Tag Archives: Spannocchia

Nose to tail

By Elizabeth Johnsonimage-2

CHIUSDINO, Italy– The diagram started as a rough outline. Just a snout, two little ears, a big belly supported by four legs and a corkscrew tail. Looking at this sketch, many would see just that. A sketch of a pig. But here at Spannocchia, this sketch represents much more.

One by one, each part of the pig was circled and labeled. The face, the neck, the back, the lower belly and the hind legs. Each of these parts produces six very different, but equally delicious, meats. Today, our group of food writers had the pleasure of tasting each one.
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Jessica Haden, director of intern education for Spannocchia, encouraged us to feel and smell each piece of salumi, before we took our first bites. We started with the lardo, not to be confused with lard. This piece comes from the back fat of the pig. Pure white in color and tender, on a hot day this piece just seems to melt in your mouth.

Next came the pancetta. A piece taken from the lower belly that closely resembles an American breakfast staple. But unlike bacon, pancetta is neither smoked nor served in the early morning hours. Instead, it is peppered and cured to perfection – very different from the bacon back home, but just as tasty.

Then there was the capocollo. This is meat taken from the neck of the pig and enhanced with natural herb flavors.

Finally we arrived at everyone’s favorite part – prosciutto. The perfect combination of sweet and salty taken from the hind leg of the pig. The wonderful flavor of prosciutto and its longer curing process is reflected in its higher price.

The last two meats we tried, salame and soppressata, are on the more affordable end of the spectrum. They were mostly made up of leftover parts, such as the cheeks and smaller pieces of fat, and topped off with a peppery kick.

From nose to tail, each part was surprisingly delicious.

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Filed under Cinta Senese, MU Journalism Abroad, Science ad Agricultual Journalism

Made from scratch

Rachel Trujillo

CHIUSDINO, Italy— A tiny mound of delicate flour laid on the marble counter; a cracked egg, olive oil and salt rested in the crater inside. With the smooth whisking motion of the fork, thick dough began to form. The gummy mixture molded itself between my fingers and I found it difficult to separate the sticky dough from my hand. We each had our own ball, eventually combining them into one perfectly kneaded jumble ready to be rolled out. The effortless mixing of these simple ingredients shattered my previous thoughts of how hard making homemade pasta must be.

We watched Loredana Betti, former chef and long-time resident at Spannocchia, gracefully work the pasta dough until it held the perfect consistency throughout. There was something natural to her movement. It became instantly obvious she had a firm grasp on not only this recipe, but of all cooking that took place in the kitchen. Her timing was precise but never rushed. In a one fluid motion we made pear and pecorino crostone, Gardner’s sauce, baked zucchini, thin beef rolls, tiramisu and fresh tagliatelle noodles.

The dough was ready and the pasta equipment was set up. We divided the dough again into pieces perfectly sized for a three-inch wide strip of pasta. Bette placed one chunk into the machine and quickly churned the knob. A thinner block emerged from the other side. She turned the dial to an even thinner setting and repeated her process. We each took turns spinning the wheel and flattening our dough. Eventually we were left with uniformly thin, wide strips of pasta that stretched to great lengths.

Rachel Trujillo tries her hand at pasta from scratch

Rachel Trujillo tries her hand at pasta from scratch

The flexible noodles quickly hardened and maintained their form. This indicated their readiness to be cut into their ultimate noodle shape. The noodles cooked in boiling water just long enough to soften.

The freshness of the pasta paired with the newly picked vegetables in the sauce created a meal fit for the Tuscan countryside.

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Farm to table at Spannocchia

Rachel Green

CHIUSDINO, Italy – Upon our arrival on Saturday to Spannocchia, a 1100 acre self-sustaining farm estate in the Tuscan countryside, our group was met with a classic Italian family style lunch.

Spaghetti, salad, bread and potatoes were accompanied by the peaceful silence of the countryside, a polar opposite change from the bustling city life we had grown accustomed to in Florence the past three weeks.

Over the next week at Spannocchia, we will be learning of the farm’s history and sustainable agriculture practices. We will be eating meals prepared with ingredients grown in the expansive vegetable garden, vineyard and animal housing units.

The Spannocchia property was built in the 1100’s and was a large farm tended to by sharecroppers. It has since then been expanded and modernized but still holds many traditions of Tuscan farm culture.

With spectacular views and large family style dinners that carry on the tradition of the property, it is sure to be a week to remember.

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Filed under regional food