Each day you will prepare a five course meal. "I primi piatti" -Risotto's , soups , gnocchi and fresh handmade pasta. You will focus on pasta – what would Italy be without it?! We will discuss different pasta making techniques, stuffed pastas, coloring and flavoring pastas, different sauces and how to match them with different types of pastas. Risotto's- what makes a great risotto? The do's and dont's, shortcuts and the broths. Salads and soups- there are many dishes in Tuscany that focus on soups in the winter and salads in the summer using old bread and the wonderful variety of vegetables in season. The combination seems countless. "Seasonal Cooking" and "Antipasti and Desserts". The secret of all Italian cookery are the fresh products used. Fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables are the base of all tasty dishes and frozen products are almost never used. During the year the menu's in all restaurants change, adapting to the produce available and we will discuss the various dishes popular for each season.
"Secondi and Contorni" - these are the meat, fish and game dishes accompanied by vegetables and flans. You will also learn "Piatti Veloce" or "Quick Dishes". These are great when time sometimes seems so limited. These are also finger foods and in the middle dishes such as flans, pizza, frittate and cheese and vegetable combination.
The Program Includes:
Day 1, Saturday: "Arrival to Villa Pandolfini Estate, orientation and "Benvenuto Dinner" to meet the Chefs and your hosts".
The entire group will arrive after lunch and settle into their accommodations, having time to explore the estate, relax and freshen up for the "Benvenuto" dinner which will take place in the villa's historical 14th C kitchen featuring the original stone fireplace, marble sink and vaulted ceiling. The kitchen will be the heart of this gastronomical adventure. Participants will receive their recipe books and course guidelines. Partners are also welcome to join the welcome dinner where you will feast on traditional Tuscan fare of the season and enjoy the estate's wine. You will meet your chefs who, by the the week's end will become your lifelong friends!
Day 2, Sunday: "Southern Tuscany Tour".
This day we have designed to give you an introduction to the Tuscan countryside, it's people, history and the culture. We will share with you firsthand the origins of Tuscan produce which is the soul of this land's cuisine. This will be an authentic travel experience visiting medieval villages, admiring impressive castles and witnessing centuries of history whilst driving through the green Chianti valleys, the Sienese Crete which is farmhouse for it's red earth and the magnificent Val d'Orcia. On the way down south we will stop off to admire an amazing Pieve of Sant’Anna in Caprena. This 14th century Olivetan monastery is where "The English Patient" was filmed. In this area, the "Gladiator" film was also made and here you will see the most photographed row of cypress trees Throughout the day we take the group to visit a charming vineyard estate owned by one of Tuscany's renowned noble families where you will have the opportunity to savour their wines, olive oil, cheese and salami and enjoy a light lunch at the vineyard's restaurant.
Then we continue onto the characteristic towns of San Quirico and Bagno Vignoni, famous for the natural hot springs. You will have time to relax in Pienza, a quaint village full of lovely shops selling crafts and local produce and the view overlooking the Val d'Orcia is absolutely spectacular. On the way back to Florence we will stop off at a pecorino cheese making factory that will give you an insight as to what makes this centuries old cheese so famous. We will then finish the day at Montalcino for an "aperitivo" before heading back to the villa via a different route.
Day 3, Monday, 10am - 3pm: The day's cooking will finish in lunch prepared by the students. Afternoon – Free Time. The group can relax or opt to choose additional activities and tours offered in our "Additional Activities" program.
Day 4, Tuesday, 9.30am - 2.30pm: The day's cooking will finish in lunch prepared by the students. Afternoon - optional afternoon tour (to be paid separately).
"Chianti and San Gimignano". You either have the choice to relax and do your own thing or join us on this afternoon trip where we will take you through the hidden country roads through the glorious Chianti region of Tuscany. We will take you to an ancient Abbey which has a spectaculars view over the vineyards of one of the top 2 winemakers in Italy. You will also have the opportunity to taste their wines. Winding through these country roads, you will admire & enjoy breathtaking scenery and some of the most charming Chianti villages. If luck allows, you may also get to listen to the famous "Dante reciting" butcher! People all around the world come to this little town in the hope that they hear his "pose". The group will then visit a farm where "Chianina" cows are raised; and here is where we will settle and relax for a wonderful meal while enjoying the view up to the medieval town of San Gimignano. You really will feel like you are part of another century! Dinner at the local pizzeria.
Day 5, Wednesday: Visit to "Mercato Centrale", Lunch and afternoon in Florence.
The group will leave the estate around 10am to travel into Florence to visit the famous "Mercato Centrale". You will meet the chefs here and they will guide you through the multi level marketplace where for centuries Florentine's have purchased their fresh produce. You will take a glimpse at an amazing Florentine tradition and then eat lunch together, shoulder to shoulder with the Florentine people. After lunch you are all free to enjoy Florence, to go shopping in the leather markets, try the best gelato in the world and walk the stone streets enjoying this romantic and enthralling city. For those who wish to have a personal guided tour of Florence, this can be arranged and restaurants for those who want to stay in town for dinner can be booked. Evening dinner at a historical Florentine restaurant with us! We will meet you in Florence at the restaurant and dine with you and bring you home.
Day 6, Thursday, 10am – 3pm: The day's cooking will finish in a light lunch prepared by the students. Afternoon – Truffle hunting (seasonal) or Free Time. The group can relax or opt to choose additional activities and tours offered in our "Additional Activities" program.
Day 7, Friday: Italian Hand Painted Ceramics.
This morning we are going to share with you one of the centuries old crafts, that is still alive and well today- hand painted ceramics! We will visit factories where you will see the products painted and have the chance to purchase directly from the manufacturers who can then ship to anywhere in the world. This little village which has become world renowned for their artisans is also charming to wander around, browsing through the stores. We will go through the winding hills to reach a magnificent Medici villa which we will visit and get an insight into the incredible word of the Medici family and the last royal family of Italy.
* Lunch in the Hamlet of Artimino.
The group will then be taken to the nearby medieval hamlet of "Artimino" which sits on top of a hill overlooking the vineyards and farmland of Etruscan times. From this hamlet you can also look over to the Medici Villa.You will have an opportunity to admire this magnificent villa, famous for the 100 chimneys, this differs from the previous villa in that it was not a residence but a hunting lodge. You will dine at a very famous restaurant with incredible views, in the summer and spring we sit on the terrace and in the winter in the old restored farmhouse converted to a restaurant. We then head back to relax before the cooking class begins in the afternoon.
* 4pm - 8pm - Cooking.
* 8pm – Dinner.
The purpose of today's culinary program will be the preparation of the farewell dinner for the entire group - partners welcome of course! You will also learn interesting presentation of an "apperitivo". At the grand finale dinner participants will be presented with a certificate of attendance.
Note: The above is an outline of the program we offer though may change slightly depending on the local festivals and sagre's, the seasonal produce and harvests at the time when the course is held. This menu list may change at any time.
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