So today we got up at half 8 so we could be in town for 9.45 ready for our Tuscan cooking tour. We met up just off palazzo vecchio with Elise, our tour guide who spoke excellent English having lived in London for 14 years. Our tour group was small, just 10 people, which was nice.
First we got a walking tour of Florence which was great.As you know we kinda wrote yesterday off because of the heat so it was good to finally be able to see some of Florence under better conditions. As it was early it was about 30 degrees but there was lots of shade which made a huge difference. We also got to stop at a coffee shop where she treated us all to drinks, showing us how to drink coffee the 'Italian' way.
However I don't like coffee and Adam felt it was too hot so we had chilled drinks.
After the walking tour she took us to the central market as she took us around buying the ingredients we would need for our cooking class. We got tomatoes, mince, pork, bread and parmesan. As we went around the market we were talked through how the Italians eat and prepare certain specialities and got lots of tasters too.
We then boarded a bus to Tuscany which only took about 20 minutes. We arrived at their Tuscan country home. Now in our heads we had this rustic looking brick house with barns etc but what we got was this amazing glass house with views of the Tuscan countryside all around!
We gathered in the kitchen (which Adam was super jealous of as it was self cleaning!) and met our chef Carmella, who spoke no English. However our guide Elise was able to act as a translator throughout. Carmella was such a character who danced and sang and laughed throughout.
Our first job was to make the beef ragu ready for the pasta. We learnt how to dice vegetables finely like Italians and how they don't preheat their oil and how they don't add salt or garlic to anything. At this point we were all around the kitchen island and Carmella would each assign us a different job (one chop herbs, one pour oil etc).
Then we made some bruschetta. Some of us chopped tomatoes, some chopped basil, some cut and toasted the bread. Then we were told we could have a break to enjoy the bruschetta. At this point I should mention there was a table with lots of local Chianti wine that was unlimited all day!! I don't like bruschetta because I don't like uncooked tomatoes but I didn't want to appear rude so took it with the aim of passing it off to Adam. I took a bite just to try it and oh holy Moses it was beautiful!! In the end I scoffed mine myself.
Next we learnt how to make pasta. First we watched Carmella as she made first the plain pasta dough and then showed us how you would fashion it into the various different types (tagliatelle, ravioli etc). Then we were led to another of the glass buildings which had been opened up so it was literally just us and Tuscany. We each had a board and an egg and some flour and we were left to our own devices to create the pasta ourselves. As you can see from the photo our tagliatelle went well! All the pasta was then taken to the kitchen to be cooked later on.
Whilst in the kitchen we then seasoned the loin of pork and potatoes ready to go in the oven and we were shown the Italian way to season. Never put oil on your meat, always keep the skin on your garlic and then just place it on the meat.
Then we went outside into the lovely Tuscan garden where there was also a pizza wood oven. There was a special pizza chef who came in to show us how to make the dough. She had it already made for us as it needs 48 hours to rise and obviously we didn't have that time. She showed us though how we would need to stretch out, knead and finally 'gravity work' our dough, that means throwing it in the air! Then she put it in the pizza oven, it only need 90 seconds to cook!
We were then given the chance to make our own in pairs. I let Adam do the gravity work whilst I added the toppings hehe. We made a kickass pizza which we immediately got to eat sitting under olive trees in the garden. They bought out several bottles of beer at this point as they said it was the only drink to accompany pizza. I'm not a beer drinker but I totally agreed!
Then back to the kitchen to amaretto ice cream. Once again we were all given different jobs, I was on whipping duty. Although we made it they said the one we would be eating later on had already been made as obviously ours wouldn't have time to freeze.
Then onto tiramisu. A huge bowl was filled with coffee and masala wine and that was where we could dip our sponge fingers. Then we made up the mascarpone cream. Adam was given the all important job of separating the egg yolks from the whites whilst I remained on whipping duty. We all got a dish so we could make our individual tiramisu's. I made mine without dipping the sponge fingers as I hate coffee. We could decorate it with cocoa so we would know which one was ours when it went in the fridge.
Then we sat down for dinner. We went back to the open glass room that we had made our pasta in which had now been set up for dinner. We are 4 courses, a beef ragu pasta followed by pork loin and potatoes followed by tiramisu with the ice cream to finish. All washed down with as much wine as we could handle of course!
It was so amazing and it was lovely to speak to the other people on the tour. We were the only English and everyone else was American. A family from Boston gave us their details and told us if we go there they'll look after us. The man of the family, his brother owns the oldest restaurant in America, and he said he'll ensure us a good meal!
At the end of the meal there was a little ceremony where we were presented with certificates and a recipe book. We also got to keep our cooking aprons.
The day was amazing and now we're just chilling at the apartment, totally stuffed from all the amazing food we've had today. The temperature reached 39 today so it was so nice to be away from it in an air conditioned glass house in Tuscany! Happy :)