Monday, June 1, 2009

Bringing Tuscan Craftsmanship to Central Jersey

By Pat Tanner

I have been enamored of Greg and Suzanne Evans’ home furnishings shop, Tuscan Hills, since it opened five years ago in a charming two-story spot at the corner of Nassau and Harrison streets in Princeton. From day one the Evanses featured handcrafted furnishings, accessories, and gift items from small, family run businesses in Tuscany and Umbria - most not previously exported to the U.S.; all made using centuries old techniques that reflect both classical and contemporary design esthetics as well as impeccable craftsmanship.

In April the Evanses relocated their showroom a few miles up the road to a light-filled, expansive spot in an historic building on Route 27 in Kingston, where they have much more room to spotlight such treasures as Busatti table linens, hand-painted Deruta ceramics, hand-forged iron furniture, cutlery from the same family who supplied knives and swords to the Medici family, and a sparkling collection of art glass, crystal, and stemware from equally unique sources. (A set of contemporary champagne flutes from Tuscan Hills is one of my most cherished possessions.)

For appropriate fare to accompany Italian wines at the opening celebration of the new showroom, Greg and Suzanne called upon their good friend and client, Andrea Di Meglio, one of two brothers who own Luca’s restaurants in Somerset and Flemington. The Di Meglios were among Tuscan Hill’s first customers, buying antique wall sconces - and eventually tables and chairs - for their restaurants. Below is a recipe for one of the hors d’oeuvres Andrea Di Meglio featured.

For more information on Tuscan Hills – including their associated business of renting restored villas in Tuscany – visit

Andrea Di Meglio, Chef & Co-owner, Luca’s Ristorante

For the topping:
12 ounces burrata cheese, cubed
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in fourths
1 roasted red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon capers
1-1/2 tablespoons sun dried tomatoes, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped basil
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, unfiltered
1 tablespoon balsamic reduction
Salt and pepper to taste
8 1/2-inch-thick slices Italian bread
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, unfiltered
1 tablespoon chopped basil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, combine all topping ingredients except salt and pepper. Mix gently and season with salt and pepper. Brush olive oil on sliced bread. Place in heated oven and toast about 3 minutes, or until lightly browned. Spoon bruschetta topping onto toasted bread and garnish with fresh basil. Makes 8 pieces.

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