As usual, we will be cooking a bit, eating a bit, maybe taking a dip in the pool, cooking some more, sampling more wines than we should with Marco, preparing our ‘heritage bread’ with our 120 year old sourdough and organic ancient grain flours, and feasting on our results alfresco in the garden with the enchanting flickering lights of the fireflies if we’re lucky.

In between two concentrated cooking days we’ll be piling into the jeep to wind along Italy’s oldest Roman road – Cassia Vetus - flanked by olive groves and vineyards dividing the beautiful Valdarno (Valley of the Arno River) on one side from the Apennine Mountain Range on the other. One of the hidden gastronomic treasures along this road which it’s taken us many years to discover the whereabouts of, is a fifth generation wine maker who has carved an international reputation with his excellent wines. He talks of his grapes and his wines as if they are his offspring which in a way they are as he has grown up with them, gradually bringing out the best of their individual characters over a lifetime. He produces no publicity. His wines speak for themselves and he has been sought out by an impressive list of prestigious international contacts.

After tasting his wines and imbibing his knowledge, we will follow the road again, climbing up into the hills to arrive in our ‘Other Place’ village which I talk about a lot but which we can’t name. I consider myself amazingly lucky to have had the experience of this village for many years and the culinary knowledge I have gleaned around the wood oven has given me with some of the best food experiences and culinary conversations of my life. If you are curious to know more look at ‘THE OTHER PLACE AND ITS WOOD OVEN’.

After many years, the village committee has given us permission to light up the village wood oven for our workshoppers. While we are tasting wines two of the villagers and wood-oven-wizards will have been lighting and tending the oven for 3 hours to get it to roasting temperature. Before leaving Il Mulino in the morning, we will have prepared a selection of meats and mixed vegetables with herbs and olive oil, which will all be popped into the oven to be ready to eat after a leisurely look around this ‘once upon a time’ 1000 year old village. The flavours imparted to the roast by the wood smoke are quite simply amazing. Expect a decadent alfresco feast.

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