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Under the Tuscan Sun... with Michael Pollan

March 20, 2009 |  2:59 pm

Michael Pollan. Credit: Library Foundation of Los Angeles Imagine walking through the verdant Tuscan countryside discussing the ethics of burrata production with one of the world's foremost thinkers on the politics of food, his every word a pearl of wisdom spilling from lips undulant as an archer's bow. Suddenly, he says, "Signora. Please stop being so sad. If you continue like this, I will be forced to make love to you."

Rewind. Sorry. Got my dreams all mixed up.

Yes, there will be Tuscany, Michael Pollan and plenty of sunlight, but probably no Hollywood-style romance at the Petraia Sessions, a series of foodie retreats. Hosted by La Petraia, a 900-year-old organic farm in the Chianti Mountains that's been owned and operated since 2001 by chef and author Susan McKenna Grant ("Piano, Piano, Pieno") along with her husband, Michael Grant, each retreat will feature an "intimate week" with a leading chef or food lover.

Hoping that the sour economy hasn't curdled the market for luxury agrotourism, the first Petraia Session will take place in mid-July and feature five days of cooking classes, formal lectures, hiking, foraging for mushrooms and more. You'll get to prep and eat food (not too much, mostly plants) with the author of "In Defense of Food," "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and "The Botany of Desire" as you explore how to best nourish the global population. There are only eight spots and each costs 4,995 euros ($6,777) per person (airfare not included), so sign up now. Or perhaps you prefer to wait for the second retreat, which will take place in October and will star Jamie Kennedy (the chef, not the prankster comedian).

-- Elina Shatkin

Photo: Michael Pollan (Credit: Library Foundation of Los Angeles)