Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Castle Dinner

A stay at Il Borgo would not be complete without dinner at their sister property – Castello di Santa Maria Novella. This 11th century structure which was destroyed and rebuilt in 1313 has significant importance to the surrounding area between Florence and Siena. Sitting atop one of the highest points in the area, the castle boasts spectacular views. Upon arrival, we received a warm welcome and a grand tour from Fernando, the director of the estate who eloquently gave us the condensed history of this stately property and graciously paused often to allow for the many photos being taken. The castle is meticulously restored to its original splendor sporting a grand courtyard where the local residents would gather. This night it is where we enjoyed a nice aperitif – a carafe of white wine with a sprig of Rosemary giving it a wonderful earthy aroma and flavor. We enjoyed lightly fried zucchini flowers and sage leaves and Tuscan pecorino cheese served with fig marmalade. Yummy.

Afterwards, our group of fourteen went into one of the many main dining rooms to enjoy a feast fit for Noble Italian families. The table was beautifully decorated with candles and fresh flowers. We started with the house wine, Chianti of course, and then enjoyed antipasti of perfectly ripe cantaloupe and local prosciutto, followed by handmade ravioli stuffed with spinach and fresh ricotta cheese. Our second plate or meat course was mildly seasoned thinly sliced beef served on a bed of arugula served with a delicious cherry tomato salad. Our servers were attentive and charming coming around and offering seconds of every dish. We topped the meal off with a light white cake layered with a delicate custard served with frutti di bosco – the fruit of the forest – flavorful tart and juicy berries handpicked from around the property. We all gave a well-deserved round of applause to Chef Claudio who gratefully accepted and was clearly pleased to see how much we all enjoyed his creations. Dinner at the Castle is always one of the highlights of a stay at Il Borgo.

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