1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Maiden Jane: Under the Tuscan Sun

Monday, September 20, 2010

Under the Tuscan Sun

Somewhere between seeing "Letters to Juliet" and developing my obsession for the French water bottle, I decided that I wanted to host a dinner party - Tuscan style.

I have not traveled to Italy, but love the beautifully-filmed scenes from movies such as "Under the Tuscan Sun" and "Letters to Juliet."  The way the sun bathes the countryside reminds me of the low sun in the Northeast Ohio sky during the fall.

The scenes are set with long tables filled with family and friends and food.  Our little-used patio under our deck was to become our arbor.  We set the table with fall colored linens and plates.   I bought kitchen towels to serve as napkins so that they could generously cover our laps (and protect us from all the olive oil!)

My internet research told me that Tuscan dining is all about fresh food, so that was our main quest.  In addition, fresh flowers, sunflower motifs, and candles adorned the table.

I have had these apple candles for four years and they are still burning strong!

Even St. Francis made an appearance!

The stage was set.  Italian opera was playing.

Our guests arrived, one complete with thin mustache, neck ascot and straw hat - he looked like he just walked in from the vineyards!  They brought lovely bouquets for us which I am still enjoying long after the party ended.

There was Italian beer and Italian wines. 

There was a bit of a chill in the air, so the chimenea gave us a bit of warmth, especially when we finally retired from the table, which was after about five hours! 

Yes, with the Italians, it is all about the food.  We planned six courses and started with a simple antipasto.

Our friend made this beautiful tomato mozzarella dish.  The presentation equaled its taste!

We continued on to the bread course, which included garlic bread sticks, Tuscan bread, and a sunflower seed baguette paired with flavorful dipping oils.

Yes, I know that is a Guinness glass - I ran out of "earthy" containers.

The next course was an Italian Wedding Soup made by another guest.  It was out of this world and perfect as the air started to cool.

The main course consisted of Chicken Vesuvio.  I had never made it before, but it was simple and enjoyable.   I decided it wouldn't be an Italian dinner if we didn't have some pasta, so the main course included a side of rigatoni with my own sauce.

It was getting dark, so I don't have photos of the later courses.   We enjoyed a salad after dinner, "to cleanse our palate".  Finally, we conquered a wonderful vanilla caramel gelato and a home-made Macadamia nut/white chocolate biscotti.  The cookie was fantastic!   I can't wait to get the recipe from my friend and try it myself.

As the evening wound down I was happy that we had accomplished what we had set out to do:  have an evening with friends in which food and conversation was the entertainment.   We couldn't believe we had been sitting, talking, and eating for five hours!  We enjoyed good foods (no chips or pretzels), but the best part about the evening was sharing it with friends whom we feel blessed to know.  I suspect that Italians warmly embrace the love of family and friends - and it couldn't be shared in a more lovely manner than around the dinner table.  


  1. OH MY GOODNESS! You have told me in the past you're not creative when it comes to planning parties etc - what a liar! This all looks beautiful, and delicious. I just want to hop on onto the deck, sit down at the table and pour myself a glass of wine. Oh, and the towels as napkins - so clever! :) Have you read Eat, Pray, Love? I adore the "Italy" section in that book so much...

  2. wow, that looks like it was a wonderful party!!!!
    I married into an Italian family, I would love to plan a dinner party like this for our next family get-together.
    Your party was beautiful and the food has my mouth watering!

  3. Oh my gosh, Jane, your Tuscan dinner looks wonderful! Five hours ... wow. Everyone must have enjoyed themselves so much. I want to do that. Oddly enough, I watched Letters to Juliet this afternoon for the first time it and thought it was very cute. The sweeping scenes of the Tuscan landscape were breathtaking.

    I love your choice of linens. That tomato and mozzerella dish is mouthwatering. What a great idea!

  4. I love that your excitement is just shining through this post! Congratulations on a successful dinner party!

  5. Its all so lovely! It looks like the set of a movie (have you seen Bertolucci's Stealing Beauty, set in Tuscany...it looks just like that). Congrats.

  6. oh my, it looks wonderful!!! Wow I love the look of the food and I bet it was magical once the sun set...Great job!!

  7. Wow, I wish I had been a fly buzzing about this dinner party! Everything looks stunning. I can't wait to see Letters to Juliet! :) Have you noticed there are a lot of open air dining scenes everywhere now? Makes me long for a backyard. ;)



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