A Cook Italy 3 or 6 nights class in the countryside - just like the day classes in Bologna which are so convenient for those staying in Florence and Milan - is above all enjoyable. Serious about food and cooking but very relaxed in spirit. It is about enjoying Italy and Italian food in convivial company, a very Italian approach! On a Cook Italy week, you will have 5 hands-on cooking classes
preparing three course meals using authentic regional recipes. In choosing the meals, I like to showcase the richly varied range of Italian regional cuisine and to give you the history and background to a dish, not just the recipe and cooking tips. You join in according to your mood, cooking a lot everyday or sometimes just watching, chatting, sipping wine, helping set the table or tidying up.I keep the groups very small, usually 2 - 6, never more than 8. That way you really get to do hands-on cooking and get individual attention too. The techniques are straight forward as is usual with Italian home cooking. It avoids fussiness, aiming instead to let the food speak for itself - to bring out the flavours of the food, not to impose flavours from the outside. On some weeks there is a food related tour to the producers, who are people who I have chosen for their skill, passion and dedication to their art, whether cheese, olive oil, prosciutto or wine making. The warmth of the hospitality is the other basis for my selection - it is not unusual for the olive oil or wine maker to join us for lunch or invite us to a special food and wine event, or to personally ring a restaurant to make a booking on our behalf and ensure we get the best treatment. And there is one free day for you to fill as you please, to accommodate the varied interests of the typically independent Cook Italy guest!
Typical Daycooking class
es are generally held in the morning, so after breakfast we meet and start preparations of the day's 3 course lunch. You do most of the cooking from the recipe folder I give you having consulted with you before hand about the menus. I demonstrate if necessary, and give help and tips, answer questions and talk about Italian ways with food preparation, customs at table, the Italian approach to a meal..... There is a lot of laughter and a lot of photos are taken, and as the meal preparations approach completion, someone usually suggests it is time for an aperitivo or a glass of wine! We have lunch, talking about food and wine and what everyone is going to do that afternoon. Then a quick kitchen tidy before going off to relax with a book or by the pool or setting off to visit a winery or to visit pretty nearby towns of historic or shopping interest. Sometimes I may come along with you if you need my help to negotiate a special purchase. Evenings you are free to come back for a supper I prepare for you, or to eat out at your own expense.
Age range, type of group
Typically 25 plus, couples or groups of friends, mothers and sons, honeymoon couples, sisters, fathers and daughters! Mainly from the US but also from other English speaking countries: Ireland, Britain, New Zealand, Australia,Canada; from Asia - Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore; and from Europe - Finland, Sweden, Greece, Spain, Denmark, Belgium, Germany and more
Sleeping and meals
For 3 or 6 night classes in Tuscany or Tuscan Romagna all the guests are accommodated in the same house, or sometimes a Bed and Breakfast or Hotel du Charme. I choose venues in stunning settings in the country which are off the main tourist path yet still close to art cities. The houses have large living rooms where everyone can meet, and plenty of private places indoors or out , where people can retreat for time on their own. The venues vary from rustic and quaint to luxurious with pool and extensive facilities, so there is something for all tastes and budgets.
Policies & Restrictions
Smoking only outside the house please.
Bologna cooking class only, 2011 price: US$ 250; class with market tour, US$ 300$ per peson. Bologna weekends start at 900$. All prices per person, accommodation not included. Discounts for 3 or more people booking together, and for taking several classes as well as for children according to age.
The new fast trains mean Bologna is only 1 hour from Milan, and from Florence just 30 minutes! Venice not far either and Rome only 2 hours by fast train. 3 night classes about US$ 1850 per person. 6 night classes from US $ 2050 . These rates are per person per week inclusive of cooking classes, accommodation, and most if not all meals/drinks at the accommodation.
Please enquire as prices may vary, and as the classes are for very small groups the number of places available is very limited.
For 2011 no class dates are set.
Exclusive classes for groups of at least 4 people can be requested YEAR ROUND, anywhere in Italy.
If there are just 2 or 3 of you please write to request dates and I will set up a class on the dates you require which others may then join. Please make your request at least 2 months ahead, 6 months ahead for the peak periods of spring and fall.
I can also come and do a one or two day class at your rented vacation home - please e-mail me to enquire. Classes are hands on and held in English.
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Discounts for groups of 4 or more and for early booking. Email me to enquire.