Nicoletta’s Ribollita

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Nicoletta’s Ribollita, how nicely it sounds, like an Italian Aria. Much like the woman herself, robust, full of life and warmth. Whenever I come home from traveling I find myself craving to recreate meals to share the tastes and stories of my adventures with my loves. How much better than a photo slide show is dipping in and having the warm, rich vegetable stew fill your mouth with the taste of creamy cannillini beans, kale, savory cabbage, onions and the sopped up chunk of rustic bread as I try and describe a perfect Tuscan day a the winery of Il Salicone.

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Vineyard at Il Salicone

Our Saturday field trip found us walking down leaf strewn roadways, past grapevines whose leaves are changing from green, to gold, to brown. Wild grasses sparkle in the sun and we chatter as hungry women will do in anticipation of a classic Tuscan lunch. Nicoletta, our gracious hostess for Plate to Page Tuscany not only manages the villa, providing our much needed morning coffees and teas, but is also an expert winemaker. Imagine, this life she has created for herself after years of being an accountant, behind a desk. Makes you think any dream is possible, doesn’t it?

 

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From dark to light

We enter her winery through large wooden doors into the cool cellar, permeating with the musky richness of fermentations past. How I love that smell. Modern stainless steel tanks rim the room and rows of oak barrels hint of future bottlings. The jumble of wicker demijohns echo the past and provide a reminder of how integral wine is to daily living. Can it be a measly bottle is just too inconvenient a container?

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How would you like to have one of these at home?

Gliding up a few stairs, we move past the compact kitchen and out to the noonday sun. Casting off our sweaters to bask in the light, warming our bones to remove the frigid memories of the night’s past. Picnic tables with cheery cloths are flanked by a large terracotta colored wall, semi-tropical plants and benches with views to the vineyards and olive trees. Plates and plates of food are sent out from the kitchen; cheeses with honey, sliced meats, frittatas, all paired with Vespro Rosso di Tosca.  

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Proscuitto, salume
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Leek, Pancetta and Cheese Frittatas

The opening corks release with that smile-invoking and familiar pop as the 2009 Poggiolcato Rosso comes out. Glasses are filled and Nicoletta proudly describes her selected sangiovese and other grapes to blend.  

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Salicone Rosso di Tuscana

Ribolitta appears and just as quickly disappears as spoons-full find their way to our plates, not only once, but perhaps twice. 

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Nicoletta’s Ribollita — All Gone!

Conversations ebb and flow, cameras click away, and true to our assignment, pens are put to paper. Soon Grappa, biscotti and cantucci signal dessert as we dunk and savor that last of the reds. “Caffe?” she asks? The “me toos!” clamour merrily in response.

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Work begins again

Ambling back to the villa, dragging our feet a bit because you see, we still have hours of work ahead of us for P2P Tuscany.  What a day.

Plate to Page Tuscany Trivia (feel free to add to this list!)

  • Who asked, “Is sex or good deep powder skiing better?”
  • Name the other soccer (futbol) coach.
  • Who announced, “I’m greedy.”
  • Who coined the phrase, “Pepper-azzi” ?
  • Which of the P2P Organizers cringed when Abba started playing?
  • Which participant brought a different treat for nearly every meal?
  • Whose food writing was so sensual, passionate in English that it would probably be banned in her native Italian?
  • How many wireless networks did it take to tweet moment by moment coverage from Il Salicone?
  • What is the color of our Contessa’s glasses?
  • What kind of mushrooms went into Ilva’s risotto?
  • Who came from and who visited Malta recently?
  • What newlywed just built a new home with a kitchen window view onto greenspace?
  • Who thinks her brother is a better baker than herself?

Back at home and it has been two weeks since that lovely sunny afternoon. Time to get cooking.
“Ribollita means “reboiled.” A traditional ribolitta, rich with vegetables and legumes, is slowly simmered, then allowed to rest. Chunks of day-old bread are stirred into the soup and it is reboiled….. This is the epitome of a well-rested soup.”  Lidia Bastianich, Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen,  Ribolitta, page 94. 

Using this recipe as my basis with cannellini beans, onions, kale, savory cabbage, carrots, potatoes and swiss chard, pumped up a notch with some red chili flakes and small amount of sweet Italian sausage. Makes a huge quantity, about 7 quarts! Enough to reboil again and again.

