It’s a voyage of discovery. AmorOlio is a yearly event at Villa Campestri Olive Oil Resort that brings together lovers of good food and especially those seeking a special knowledge of the culture of olive oil. It all takes place in the beauty of the Mugello hills above Florence, in a unique and elegant surrounding. Here’s how the week went this year.
It all began this year on Sunday, May 20th, with the arrival of the AmorOlio guests at Villa Campestri for this year’s first edition of the event that immerses our guests into olive oil culture and its use as one of the great secrets of the great Tuscan kitchen. The four-day sessions take place in an area of proud nature and many small farms and wineries that give the Mugello its fine reputation. With their arrival this spring, our guests began their adventure and got acquainted over a tasty Tuscan snack and a glass of great wine, followed by a dinner of typical Tuscan cuisine in our noted restaurant. Later, the lovely period bedrooms of the Villa welcomed the participants for their first comfortable night’s sleep that would allow them to recharge for the following day’s events.
The second day was spent mainly in the Villa’s large kitchen, together with Chef Roberto Zanieri, who presented the tastiest sort of lunch menu using seasonal products produced nearby. The guests helped to prepare the typical dishes under the supervision of Chef Zanieri, and then enjoyed eating it all before venturing out into the world of olive oil, this time with expert olive oil connoisseur and food writer Nancy Harmon Jenkins. The following day was also dedicated to olive oil: together with hostess Gemma Pasquali our guests were able to learn about olives as they walked through the vast gray-green olive groves, and then into the Villa’s meticulous hand-designed frantoio (olive press) to discover the secrets of creating a fine oil. Later, in the kitchen they had the opportunity to see exactly how the fresh oil was put to its best use!
Then, after wonderful olive oil, local wines: wine authority Ian d’Agata spent the fourth day with the guests of AmorOlio, bringing them a totally new perspective on the fine local Tuscan wines. They together visited the Fattoria di Selvapiana and Azienda Agricola il Forteto, where they were able, under expert guidance, to taste the best of the area’s fine vintage wines.
Next day, yet another chef, the acclaimed Salvatore Denaro, originally from Sicily but an adopted Umbrian, led the guests through the vast fields and side trails of Villa Campestri, plucking the wonderful wild herbs that lay everywhere and deliciously explaining how they could be used in the kitchen. Baskets were filled with various wild greens, to be used later in the kitchen as part of a meal that relied almost totally on those things in everyone’s cupboard: dried beans and lentils, broad beans both dried and fresh, white polenta, and of course pasta. And there were vegetables of the moment (fresh peas, artichokes, asparagus) along with the freshly plucked wild herbs. The guests became sous-chefs, mixing and folding and peeling and plucking, and later all sat down to the noon meal, which was served on the terrace to great acclaim.
The final day of AmorOlio was dedicated to some even greater and more fascinating discoveries, cheesemaking – the Mugello is famous for its dairy products - at the dairy farm of Bacciotti and a visit to the historic medieval town of Scarperia, home to some of the finest hand-honed kitchen cutlery.
An intense week? Even more. Last but not least was a small memento to ever remember the unforgettable week of local traditions in a magnificent natural environment.
Does the week sound great? Has our story of AmorOlio fascinated you? Our next edition of AmorOlio will be this coming October, 2012. Here’s all the information!