When you think of small group tours of Italy, there is a good chance that the first thing to spring to mind will be experiencing the delicious gourmet food and fine wine. For those looking to sharpen their cooking skills whilst immersing themselves in the culture on one of our small group tours of Italy, our Tuscan culinary adventure holiday is an experience that will be as rewarding as it will be fun.
Tucked away in the Tuscan and Umbrian hills is Molino di Bordone, the home to our gourmet cooking holiday. Under the tutelage of professional chefs, you will develop skills and learn about gourmet cooking in a friendly and supportive environment; this will arm you with the confidence to recreate these dishes back at home and expand your own menu.
As part of the experience, you will also visit nearby medieval hill towns, ancient abbeys, vineyards, enjoy cheese and wine tastings and indulge in the famous Tuscan culture. This all plays an important role in the approach to dining here.
Finally, this is a fun and valuable holiday where you are likely to make new friends with a similar passion to your own.
Here is an example of a menu that you will learn on “Domenica” (Sunday in Italian) under the guidance of a professional chef.
What’s on the Menu on Sunday?
As antipasto, Eggplant Parmesan is on the menu. This will require eggplant, sliced mozzarella, basil leaves, salt and pepper and basic tomato sauce (made from scratch).
The sauce can quickly be prepared by frying onion and garlic until golden, then adding carrot and thyme and cooking until the carrot is soft. Tomatoes and juice are poured in and left to simmer for around 30 minutes (stirring often).
The eggplant is sliced, seasoned with salt and pepper and put onto a tray with baking parchment. It is baked until the slices begin to turn a deep brown, by which point they are removed and left to cool. Once the oven temperature has been reduced, the eggplant slices are placed in an oven dish and the tomato sauce and basil is spread across. One slice of mozzarella is placed on each slice and grated Parmigiano is sprinkled on top. This layering is repeated whilst gradually reducing the size until all the ingredients are used. Finally, breadcrumbs are sprinkled on top and it is baked until the top turns brown and the cheese has melted.
Next, the group will prepare Potato gnocchi with cheese and pepper. Potatoes are boiled in salted water, and consequently peeled and mashed (whilst hot). They are then spread onto a large wooden board along with flour, before egg and a pinch of salt are added. All should be mixed well and be kneaded for smooth dough. Strips of about a finger’s width are divided and cut into 1cm cubes, which are then spread onto a tea towel and left to dry. The gnocchi is cooked in salted water (add oil to avoid sticking). After melting butter in a pan with ground pepper, the gnocchi is infused with the butter and parmesan.
The tasty Rabbit with shallots and mustard (Coniglio con scalogno e senape) follows on from this. The rabbit is prepared by being diced and marinated in white wine and garlic, sage and rosemary for 30 minutes. Cooking students should add the rabbit to a pan with a little olive oil, butter, salt and pepper and fry it until the meat is browned. White wine is poured over the top and cooked until evaporated, before the mustard (dissolved in vegetable stock/water) is poured onto the rabbit. Finally, shallots are peeled and fried with olive oil and added to the rabbit for serving.
For dessert, the professional chef will help the group to make a mouth-watering tiramisu.
This is prepared by beating together egg yolks and sugar until fluffy, which is when mascarpone cheese is folded in. Whipped egg whites and whipped cream are added to mix. Next, coffee and liqueur are mixed and lady fingers are soaked in the mixture before being layered onto a plate. The mascarpone cream is poured on top, before another layer of soaked lady fingers and then another layer of mascarpone cream. This is put in the fridge to chill for a few hours. Before serving, icing sugar and small meringues are used to sprinkle and decorate the dessert.
Antonio Nobile is Tour Operator & Researcher at Caspin Journeys, a specialist provider of small group tours of Italy, England and Spain. Following in the footsteps of the company founders Pino and Caroline, he has exceptional insider knowledge and a personal devotion to all the tours he organises.