Monday, July 21, 2014

Tuscan Cooking Class

As mentioned in the previous post, we had decided to stay an extra day in Montalcino to do a Tuscan cooking class.  This was something I had really wanted to include on our itinerary (well, an Italian cooking class - it didn't have to be Tuscan), but most of the classes I could find online were for a whole week, and I only wanted a one day class.  Also, there was the difficulty that we weren't sure where we would be on any given day, so booking ahead was difficult.

The cooking class we did was great fun, and worth putting up with the horrible accommodation. We were met by our teacher, Marcella, who took us to the market to buy ingredients for the food we were going to cook.  As I've said before, I love looking at local food markets overseas, to see the type of food they have and also how it has been arranged.  These were not specifically food markets, they were the weekly markets that sold anything and everything, but that did include food.

Fruit and Veg stall at the market

Some of the charcuterie at the market
Marcella then took us back to her agro-tourismo farm, which is run as a B&B and is also where the cooking classes are. There was a fantastic view from this farm. I really do love the Tuscan countryside.

View from the location of our class
The first thing we made was the desert. A cake with an apple topping.  Apparently Andy thought he'd just sit back and watch as I did all the work.  Oh, no.  He had to do it as well! So I made a batch of cakes, and Andy made another.  That was six cakes in all!
Andy making the apple cake
The next thing we made was the gnocci. The original plan had been to make spinach gnocci, which would have given it the green colour, but spinach was not in season. So in the true spirit of using fresh local produce in season, the plan was changed to make asparagus gnocci instead. It was a lot more work than I expected, making all those bits of gnocci.

We started with an appetiser of grilled ham and cheese on bread.  Marcella also opened one of the bottles of Brunello di Montalcino from her husband's vineyard to accompany the food.

Brunello di Montacino
Next we settled down to consume the results of our hard work.  The first dish was the gnocci.

Asparagus gnocci with a tomato sauce
Next came some grilled zucchini (or courgette, whichever name you prefer), along with a liver sausage which I have to say I was not keen on.  Liver is an acquired taste, and while I like liver from poultry, I don't like other liver.  It's just too strong a flavour for me.  I think this was pig's liver.

Then the final course was the apple cake, along with glass of grappa.  (In case you are worrying, we only ate one of the cakes - Marcella was going to use the other five for breakfast at her agro-tourismo.

The Apple Cake
At the end of the day we were overfull and tired, but had enjoyed ourselves immensely. Thank you, Marcella, for a great day.

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