Welcome to a Day in Tuscany! Today we are celebrating a beautiful book, A Family Farm in Tuscany by Sarah Fioroni and the history of the Fioroni family. I was invited by Ginny Donovan of Cooking with Chopin, Living with Elmo to participate in the “A Family Farm in Tuscany” World Blogging Tour. Click on the images at the bottom of the article to read the other participant’s articles and get the recipes they recreated.
Thanks to the generosity of Shearer Publishing, you can win your very own copy of A Family Farm in Tuscany to enjoy! Details on ways to enter the giveaway are below.
This is much more than just a cookbook. It is the story of the Fioroni family and the history of Poggio Alloro, how they came to own the property and create one of Italy’s most beloved organic farms tucked in the stunning hill country of Tuscany. They faced financial ruin, the occupation of German troops in both World War I and World War II, and the cruelty of Italian Fascists, repeatedly exhibiting the strength needed to survive. I am in awe of this family and what they have built from the ravages of war.
The Italian government supports its small farmers through the development of their agriturismo program. The government helps promote tourism giving the small farmers an eager audience for their homemade products and vacations at the working farms. That’s right, you can plan a vacation at Poggio Alloro and be as active as you like in the farm’s day-to-day life. Depending on the season you can help with the grape harvest, gather olives for pressing, or take a cooking class to learn the secrets of a true Cucina Toscana!
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if were able to create similar, affordable, agriturismo-type destinations at our small, family-run organic farms across the United States! Hands-on vacations give participants authentic experiences that create memories that last a lifetime. Who wants to start a grassroots effort?
Poggio Alloro is located in the hilltop town of San Gimignano, outside of Florence. You wind through country roads, following the undulating hills until you see the red tile roof that marks the farm. The main building is the 250-year-old house with a wide, welcoming terrace that looks out over the organic vineyards, olive groves and pastures.
I can imagine sitting on the veranda of Poggio Alloro, looking out over the rolling hills and green pastures, smelling the incredible aromas of homemade Italian food, sipping on wines made with their own grapes, and breathing in the relaxing serenity of this true paradise. You can bet that a visit to the Tuscan heaven of Poggio Alloro is most definitely on my bucket list!
The book is organized by month, with over 50 recipes woven into stories about daily life at the farm. You can see how closely their lives are intertwined with the seasons. They eat what they grow and what is in season, relishing each arriving crop and looking forward to what is coming. It is the way people always lived until recent “advancements” in technology and transportation changed what is available year-round. I would much rather eat seasonally and enjoy the efforts of my local farmer’s than resort to canned foods that are of marginal quality at best when compared to eating something that was picked that morning.
The stories and recipes are punctuated with beautiful photographs that make you feel as though you are there with them helping with the harvest, milking the cows, meeting local artisan food producers, seeing the leaves change and blossoms arrive on the trees, nurturing and harvesting the flowers grown for saffron, tending the bee hives and collecting honey, or just relaxing and enjoying the beauty that is everywhere you look.
I am particularly impressed with the self-sufficiency of the farm. Nearly 90 percent of what they use is grown or produced on the farm. It is family-run, 100% organic, and they use age-old processes of integrated organic horticulture and agriculture. This is a holistic system in which each element supports the others. Animals are rotated throughout the fields and gardens; their manure adds organic matter, which is tilled into the soil. Traditional crop rotations, the use of organic fertilizing and observance of the seasons allows better soil regeneration and contributes to their excellent natural produce. When needed, fields are allowed to fallow, naturally replenishing the soil nutrients. Organic waste from their crops is recycled into compost that naturally fertilizes the fields and gardens.
Poggio Alloro produces about 200,000 bottles of wine from eight different grape varietals (three white and five red), organic olive oil, cereal grains, honey, saffron, and cattle. The farm’s historic white Chianina cattle, a rare breed that was once found on every farm in Tuscany, are making a comeback thanks to families like the Fioronis. The cattle are bred for their beef (the classic bistecca chianina) and their grazing diet is supplemented with Poggio Alloro’s organically raised grains.
Beginning tomorrow, Thursday, November 1st, products from the farm are available for purchase in the United States. This includes the farm’s pastas, wines, and olive oil. The website (tuscanyfarmproducts.com) will be live, offering state-side customers a chance to purchase their products without paying for cross-Atlantic shipping!
If you have always loved Italian food, you can learn what “real” Italian food tastes like. It is traditionally made with high quality ingredients prepared simply, allowing the flavors to shine through. There is nothing fussy about classic Italian food and that is probably what appeals to us most. It is filling and comforting, and we can always sit around a table enjoying a glass of wine and a plate of pasta with family and friends. This is what life should be!
When I first started looking through my review copy of A Family Farm in Tuscany for recipes that I would make and share with you today, I tagged at least two dozen! It was a challenging task to narrow these down, but what I finally decided to do was make a dinner from three of the recipes. In my own small way I was recreating a meal that is served at Poggio Alloro, honoring their way of life and the recipes of Sarah Fioroni. I hope I did her and the family proud. I know The Artist and I thoroughly enjoyed the feast and I know you will too.
The chicken is incredibly moist and tender, infused with the flavors of garlic and fresh herbs. The potatoes would be perfect with virtually any meal, creamy and cheesy goodness. You can change out the types of cheeses used or even leave them out altogether if you like (add a little extra milk to compensate). The peas are a revelation – I mean really, who doesn’t love bacon! I like that they include the same fresh herbs as are in the chicken so that the flavors are very complementary. All in all it was a fantastic meal and one I would serve to anyone!
Thank you Sarah for helping us enjoy a glimpse of the life you live every day even though we are on the other side of the world! The beauty of your words, the recipes you have created, and the love for your family will be shared with our own family and friends for years to come.
