italy adventure – tuscany

tuscany / italian dinner at nice winery

Hello friends! It’s been a while since I posted about our Italy adventure! I was re-inspired by a dinner Oakley and I attended on Friday night. It’s really funny how this big, big world can seem so small sometimes!

Back story: My parents are members of a fun wine club in Houston called Nice Winery. Over the past few years, they have become friends with the owners, Ryan and Ian, both certified sommeliers and Le Cordon Bleu trained chefs. Last Christmas, my parents gifted Oakley a 3 month membership to the wine club – once that 3 months came to an end, we were hooked and continued the membership ourselves (because who doesn’t like getting 2 bottles of GREAT wine picked out for you every month??).

While planning for Italy, Oakley went to Nice to pick up our monthly bottles and started chatting with Ryan about our upcoming trip. Turns out, Ryan and Ian have spent a good amount of time in Italy and ended up recommending a bed and breakfast in Montepulciano called Relais Ortaglia.

tuscany

Now, to pick up where we left off – after Lucca, the next stop on our Italy adventure was Montepulciano, a town in southern Tuscany. Upon arrival at Ortaglia, we were greeted by a stunning view of vineyards and the sweetest lady it Italy, Mara. Mara and her husband, Terenzio, are the owners of Ortaglia.

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[Grapes on grapes on grapes!]

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[…and then some more grapes!]

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That evening, we had a cooking class with two other couples in the kitchen at Ortaglia hosted by Mara! We all had a great time cooking with Mara and drank A LOT of wine! We cooked tomato soup, chicken scallopini, sautéed bell peppers, and a chocolate dessert – all from scratch. What a delicious feast! The best part of the evening was sitting around Mara and Terenzio’s dinner table and talking with them about their lives, winery, and children.

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[Our cooking crew!]

What’s an Italy adventure without a guided tour?! The next day, Terenzio took us on a full day tour of Valdorcia. Unfortunately, my phone fell victim to the toilet bowl and I lost most of my pictures from the tour. However, even if I had the pictures, they wouldn’t do the tour justice. We visited La Foce, the most photographed country road in Tuscany, Bagno Vignono, a historic spa, then drove to Monte Amiata and saw the Abbey of Sant’Antino.

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[La Foce]

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[My favorite travel partner in the world!]

Next, we had a GINORMOUS lunch at Sant’Angelo in Colle, another great meal in Tuscany. As a group, we started with 12 shared appetizers. Next, we had homemade lasagna for the first course and Florentine steak for the second course. I’m not exaggerating when I say I was full for three days straight after this meal!

After lunch, we headed to an estate to learn how wines are made, then closed out the tour with stops in a medieval town, San Quirico d’Orcia, and the town of the popes, Pienza.

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[Via del Bacio – Street of the Kiss]

I can’t say enough good things about our experience with Mara and Terenzio and can confidently say that the next time we are in Italy, Oakley and I will make sure to stop at Ortaglia!

italian dinner at nice winery

Now, time to bring this story full circle. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Oakley and I attended a special dinner on Friday. Nice Winery hosted Nicola Biscardo, Mara and Terenzio’s son, for a 4 course Italian dinner with wine pairings. Oakley and I knew that we had to attend this event and meet Nicola!

Needless to say, we had a blast! Nicola took us on a journey through the different regions of Italy and taught us about the wines from each area. The wine was paired with courses prepared by Ian (do I need to remind you that he’s a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef?). Oh. My. Gosh. Words can’t describe how good the food was!

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[Thanks for a great evening, Nicola!]

It was so much fun to enjoy the wine and food that we were surrounded by just a few weeks ago in Italy. Ryan, Ian, and Nicola put on a great event – I almost thought I was back on our Italy adventure!

Lots of love – ked

 

 

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