I have just returned from the most incredible eating experiences of my life. For the last 8 days I was on a culinary tour of Lucini Olive Oil groves and attending Terra Madre, a convention held in Turin, Italy once every two years by Slow Food International. To say that this experience was a treat and a revelation is an understatement of gastronomic, I mean, astronomic proportions. I have been volunteering with Slow Food Miami and I was graciously invited to accompany a group of members on this pilgrimage. I feel blessed and full to say the least.

This first few days of the trip were dedicated to Tuscany. We imbibed in reigonal food and wine and above all…we had a personal and heartfelt tour of one of the Estates of Lucini Olive Oil.

Areal view of one of the Lucini Estates

At the estate we witnessed the olive crush and tasted the fresh oil right out of the press. A revelation. The oil is an electrifying chartreuse green. It is pungent, spicy, sweet and cleansing. Drizzled…well more like dumped, over toasted bread and consumed immediately is one of the best things that I have ever put in my mouth. My teeth felt clean, my tummy was tingling and my brain felt alive…I couldn’t get enough!

We all dunked our bread and chewed in ecstasy as we learned about all of the amazing health benefits of quality olive oil produced with conscious integrity. I now understand why the Lucini method is so important and understandably endorsed by many public figures such as Dr. Andrew Weil and Chef Art Smith…they’re on to something!

I could have licked the plate...um, actually I just might have...

 The next morning we went white truffle hunting (and no I did not smuggle any back in my suitcase, and no they are not sitting in my fridge waiting impatiently to be made into THIS fresh pasta...I promise). The truffle hunter and his dogs were so wonderful and gracious to share their work with us. An experience of a lifetime.

These dogs have an incrdible sent and their training is very intricate...they are treated as loved members of the family.

The scent of a fresh white truffle is absolutely unbelievable...

Then it was off to Torino to Terra Madre and the Salone del Gusto. The Slow Food organization was founded in 1986 by a man named Carlo Petrini in protest to a McDonald’s opening at the foot of the Spanish Steps in Rome. It is now in over 150 countries, many of which were represented at this global gathering. Slow Food is a global, grassroots organization focusing on the pleasure of real food with a strong commitment to community and the environment. They advocate awareness of good, clean and fair food making it accessible for all. For 4 days over 220,000 visitors come to learn, eat and support the future of food and farming. The dedication from the farmers and small producers is awe inspiring.

A fraction of the 400 sq meter garden of fruits and veggies from around the world planted in one of the pavilions of Terra Madre.

After a wine and cheese pairing I became smitten with a Sardinian Pecorino (that just might have ended up in my suitcase 🙂 and I sought out the farmer/cheese maker...what a doll!

Italy is a revelation, a gastro-extravaganza to say the least. As a culture the Italians are so dedicated to artesian foods and above all, enjoying it with friends and family. Italy screams “Food” and it does so with integrity and truth…even their truck stops sell top quality eats. It seems that every bite you put in your mouth just gets better than the last. This should not go unnoticed by a country who has been taken over by fast food and large factory farming conglomerates. To me the message is…

“Eat real food, know where it comes from, share it with loved ones, chew slowly and savor life”

…and of course with a lot of olive oil!

A special thanks to Renee Frigo Graeff of Lucini and her incredible and dedicated staff for helping to make this such an exquisite and memorable experience. There is now a deeper understanding of this level of commitment to food and a special place in my heart for all involved in this journey!