Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Tuscan Treat

If you envision rolling fields of verdant vineyards, ancient olive groves and regal cypress trees when you think of Tuscany, you're not the only one. It's a picturesque region of Italy that's long been discovered by tourists, and for good reason. Scenes like the one above mesmerized me on my recent trip, requiring a stop at nearly every bend in the road to snap photos. Grab a Vespa and come along for a short hop through one of Italy's most beautiful regions.



It's a region that continues to inspire painters, like this one working in Castellina in Chianti.




 Its beautiful towns and stone buildings make an impressive backdrop for wedding photos.



But the countryside is what's most captivating. You'll pass plenty of scenic vineyards on your drive and will want to drop in on at least a few.

My son and I stopped at I Selvatici winery and tasted a sampling of wines courtesy of owner Giuseppe Sala. You don't even have to travel to Tuscany to taste his fabulous wines. He and his partner Barbara Singer travel to the U.S. each year with a personal chef and arrange wine tastings and gourmet dinners in your own home for you and a group of guests. They'll even ship your order to the U.S., but I also managed to find room in my luggage for a bottle of his flavorful vin santo.


Barbara recommended we stay nearby at Borgo di Fontebussi, a hotel made up of an enchanting collection of buildings and gardens in the countryside with magnificent vistas.


She also suggested we eat dinner at Malborghetto, a restaurant near Gaiole in Chianti, where the gnocchi was served in a parmesan cheese bowl, smothered in shaved truffles. It was almost too beautiful too eat - but I perservered.




 Naturally, back at home, I had to try making the parmesan cheese bowl in my kitchen, even if I didn't have any fresh truffles. It's easier than you think, although it might take a couple of tries until you get the hang of it. Just start out with about 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese (depends on the size of your pan) and sprinkle it in a small non-stick pan that's been slightly heated.

Keep cooking the cheese over moderate heat. Don't touch anything. In a few minutes you'll see the cheese start to melt. Be patient.
When the edges look like they're starting to brown, take a heat-proof spatula and lift the edges all around.

Carefully pick it up and lay it over a small bowl. No need to grease the bowl because the cheese contains enough fat. Do this quickly because it starts to harden as soon as it comes off the heat.


Wait a few minutes while it hardens, then you'll be able to invert it. 

And if truffles are not in your future, you can always use the parmesan cheese bowl to serve a much-easier-on-the-pocketbook herb risotto.



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21 comments:

christo AKA doggybloggy said...

well I can say without shame that I will be appropriating this idea....

Stacey Snacks said...

I am enjoying my weekly trips to Italy via my computer. Thank you!

Jojo said...

Love the Italian tour and I can't wait to make a cheese bowl!

lisa is cooking said...

I love this parmesan bowl idea! The gnocchi with truffles looks amazing, and the risotto is another great idea for the bowl. I'd love to go and try this at Malborghetto too!

Claudia said...

I have been meaning to make Parmesan bowls for sometime and just haven't. For no reason as it seems to escape me at dinner time. But I will for tomorrow's dinner. And now I shall return to your blog and gaze at Tuscany. And visit your hotel and restaurant.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Great landscapes! I really loove that parmesan bowl with the gnocchi and truffle shavings. Mouthwatering!

Cheers,

Rosa

black eyed susans kitchen said...

Great tutorial Linda, well worth the effort. I had a spicy seafood stew in a parmesan bowl at The Copper Canyon in the Atlantic Highlands and it was divine!

janie said...

Thanks for the instructions-yours came out great.I can't believe the amount of truffles on your gnocchi-wow!

Hutchinsons said...

Thanks for letting us travel with you! The pictures are breathtaking, and I can only imagine how they look in real life.
Love the parm bowls. I might even try smaller ones for finger foods for a party.

Proud Italian Cook said...

I need to live in Tuscany, what am I doing here! I love your cheese bowls, I envision them for so many things.

Linda said...

Oh I adore this post...such gorgeous pics Linda! I felt like I was almost there myself!
Your dish looks amazing!

A Feast for the Eyes said...

You make me long for a trip to Tuscany that I have long fantasized about. You sure know how to travel, and where to stay! Clever girl. LOVE these beautiful baskets. I'm borrowing this idea, for sure.

Chiara said...

che belle foto Linda, la Toscana è davvero splendida, vero?Mi segno quei posti, grazie! un bacione....

Half Baked said...

Thank you for sweeping me away with you to Tuscany!! Love the parmasan bowl for risotto...wonderfil!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Nice. A giant frico chip. Excellent idea.

Enjoying the Tuscan viastas here. I'm heading to Tuscanuy myself in October and you're giving me a great preview!

Barbara GF said...

What a Tuscan treat, for sure. I love traveling vicariously through your beautiful photographs, Linda! Those cheese "bowls" are fun; perfect vessels, especially for the risotto, yum!

FOODalogue said...

Lovely photos which make me anxious for my trip to Tuscany in about 5 weeks.

And I love the parmesan bowl presentation! Thank for sharing it with us.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Tuscany is one of the most beautiful regions in all the world!

The truffle gnocchi in Parmesan bowl looks phenomenal! What an exquisite dish!

I never attempted to make a Parmesan bowl ... such a wonderful idea..thanks for a great tutorial, Linda.

Cathy at Wives with Knives said...

Just yesterday my daughter and I were talking about planning a trip to Tuscany. I can't wait to visit that beautiful area. And WOW I love these parmesan bowls. With a little practice they look like they are easy to make. Great post, Linda.

emiglia said...

Wow... that is gorgeous. I love both, especially the tutorial, but I have to admit that it's that pile of truffle that's got me slobbering all over my keyboard. Yum!

thelittleloaf said...

I adore tuscany - my parents have a house there and we've been there pretty much every summer since I was born. Those gnocci look absolutely divine - I normally serve mine with pesto or a rich ragu, but truffle sounds like a pretty decadent alternative! Parmesan bowl also looks great and so simple to make - will be having a go soon!