Bellavista is a lovely villa located just west of Florence and above the village of Carmignano. It was built in the 1400's high in the hills and enjoys a sweeping view of the countryside below. Bellavista, like it's neighboring old villas, is enclosed by tall stone walls and narrow old streets. The view from both the house and garden is magnificent and includes the city of Florence, the artistic and architectural jewel of Tuscany.
ripe summer fruit
Filling: Combine 1 pound fruit with water and sugar. Cook on low heat until fruit mixture has thickened slightly. Cool a bit.
Crust: Mix flour, sugar, and salt in medium bowl. Add butter with fingers until course crumbs form. Mix yolks in with fork, not over-mixing. Knead on work surface just until dough sticks together. Divide into thirds, flatten into disks, and wrap with plastic wrap. Set aside for 30 minutes at room temperature. Place rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Place 2 plastic wrap dough packages in 9 inch tart pan with removable bottom. Press dough onto bottom and up about an inch on sides of pan. Roll out third section of dough on parchment to 8 inch round. Cut dough into half inch strips. Put in fridge to chill while filling tart.
Finish: Spread preserves evenly over bottom of unbaked crust. Spoon filling over preserves. Arrange remaining half pound of fruit, cut in wedges if apricots or peaches, on top of filling. Arrange lattice top, breaking strips at edges of pan to fit. Brush lattice with egg glaze. Bake until crust is golden and fruit bubbles, about 1 hour. Cool on rack. With small knife, gently loosen tart from pan sides. Serve warm or at room temperature. Can be topped with ice cream if you like. Six generous servings.
This hot summer is going strong as we have been seeing a lot of last minute bookings. While many of you are currently staying in one of our villas or apartments, many other smart travelers are busy securing the ideal property for next summer.
Now is the right time--don't wait! 2004 promises to be a very busy traveling year. For those who are planning a trip for this fall we still have some good availability. Also, because we have seen a lot of requests for the soccer cup of 2004 in Portugal, we have many new Portuguese properties available. So, contact us now.
Enjoy your summer and vacations!
Most kind regards,
Emmanuel de Ricard, President
"I must say that we were extremely happy with Ada. The place was very nicely done out, and Daniella the care taker was extremely helpful and friendly. We will definitely recommend Ada and your site to all our friends." - H.R.
Perrine is our resident staff member in Paris and also personally manages several apartments there. Having lived in the City of Lights since her marriage to Yves many years ago, sheÕs a great resource for VillaNet and our clients. Her familiarity with the sites of Paris and her interest in art, design, and fashion, make it fun to visit with her. She and her husband often entertain in their lovely apartment in the city, and their two grown daughters drop in often to sample their MomÕs good cooking.
Traveling is greatly enhanced by enjoying local cuisine. You not only show your appreciation for your host's culture, but you come away with a memory to cherish that you will always associate with that area. I remember years ago hosting a young Danish family that was visiting the States for the very first time. I asked the wife what kind of food I could fix for them. She unhesitatingly said they wanted to try a typical American summer meal. So I fixed a hamburger, hotdog, baked beans and potato salad picnic. They dove headlong into American culture that day, and I always admired them for it.
My personal food experiences in Europe have been varied and rich. Europeans are in the habit of shopping daily for fresh produce and meats to take home and prepare, and so you will find open markets in each local neighborhood in larger cities such as Paris, Rome and Florence. Even in the little countryside villages they duplicate this at least twice a week. Bakeries are numerous, full of locals early in the morning drinking coffee, reading, and sharing news with their neighbors. It's customary to buy fresh bread every day so it's typical to see a child on a bicycle speeding along towards home with a couple of baguettes in hand.
There are so many food choices - everything from street venders offering snacks and drinks (delicious, by the way!) to a fine dinner served on white linen. Even in the farming areas of Provence and Tuscany you can find excellent local cuisine in farmhouses where there's a section of their home made into a restaurant. We've enjoyed some of our best meals in these places.
When you rent a villa or apartment with VillaNet you will be welcomed by the owner, a representative manager, or some other designated local. These people are a wealth of knowledge about special things to see and do in the area, and especially where to find the best meals at prices that the local residents pay. Some of the villas even offer a welcome dinner that is included in the rental price, such as Villa Patrizia in Lucca. It's especially nice after a long journey to sit in the garden sipping wine while the cook puts the finishing touches on your dinner.
Next month: wine tasting, hiring a cook, cooking classes, and more!
-Kathy Hayes, Editor