Please join us for a memorable week in a beautiful country house near Siena, Tuscany.
We have the experience and knowledge to show you the magic and beauty of the quiet hill towns of Tuscany. Let's share with the Italians their celebration of life through their love of food, wine, art, music, architecture, history, and so much more.
Accommodation is a beautiful stone country house, an ancient mill building that has been transformed with taste and quality. It has its own private pool and enjoys panoramic views of the rolling Tuscan countryside. We will prepare for you Tuscan feasts accompanied by fine local wines.
|Read article: "HAVE CHEF......WILL TRAVEL"|
Ancient abbeys to hear Gregorian chants, browse colourful markets, explore Siena, tour a Brunello winery with our friend Mario the winemaker (Italy's best red), absorb the charm of the tiny hill towns, dip biscotti into heavenly vin santo, walk among wild flowers, see how the famous ewes milk cheese pecorino is made, learn about the fresh and perfectly simple flavours of Tuscan food, tour Tuscan gardens, admire Italy's best Renaissance urban design, enjoy frescoes undiscovered by tourists.
You may have special interests or requests. We would be happy to explore these for you -- to personalize the week for your enjoyment.
I have never before experienced such a relaxed and enriching holiday. Your calm, orderly and elegant way of managing everything at just the right level has made it possible to appreciate the beautiful landscape, the gorgeous towns, the history, art and architecture to the full. And the delicious food you have provided deserves a volume of it's own - which we look forward to sometime in the future. Thanks so much to you both. Susi, Wellington, 2011
Thankyou Lyn and Chris for another wonderful week of TLC - every day an adventure plus plenty of interesting historical facts - and then 'home' to more delicious food. You are a great team! And lovely women. Margot Barnard, New Zealand
What a splendid holiday! I could talk about the food, or the landscape, the culture, the history or the converted mill we stayed in - but in the end, it comes down to you two.....your expertise in cooking, devising great itineraries, history...., your flexibility and good humour. Thankyou both so much. Lois New Zealand
From start to finish your warmth of hospitality, your knowledge of the area, the food, the wine, the special'insights' you have both shared has truely been nothing short of Fabulous!!There are simply not enough superlatives to describe this trip - well worth turning 50 for. I look forward to Viv and I sharing another trip hosted by yourselves in the future so don't do anything silly like retiring :-) Kathryn, Christchurch
We would be delighted to hear from you.
Please phone (03) 304 8980 or click to e-mail us for more information.
Join us in 2013 when The Gables goes to Tuscany !!
Lyn Baynes and Chris Broome
Russell Brockie (published in Avenues, April 2004)
Many seasoned travellers share the fantasy of taking their own chef on holiday with them. For most, it's no more than a dream. More of us fulfil the desire to experience Tuscany. It has been high on the list for travellers from all over the world for years now. Europeans have tended to seek it out as a sunny, stay-put-in-a-rented-villa-with-a-pool kind of holiday. For most New Zealanders, the Renaissance icons of Florence and Siena, together with fields of sunflowers and cypress trees, are typically squeezed into an itinerary that forms part of the grand European tour.
Now, the best elements of both kinds of holidays can be combined - the dream included. The Gables in Tuscany offers week-long sojourns in a glorious villa in rural southern Tuscany, where guests can choose to laze around the pool, absorb the art-filled history of the region and delight in the regional cuisine - without so much as picking up a peeler or a tea towel from beginning to end.
These intimate episodes have evolved from a concept developed by Lyn Baynes and Chris Broome, two accomplished chefs who spend eight months of the year entertaining guests at their charming country guest house above Wainui on Banks Peninsula. Then, each June, July, August and September, when things become cooler and quieter at home, they become Tuscan tour guides and chefs, sharing their wealth of knowledge acquired over the years.
The guests get to go where most tourists don't - because Lyn and Chris know exactly the right days and times to go, where to park, what to look out for and what to skip. They know where to get a great coffee, the best pastries, which panforte to buy and from where to take the best photographs. They have befriended butchers and bakers (but no candle-stick makers!), fruit and vegetable sellers, wine and cheese makers, olive oil producers and art historians. And their guests reap the benefits.
