The very word inspires me.
Sometimes Tuscany makes me think of thick soupy clouds hugging and weaving their way across hill-top vineyards with grapes shrouded in morning fog.
Other times I have visions of homemade wine, cellar aged cheese, music, food and laughter.
This morning I’m thinking of a kitchen in a farmhouse on a hill where magic happens.
It was a Tuscan farmhouse kitchen that inspired my boss to build the Culinary School that I now oversee in the restaurant I now manage on Hilton Head Island, SC.
The room is dwarfed by an enourmous white marble slab hewn from ancient stone surrounded by a giant cook-top of simmering sauces and marvelous smells.
Chef and his helper are chopping and dicing and slicing and seasoning and stirring and tasting and seasoning some more.
Tonight we are hosting a food and wine pairing dinner at the restaurant and everyone on staff is fluttering about, fixing this and adjusting that, making everything just so.
It’s that nervous last hour before the music starts playing and drinkers start drinking that I sip on coffee and make a mental checklist of the night ahead.
Our guest list was printed and stemware all polished when a peek over chef’s shoulder onto the grille revealed a Piedmontese Ribeye sizzling and searing and begging for me to select the perfect complimentary red wine.
On a table a giant wooden cutting board of aged cheese, fresh sliced salumi, olives and caper berries served with a welcome glass of prosecco.
The platter beckoned me closer and I settled on a hunk of aged red wine piave and spicy soppressata before moving on to conversation with friends.
The chef, our host, served a second course of grilled swordfish roulade with spicy eggplant caponata, followed by a third of braised duck ravioli with beech mushroom ragout and oven roasted plum tomato creme.
The wine was flowing, the music was playing and the feast was in full swing.
I remember an intermezzo of lemon sorbetto with fresh berries and a touch more prosecco as my the chance to switch from drinking white to red.
Next chef offered up a tease of homemade lamb ragu and creamy polenta so delicious that I nearly begged for more.
I was happy I’d saved room for the evening’s featured dish of Piedmontese Cowboy Ribeye, grilled then carved and served with parmesan mashed potato, roasted root vegetables and Sangiovese Black Truffle reduction.
We matched the entree with an ’01 Sassicaia and all was well and all was good and nothing is wrong in the world.
My dessert of rich chocolate truffles and aged tawny port was a perfect compliment to an incredible evening of food, wine and friendship.
To create your own memory visit us @MACI_HHI