Hawaii Mom Blog: A Toast to Tuscany with Frances Mayes

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September 21, 2015

A Toast to Tuscany with Frances Mayes

Today I had the honor of attending a media lunch to preview "A Toast to Tuscany," an event taking place this Wednesday at Pulehu, an Italian Grill, at The Westin Kā‘anapali Ocean Resort Villas, with acclaimed author of Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes (as of this publishing a few tickets are still available - click here for more information).
Frances Mayes and her wine label - Tuscan Sun Wines
At the event guests were treated to a sampling of a four-course meal prepared by chef de cuisine, Alvin Savella, and the resort’s executive sous chef, Matt Skaletsky.

Dishes were paired with wines from Mayes' wine label, Tuscan Sun Wines, which Jim Hansen, Pulehu's manager, acknowledged would be a welcome addition to Hawaii's wine scene.

The first course paired Fresh Monchong and Pensiero, a Pinot Grigio.  

Pensiero Pinot Grigio
Fresh Monchong - Fregola, Fennel, Porcini Cream
The Monchong was delicious, and the Fregola, balls of Sardinian pasta, gave the dish a nice texture.  The Pensiero was my favorite of the wines we tasted, not only because of the smoothness and fruity aromas, but also because of the meaning behind Pensiero, or "a little gift." Tuscans always arrive to someone's home with a gift, which is just like the locals do here in Hawaii - I never go to someone's home empty-handed!

Up next was the Venison Bolognese, paired with Auguri, a Sangiovese Blend.
Venison Bolognese - Fusilli Pasta, Fresh Ricotta, Micro Basil
Bolognese paired with Sangiovese Blend, Auguri
Made with Molokai Venison and house-made ricotta, the Bolognese was my favorite dish.  The venison did not taste gamey at all, and the entire dish was amazing.  The Auguri Sangiovese Blend, comprised of 80% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, was a nice pairing with the pasta.

Next was the Risotto.  I absolutely love Risotto, and this dish did not disappoint.  It was paired with the intense, yet slightly fruity Tondo Tondo, which was apropos (Tondo Tondo means "just perfect").
Pork Belly Kabocha Squash Risotto with Sage, Pomegranate, Red Sweet Williams

Risotto paired with Tondo Tondo, a Sangiovese
For the last course, we indulged in a Hazelnut Chocolate Torte.  At first glance, the mint gelee seemed to be an odd addition to the plate, but the combination of the torte, zabaione, and mint gelee was surprisingly pleasant (at the dinner on Wednesday, the dessert will be paired with Toccare le Stelle, a prosecco).
Hazelnut Chocolate Torte with Orange Zabaione and Mint Gelee
The meals and wine pairings were fantastic, and speaking with Frances and her husband, Ed, was such a delight.

I enjoyed listening to their stories about life in Tuscany and how they started their wine business.

I also appreciated how Frances really put forth the effort to offer fantastic wines, as well as how she put a lot of thought into naming each wine, and creating the labels as well. 

Each label depicts images of her favorite places around her popular Tuscan villa, and the back of the label notates the meaning behind the names of each wine.
An image of the shrine at Mayes' home (the shrine was also featured in the movie Under the Tuscan Sun)
The story behind the name
At the end of the lunch, guests were gifted autographed bottles of Tuscan Sun wines.
Autographed bottles of Tuscan Sun Wines
Guests who attend “A Toast to Tuscany”on Wednesday will not only feast on a fabulous meal and sip on Tuscan sun-kissed wines, but they will be able to participate in a meet and greet with Mayes and watch “Under the Tuscan Sun."

Thank you to the The Westin Kā‘anapali Ocean Resort Villas team and Frances and Ed Mayes for giving us a taste of Tuscany through A Toast of Tuscany.

For more information on A Toast to Tuscany, click here.

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