Michael Salmon's Foodie Adventures- Tuscan Olive Oil

Written by Zeph Belanger, Hartstone Inn Sous Chef

Every year during November in Tuscany, olives are plucked from trees and pressed into some of the best olive oil in the world. The recent Michael Salmon’s Foodie Adventures fall trip to Tuscany fell right at the beginning of the olive harvest. Large nets spread underneath olive trees was an everyday sight while traversing the Tuscan countryside. 

One afternoon, our guide Lucia setup a surprise visit to an olive oil pressing in her hometown of Sarteano, where her father has his olives pressed. Being witness to the entire process was definitely something write home about. Afterwards, our group was treated to some authentic bruschetta, toasted bread rubbed with garlic, sprinkled with salt, and drizzled with the just pressed olive oil. Bellisimo!  


Michael Salmon's Foodie Adventure in Tuscany-Making Pici Pasta

Posted by Zeph Belanger, Hartstone Inn Sous Chef

Throughout Tuscany, one of the most popular dishes is pici pasta, a thick hand-rolled spaghetti. One night, the villa’s Chef Marcella joined Chef Michael and the guests in the kitchen to teach her family recipe for pici with wild boar ragu.

Durum flour is mixed with egg, olive oil and water, then rolled into a thick sheet and cut into strips. The strips are the rolled out by hand into long thick noodles. After Marcella gave us a few examples, she invited all of our guests to give it a try.  The air was full of laughter and flour.

The ragu was another story, since Marcella had started it shortly after breakfast, and it had cooked all day long, which is typical for most rustic sauces. Wild boar meat, onion, garlic, herbs, fresh tomato, olive oil, and lots of time.  The pasta and the sauce were delicious and enjoyed by the entire group.

Michael Salmon’s Food Adventure in Tuscany-Il Casale Farm

Posted by Meghan Small, Hartstone Inn General Manager

We took many day trips during our Michael Salmon’s Foodie Adventure in Tuscany.  Il Casale, a small farm near Pienza was one of the first.  Our hosts, Sandra and Ulysses Brandli’s farm produces ricotta, honey, pecorino, goat cheese, homemade bread, wine and olive oil.  Il Casale practices only organic and free range farming practices. We watched a live demonstration on how pecorino cheese is made.  We also had a tasting of their cheese, bread and olive oil on a beautiful patio overlooking the Tuscan hillside – complete with local wine of course!  The farm had resident peacocks who casually strolled through the lawn as we ate.  It was wonderful!

Michael Salmon’s Foodie Adventure to Tuscany-Orvieto and Arriving at the Villa

Posted by Meghan Small, Hartstone Inn General Manager

Day one of Michael Salmon’s Foodie Adventure in Tuscany!  Upon arriving by plane in Rome, the entire group met up with our driver and our tour bus departed for the town of Orvieto.  This was to be a few hour side stop on the way to our Villa.

The ancient city of Orvieto sets over 1000 feet above sea level on a summit of volcanic rock.  We took a funicular to reach this, the oldest part of the city.  Some of us shopped, some eat, some explored historical sites and some of us did all three!  The most spectacular site of all was the monumental Cathedral of Orvieto.  It’s size and beauty were both breath taking. After departing Oriveto, the group headed with much anticipation to the Villa.  I believe that the beautifully decorated rooms, stunning views and amazing gardens exceeded everyone’s expectations.  Chef Michael had a colorful antipasto spread to greet the group.   It included a local cheese board, sliced cured meats, olives, marinated vegetables, eggplant, artichokes, peppers, mushrooms, bruschetta, crostini, focaccia and eggplant parmesan.  Everyone unpacked, relaxed and mingled.  No evening in Italy is complete with out wine.  It was abundant and plentiful!  The group got to know each other and the night closed with a briefing on the next day’s itinerary.

Michael Salmon’s Foodie Adventures – Tuscany

As many of you know, last fall we began “Michael Salmon’s Foodie Adventures“. These “adventures” or culinary trips abroad are a way for us to marry our love of terrific food, culinary adventures and great company. We have so much fun traveling and enjoying life that we decided to create several foodie adventures each year outside of the Inn.  Our first destination is Tuscany and we completed are first two week long trips this past October.  Over the next few days we will publish a series of blog posts on our Tuscany trip.  If you have the desire to learn something new, would like to explore several beautiful villages in Tuscany and like to cook – or just eat, this may be the trip for you!  We have space available in the October 2011 trip.   We also just began booking for a trip to the Loire Valley in France!