Our one big splurge in Florence was an all day cooking experience at a farmhouse in the countryside. The day started with a walking tour of Florence to learn about local food culture and to purchase our ingredients for the day.
We made stops at the local bakery, produce stall, butcher, and cheese vendor, tasting samples along the way. Once we collected our supplies, we hopped on a bus and headed out of the city and into the gorgeous Tuscan countryside. (Christopher was responsible for carrying the raw meat because it was the one thing we trusted he wouldn’t sneak some bites of.)
The farmhouse was absolutely gorgeous. It overlooked an olive farm and had beautiful flowers blooming all over. The kitchen was the kind of kitchen dreams are made of. I totally fan-girled out when realized that the gas stove top was self-cleaning. A water faucet under the grates blew away all of the little bits underneath (like a river) so you didn’t have to lift the grates and scrub underneath. Once I calmed down, this feature was added to my mental dream kitchen (don’t judge – that’s what dreams are for).
The cooking portion of the day was taught by a typical Italian “nonna” or grandmother, Carmella. Carmella spoke very little English, so she was joined by Isak, a classically trained chef from Seattle who acted as her translator. Together, they were hilarious, energetic, informative, and we enjoyed every minute with them. With their help, we learned how to make bruschetta, pizza, ragu sauce and handmade tagliatelle pasta (100% by hand, no machines!), roast pork with rosemary potatoes and tiramisu for dessert. We learned some Italian, the best songs for singing while you cook, how to use a mezzaluna, that in an Italian kitchen “a little bit” of olive oil actually means a cup or more, how to find the best Chianti wine, that some balsamic vinegar is so expensive it is sold by the drop, and that making pasta or pizza dough by hand is good for getting any pent up aggression out.
We enjoyed our meals family style, making new friends with the other students and enjoying the fruits of our labor. It was a wonderful day, and I’m so glad that we decided to spend the money. We left feeling stuffed, thankful for our KitchenAid, and looking forward to recreating these recipes at home.
Who is interested in a pasta making night once we get home? I’ll supervise (and taste all of the wine to make sure it’s good).
Love from Italy,
Cathleen & Christopher