3 months later I’m starting to forget details about the trip. But I’m not forgetting feelings. I remember having that “How can I prolong this moment, I don’t want to leave, I’m such an idiot for scheduling more things than I should” feeling more than once, all in Tuscany. And while sitting outside in Podere Il Casale on that perfect day, trying to decide whether I prefer the grape aged Pecorino or the one aged with walnut leaves, only to be interrupted by that stunning view, that feeling took over again.
Nestled smack in the middle between Pienza and Monticchiello, Podere Il Casale, an organic farm producing sheep’s (pecorino) and goat cheese that was unlike anything we ever tasted. It was like eating cheese for the very first time. Sandra and Ulisse run the farm since 1991. Sandra gave us an overview of the place (much bigger than it seems at first) and cheese making process, while showing us the facilities and Ricotta making in action. The 5 minute old Ricotta was easily the most satisfying ever. But I couldn’t get enough of that Pecorino, especially the aged stuff.
Podere Il Casale is more than just a cheese producer. Its a full service Agriturismo, attracting lodgers, campers, farm students and volunteers. 2 meals a day including a wood oven pizza expert hanging around in the premises (how can I get a pizza expert hang around my premises, all I have is a crazy neighbor and her dog), cooking classes, and various educational programs are offered. They also produce wine, olive oil, pasta, honey, and even some prosciutto. All that in an absolute jaw dropping setting, making other pigs and sheep extremely jealous. The cliché “Pictures don’t do this Justice” has probably been invented in South Tuscany, somewhere near here
Sandra and Ulisse also recently received a grant by the Italian government that allows them to open operations oversees. As long as they sell and promote Tuscan based products, the gov’t will help sponsor the operations. First stop, NYC, slated to open in a few months. I will post details here as soon as I get them
Oh Ziggy, this post makes me so happy. One of the great memories from my first trip to Italy in 2009 was the lunch we had here, with Ulisse explaining the wine and Sandra whipping up fantasticly simply dishes for us. Now if only we lived in NY so we could visit their store. Guess I will just have to send the in-laws down from Greenwich to buy their goodies!