Coffee Roastery

I absolutely love coffee. I always have a cup right when I wake up, and depending on the day I will have two or three. It was awesome being able to see how the coffee is made and how much goes into it. I got the opportunity to tour Caffè River and learned about coffee and how much goes into the process of making coffee. At the beginning of the tour we were greeted with coffee that was a little bitter, but I still enjoyed it. We then were taught about the background of Caffè River and the process of them getting their coffee beans. They have a reliable partner in Uganda can pay in advance and they buy their coffee beans. The beans go through either the wet or dry process before being shipped out to the company. The dry process is all natural where they berry of the coffee plant dries out in the sun and then they are able to extract the seed. The wet process is created by the Dutch and it is when it season is rainy or humid so the bean is too wet to go through the natural process. That means the internal skin of the berry has to be removed along with the jelly inside, then the beans can be extracted and placed into water for a day. Then they are left to dry out it the sun. Each bean has to be inspected because one bad bean has the potential to ruin the whole batch.

We continued the tour and they showed us how they roast the bean and send them through the each step detail step until they are taken and packaged. I had no idea that the coffee beans were green until they were roasted. After over 60 years of the family business, Caffè River have a efficient way of roasting and packaging their coffee. The people who work there are so passionate and love their work and their coffee. They have many great values that they uphold and that is one of the reasons they have been around for so long.

Culinary Reflection

When I first received this opportunity to come to Italy to study aboard one of the first things that crossed my mind was getting to experience the different culture, but specifically the food. I am a foodie; I am always watching the cooking channel, in the kitchen with my mom making dinner, or just preparing some dessert for my friends to come over. I am the cook that never likes to use box mix to make something. When I found out we were going to be making pasta from scratch, I was so excited. The women who were teaching us how to make the pasta were so sweet and so passionate in what they were doing. You could tell they really loved it, and I hope some day I am that way about my job too.

For me, the pasta making was a stress reliever for the week. Usually whenever I get stressed out I go and bake some bread or a cake, so a nice treat for the middle of the week. To make the pasta, we started out with one cup of flour and then made it into a volcano, then whisked an egg in it combining it with the flour. We added a pinch of salt and then whisked until it turned into a dough. We kneaded the dough until it was a good consistency, not too wet or too dry, and then we rolled it out with a rolling pin. We made two different pastas with this dough, regular noodles and stuffed ravioli. For the gnocchi pasta, the owner made the dough which consisted of mashed up potatoes and flour. Then we all rolled the dough out like a snake and cut it in to little pieces. The best part about cooking is to you get to each whatever you make. Each pasta was every good. The regular noodles had a red sauce on them with some ground up duck. The duck make the dish a little more rich but it complimented the acidity of the tomato red sauce. The ravioli was stuffed with spinach and ricotta and prepared in a buttery, creamy sauce. This was my favorite out of the three pastas. The buttery sauces went well with the spinach and ricotta cheese inside. The gnocchi was had a red sauce like the first pasta, but this one was lighter because it did not have the duck with it. The texture of the gnocchi was light and fluffy because of the potato in it. All the pastas were very good and you could tell by the texture and the taste of each of them that they were homemade.

I loved experiencing this with the class and seeing how each person did something a little different in the way they prepared their pasta. The restaurant with the wood tables and the wooden beams on the ceiling was the perfect Italian atmosphere to cook in. The Italian mother and daughter teaching us were so sweet and loved sharing what they know. Even though the mother did not speak any English, I could tell by the way she was eager to help us and always smiling that she loves what she does and loves sharing it with others. I am so glad I was able to experience this in Italy and now I’m going to take it back to the States and make some homemade pasta with my family!

Florence, Italy

The city of Florence reminded me more of Rome that it did Arezzo. There we a lot of tourist and people trying to sell you things on the side of the road. But despite all that, I still really enjoyed it and liked it better than Rome. When we first arrived, we went to the Uffizi Museum. Whenever I visit museums, it seems to me that a lot of the time the little things always catch my attention more that the main pieces. In this museum what caught my eye was the ceilings.

