My wedding anniversary is on Sunday.  A dozen wonderful years with an incredible person who indulges my strange little habits and embraces my shoe obsession.  I am grateful to him for so many things but right now as I prepare to leave for two weeks in Italy, I am beyond appreciative for his willingness to hold down the fort with calm and grace.  I have no idea what goes on here (and I think maybe it’s best that way) but I know that without him L’Esperta would not exist and I know that we are thriving in large part thanks to his love and support.



Because I know that many meals for the next two weeks may consist primarily of baby carrots and peanut butter sandwiches, I am treating my love to a fabulous dinner not only to celebrate our anniversary but to thank him for all that he does for our family every day.

I must be in Tuscan mode already because when planning the perfect fall menu, every single dish that came to mind was from this region.  Here is what is on the menu for Sunday night:


The original garlic bread.  This is the base for a bruschetta, but since Doug is not a fan of tomatoes we stick with the most basic.  Broil thick slices of country bread, flipping once, until golden brown.  Remove from oven and rub the cut side of a garlic clove over one side of each piece of toast. Drizzle liberally with the best olive oil you can find and sprinkle with salt. This little appetizer will be served with a bottle of prosecco.


I am hoping for a cool evening so I can serve this because it is one of those wonderful comfort food dishes.  We prepared this very recipe at a cooking class in Greve in Chianti.  It is a wonderful dish that is surprisingly easy.  The secret is that the meat cooks for 2 hours and is so tender and filled with the flavors that have seeped into it through the cooking process.  Here is the recipe (from Villa Bordoni):

  • 2-pound veal shank
  • 1 red onion
  • 1-liter red wine (preferably Chianti of course)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 1 sprig of sage
  • a handful of whole peppercorns
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt


  1. Heat up the olive oil in a heavy casserole pan and add the finely chopped onion, whole garlic cloves, rosemary and sage, and sauté until the onion is golden.
  2. Meanwhile, chop the veal shank into large cubes. Flour it and brown it in a pan with olive oil, adding a little salt and pepper
  3. Place the seared cubes of meat in the casserole along with the onions, and add the whole peppercorns and red wine. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for at least two hours, stirring occasionally.


Funghi (mushrooms) trifolati

Doug does not care for them though he choked them down on one of our first dates so as not to offend.   I love them and think these pair beautifully with the peposo. They are simply sautéed in olive oil, garlic and parsley and seasoned with salt and pepper.  Simple and perfect (unless you are Doug).


Roasted potatoes with rosemary & garlic


Biscotti & Vin Santo

I am cheating and buying the biscotti this weekend.  No time to bake with everything we have going on so I will head to my local Italian market where they have a great Tuscan brand.  By the end of this dinner, we won’t need a huge dessert but a nice little sweet cookie does the trick.


Happy Anniversary Doug!  I look forward to raising a glass with a traditional Italian toast  — a cent’anni –  for a hundred years!

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