Monday, February 25, 2019


...and this includes eating at The French Laundry and Per Se,  was at La Botegga del Buon Caffe in Florence.
I knew I was in for quite a culinary adventure when I saw the intensity in the kitchen!

This Michelin starred restaurant delivers an innovative and inspiring "farm to plate" experience.
It's said that you can tell how good a restaurant is by it's bread.  Making these incredible breadsticks was an awesome sign of things to come.

And the bread was sensational! 

The 9 course Chef's tasting menu was many exquisite dishes with excellent wine pairings.  Here's just two..
Créme Brülée of Foie Gras with red onion sorbet, cocoa beans, pears and brioche

Soooooo sublime.....
Piccione di Poppi:
Pietro Poppi's pigeon: breast, port wine-glazed thigh, liver and quinoa ball, cashews, spinaches from Borgo Santo Pietro

Sated, beyond satisfied and actually delirious with joy!

Grazzie Mille Nicola Pizzaris for the most memorable dining experience of my lifetime!

Borgo Santo Pietro in the City • La Bottega del Buon Caffè • Il Lounge • L'Enoteca
Lungarno Benvenuto Cellini, 69/r - Firenze, Italy • Tel. +39 055 55 35 677
Relais Borgo Santo Pietro Srl • P.IVA/CF: 0144 0680 526

So, all of the above is a clue to what this trip to Florence for New Year's was all, not museums as I'd been to all of them more than once before.
Do I hear truffles?  Truffle hunting perhaps?
Indeed.  On to San Gimignano in Tuscany.

And into the forest we go! Can you see the little dog in the far distance? Dogs seem to be used more than pigs and it's thought that it's easier to get the truffles away from them.


It's time to cook that little treasure up!

First time pasta making event....

Apparently the flour available in Italy accounts for the marvelous pasta!

Not bad for a first attempt.

Perhaps a little wine to go with lunch....Oh my, what a wine tasting that was!

On to the dogs of Sienna....

San Gimignano in Tuscany

I'm sorry, I can't resist!


Yes, it's still leaning...

You see I just can't help myself....

There's something so wrong about this...

A tour of the Mercato Centrale in Firenze before a cooking class.

Oh look....a heart....

I'm getting better.....

Sorry cutie, there was nothing left for you!

Another Michelin starred restaurant, Il Palagio at Hotel Four Seasons.

I don't know, perhaps I'm sated but the other tasting menu's are just too precious and I missed the joy of an amazing meal.

It gets worse.  I'm sorry but I found Ristorantew Enoteca Pinchiorri, the only restaurant in Tuscany to have 3 Michelin stars, pretentious and quite possibly wins my award for the worst meal in Florence. I won't even show you a photo of the fish I ordered right off the menu served with a mound of poorly cooked spinach plopped on top!
Ahhhh, this is more like it.

Time to make gelato....

Yea....another diploma!

Just imagine this view out of your hotel window...I highly recommend The Lungarno, it's a marvelous boutique hotel that overlooks the Arno.....

With these charming bikes just waiting outside for you...

and an ever ready candy station....

Did I really order and consume this one evening in the lounge?

....and their Borgo San Jacopo Restorante, the perfect place to celebrate New Year's eve!

Not sure what this was....

or this...

There was barely enough time to cross the Arno to the Rooftop of the Hotel Continental to watch the fireworks.  It's quite crowded and you do need a reservation.

Be prepared to eat massive amounts of Panettone and be gifted with little boxes of it everywhere you go!

It was soooo cold up there and by now I had had it!

It's really suggested you don't drink too much as it's quite a fall from the top floor of the Lungano. last breakfast in Florence.  This time I only ordered one egg instead of my usual two and a little bit of fruit.  Note:  Apparently I didn't shy away from the pasteries!

Farewell lovely Hotel Lungano..

and your wonderful staff....

....who had this perfect espresso for me at 5:00 A.M.

along with a bag of goodies for my trip to the airport.  A sandwich, fruit and this which somehow made it on the plane in my carry-on.

I'm ready to go back!
Wishing you grand adventures!!!


There is no avoiding the pull of the internet, the blogs, the YouTube imaginings. It's as if we're all 'On the Road' with Jack Kerouac each in our own world of meanderings. When we tell someone to 'get a life' it might be a bit difficult when you're dragged into other people's 24/7.

I've come to realize two foundational principals, there are no accidents and everyone has a purpose. More and more I'm desiring everyone to come into a full realization of their purpose as we all find our way on this little jewel of a planet.

For me, as a professional 'Western style artist', I stumbled into Chinese Brush Painting after a trip in 1980 to Monet's home/garden. Seeing all of his collection of Japanese woodblock prints was an ahh haa moment for me and when I returned to the States I started painting in the Chinese manner and never looked back. The first year was extremely painful for me as I felt that I should be able to master the technique since I was a 'trained' artist. Not a chance ... that just gets in your way.

Now, after teaching close to 3,000 students and having my book 'The Ch'i of the Brush' published by Watson Guptill, I can say that every one of my students does better their first day than I did my first year! Why? Because I insist that they leave their critical parent outside and just enjoy the journey, respecting the work that they do. I never let anyone throw anything away because that just ingrains frustration and defeat.

We really only begin to learn when we stop and figure out how to 'save' a painting. It works every time.I am so proud of my students, their receptivity and eagerness to express themselves is a continuing blessing for me.So, back to finding your purpose. Perhaps it starts with realizing 'it's not about me'. It so easy to want our needs met and to filter everything thru this attitude. When we realize that we're here to be of benefit to every life that we touch the universe really provides the ways and means.

The best part is that it's really exciting to not have yourself on your mind all the time!I'm re-reading a wonderful book about authenticity and in my next meandering I'll tell you about it. In the meantime I'd love to hear about your journey and am here to answer any and all questions about Chinese Brush Painting.