chef's day off in toscana

chef's day off:

sleep til 10, bike 1hr to the sea, stop at fruit vendor for peaches, stop at bar for cold water + chat w/ old men, park bike at the beach, cafe shakerato, swim + sun for hours, stop at bar for more water + chat with old men playing cards, bike home, jump in pool, shower, wine + bed. 

 l'ultima spiaggia: the last beach when you cross from Tuscany to Lazio in italy

l'ultima spiaggia: the last beach when you cross from Tuscany to Lazio in italy

update from toscana

On my first day in tuscany, I quickly ran out for groceries to plan the following day with my new clients. I grabbed the groundskeeper's car and took off to catch the sunset with one housekeeper Inga and her son Bazzie. Probably the only sunset over the sea I'll get this month. Then we had a nice dinner together! Happy to be somewhere quiet, out of the city for a month, trying to sort out some things for my business and for myself. buona tramonto!

I'm cooking for a sweet family from Switzerland...three couples actually, 8 kids + one nanny. Here are some pics from the first week. 

Menfi with Marilena Barbera

Sicilia non è un’isola, è un arcipelago.
— la mamma Nina Barbera

On the #CHEEKYbici cycling trip through Sicily, our next stop was a visit to Marilena Barbera in Menfi. She is a winemaker that Silvestro was excited to finally meet after many trips back and forth missing one another. We never knew when or where the cycling trip would lead us which made planning winery visits, hotel bookings and restaurant ressies a bit difficult. Sometimes coastal winds, torrential rain, hangovers would keep us from making it from point A to point B in the time we expected. In the main piazza of Menfi, we asked a young guy where we might find a hotel for the night. This guy randomly had a pamphlet for a chic hotel (not what you typically find in rural Sicily) but after a few calls around to B&B's we opted to go for the fancy place. We biked completely uphill for 45 minutes or so to finally arrive at the hotel. It was a brand new place with great rooms and even a pool! After the crazy bike ride to find the hotel, we decided that it would be impossible to walk to town for dinner and biking after dark was out of question. Take out from seamless.com is not an option here in Sicilia. With the help of the concierge, we found a pizzeria in Menfi that was kindly willing to deliver food to us via Vespa up to the hotel. With a few bottles of wine and pizza in the room, we were happy and nobody was complaining. The next day was our visit to Marilena's winery!

We arrived at Cantine Barbera with our bicycles, just a quick trip from the town this time. Marilena Barbera is a bombshell gorgeous smiley woman with strawberry hair, not what you might expect from a Sicilian. That's the beauty of this island! The people, the food, the culture is all a wonderful mix. Marilena and her mother, Nina, gave us a tour of the winery and showed us the small bottling facility, the cellar and took us to the tasting room to try a few of her delicious wines. We tasted two inzolia white wines from Menfi and two red blends.

At Cantine Barbera, they are located so close to the sea on the southwest of the island so you can actually taste the salinity in the wine. The beauty of this location is that the vineyards can benefit from warm dry summer weather, a coastal breeze, and a mild winter season. Marilena is the third generation of her family making wine here; her grandfather started planting in the 1920's. She plants Sicilian white varietals like inzolia, catarratto and grillo plus reds like perricone, nerello mascalese and nero d'avola. Marilena is very good at marketing internationally and travels abroad often to wine fairs and to meet buyers, restaurateurs and customers. Her social media presence is well beyond many other Sicilian wineries especially with the small size of her production. In NYC, the imported T.Edwards carries most of her wines here in the States. She will be coming to the States sometime this year and hopefully collaborating on a dinner with me!
 

CANTINE BARBERA | viticultori in Menfi

Azienda Agricola Barbera, Contrada Torrenova S.P. 79, 92013 Menfi (Agrigento) Italia

Tel. +39.0925.570442 | Marilena Barbera | info@cantinebarbera.it | http://www.cantinebarbera.it