October 17, 2007

Lucky Me

I am one lucky girl.

Not only do I live in Florence Italy,
everyday I work with some of the best foodies in the world.

Italy is filled with food artisans and artists.
Food is essential in everyday life and everyone is an expert.

But last week was special.
I organize a week working with the Masters of Tuscan Chocolate for my friend Pam's students from Ecole Chocolat.

The Tuscan Experience is inspiring to see how people express their creativity.
Shop after shop, we were intrduced to new and creative ideas.
Must be something in the air!

Daniele and Stefania Vestri take Mom and Pop business to another level

Decorating chocolates at Luca Mannori's new space

The "class" after a full day with master chocolate maker Stefano Donati at
Mannori Espace.

Robero Catinari's handmade "chestnuts"
I adore these!

Roberto Catinari handmolding "tools"
and idea he brought to Tuscany over 30 years ago.

lock and keys in chocolate

He is the Father of Tuscan chocolate making.

Of course, a woman does not live by chocolate alone, bring on the salt!
It takes me a week to recuperate from all this goodness.

We were lucky enough to also be present at the first crushing of the new oil at the villa we stayed in in Prato, Villa Rucellai.

Each of the farmers had "reserved" a time to bring in their olives for the crush.
Waiting with anxious eyes, spying on their neighbors olives, protecting their own.

When you see the work it takes to harvest the olives and how little of this precious oil one gets from a tree, you will know why they call it "liquid gold".

Several of the local chocolate makers have olive oil in truffles or chocolate spreads.
I am a fan!
Luca Mannori's chocolate spread has olive oil and sea salt.

Try it you'll LOVE IT!

My cure for too much chocolate.
Farm fresh eggs, white truffles and salt.

Eat your heart out- I am one lucky girl!


  1. looks like fun! But I'll take chocolate over truffles any day.

    Unless they're chocolate truffles. Then I can have both!

  2. Anonymous7:57 PM

    I, on the other hand, will take those farm fresh eggs and white truffles over chocolate any day.

    It all looks wonderful. I loved the lock and keys in chocolate.

    Yes, you are one lucky lady!!


  3. Anonymous9:08 PM

    I'd love to! What's the recipe for Luca Mannori's chocolate spread with olive oil and sea salt?

  4. Judy - as always you have me drooling! I think I need to explore chocolate more the next time we are in Italy!

  5. Chocolate, olive oil..I'm in heaven. Interesting post. I like the lock and key...very cool.

  6. Wow, that looks like a great trip! Thanks for sharing it with us!

  7. We were in Florence in May of '06 and are planning (in our dreams) our next trip back. I am hoping to sign up for one for one of your classes. I love Florence and can not wait to return. Thanks for your blog - I love reading it.

  8. Yes, indeed, Judy, you are one lucky girl!
    Just returned from Madrid last night, and Kirk and I were talking about how much more we enjoy Italian than Spanish cuisine (sorry to those readers who love Spanish!)
    We'll be back to Italy in December - hope to see you!

  9. My husband and I moved from Italy 1.5 years ago. while I do not really miss it I miss the chocolate terribly. I miss going into esselunga or carrefour (a french chain) and buying one of the cheapest chocolates available and having it taste great The chocolate sold in the US is awful, to be polite.
    Thanks for the wonderful pics.

  10. Oh My Gosh... you're killing me Diva! What a great opportunity for you , thanks for sharing with us!