A tough life in Tuscany

Updated: Feb 3, 2019

Life in Tuscany has been very good to us so far and the past 5 days have flown by already. For those of you who don't know, Tom and I are living with a family in Tuscany for 2 weeks to help them out while they run a week long Pilates workshop.

The McCracken family, who originally hail from Britian, have owned the large Tuscan farm for 10 years. It has 3 self contained units on the ground floor which are let out to holidayers and the family home occupies the top floor. Angela and Jimmy own the beautiful house and their son, Chrisso who is currently sporting a broken leg, is currently living with them as well. Their house overlooks an olive grove and a vineyard runs alongside the driveway. We are living up the road about 1km with their other son, Alex; his wife, Michelle, and their two kids - Oscar (4) and Emiliana (2).

Tom and I are basically a spare set of hands for the family and have so far been employed as gardeners, pool cleaners, landscapers, cleaners and babysitters. Tom also attempted to be an electrician and failed. Tonight we will be sous chefs and, no doubt, dish pigs after that. Having both previously worked in desk jobs, we are both enjoying the satisfaction of working physically and being able to see the fruits of our labour immediately.

Six pilates guests arrived last night for their week long workshop. They do a session in the morning and afternoon, and are taken out for excursions during the day which we are also free to attend. Over the next 7 days we will help to prepare three three-course meals under the guidance of Angela and Alex. Last nights meal was an entree of melon and prosciutto, avocado pilaff for main and soaked berries and peaches with possibly the best ice-cream I have ever had for dessert. The great thing is that we all sit down together on the huge terrace to enjoy the meal. On the other evenings we will accompany them to local restaurants. We could definitely get used to this type of work.

Two things have already easily positioned themselves as the highlights of our stay - the food and the wine.

In 5 short days, we have seen how cooking simply with few good quality ingredients often creates the most delicious meals. A simply lentil and tomato soup with only 6 ingredients was delicious. Good quality olive oil is drizzled on virtually everything and never used for cooking (which spoils it). Cappuccino's are made in the morning with a stove top coffee maker and a small milk whisk.  We have learnt that you should cook with what is in season to get the most flavour out of your fruit and veggies. Our little black book is becoming chock-a-block with hand written recipes to help inspire us when we return to our normal lives.

Then there is the wine. Wine is always drunk with the main meal of the day. It is an Italian custom that wine is poured for everyone at the beginning of the meal but then you are on your own to keep your glass topped up. You should never feel bad about reaching across the table to grab the bottle, or some food and it is rude to not start eating as soon as your meal arrives, even if the other 10 people at the table haven't gotten theirs. We visited one of the largest wineries yesterday, Castello Banfi, in Tuscany, which is also coincidently one of the most beautiful wineries I have even seen. Set on acres of vineyards, the winery is actually a wonderfully restored castle with amazing views across the country side. A fantastic place to do a spot of wine tasting and breadstick eating!

The next few days will consist of some sweaty work in the summer heat but will also, no doubt, include a lot of recipe scribbling, wine guzzling and food feasting! Bring it on.

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