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Whenever I look at this image I think about the time and the detail that was put in to painting a ceiling. This specifically reminds me of Heaven with all the angels. This was not the only place I saw God on this trip. I always see God though nature, that is one way I connect with Him. The outside of Florence with the trees and the old buildings on the river just reminds me how great He is and how He made every culture different beautiful in their own way.

Another way I experienced the culture on this trip was going to the leather market. All the owners had their stands set up and were trying to sell all their leather items to people. Elli and I ended up buying four purses total. The man that we bought our purses from was Italian and very passionate about his work. He was showing us how intricate and good quality his purses were. He seemed proud of the work he had done. I think that is how a lot of people are here. They just seem like they are satisfied and do not need a lot to make them happy; I really like that about Italy.

I have always the statue of David in movies and pictures but it was so different in person. There was so much detail that you could not grasp by just looking at it in a book. It was much bigger than I expected and the details looked so real. His veins and the way he was standing, you could just tell a story was there. This statue made me think about my childhood and when I used to hear about the story of David and Goliath. That was my favorite story for the longest time when I was a child. David was so brave and trusted in God to help him and He did. To me, this statue was a good reminder to put my trust in God and have him lead me.

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La Buccianera Winery

La Buccianera Winery is a 60 hectares of a beautiful vineyard with a breath-taking view that overlooks Arezzo. The vineyard is all organic and they do not use pesticides, therefore their wines are all natural. For the vineyard, they use only the best solid and it receives excellent exposure to the sunlight allowing the vineyard to thrive. Inside the grapes are taken to be prepared before they can be bottled. Our guide showed us around here and described how the grapes ferment in the stainless steel tanks. These tanks are set at a controlled temperature that is specific to the type of wine. Like we have learned in our culinary class, he told us how the red wines are fermented with the skins on and the white wines remove the skin before fermentation. He showed us around the beautiful vineyard and then we went up to an elegant room where we were served appetizers and four different wines.

This wine below is the white wine. Personally, I enjoyed this wine the most. It was a dry for a white wine and a tad bit sour, but the liver that is was paired with made it more enjoyable.

Donna Patrizia I.G.T. / Buccia Nera / Toscana Blanco

  • Trebbiano 40%, Malvasia 40%, Grechetto 20%
  • Produced from grapes harvested at the end of September and the first half of October
  • Fermentation and maturation occur entirely in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature

This red wine had a bit of a wooden earthy taste to me. The cheese went well with this wine because it was salty. I do not enjoy red wine as much as I do white, so this wine was not my favorite.

Syrah I.G.T / Buccia Nera/ Tuscany Syrah

  • Syrah 100%
  • Made with grapes cultivated in Cortona
  • It fermates for 15 days at 29 degrees Celcius
  • Wine is pumped in French oak barrels to age for 6 months

This red wine was better than the first red wine, but still not my favorite. It was lower in sugar and higher in alcohol, so it was a bit dry. The acidity of the tomato bruschetta made this wine taste better to me.

Sassocupo / Chianti Superiore Docg

  • Sangiovese 90%, Canaiolo 10%
  • Made from grapes harvested between late September and early October
  • Ferments in a temperature-controlled steel tank at 18 degrees Celsius
  • Matures 12 months in 30hl French oak barrels

This wine was a dessert wine. The color was interesting, it looked more like a white wine to me than a red, but it was almost orange. The consistence of the wine was a little thicker probably due to the sugar in it. I tasted a vanilla caramel flavor, but it was very strong and not enjoyable to me.

Vin Santo / Central Etruria Hills / Registered Destination of Origin

  • Malvasia Toscana, Trebbiano
  • Produced from strictly selected grapes harvested in the second half of September and placed on racks where they remain for many months to wilt
  • When grapes achieve their correct dryness, they are pressed

Overall, I really enjoyed this winery. It was so pretty, the people were excellent, and experiencing the different wines were great!