‘Oh yes,’ I reply confidently, ‘I’ve been eating it for years, several times a day.’
But there’s a huge difference between eating food, liking food and knowing food the way Marzia the cheesemaker, Paolo the miller and baker, Andrea the restauranteur and our guide Heather do.
Heather, who runs gastronomic adventure tours through her company Sapori e Saperi (Flavours and Knowledge) has brought us to the tiny north Tuscan villages of Sant’Anastasio and Petrognola for their annual Farro Festival.
Farro is an ancient grain, grown on the slopes above the Serchio River, which winds through the spectacularly beautiful country of the Garfagnana region, with rocky mountain peaks as a backdrop.
At the stall at the entrance to Sant’Anastasio we buy a book of tickets (a steal at 16 euros), and spend the rest of the day eating and drinking, pausing occasionally to walk the steep narrow streets between the farmyards where tables have been set up and eight successive courses are being served.
Including, but not limited to…
Osteria Vecchio Mulino (old mill) in Castelnuovo deserves a proper description. It looks like no other restaurant we’ve ever seen, but we’d be happy to live, or at least eat, there forever.
Andrea Bertucci wanted to make a food place where locals could drink coffee or wine for a euro (as we did) or where Michelin-hatted chefs would drop in to learn more about curing ham and other aspects of the trade.
It’s worked. Anybody who knows food comes to Andrea’s. Thanks to his dedication to culinary art, Andrea takes up a lot of room himself, but he can squeeze everybody in.
I took a photo of the antipasto and torta he fed us, but I couldn’t match the photos on his website. For more about the drooling experience, see www.vecchiomulino.info.
Thanks, Heather, for the brilliant day tour and the introduction to food, places and people we would have been unlikely to find for ourselves.
We can’t yet claim to ‘know’ about food, but we’re enjoying getting to know it.
For more on Heather Jarman’s Gastronomy Adventures, see www.sapori-e-saperi.com.