Category Archives: Recipes

Michele Berlendis joins MaMa Florence as the resident Chef


MaMa Florence
is excited to announce the arrival of Michele Berlendis as the new resident chef.

Michele was born and grew up in Tuscany where he attended hotel school and during the weekends worked in a restaurant in his local town, where his passion for the kitchen was born.

His first significant experience in the kitchen was working with chef Filippo Saporito, who he considers his maestro. Together at ‘La Leggenda dei Frati’ Restaurant Michele refined his skill and experience.

He then moved to Berlin where he lived for many years working in the best Italian restaurant in the city ‘Boccadibacco’ . Also ,collaboration with other chef friends , ran the successful ‘Caffe Pfoertner’.

Michele’s approach to cooking is dynamic, he is passionate about experimenting with simple flavours and tastes reinterpreting them with imagination and flair.

Returning to Italy after the birth of his daughter, together with his partner they ran a restaurant in Umbria on an organic farm. During his time managing the restaurant Michele learnt to appreciate the importance of freshly grown produce and it’s seasonality.

Michele is now settled in Florence and is excited to share what he has learnt with the guests of MaMa Florence. He looks forward to teaching and sharing his personal experiences with those keen to learn some traditional Italian recipes, ready to try them  back home again for friends and family.

MaMa Florence offers a variety of cooking courses from Pasta, Pizza, Vegetarian, Meat, Fish, Desserts and more.
Sign up for one of our courses at www.mamaflorence.com

Truffle Hunting Tours in Italy

Are you crazy for truffles- like we are? You may have fallen in love with them on a truffle hunting tour,  a visit to a Michellin-starred Italian restaurant in Alba or even a sushi truffle fusion tasting (like we did last year at Fuori di Taste in Florence of 2013). If you have some coveted truffle cream, salsa tartufata or whole truffles at home from a recent truffle hunt- you may be wondering what is best to do with them. We have a couple ideas:

Truffled Frittata- whip a couple of eggs with a spoonful of truffle sauce or truffle cream. Cook as you would an omelette, add some spinach in for some color (and vitamins). If you have whole truffles, you can cook a couple of eggs over easy (with a still gooey, runny yolk) and grate white or black truffle on top as soon as the eggs slide out of the pan. Sprinkle with salt. Enjoy as a luxurious breakfast with a sparkling white wine or as a decadent lunch with a mouth watering white from Piedmont.

**People tend to always think Barolo in terms of food pairing with truffles. However, be careful if you are having eggs with your truffle gold. Eggs are very stubborn in terms of wine pairing and they would go best with a sparkling or a white with high acidity.

Truffled Tagliatelle- Make some fresh egg-based tagliatelle (you can learn how to make home-made pasta with one of our numerous cooking classes in Italy) toss with butter and grate whole, white truffle  atop. Only season with salt and pepper. Be prepared for heaven on a plate. The butter helps brings out the truffle and amplifies its sensory bliss.

Roast Chicken with Black Truffle- Oven roast a whole chicken or already butchered in portions as you normally would. Instead, slice up some black truffle or spoon out some black truffle cream and stuff it in the skin along with a small bit of butter for something truly indulgent.

Would you like to learn more about truffles? We offer private and group guided truffle hunt tours in Alba and Tuscany as well as truffle hunts on wine estates! We include our guided hunts with a trained pooch, truffle expert, a sensory analysis lesson, tastings and with the option of a farmhouse luxury truffled lunch (wine included) with the truffles you find on your hunt. Contact us to learn more about guided truffle hunts in Italy.

Le Baccanti Tours is a luxury travel company located in Tuscany, Italy. We have been specializing in gourmet food, wine and cultural tours of Italy for over 10 years. We pride ourselves on showing our discerning group of clients the authentic and beautiful Italy of their dreams.

