Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Eating in Lucca

My best travel experiences have always had something to do with food.

Upon arriving in Lucca, a place I had visited once before and the only thing I remembered was the excellent restaurant I had eaten at, I was greeted by an immense fortress and the best kept fortress walls in all of Europe. My walk down Via S. Paolino welcomed me with not 1, not 2 but about 4 bakeries!!! I passed up the first one and settled on the second named Caniparoli where I bought some Crema di Gianduia al Cacao (hazelnut spread aka homemade nutella) and Caramel puffed corn which I thought would taste wonderful folded into vanilla icecream!!!! Affixed upon my face was a grin so wide that my cheeks started to hurt....Lucca promised to be gastronomically memorable.

My first destination was to make dinner reservations at Buca di S. Antonio, a place which was nominated a favorite by the editors or 5 guidebooks. Please note that reservations are really necessary....they squeezed us in at 930pm.

After we took a walk to S. Michele, the Duomo, the Roman other words we were good tourists but my eyes kept stealing glances at my watch hoping that 930pm would somehow come a bit faster.

We arrived at the restaurant at 9pm and told that our table wasn't ready and were offered a glass of prosecco. We sat outside, drank our "aperitivo" and patiently waited. At 925 we were shown to our table and the feast began:

Antipasti: Rabbit terrine with wild lettuce and Ricotta and Spinich tart with pureed chickpeas (somewhat of a staple in Luccese cooking)

Pasta: All pastas are homemade daily!!!
Maccheroni with with wild rabbit sauce and Meat filled ravioli in a bolognese sauce

Entree: Wild bird with roasted grapes (amazing)and Pork (Cinta) with truffles

Dessert: Oven roasted fruits with chesnut icecream...I swear I started to trip it was so amazing.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Fattoria di Migliarino

Once again this year my boyfriend's vacation plans changed and last minute we had to make some new vacation plans. Since we had already bought our flights from Milan to Palermo we decided that it would be best to stay local and that it would be nice to go to a nice relaxing Agriturisimo sounded perfect. I pulled out a magazine called 100 Agriturisimi which I had bought last year and we began looking for places which weren't a far drive from Milan...we settled on the northern part of Tuscany near Pisa.

After calling a number of places, many of which had availability which really demonstrates that people are struggling this year, we decided on Fattoria di Migliarino.

The drive from Milan with a little bit of traffic in certain places took about 3.5 hours. We took A1 to A15 to A12. We got out at Carrara for lunch (a restaurant called Pancino 2 where I used to go many many moons ago...same owners and still decent food) and then continued onto Migliarino.

The farm is the property of a Noble family called Salviati. The property is vast and beautifully maintained. It has some 8 independent apartments you can rent or you can stay at the bread and breakfast which has some really cute rooms. The breakfast leaves a little to be desired, however, after having requested some fresh fruit from the farm Ludovica (the Duke's niece) quickly arranged to have fresh figs and melon at breakfast. The jam and honey are also wonderful.

Life on the Agriturisimo is quite simple....just relaxing, taking walks, picking berries and figs on the property and eating some fresh seafood at the nearby trattoria. It's a place where you can really regenerate and if you don't bring any work with you it is very easy to forget that one must work at all!