Staying & eating & learning at La Chiusa with Tuscan Women Cook ~
When I sat down to write about my experience attending an Italian cooking school called Tuscan Women Cook, I honestly struggled with where to begin. There were so many incredible experiences, new friends, Italian hospitality and food and wine so good it could make you cry, which makes describing it all a challenge! We visited historic churches and cathedrals, family wineries, cheese and wine shops, local restaurants, walled medieval cities and managed to take a shopping trip or two!
Tuscany captured my heart ~
I hope I can come close to describing how special this trip was to me. Because of my dad’s recent passing, my sensitivity level is still especially high these days and couple that with his Italian heritage, my time in Tuscany went straight to the heart. I am enamored with the magic of cooking and I was introduced to some of the finest, most delicious plates of food in my life. I even cooked with a Single Michelin Star chef! It was too good to be true, really. Every ingredient comes from nearby purveyors and farms, nothing is from a box or can and the flavors are rich and authentic.
Each day was so full of fantastic adventures, I was happy to go home satisfied on Day One! (Not really). On the very first day we were in the kitchen in a tiny town called Montefollonico, at La Chiusa with Single Michelin Star Chef Dania Lucherini. She demonstrated the perfect risotto, divine Italian chicken, cheesy stuffed squash blossoms and creamy caramel gelato.
I am not ashamed to admit that I am a chef fan-girl. Enchanting Chef Dania moved effortlessly through the kitchen with an artistic, feminine flair. I totally want to be her!
If I was honest with you (and I always am) I’m not really an eager group traveler. However, my perspective has changed completely because of the thirteen other classmates I spent the week with in Tuscany, as well as the amazing people of Tuscan Women Cook. Additionally, I even spent an unforgettable birthday with these new friends, classmates, fellow foodies, wine lovers and travelers. I felt so special.
My fellow travelers and classmates ~
These fellow food lovers and travelers came from New York to California and Florida to Hawaii and from Texas as well. As each day passed we progressively clicked more and more and because we did, it made the trip even richer. Many of them shared with me how they too had not traveled in a group and everyone is now convinced that small group travel is a fantastic option. It was so much fun!
As a group we have everything in common and the small part that we don’t, is what makes us unique. We shared stories of our families, past travel and favorite meals. We laughed (a lot) sang a few tunes, devoured AMAZING food and were excited to return home to share what we were taught.
I will break this Tuscan cooking adventure down into bite size pieces and share over the course of several posts. You can digest it a bit at a time. Sip and savor as they say… I am so excited to share it with you!
The Crust ~
My remarkable experience would not have been possible without Coleen and Rhonda, the competent and delightful hosts and owners of Tuscan Women Cook. Every delicious outing was organized, on time and scheduled seamlessly. We just had to show up and enjoy! Every day felt like Christmas. I so appreciate the generous invitation.
This post is like the crust of the pizza. It’s the foundation, the chewy goodness of the whole pie. Come back here soon because I have so much more to share! There is plenty of sauce, cheese and the toppings too!
Today my goal is to give you the overall flavor of the trip, not every detail (there are just so many!) The food was so delicious that I wish you could taste the photos! I know you will want to indulge in Italian food immediately!
In the kitchen of La Chiusa, we watched the expert pasta maker make her dough from just flour, olive oil, salt, eggs and water and learned how to make the local pasta called “pici”. In addition we rolled and stuffed handmade ravioli with ricotta and herbs while the Tuscan breeze blew through the farmhouse windows. Are you kidding me?
Every morning we began the day at La Chiusa eating breakfast alfresco with homemade pastries, local farm fresh fruit, cappuccinos and even scrambled eggs with tomato upon request. Next, we would travel a short distance to a nearby restaurant where the local cooks would show us how to prepare their signature dishes. After spending the afternoon at Agriturismo Belagaggio making pasta al forno and tiramisu, I am already planning my return trip.
We learned important recipe tips as well as rolling techniques for noodles like pappardelle and tagliatelle, indoor grilling and at the end of each class we enjoyed the fruits of our labor. Along with local wines of course! In the afternoon after our “reposado”, a two-hour resting/napping time, we would ride in a small bus and drive to a neighboring town to see UNESCO World Heritage Sites, walked the cobblestone shopping streets and just enjoyed being in the local hillside towns of Tuscany. Our days always finished with a dinner in an exquisite restaurant in a one of a kind setting. Everywhere I turned was a “pinch me” moment.
Our dinner at the beautiful La Contadina de La Porta
Asparagus soufflé topped with a creamed pecorino cheese and shavings of fresh truffle @ La Porta. A most memorable meal.
Photos speak volumes… Can you smell the parmesan?
Have you dreamed of an Italian cooking school adventure in Tuscany? Wouldn’t you love to learn to make pasta from the nonas, the women of Tuscany, who are the center of the family and the real experts. Don’t just dream about this, do it!
Just imagine a week full of delicious food, cooking with a Michelin Star Chef, shopping, history and memories that you could not create anywhere else.
It may be hard to believe but there is so much more to come from my adventure in Tuscany!
Next post ~ Our Day in Siena
To learn more about Tuscan Women Cook, you can click here for the website and here for the Facebook Page.
Classes are offered May, June, September and October – There are still spaces available for the Fall 2017 and they are already booking for 2018.
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