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10 Responses to Nicoletta’s Ribollita

  1. Jamie says:

    I love this post! Beautifully evocative, full of senses and emotions and rich with food. I love the way you describe Nicoletta! And the trivia quiz? Oh no! I don’t know all the answers but I do know (oh, how well I know!) that Ilva cringes when ABBA starts (only slightly less than when A-Ha starts to play). And did the Contessa switch between red and black frames? Olivia is from Malta and Meeta recently visited. 2 wireless networks and sometimes we would have been happier with a third! But I do know that it was such an enormous pleasure getting to know you, Robin, and I hope it is far from the last time we get to spend a weekend together. Thanks for the beautiful weekend and the gorgeous, perfect post.

  2. Valentina says:

    You and the words that come out of your pen. It’s always so wonderful to read your words as it used to be lovely listening to you Robin. I take notes. It makes me want to express myself better, to see more poetry in my surroundings. I specially love the last photo.That moment where we are getting ready to make a move. Abba and Ilva are not the best friends. Martha is the one with the kitchen overlooking wonderful green space. Meehta visited Malta in the Summer and Olivia – the lovely Olivia, is from Malta herself. Contessa’s glasses in the famous photo were black I think – but she also had a red pair. We had porcinni in the risotto – or so I believed. ; o ) You found in Heidi a fellow coach. warm hugs to you.xx

  3. Eliz says:

    Great post, Robin!

    Here are some answers (guesses?) to your quiz. How fun!

    Who asked, “Is sex or good deep powder skiing better?” – Judith?

    Who announced, “I’m greedy.” – Hayley of Delectable Diary.

    Who coined the phrase, “Pepper-azzi”? Thought this one was you!

    Which of the P2P Organizers cringed when Abba started playing? Ilva – even though it’s in her blood (or perhaps because it is 🙂

    Whose food writing was so sensual, passionate in English that it would probably be banned in her native Italian? Alex

    How many wireless networks did it take to tweet moment by moment coverage from Il Salicone? Don’t know – but there never seemed to be enough 🙂

    What is the color of our Contessa’s glasses? Aha! Only I can reveal that answer and I will wait to see what others say…

    What kind of mushrooms went into Ilva’s risotto? Porcini

    Who came from and who visited Malta recently? Olivia and Meeta, respectively

    What newlywed just built a new home with a kitchen window view onto greenspace? Marta

    Thks for the memories..
    Elizabeth xo

  4. Robin says:

    Thanks gal pals for playing along all your answers are perfect! What fun to think about and remember the intimate, passing moments we shared in Tuscany.

    Be sure to check out the flickr group pictures. With so many camera’s going, there are so many wonderful images!

    p2ptuscany

  5. Love love love this! Robin you rock and my go at the quiz …

    Who asked, “Is sex or good deep powder skiing better?” Jeanne (?)

    Who announced, “I’m greedy.” That’s Hayley all the way. Love her!

    Who coined the phrase, “Pepper-azzi”? not sure on this

    Which of the P2P Organizers cringed when Abba started playing? Ilva! But I know she squirms even more if I play A-HA!!

    Whose food writing was so sensual, passionate in English that it would probably be banned in her native Italian? Alex

    How many wireless networks did it take to tweet moment by moment coverage from Il Salicone? OMG! obviously not enough as it kept breaking up!!

    What is the color of our Contessa’s glasses? Holy Cow where is that picture ? Weren’t they black?

    What kind of mushrooms went into Ilva’s risotto? Forgot!!!! And I went shopping with her. They were Chinese mushrooms of some sort!

    Who came from and who visited Malta recently? Olivia and Me – that’s easy! Loved sharing the pics with you and Olvia!

    What newlywed just built a new home with a kitchen window view onto greenspace? Marta …

    Yaaah!

  6. Lynn says:

    Nice to read your colorful description of this fantastic day Robin! I think it was those fabulous red lips Contessa sported that is throwing us off. Not sure who cringed when Abba started playing but wasn’t it Jeanne who said she really loved them? And was it Kate who brought all the treats?

    Haven’t stopped cooking Italian since I returned. Lasagna in the oven as we speak!

  7. Robin says:

    Thank Meeta for your answers!
    Judith is the one with skiing on her mind and I am pretty sure we were chopping up oyster mushrooms for the risotto. I just roasted a batch for adding to pasta, give a fabulous rich flavor.

  8. Robin says:

    Hiya Lynn!
    Yea, I’ve been doing a lot of Italian cooking too!

    You’re right, sweet Kate had a never ending bag of treats from chocolates, cookies and that crazy boiled down fruit stuff (which I loved but forgot the name of.)

    Our Contessa had two pairs of glasses, black and red.

  9. Bentobird says:

    I’m transported! Magic words, images, the solid, sunlit, Taurine beauty of Tuscany…a post to bookmark, re-visit, treasure. Thank you so much sharing!

  10. Robin says:

    Dear Bentobird, thank you so for your tantalizing comments and friendship.

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