Abbazia di Spineto

Thursday, May 4

Today what a treat and wonderful experience.  We went to the 1000 year old property of Abbazia di Spineto where Rory's friend and owner Marilisa Cucia hosted us on a tour, tasting, cooking class, and lunch.  This magnificent property sits on over 2500 acres near the town of Sarteano.
Abbazia di Spineto
Abbey entrance
The original Abbey Vallumbrosen was built in 1085 AD.  Marilisa's family bought the property in 1989 and lovingly restored the Benedictine Abbey and 11 houses on the property over the next 11 years.  Here they raised and raced thoroughbred horses internationally and became a mecca for artists, musicians and dancers.

We were able to walk around the outside of the Abbey and take in the views prior to our day of cooking and tasting.

The view from the grounds

Marcia, Kathleen, and Arlene taking in the views

Stephanie and Michael taking in the views
 It was beautiful, serene, and a wonderful place to retreat to.  We were then introduced to Marilisa, very touching moment as you could see how special this beautiful lady was to Rory.
Marilisa and Rory reunite
Tuscan Kitchen
We were then taken to lower level of the Abbey and their Tuscan kitchen where the wood fired oven, copper pots, and utensils from the past dominated the room.  We all knew we were in for a treat today!

After washing up with all garbed up with aprons and hair covers and commenced over to two work tables where our piles of fresh flour awaited.  We mixed the dough to precise consistency and kneaded and kneaded and kneaded some more, let the dough rest a bit, rolled it out and then cut out the dough into circles for our Tuscan finger bread (Schiaciatta bread).  It was topped with parmesan and Rosemary and put into the forno oven to bake.

Our Flat Breads

Next was Pici pasta, Pici are thick, hand-rolled pasta, like fat spaghetti.  It originates in the province of Siena in Tuscany. The dough is typically made from flour and water only, we used all purpose flour and semolina flour.  We all participated in the rolling of the pici some in tag teams. There is something to be said about making pasta from scratch, it's therapeutic.
Making the Pics

Even Steve!
We were all rewarded for our hard work with some antipasto, cured meats, our flat breads, prunes with almonds & bacon, a lovely fritta, and some Presecco wine.

Primi course
We then moved to what used to be the wine cellar where we were served the Primi course, our Pici noodles with toasted bread crumbs and garlic.
Our Pici Pasta
 It was fun for everyone trying to identify which noodles was perhaps theirs.  The second course was a roasted pork with carrot terrine followed by a beautiful scrumptious dessert and of course wine pairing with each course.  The real treat was sharing the meal with Marilisa Cuccia.  We loved hearing to stories about the history of Abbazia di Spineto and what this beautiful place means to her and her family.

For a "want to chef" like myself this cooking class and experience was a dream and something I will never forget. Our thanks to Rory for sharing her special place with us!


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