you to keep things simple.

To say the ancient architecture in Rome, Firenze, Chianti and the numerous small cities,towns and villages we drove through is breathtaking is a clear understatement. Full of history, the museums (and we saw so few, especially in Firenze) full of art making time stand still if for a moment. But to a foodie like me, the cuisine of this beautiful country addresses time, tradition and taste.

The Chef who we got a chance to cook with trained at many hotels and restaurants in Italy and it showed in his abilities. I was amazed  at the speed and passion with which he cooked. He stopped just briefly enough to answer my questions (between my broken Italian and his broken English), looked upon me absurdly when I would look questioningly at some of his procedures but made us feel like professionals at the end of the day as we looked at the spread before us.

Italy truly is one of my favorite places in the world. Although only having spent time in Rome and the Tuscany area we know we only scratched the surface of this beautiful country.  We will go back maybe later this year and yes, we will enrich our minds and nourish our stomachs with what Italy has to offer.  More stories will follow as time permits.  Pictures that brought back some great memories follow.  Enjoy!