It is, they believe, a unique proposition available to New Zealanders. A perfect introduction to Italy for those who want to venture out on their own in following weeks. Or a relaxing finale to a tension-filled time on the continent, arguing over directions and missed turns, wrong-side-of-the-road driving, and being constantly frustrated at one's inability to speak the language. This week becomes a time to let others take the strain, to ease back and glide through each day, all the more prepared to appreciate the wonderful food and wine at lunch or dinner that evening.
With a limit of six guests per group, personal treatment is assured. Lyn makes a point of asking if there are any particular features of the region guests want to see or participate in. Then, she will pull out all stops to arrange them.
A typical week is likely to include a harmonious blend of iconic 'must-sees', such as Siena and its well-preserved architecture and artworks, with off-the-tourist-track gems like the nearby Abbadia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore with its stunning frescoes that arguably challenge the Sistene Chapel. Or the Gregorian chants of the Cistercian monks at Sant'Antimo. Then there's the opportunity to call in for a tour of a small, family-run factory that makes Pecorino, the highly regards sheeps-milk cheese introduced to the area centuries ago by Sardinian migrants. Or a visit to a local winery, a resting place on the pilgrims' route since the 9th century and now one of the few producers of the region's famous Brunello, widely acclaimed as Italy's best red wine.
Back at the villa, after the activity of the day and a leisurely swim in the pool, Lyn and Chris combine their culinary talents by serving up a dinner that is true to the fundamentals of Tuscan food. Fresh, good-quality meat, vegetables and fruit bought at the market that morning, reflecting the local approach. Beautifully presented and bursting with flavours, it will typically feature herbs they potted as soon as they arrived from New Zealand.
Most often, the dinner is themed to the food, wine or region featured that day. Locally made brasaola (air-dried beef), served with rocket and Parmesan, buffalo mozzarella with tomato and basil and round zucchini stuffed with creamy risotto. Afterwards, three types of Pecorino. Fresco: up to 20 days old; Semi-aged; coated with tomato paste (now replacing sheep's blood): and aged: encrusted with ash. Served with fresh pears, it is delicious.
Every balmy evening, in the courtyard under the walnut tree, turns quietly to darkness as one delight after another is introduced by the pair - usually to the magical accompaniment of the local fireflies, who float about in the half-light, akin to gloworms on the wing.
"My passion for this region stretches back to the early 1980's," says Lyn, who, even then, was attracted by the reputation of the region's food and wine. At the time she had been cooking for an English couple in Sardinia and the strong Italian influence evident in the food both she and Chris present can be traced back to this time. Then in 2000, they were asked to bring a group of New Zealand women to the area and cook for them. The guests loved it. So did Lyn and Chris. And The Gables in Tuscany was born.
Their enthusiasm for southern Tuscany is reciprocated by the warm manner in which locals have responded to the concept. The bonus to guests is the rare insight such interaction gives into the everyday lives of ordinary Tuscans.
If at all possible, one evening each week, dinner is hosted in the home of a charming couple who prepare the food in the traditional manner: plump and generous home-made pasta with meats cooked over a wood-fire ....a kind of indoor barbeque. In the absence of any Italian-speaking guests, copious arm waving and reliance on Lyn's interpretive skills are required this night as neither Signore nor Signora speak a work of English, despite the presence of an "English for Italians" book on the sideboard.
Having now completed the third season of The Gables in Tuscany, Lyn and Chris plan to branch out in 2004 by offering the same concept for part of the summer near Bologna, the capital of Emilia-Romagna, just north of Tuscany. To food lovers, Bologna is also the capital of Italy, situated as it is in the fertile Po Valley. It has given the world Parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar, tortellini, mortadella, ragu, prosciutto crudo and a host of egg pastas. Quite naturally, it is intended to place more emphasis on the food for these trips.
But Tuscany will remain on the menu. After all, no self-respecting chef removes anything that is a favourite with the customers....let alone themselves.