Tuscan Women Cook :: My Italian Cooking School Dream Adventure!

Tuscan Women Cook - an Italian cooking school
One of the stunning views from La Chiusa and Tuscan Women Cook in Montefollonico, Italy

 

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!

Italian cooking school
La Chiusa – A dreamy destination
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A rustic stone wall of rooms at La Chiusa where we spent the week.
Italian Cooking School
An unedited photo of a basket of golden zucchini blossoms on the colorful patio of La Chiusa!

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!

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Me with Chef Dania. She drew something special on each of our aprons.
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Chef Dania demonstrating how to make the perfect zucchini risotto
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Dania’s aromatic rosemary chicken

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.

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What a special day! It was hard not spending my birthday with my family, however, my friends in Tuscany gave me the royal treatment.
Learning to roll pici
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Hand rolled pici and handmade ravioli

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!

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Rolling dough at 13 Gobbi in Montefollonico

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!

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Arugula Pizza – We all fought each other for another piece.

The Crust ~

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Coleen & Rhonda – Tuscan Women Cook

 

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!

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One of our many excursions to visit the local artisans.

 

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?

View from the window of an Italian cooking school
The view from the window at La Chiusa where we learned how to make ravioli. #likeapostcard

 

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.

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Cappuccinos for two please at La Chiusa
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A colorful and delicious breakfast
swimming pool at an Italian cooking school
The refreshing pool at Agriturismo Belagaggio
making lasagna noodles at an Italian cooking school
Learning to make the noodles for the Pasta al Forno (Lasagna with Bechamel) at Agriturismo Belagaggio. Loved it!

 

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.

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Like a movie set! This is Pienza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was built in 1459.

 

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Eating our lasagna and tiramisu after a “hard” morning in the kitchen.

Our dinner at the beautiful La Contadina de La Porta

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I was blown away by the intricate design of La Contadina de La Porta in Monticchiello.

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Asparagus soufflé topped with a creamed pecorino cheese and shavings of fresh truffle @ La Porta. A most memorable meal.

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Best panna cotta of my life!

Photos speak volumes… Can you smell the parmesan?

tossing pappardelle in a parmesan wheel at an Italian cooking school
At lunch, at 13 Gobbi, our host was tossing pappardelle in a parmesan wheel. #divine

 

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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15 Responses to Tuscan Women Cook :: My Italian Cooking School Dream Adventure!

  1. This trip looks FABULOUS! Look forward to reading more! Really enjoy your blogs!
    Best,
    Tammy
    ps Our Outstanding In The Field in Temecula in the middle of an olive orchard was terrific! Thanks for turning me on to this great company! Guess I’m a !!! over user!

    • Tammy – Thank you so much! I am also so glad you had a fabulous time at OITF in Temecula! I love using !!! too!!

  2. What an amazing experience. You looked so happy in every single picture! The photo of the pappardelle in a parmesan wheel made my mouth water. I’ve only done a French cooking course and you’re right, this is group travelling at its best. You’re learning together and quickly form a bond. I found this too. So great that you learned how to make pasta and I’m sure there is a “technique”. I bet you’re a pro now!

    • I was happy Jan! Every day was like Christmas. We would learn something new, go to a new place and eat something fantastic. I have learned that this type of cooking is not difficult and it is also some the best tasting food in the world!

  3. I think I gained 10 pounds just looking at all these amazing pictures of the food you prepared and ate! What a fabulous experience, not only in the foods you learned to make, but in the women you bonded with. That is the best part about group travel. I’m looking forward to more.

    • So true Lori! My secret is that I only ate a couple of bites of each dish. I appreciate you reading and for your wonderful comments!

    • It certainly was a superb adventure Doreen. I think your small group trip in search of chocolate in Hawaii sounds amazing!

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