untainted Tuscany
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untainted tuscany

The lesson should really begin on the farm or at the local market, sourcing the freshest ingredients. It is from here, that the Italian meals begin to take its form. Simplicity, high quality ingredients with the wonderful flavours that can only come from those that are in season, are fundamental in Italian cooking. Olive oil is the most essential ingredient of all and is part of the first step in creating the 'soffritto' of aromatics - the prelude to so many Tuscan dishes.

Lesson are organized to precede either lunch or dinner. The preparation of four courses requires about three hours in the kitchen. The selections of antipasti and the dishes to follow are simple and easy to recreate at home. It is a labour of love and fun culminating in a gratifying consumption of what you have created.

 

 
untainted tuscany

We might make ravioli if the farmer has made ricotta that morning, or 'pici', the typically Tuscan, eggless, thick spaghetti to eat with a rich, Tuscan ragù. There are no short cuts in making pasta and it is the occasion when many hands make light work. In February, we might use carciofi (artichokes) to make a risotto, in April, wild asparagus and in November, porcini or other wild mushrooms. Minestrone, hearty soups and 'ribollita, are commonly eaten in Tuscany during the winter, when 'cavolo nero' (Tuscan black cabbage) is in season and these can simmer away whilst we create the rest of the meal.


 
untainted tuscany

The meat for the next course comes straight from the farmer or is carefully selected from the local butcher. It is important that what you learn to make is easy to reproduce at home and again, it is the quality of the ingredients that is essential.

Often an Italian meal will end with fruit but the lesson would be incomplete without a dessert of some kind. This might be a tiramisù, chocolate mousse made with espresso and Vin Santo, a fruit tart or a ricotta and hazlenut flan served with hot chocolate sauce.

 
untainted tuscany

Most of the recipes along with stories about them are published in a book entitled 'Untainted Tuscany'.

 
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