A Picnic can be defined as a family tradition, holiday gathering, or a romantic expression. There is a sense of intimacy and comfort in this social gathering. With summer right around the corner, we find ourselves preparing hastily for this overwhelmingly popular social pastime. American tradition finds a picnic at nearly every summer holiday. From Memorial Day, Labor Day, to July 4th, our summer celebrations are defined by a picnic table and covered dishes. What about a little change in scenery? Not taking away the traditions or Holiday itself, just simply “introducing” another culture’s themes and tasty dishes into your own backyard. Welcome this summer with a “Picnic in Tuscany.”
Before we get into the tasty foods and fancy décor of a Tuscan style picnic, let us briefly look into the history of this Italian region. Tuscany is one of twenty regions in Italy. Preserving through the Renaissance, Tuscany emerged as a major culteral center that now offers museums, galleries, and painting from historical artists like Leonardo Da Vinci, and Michelangelo. It welcomes millions of tourists world-wide. Now, let’s extract some cultural elements from this facinating culture and place in to your very own backyard.
There is something undeniably relaxing and soothing when it comes to basking in the evening sun surrounded by loved ones. The overall theme of the Tuscan Picnic is entirly up to the host. It can be as fancy and elegant as one desires. The tablecloth will set the foundation . A light beige or cream colored cloth will give a soft and elegent look. A deep red or champagn colored table cloth will provide a more intense, intimate setting. I suggest that you use contrasting colors for the place setting and table top décor. This will add demension to the visual setup and help create the overall mood of the event.
The décor should add elegance to your table. However, too much décor can look cluttered. Keep these items simplistic, yet be sure to choose that which contributes to the overall mood of your event. Items such as candles and flowers give the set-up a soft and coozy mood. Placing glass candle holders over lighted candles adds a bit of soft elegance to the setting. Additionaly, it will keep the wick burning against the evening winds while also creating a romantic glow as the sun retires for the night.
In creating the menu, it is a good idea to plan it out step by step. Make sure you choose recipes that you are comfortable cooking as well as serving. Italian cuisine contains endless options that fit every kind of picnic theme. It’s a great time of year to include fresh, in season ingredients. Fresh ripe tomatoes, garden vegetables and fruit are just few ingredients that contribute to a healthy nutritious meal. Also, swapping regular pasta for whole-wheat pasta adds fiber and protein to the Entrée.
In Italy, the meals begin with an antipasti, or appetizer. This is followed by the primi, and it usually consists of soup or salad. The main course, secondi, can be made to your desire. Pasta dishes, ravioli, and pizza are among the well known dishes that can be prepared for the main course. The final course, dessert, can leave you with endless options in which to choose. Depending on your previous courses, you may want to opt for a light and fresh dessert. A dessert such as a granite (Italian ice made up of mostly fruit, ice, and sugar) or fragole con limone (strawberries with lemon may be good choices. It’s lighter then a tiramisu or an amaretto cheesecake.
Whatever you decide to include in your Tuscan picnic, don’t forget the reason of the occasion. When the company and presence of your guests remain the most important ingredient, your Tuscany picnic will ultimately be nothing short of a success.
May 6th– Join me for a wine pairing and Wine Dinner at Country Creek Winery
June 4th-A picnic in Tuscany Event
Cooking class offered at Foster’s Homeware in Old City Philadelphia!
The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: A Picnic in Tuscany
Taught by Maria Liberati
Celebrity Chef and best selling cookbook author
Straight from a cooking school outside of Tuscany, learn how to
create a four course authentic Tuscan meal, as well as tips on
decorating your table and having an authentic Tuscan
picnic at home.
Thursday, 5:45 PM to 7:45
Fee: $55, includes materials
on-line at www.temple.edu/tucc – Click on Non-Credit Courses
or call us at 215-204-6946.
Join me in Italy at The Basic Art of Italian Cooking School
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