Lorna's Tuscan Birthday Feast

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Lorna's birthday is in October, which is surely one of the finest months for cooks! There are still plentiful fresh vegetables, the winter squashes are in, the Apples are ripe and ready, and you can cook without overheating the house!

This feast was one of my four-part Exploring Italy series, set in Tuscany. Most of the dishes came from Ada Boni's Italian Regional Cooking, with additional guidance from Anna Del Conte's The Classic Food of Northern Italy.

We had:

  • A starter of four New England cheeses, with a bottle of Rosso di Montalcino 2009
  • We opened the meal with the Livornese Cacciucco, a flavorful and generous fish soup.
  • Next came La Ribollita, the classic Tuscan white bean soup. I made this extra-hearty so as not to have two soups in the meal. This was extraordinarily savory.
  • The main course was a Pollo in Agrodolce, a fascinating and zippy dish that features white raisins, wine vinegar, pignoli, and bitter chocolate - this was the hit of the dinner!
  • With the meal we enjoyed a Boscoselvo Brunello do Montalcino 1999 and a Ruffino Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale d'Oro 2000.
  • We finished with another surprise hit of the night, the mysterious Castagnaccio, a cake of chestnut flour, olive oil, pine nuts and golden raisins. But it's not a cake in the American dessert sense; it's slightly sweet but more savory,and better served as a snack with coffee or wine.
  • I had another classic Tuscan finisher: pecorino cheese and sliced pears, but I forgot to set it out! I guess a sated belly and three bottles of wine can do that...

The feast was held on Sunday, 30 October 2011.

Attendees were John and Lorna, Richmond and Annette.