This year’s Jovial Culinary Getaway in Lucca began on Saturday evening, with guests gathering in the ballroom for Tuscan appetizers prepared by local chef, Aurelio Barattini. With live piano music playing in the background and the rain falling outside, this wonderful group of people quickly bonded.
Aurelio served local sheep’s milk cheese, fried polenta with mushrooms, seasonal vegetable flan, pappa al pomodoro and a Prosecco Spritz.
After a long journey to Italy, settling down at the villa is like arriving at a comfortable and beautfiul home away from home.
We enjoyed a lovely dinner in the dining room, which included a Primo of jovial’s brown rice penne served with wild boar, a Secondo of veal stew with new potatoes and the best panna cotta we ever tasted, which was served with caramelized baked fruit.
The next morning, we gathered in the magnificent kitchen for Shauna and Danny’s first cooking class- “Baking Gluten Free”. Shauna showed us how to mix all-purpose and whole grain gluten free flour blends. She is a talented and entertaining speaker, and together we baked pies and fantastic chocolate chip teff cookies.
Danny served up jovial’s new gluten free egg tagliatelle with a mix of seasonal vegetables for lunch. Fantastico!
The villa kitchen seems to foster community. We have quickly become a tight group of friends, effortlessly sharing meals, kindness and good conversation. Being gluten free and a love for food and cooking is what brought us together. And this bond is keeping us together not only in the cooking classes, but also in the villa throughout the day and on our travels to Lucca and beyond.