And now, without further delay, here is how you can WIN you very own copy of A Family Farm in Tuscany!!
THIS CONTEST HAS ENDED ….
Congratulations to lucky winner Gail!
Random.org selected comment #7.
Instructions for Cookbook Giveaway
This giveaway is for one copy of “A Family Farm in Tuscany: Recipes and Stories from Fattoria Poggio Alloro“. The entry period ends on Monday, Nov. 5, 2012 at Noon PST. The winner will be picked by the Random Sequence Generator on Random.org.
You are eligible for up to six entries in this giveaway. To enter:
1. Leave a comment (required) on this post telling me your favorite food season and why. This is required in order for any other entries to be counted!
Additional entries may be earned by leaving a comment EACH TIME you do one of the following (you get one entry per comment for each of the following):
2. “Like” The Heritage Cook on Facebook (if you already “like” the page on Facebook, that counts as an entry); leave a comment here telling me you’ve done this for another entry.
3. Follow @TheHeritageCook on Twitter (if you already follow me, that counts); leave a comment here telling me you’ve done this for another entry.
4. Share this giveaway on Facebook: I entered to win a copy of A Family Farm in Tuscany thanks to The Heritage Cook. You can enter too! http://tinyurl.com/9pvhf93 ; leave a comment here telling me you’ve done this for another entry.
5. Share this giveaway on Twitter: I entered to win a copy of A Family Farm in Tuscany @TheHeritageCook & you can too! http://tinyurl.com/9pvhf93 ; leave a comment here telling me you’ve done this for another entry.
6. “Like” Sarah’s page on Facebook; leave a comment here telling me you’ve done this for another entry.
You must leave a comment on this post for each optional entry. Multiple comments for the same option will be counted as a single entry. Leaving one comment saying you did all of these things will only count as one entry.
If you choose to post anonymously, be sure to leave a contact email or I won’t have any way to contact you!
If you do not respond to my email alerting you of your win within 2 days of the end of the contest I will choose another winner.
Disclosure: I was sent a free copy of the book for review purposes. I received no compensation for my review and as always, my opinions are my own.
Pollo alla Poggio Alloro (Roasted Chicken Poggio Alloro)
Recipe from A Family Farm in Tuscany by Sarah Fioroni
Yield: 8 servings
1 (5 lb, 2 kg) frying hen
3 paper-thin slices of pancetta
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 sprigs fresh sage
8 large garlic cloves, ground to a paste using a mortar and pestle
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup (180 ml) dry white wine, such as vernaccia or sauvignon blanc
3 tbsp (45 ml) olive oil
Grease a 9×13-inch (33×22 cm) baking pan with olive oil; set aside. Rinse the chicken inside and out under cold running water. Drain well and pat dry using absorbent paper towels.
Insert the pancetta, 2 rosemary sprigs, 1 sage sprig and about 1 tsp (5 g) of the garlic paste into the cavity of the chicken. Using a small paring knife, cut six small slits in the skin of the chicken. Strip the leaves from the remaining rosemary sprigs and mince with 6 leaves of the remaining sage. Put a pinch of salt, a portion of the herbs, and a pinch of garlic paste into each slit. Gently massage the seasonings into the chicken. Tie the legs of the chicken together and place in the prepared baking pan. Spread the remaining garlic paste all over the chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
Pour the wine into the baking pan and spread the olive oil over the top of the chicken. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, then turn the chicken onto its back and bake an additional 30 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 170°F (76°C).
Remove from the oven and set aside to rest for at least 7 minutes before carving. Carve as desired and serve hot.
Patate all Poggio Alloro (Potatoes Poggio Alloro)
Recipe from A Family Farm in Tuscany by Sarah Fioroni
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
3 russet potatoes, about 3-1/2 lb (1.5 kg), peeled and finely minced
2 cups (480 ml) whole milk
1 cup (70 g) shredded Emmentaler cheese
1 cup (136 g) chopped red onion
2-1/2 tbsp (35 g) butter, melted
2 tsp (14 g) sea salt
1/4 tsp (0.2 g) freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, well beaten
1 cup (100 g) grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Butter and flour a 13×9-inch (33×22 cm) baking dish; tap out excess flour. Set aside.
Combine all the ingredients except the Parmesan cheese in a large bowl and stir to blend well. Turn out into the prepared baking dish and scatter the Parmesan cheese over the top.
Bake in preheated oven about 45 minutes, or until set, browned, and bubbly on top. Cut into small squares and serve hot.
NOTE: The potatoes can be minced in a food processor, but be sure to drain off the liquid.
Piselli alla Fiorentina (Florentine Peas)
Recipe from A Family Farm in Tuscany by Sarah Fioroni
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
4 tbsp (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
4 slices smoked bacon, diced, about 3 oz (80 g)
6 cups (660 g) fresh shelled or frozen green peas
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp (1 g) minced fresh sage
1/2 tsp (1 g) minced fresh rosemary
3/4 tsp (5 g) sea salt
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 cups (360 ml) warm water
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed, 14-inch (35 cm) sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the bacon and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the peas, garlic, sage, and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Add 1 cup (240 ml) of the warm water and cook, uncovered, until the water has evaporated, about 20 minutes. When the water has evaporated, add the remaining 1/2 cup (120 ml) warm water and cook, uncovered, for an additional 10 minutes. (Note: if you are using frozen peas, you will only have to cook them about 5 minutes. The water will not evaporate. Use a slotted spoon to serve.)
You can prepare the peas during the final roasting stage of the chicken and keep warm on a very low heat, covered.
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