Ask anyone about the most memorable Italian meal and chances are that menu includes pasta. But during this trip to Italy I gained a whole new appreciation for another Italian staple: prosciutto, a delicate, flavorful, melt-on-your tongue, paper-thin slice of porky goodness. My first lesson learned: prosciutto is NOT ham. Prosciutto stands alone, or perhaps I should say hangs alone, as one of Italy’s proudest pork products. The pigs are raised with love and a careful diet to enhance the flavor. Even their demise is a respectful event, as prosciutto aficionados say they can actually taste fear in meat that has been unethically slaughtered. ProsciuttoRead More →

Cooking this morning a family-owned restaurant in Montefollonico called 13 Gobbi presented an opportunity to refine my pasta-making technique. Under the careful watch of the family nonnas, I cracked neon-yolked eggs into a volcano-shaped mound of flour on a massive, weathered wood cutting board. As I carefully kneaded the eggs into the flour, feeling the sticky dough transform between my fingers, I thought about how many batches of pasta were mixed and rolled on this very board. And, how that pasta was served to countless friends, family members and restaurant guests. Ah, if this board could talk! There was something quite calming about kneading thisRead More →

My number one favorite sweet treat in Italy has got to be gelato. Few travellers (including me) go a day in this glorious country without happily balancing a small paper cup while spooning icy bites of this dense, creamy confection with a tiny plastic spatula. Yes, we have ice cream back home, but to me, ice cream is a cold, distant American cousin from gelato. In Pienza, you’ll find my favorite scoops at Buon Gusto, an unassuming, shop with a simple sign mounted under overflowing clotheslines of sundried laundry. Buon Gusto owners farm their own organic gardens to create eight daily gelato flavors that rivalRead More →


Most people who plan a trip to Italy almost always include one of the big, historic cities like Rome or Florence. Located in between is where my heart lives, perched high in a hilltop village called Montefollonico. You may not find this medieval village in your traditional travel guides. The population tops out at around 500 citizens and the main “downtown” district is just one stone road. There are no massive art museums, cathedrals or iconic Italian landmarks, and yet, I return as often as I can because in a way I can’t completely understand or explain, Montefollonico feels like home. Local residents and businessRead More →

I met my group of fellow foodies today. We’ll be sharing classes, meals, sightseeing and hopefully lots of laughs together. They are a diverse, interesting group, ranging from yet another honeymoon couple to seasoned cooks, a marriage and family therapist, a journalist and a photographer with a show in Florence. I really like the mix of age and life experience in this group. Here are 15 people who might never have met each other and I find it fascinating that the passionate love for food and travel have brought us here with a common goal—fall in love with Italy while becoming better cooks. This sharedRead More →

My journey with Tuscan Women Cook approaches. I find my way back to paradise via Norwegian Air, an unlikely carrier to offer a non-stop option to Rome. I am excited (and a bit relieved) to enter a new comfy plane bathed in lighting I am told by a flight attendant, that is programmed to offset jet lag. Who knew this was possible? Fingers crossed this lighting will help me disembark with the energy I need to head north by train to Tuscany. It’s going to be a total of almost 20 hours of travel but my adrenaline is pumping and I know that my gloriousRead More →

Traveling alone definitely has its pros and cons. I am really enjoying doing what I want to do when I want to do it, taking no one else’s taste or energy level into consideration. I do miss sharing something delicious (“Taste this!”) or sharing a laugh at something ridiculous. Italy is such a romantic, picturesque country. I watch lovers kiss in the piazzas and I’ll admit it, my heart tugs a little. I head first to Mercato Albinelli, a great food hall filled with stalls of fresh produce, meats, fish, salamis and baked goods. I photograph everything from artfully arranged artichokes to sea scallops stillRead More →

I’m back…in ITALY! This is my month filled with great gastronomic adventures with Tuscan Women Cook. Two planes, three trains (one by mistake!) and one taxi and I’m in Modena with an opportunity to explore a new, delicious part of Italy. It’s a foodie mecca and home to the #1 chef in the world, Massimo Bottura. I’m looking forward to getting a good night’s sleep tonight and hitting the ground running tomorrow with a full day food tour of Modena and Bologna. After unpacking into my AirBnB flat, I collapsed for a short afternoon reposino. Refreshed, winning my personal jet lag competition, I taxied toRead More →

Santo Pietro is a lovely, rambling villa that is home to Tuscan Women Cook Black Apron guests. Santo Pietro’s slogan: La tua Chiave perla Val D’Orcia. It means “Your key to the Val d’Orcia.” Santo Pietro Villa is in Pienza, the next village from Montefollonico. This feels very much like a private residence. It’s an old villa, with modern touches like updated bathrooms with rain head showers and large soaking Jacuzzi tubs. The villa features large bedroom suites with super luxurious bedding. Modern electronics like a TV, AC, and the internet have been installed, but the thick stone walls remind me that tech and medievalRead More →