Lucca, Italy - Day One

BOURNJOIRNO from Lucca, Italy!

So I failed to mention this in an earlier post, but I am on a two week culinary trip to the Tuscany region of Italy, including Lucca where I am currently staying at Villa Principessa. The scenery alone would be enough to make anyone jealous, but I am mostly going to focus on my culinary excursions.

Today was our first day, and after having a chance to unpack, shower, change and nap, we headed over to the culinary school where we'll be doing our lessons. We had a five course dinner with prosecco, white and red wines.

First course: This can only be described as the most simple and ridiculously delicious starter course. We had Pecorino Romano cheese slices with asparagus, dressed in extra virgin olive oil and pepper. Now if you don't think that sounds delicious, you must not have had really good extra virgin olive oil*. The point here is that you can't really take too lightly the importance of using the best ingredients. The details count in a dish this simple. The olive oil was peppery and the cheese had just a slightly salty hint. Perfect.

Second course: Caprese salad. I know every deli in the states has one of these, but again, the ingredients make all the difference. Locally grown tomatoes, that same peppery olive oil*, and a beautiful, slightly fermented buffalo mozzarella with basil leaves picked right off the plant on the patio.

*For more information about the perfect olive oil, visit the Olive Tap in Long Grove or Downers Grove, IL, where sometimes they do olive oil tastings.

Third course: Minestrone soup. Don't even speak to me about Olive Garden's minestrone. The best part about this soup is you go to the store, see what's fresh, and stick it in the pot. This minestrone had black kale, swiss chard, potatoes (which made it satisfyingly creamy without adding any dairy), white beans, carrots and celery. Bravo.

Fourth course: Guinea fowl with herb-roasted potatoes. Rosemary and sage were both the highlighted flavors in both components, tying them together but still making them distinct enough to stand on their own. The fowl was roasted whole wrapped in proscuitto with some garlic. Very tasty. Like chicken, but 100 times more "chickeny" (it's a word now, ok?!).

Fifth course: Puff pastry with a green apple cream. These apples were slowly poached in simple syrup, allowing them to yield to the bite ever so slightly and making them sweeter. Added to whipped cream, this dessert was light, crunchy and decadent.

All in all, a good first day. It's only the first day and I'm already starting to wonder if it's possible to have a bad day in Italy. I have two weeks left to enjoy, and honestly, I'm not worried one bit.


  1. I tried several times to upload photos to go with this post, but for some reason it wasn't going through. I will try again tomorrow but if it doesn't work I'll have to wait until I'm home to git-r-done.


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