Having wandered Lucca on Easter Monday when more than half the shops were closed, we decide today is a good day to do some shopping. We’re particularly interested in Enoteca Vanni, which unlike Roman enotecas does not sell food, only wine.
This morning, I start to feel bad about the food I’ve bought but not used so I cook us eggs with shallots and chopped up salumi and toast the bread which is getting stale. I love how orange the egg yolks are. Each are stamped with a serial number which Sara later tells me is a sign they have been pasteurized and why the eggs are not refrigerated in stores.
Around 11:00 we head out to Via Fillungo to shop in stores which we expect will be open. We are looking for chocolates for our girls, who feel we have deprived them of their usual Easter Sunday chocolate, err, egg hunt.
Left: San Frediano
We walk along Via Fillungo but take side trips down the various streets with shops. Via Fillungo has an impressive number of stores including the big name Italian designers, expensive and not so expensive jewellery shops, antique shops and tons of food spots.
Our general plan is to end up at Enoteca Vanni to buy wine for our cooking lesson this afternoon and dinner later this evening. We buy more chocolates and things to bring back home for children and grandparents, make a reservation for Thursday evening, and end up at Enoteca Vanni at around 1:30 pm. It’s closed from 1 – 4 pm and our cooking lesson starts at 3:30.
We still need some wine! We try the wine shop on Via San Andrea but it too is closed for lunch. I head back to the apartment while Scott goes up to the top of Torre Guinigi, where he takes some great photos of Lucca from above.
I find some wine at Alimentari Danne, the tiny shop near the apartment and get a Brunello and a Sicilian white. Scott decides to hang out on the wall until it is time for our cooking lesson.
Alessandra and Sara arrive to show us how to make Crostini Garfagnana, a crostini with a tomato based sauce flavoured primarily with bay leaf; handmade pasta with a meat ragu which has ricotta and chard added to make a dish which tastes like the traditional Lucchese tortelli but without stuffing the pasta; roasted faroana, which they say is guinea fowl but the description of the bird sounds more like quail; beans roasted in a fiasco; and panna cotta. We start by opening a bottle of wine. Again, this lesson includes wine which they have brought with them. This is my kind of cooking lesson!
They are both very patient with us and while learning these dishes, we talk about their business, their lives, their backgrounds (Sara has a PhD in art history, Alessandra has a farm) and life in Lucca. I think this has been one of the best things we have done this trip because it is so much more than just learning to cook dishes. We organize things to eat early (about 7:00pm) so that the ladies can wrap up early.
I really loved the cooking lesson. The ladies have their own website at Toscaneggiando. If you have any interest and are in their area, I can’t recommend them highly enough.
After they have left, Scott discovers the Milan v. Bayern Munich game on tv. Sadly, our last bottle of red is corked. We finish off the white and by the time we go to bed, there is no wine in the apartment. Crisis!!! A trip to Enoteca Vanni, when it is open, moves to number one priority for tomorrow.