Sunday, November 6, 2011

Plate to Page Tuscany

03.morning-table.1780.1The kitchen table is quiet now, but as the early morning sun gently begins to warm the room, the walls must surely be reverberating the joyous noise of Plate to Page Tuscany.

It is our last dinner together. Barriers between the organizers (our mentors) and students shattered as the last of the day’s exercises have been completed, reviewed and gently critiqued. A time to celebrate.

The table before us, sprinkled with exotic jars gives the table a festive glow. Bejeweled toasts with vegetarian caviar, vibrant ruby, the chili flavor, citron orbs with a surprising pop of wasabi and the strikingly astringent, sweet, hot ginger surprise our senses. Onyx beads glisten rainbow prisms as light hits the top of the mounds. Wonderful treats from our event sponsors that made every day seem like a holiday celebration (or possibly a reward for good behavior.)

A cacophony of lilting voices rise as the honey dry Brisol Prosecco makes another round. Intimate conversations between friends, hair and guard let down, hearts opened. Finally a time to reveal who we really are as our focused veneer of being students or instructor dissolves, no longer insolating us as it did when concentrating on assignments and lessons in writing and photography.

Cries go out for Abba and our Contessa springs into action searching for an iPod, laptop -- anything to add a music to the party. Impromptu karaoke on one side of the table erupts while on the other memories are shared on an iPad. Traveling into each other’s lives through photos and stories, building deeper our emerging friendships.

This weekend has meant so much. A time to focus on the process, concentrated without the distraction of our regular work-a-day lives. What an indulgence it seems. But how do you grow as an artist or whatever your craft, if you can only practice an hour or two here and there? And, where else do you have the luxury of a valued critique, in a voice you trust. Our mentors were there for us, prepared and warmly human. Asking us the hard questions and appreciating the parts that speak authentically. All the while pushing and challenging us to make what we do better, thoughtfully with no desire to change our style or have us create a copycat version of what good food writing or photography is “supposed” to be. The perspective of an experienced, evaluative critical eye has been invaluable.

In thirty non-sleeping hours at Il Salicone kindred spirits open their hearts to new friendships and achieve incredible artistic growth they could experience nowhere else but at Plate to Page Tuscany.

“In Germany, we have a saying that life is the journey, not the destination,” Meeta says softly. We say that in America too.

To Ilva, Jeanne, Meeta, and Jamie,
P2P Gang of 4
Photo by Judith Klinger
A sincere thank you. Your hard work is truly appreciated and your gifts of spirit have changed our lives forever. I have learned so much from you all.

To my fellows,
Lynn, Kate, Alexandra, Marta, Haley, Elizabeth, Judith, Valentina, Olivia, Denise, and Heidi.

Photo by Jeanne Horak-Druiff's camera
I am delighted to have met you and can think of no others I would want to share this experience with. Each of you with a different style and verve that made this weekend all the more rich.

Marta | Kate | Valentina | Lynn | Alexandra | Elizabeth | Hayley | Olivia | Heidi | Denise | Judith

To the event sponsors,

What wonderful gifts that surely expand our culinary senses and experiences, thank you! My brain is already spinning with creative ideas for your products.

ZWILLING J.A. HENCKELS | Sunchowder’s Emporia | Taste of Home | Gourmelli | Smaromi | Peppadew International | Bisol Prosecco | Riso Gallo | Nielsen-Massey |
TABASCO® | Matcha Factory

Il Salicone, A door opens
Coffee Break is OVER!

View to Vineyard

A lesson in f-stops, ISO, and dark moody styling

More than just props!


Fall's Beauty

First Photo Exercise Corbezzola, Foraged Fruit

Eating and Drinking in Tuscany


  1. What a beautiful, perfect, perfect post! Stunning photos (I love the Lesson in f-stops, Ilva circled by studious, concentrated faces) and I so absolutely love how you put all of it into words: the spirit, the lessons, the emotions and difficulties we all share in honing and mastering our skills. I am so thrilled to have met you, spent time getting to know you and being able now to call you friend (and inspiration). It was sad to part from this amazing group. xoxo

  2. Love it! What a great pleasure was it to meet you!

  3. Dear Jamie,
    what lovely, kind praise - you make me blush! It will be so wonderful to keep in touch, my mentor!

  4. Hey Denise,
    what fun we had, eh? Keep making those little things so special dear friend.

  5. Gorgeous post of an exceptional journey/experience. You have a gift for finding the peak and luminous elements of life, Robin. You've gratified and brightened my day with this post!

  6. Oh and the foraged fruit image is visual poetry! Brava!

  7. Dear Jenn,
    kind reader and kindred soul. You lift me up with your generous comments.

  8. Oh what a lovely post, Robin - both visually and verbally! So true what you say - when else do we get to indulge in an entire weekend of pure creativity with no outside distractions, and yet this is how we grow. I miss sitting across the table from you and seeing you nod and smile as I talk, but I am so glad to have met you and I look forward to remaining friends.

    P.S. - now please re-write this post in the voice of an 8-year old boy ;o)

  9. Not having been here before I don't know how you wrote before p2p but I love your writing now. What wonderful story! Great pics too!

  10. Jeanne,
    Thank you for your wicked sense of humor, there were so many things unsaid I suspect, behind your twinkling eyes.... I look forward to knowing you more.

    "P.S. - now please re-write this post in the voice of an 8-year old boy ;o) "

    What a fun story that would be! LOL

  11. Welcome Junglefrog! So wonderful to have you visit and so very, very kind to leave such encouraging comments.

    P2P has set the bar pretty high don't you think?

  12. I'm moved to tears Robin, and that is the truth! Thank You for coming all the way to Tuscany to attend the P2P, I really hope we will meet more times!

  13. My lovely Robin, I miss your lovely smile and great way with words. This is such a beautifully crafted post. Hey, can you post the 8-year old voice? Having heard it read out loud by you I would love for you to share it with the world. Hugs.And kisses

  14. Wow, beautiful post, so well written... dreaming of attending a workshop next year. Hope 2012 is kind to me, looks fabulous, thanks for sharing.

  15. Great post Robin, it triggers all the memories! I am glad you said hello to me on the bus stop of the train station... I immediately fell in love with your sense of humour! And I am still telling all my friends and family about your deep-fried turkey :)

  16. Hello Ilva,
    I think you have such a kind tender heart, with a steel spine. I think we have some similar traits, your comment feels like the best hug.

  17. Dear, sweet Valentina,
    I miss you so girlfriend. How funny that you remember my little diddy about the 8 yr old boy. I will have to review and maybe refine (just a bit) for worldly consumption. So wonderful to call you my friend.

  18. Welcome to my funny world Taryne!
    I do hope you think about P2P workshops. They are all "that" and more. Thank you for your thoughtful and kind comments, encouragement is always appreciated!

  19. Olivia,
    my dear buddy, what an adventure we have had together. I am thinking I must make a trip to Malta on my next sojourn! What wonderful memories we've made together - and the laughter. I will have to send you my deep-fried turkey recipe and brining.
    You inspire me.


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