Monday, July 5, 2010

Fattoria Poggio Alloro

7/4/2010


We are staying in Tuscany at an Agritourismo called Fattoria Poggio Alloro. An agritourismo is a working farm that also acts like a B&B or hotel but makes more money from the farm than renting rooms. Its guests get a taste for farm life and understand what goes into making the products that have made Italy famous. Based on Google translator, we think that the name means Laurel Hill Farm, laurel being a type of evergreen tree. This is our guess since we haven’t actually asked what it means.



Today we took a tour of the farm, more on that later. One of the main products of the farm is beef. It’s a special kind of beef specific to this region though I can’t remember the name at this point. This beef is the featured menu item each Saturday at the farm’s nightly family-style dinner. Here’s how it all went down last night. The farm is all organic and 80% of the items served in the meal each night are produced on the farm. We had so much food last night it was amazing. Wine, melon with dried meats, various breads, pate’,puff pastries with cheese and zucchini, ribolitta (rustic Tuscan bread soup – poor man’s food, like gumbo is in Louisiana), super fresh salad, t-bone steak (wait for the pics), shortbread with jam, sweet wine with biscotti to dip into and grappa and lemoncello (grappa is a liquor made from boiling and distilling the grape seeds and lemoncello is lemon, sugar and alcohol). The meal took almost 3 hours and at the end we all staggered away from the table. It was amazing and way better than I hyped it up to be in my mind. Tonight, we are doing it again, without the steak, hopefully a different menu. Can’t wait!

I also should mention that I was contemplating chewing on the t-bone but Megan wouldn't let me.  Then one of the Italian ladies at the table started doing it so I jumped in and did the same.  It's what Mom taught me to do as a kid.  It was fantastic.  As I was chewing the bone, the patriarch, Umberto looked over and saw me and began to clap and laugh and say something in Italian.  From the reaction, we assumed he was expressing his approval and I guess in some way I was showing my appreciation for such a wonderful steak.


I mentioned farm products. The farm sits on 250 acres and overlooks San Gimignano in Tucany. They produce about 8 different wines with grapes growing on about 50 acres. All wine production is done on the farm including the bottling process. They plant roses and artichokes at the end of each wine row. This is done because insects will attack these plants before they attack the vines. The farmers can check these plants and see what bugs are present and then apply organic insecticides to protect the vines. There are several hundred olive trees all over the property. The farm only sells the first cold pressed extra-virgin oil. They have various fruit and nut trees from peaches and apricots to figs and almonds. They also have a section of vegetables that are grown for use on the farm for guests and family meals. There is also grain that is used to make breads and their line of packaged organic wheat pasta and biscotti. Then they also have cattle. Can’t remember the name, but they are large white cows. They are slaughtered at 20 months and aren’t allowed to graze much so the beef stays tender. The female cows that bear calves are allowed to graze and are much larger since they are older (we have pics). They also 1 milk cow that produces milk when it is calving. Overall, the farm is amazing and it’s all done organically. Megan just reminder me that I forgot to mention the chickens and the rooster. The first day, Megan walked down the hill to the chicken pen and all of the chickens walked up to the fence to meet her. I didn’t get to witness it but Megan got a kick out of it.

This place is amazing! If you ever make it to Tuscany, make sure to stay here!

-Adam

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