We are delighted to feature guest blogger, Claudia Collazzo, Homebase Abroad’s local concierge. Claudia recently sat down at a café in Panzano with Anna, the local cook at Ca di Pesa where they shared recipes for Tuscan cooking, stories and their love of home cooked meals.
For most of her life, Anna has worked in Panzano villa kitchens and restaurants as cooking is her true passion. One day nearly 30 years ago, her husband met the owner of Ca di Pesa. She was eager to find a cook and asked Giovanni, Anna’s husband, if he knew of anyone who could cook for her family and guests. Giovanni assured the owner he had just the right person.
The first day Anna arrived at Ca di Pesa, she was very scared—it was such a big house, owned by foreigners who spoke an unfamiliar language. A real challenge! But Anna is brave. She stepped in and did what she does with passion: transform local ingredients into delicious dishes, season after season. Since then, Anna has met and fed people from all over the world.
Over the years Anna has delighted hundreds of guests by serving her special pasta with fall vegetables. We don’t know if the secret is in the recipe or the vegetables that come directly to her counter from the Ca di Pesa vegetable garden. You’ll have to try it at home and eat it at the villa to determine for yourself!
Fall Harvest Pasta
– Mince garlic and basil together and put in a sauté pan with olive oil
– Once golden, add the tomatoes in pieces and cook for 10 minutes
– Put a large pan with salted water on the stove
– When boiling, add pasta, peeled potatoes, pumpkins, peeled carrots and baby beans cut à la julienne
(Please note the pasta you use should be any “short” pasta such as penne or rigatoni. Anna never uses spaghetti for this dish)
– After 10 minutes the pasta and vegetables will be cooked
– Strain pasta & vegetables and put them in the sauté pan with the tomato mixture
– Season with salt, pepper and freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Thanks to this and many other recipes, Anna is often threatened with “kidnapping” by the happy guests who want to bring her home with them. While these offers are tempting, nothing can entice Anna away from her family and her home.
Her passions for cooking and experiences at Ca di Pesa are a family affair. Her eldest son, Nicola, who inherited her passion for cooking, is now the owner of a pizzeria in Panzano. Anna’s second son, Alessandro, works as wine maker in the Ca di Pesa vineyards. In the quiet months, Anna spends time with her adorable grandchild Dario who will soon be 7 years old and has already started helping in kitchen. The traditions continue…
P.S. Waiting for a new guest arrival during my first year with Homebase Abroad, I was chatting in the kitchen with Anna. I had asked for a glass of water and in taking the glass, I noticed a spot on the kitchen floor. Just as I was reaching for a towel to dry the spot, Anna, (who was busy cooking and not looking at me) said: “Claudia that spot is part of the floor. It’s not something you can clean.” She really does know Ca di Pesa!