Wow! Just returned from several lovely days in Tuscany.  I went at the invitation of a dear friend who had an extra ticket for the Chianti date of the Outstanding in the Field European tour. While there, we stayed at the lovely Castel Monastero hotel near Siena.

The Americans out there may already be familiar with OITF – they have been hosting fantastic dinners in gorgeous settings across the United States since 1999.

This year, they came across the big blue ocean for their first European tour, and I was lucky enough to have a place at the table for their last dinner which was held at a lovely Chianti farm & vineyard called La Petraia.  Here are a few snapshots of the day.

The OITF team members have headed back to the USA, where they are making their way across the southern states back to their home in California.  There are still some tickets available for some of the dinners in October – have a look at their schedule if you’re interested.

After dinner, we made the drive through the winding Tuscan hills to our hotel, Castel Monastero, just outside Siena. (My tip – unlike us, I suggest that you reserve far enough in advance to get an automatic transmission car – those curves & hills put my manual driving skills to the test!)

It was dark when we arrived to a very warm welcome from the friendly Castel Monastero staff.  We couldn’t see very much, but the room looked heavenly, especially after a long day of travelling.  A glass of wine followed by a relaxing bath and I was sound asleep pretty quickly. We awoke the next morning to find we had landed in a little Tuscan paradise – a castle with a history dating back 1000 years. Back in the 11th century, it was a monastery. After that, it was a castle and a country residence, and now it’s a gorgeous luxury hotel.   Castel Monastero was the perfect place for a girlie getaway – beautiful location, fantastic spa, delicious food, and wonderful service.  Nothing missing!  Hoping I can make it back there soon.

I’m now in London for Design Week, and I may have brought the Tuscan sunshine with me because it has been simply gorgeous here too.  It’s not quite Castel Monastero, but there’s so much going on. Stay tuned 🙂

Have you been to any Outstanding in the Field dinners? I’m so tempted to follow them around and try the meals in other countries!