Saturday, January 16, 2010

From Field to Table: Chianti Classico and La Petraia

Heading south in in our avuncular Fiat Punto we are in search of La Petraia. Set among the mists in the Chianti Mountains the luxury agriturismo La Petraia is both spectacularly beautiful and just a little hard to find. After ups and downs and twists and turns in and through towering clouds we finally arrived at the property. Our previous destination Panzano in Chianti is a more down to earth area dotted with small towns and agriculture. At La Petraia we feel far away and much more elevated. Occasional estates, vineyards and forest are now the dominant surroundings. La Petraia is owned by Susan McKenna Grant and Michael Grant who purchased the property in the fall of 2000. The site had been abandoned as a working farm 50 years earlier. Susan and Michael brought it back to productivity with plantings of grapes,olives, vegetables and raising of heritage animals; all quality ingredients for Susan's work in the kitchen. Susan, a successful software entrepreneur turned accomplished chef is author of the award winning cookbook ''Piano Piano Pieno: Authentic Food from a Tuscan Farm''. As part of La Petraia's agriturismo programs Susan offers several culinary experiences. The 2009 program included a visit by noted author Michael Pollan as part of the ''La Petraia Sessions''.

After being greeted by Susan and Michael we were shown our rooms and took a few minutes to rest before a tour of the property. It was quickly apparent that at La Petraia the level of attention and quality regarding the guest experience is of the very highest level. Sometimes when traveling you come upon a place that is so special and unique you can imagine scuttling the rest of your tour and staying put. La Petraia is that kind of place. The accommodations, setting and experience are truly phenomenal, especially for a couple but since none of us had significant others along we could only think another day, another time, another visit.

A tour of the site revealed several rare heritage Cinta Senese pigs rooting in the duff, happily snorting and sniffing. As it turned out one of the pigs was experiencing it's last moments as our visit coincided with the scheduled slaughtering of a pig. The gathered farm professionals soon dispatched our pig with a well placed rifle shot and the transformation from field to table had begun.

We then scaled the tallest hill on the property to walk among the ruins of an ancient Etruscan town. With an amazing 360 degree view from our high perch, one direction revealed a sliver of the farm's vineyards and beyond, over several sets of hills the majestic tower in Siena. In the other direction the Arno River valley was seen surrounded by snow covered mountains.

Jim considered the possibilities of a late summer meal on a Tuscan mountain top.


La Petraia







Susan McKenna Grant and Michael Grant of La Petraia are from Canada


and notice Jim is wearing a t-shirt from UBC farm in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. UBC farm is the site of several Outstanding in the Field dinners.


Near the Etruscan ruins


Attractive fowl


Susan and Dave witness the slaughtering of a Cinta Senese pig

1 comment:

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