We took a bit of a gamble booking into an American run Agritourismo in Italy. Shouldn’t we pick a more authentic experience? Shouldn’t someone’s mother be cooking for us? Well, as it turns out, the best food we had in Italy was made just like Mama used to make, provided your Mama is a 20 something chef named Jason from New York.
First off the setting of there Agritourismo was perfect. Surrounded by rolling hills their gorgeous estate was the perfect place to get away from the noise and hustle of the towns. The classic old stone home was so well cared for and had all the modern conveniences you could want and a beautiful and refreshing pool to relax by. The couple running the place, Ashley and Jason, were the best hosts we had in all of Italy and were always on hand too recommend things to do and place to see. The concern on Ashley’s face if she saw us finish our wine glass as she ran to fetch the bottle from the fridge was fantastic.
When it came to dinner we didn’t really know what to expect other than they were big believers in the slow food movement which we have also always followed. Slow food is basically the opposite of fast food where time and effort are put into to making things from scratch with the freshest possible ingredients. It is alo the art of enjoying the meal and taking time to savour the flavours and your company rather than scarffing everything down so that you can sit blankly in front of the TV. Jason took the idea of slow food to the extreme. Many of the ingredients he had grown right in his own garden. Others he had travelled the countryside to find local providers of. We were in for a treat.
Jason too simple ingredients such as fresh zucchini and just by taking the time to shave it thin and season it with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper before finishing it with fantastic aged Parmigiana. He did the same sort of thing in providing us with garden fresh lima beans and pecorino. Jason surprised our taste buds with 30 year old aged balsamic vinegar which he described with something akin to love as he drizzled it over a light omelette. In New York, Jason said, you can never spread pig fat on toast and have people eat it but in Italy he served us a pig fat that had been aged carefully in a marble box before spreading it thinly on crostini. It was amazing. As for the mains, serving me roast rabbit one day and then veal the next will make me one happy puppy. How did he know two of my favourite things?
If you plan to get out to Marche east of Tuscany you must go to La Tavola Marche. It’s perfecto! (www.latavolamarche.com)