Truffles and Truffle Hunting in Italy

Truffles are not fungi (i.e. mushrooms) like a lot of people think, but are instead a tuber much like yams, potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes! They grow in a few regions of the world, mostly Italy and France, but you can find them in the United States now as well. Truffles are a truly luxury gourmet item and can be as expensive as gold! A fresh grated truffle over pasta or bruschetta is an unforgettable gastronomic experience everyone should indulge in at least once in their life. You can slice them, salt them, infuse them in oil or shave them on your favorite Italian dish. Their earthy flavors are pretty intense so be wise when decorating your plate with them- meaning don’t use truffles to season a dish already rich in powerful flavors or you will loose the point. You can purchase truffle products in the following forms: truffle salt, truffle oil, truffle sauce (usually mixed with minced mushrooms and oil), truffle cream (bits of truffle mixed in with butter and parmesan cheese), truffle cheese, truffle paste and whole truffles. There are 2 main varieties: black and white and the white truffles are thought to be the most delicate and hard to find, which also means the most expensive.

Here are some ideas for your truffle products:

* Popcorn with truffle salt and garlic infused butter or olive oil (or even without oil!)

* Homemade pizza with your choice of roasted mushrooms and truffle cheese

* Gnocchi with a black truffle cream sauce- make a cream sauce and add in a couple spoonfuls of a black truffle sauce. Top with a snippit of parsley.

* Sweet potato fries drizzled in truffle oil

Interested in learning more about truffles…or better yet hunting your own? We have the perfect truffle solution with our guided Truffle hunts in either Alba or Tuscany– both prized Italian truffle regions!

Le Baccanti Tours is a luxury travel company located in Tuscany, Italy. We have been specializing in gourmet food, wine and cultural tours of Italy for over 10 years. We pride ourselves on showing our discerning group of clients the authentic and beautiful Italy of their dreams. Contact us or visit our website to learn more.

Tuscan Food & Wine 101: What is cinghiale?

Tuscany is amazing. We have it all here, the four seasons, stunning Italian masterpieces, great wine beyond just Chianti and of course: Tuscan cuisine. If you are into food, you must learn what cinghiale is. Cinghiale is a type of wild boar that roams freely in the forests of Tuscany and it makes for a delicious ragù.

However, they are a bit of a nuisance as they have been bred to be big and furious whose wild ways may wreak havoc on nearby farmers. Nevertheless, cinghiale is essential to central Italian cooking and is freshest and most in season during the fall months. The taste profile (generally speaking): tender. mild. gamey. meaty. juicy. These boars are best enjoyed not too young and not too old and their meat is said to change charactor based on how they were reared. I.e., commercial vs. free-roaming, farm feed vs what ever morsels are left in the forests like chestnuts.

Enough with the food talk, here is a great link with a recipe for Pappardelle al Sugo di Cinghiale that you can try at home  OR you can request cinghiale be incorporated in one of your Tuscan cooking classes with Le Baccanti if you find yourself on vacation in Tuscany!

Here are a couple of options for cooking classes in Florence:

With Anna or with Patrizia.

If you have the time and courage to make the Pappardelle at home, we suggest that you purchase the shoulder or loin from your specialty butcher for the cinghiale ragù. For wine pairing, we must endorse a nice bottle of Brunello di Montalcino. A Brunello di Montalcino, with its firm yet smooth tannin structure, will hold up to the game and richness of the wild boar ragù while echoing the earth flavors that scream Tuscany on your palate. We have TWO Tuscan wine label suggestions by our in-house wine expert and journalist Filippo Bartolotta:

One of the greatest wine masters not only of Italy but worldwide.
This ’05 is yet one of his greatest interpretation of purity of fruit, juicy structure and ageability
Young and affordable: Pietroso Brunello 2006.
Tiny vineyard run by a young farmer who makes wine just like in the old times. Great clean fruit, mineral intensity and strength. Great value too!

You should be able to find these wines in most fine wine shops specializing in Italian selections. Or if you are in Italy, you shouldn’t have any problem at all finding this label. Especially if you are here on a wine tour!

Le Baccanti Tours is a luxury travel company located in Tuscany, Italy. We have been specializing in gourmet food, wine and cultural tours of Italy for over 10 years. We pride ourselves on showing our discerning group of clients the authentic and beautiful Italy of their dreams. Contact us or visit our website to learn more.

Buon appetito!