BREAKS COOKING : ITALY
. . . enjoying the food and the romanticism of Italy
particular holiday is no longer available. What made it so
special for all of us was Chef Jonathan and the good news
is that he is running his own cooking holiday this year, near
to the fascinating town of Orvieto . . . more
follows below is a photographic account of a cooking holiday
in Tuscany that was hosted by Hub-UK
during the summer (2005).
for the fact that the page may be slow to load but the only
way to show what such a holiday is like is by using photographs
- lots of them!
Italy - the holiday begins for all of us with our arrival
in Rome . . .
our arrival at Rome's International Airports - needless to
say we all contrived to arrive at different times and airports
- we were met and transferred from Rome to Tuscany either
in an air-conditioned minibus or one of the high speed air-conditioned
arriving at our home for the week, Alla Corte del Sole, we
were each shown to our special rooms each with en-suite bathroom
and individual air-conditioning so that we could unpack before
enjoying a late buffet supper, and a few welcome glasses of
local wine, in The Orangerie.
our welcome buffet we meet our mentor for the week, Chef Jonathan
Arthur and his daughter Lizzie who will be our guide during
first reaction of everyone was one of amazement at the luxury
and quality of our accommodation. We are almost wondering
if we have arrived at the wrong place..
. . and the bedrooms. All individually styled, all en-suite
and all with their own air conditioning. What paradise to
be able to sleep well at night without suffering from the
a wonderful breakfast with a vast array of food to chose from
- and a refreshing cup of tea for those of us who liked to
be traditionalist - it was all aboard our air conditioned
minibus for our fist visit of the week, to an olive oil mill.
Chef Jonathan explained the process of harvesting and pressing
the olives which was then followed by a tasting and an opportunity
to purchase some very fine olive oil.
on to Cortona for a walk around this ancient hill town - and
when I say hill I mean steep!
took some climbing in the midday heat of around 35°C to
get the photographs so it was a relief to get into the cool
of the town's fascinating little theatre.
. . followed by lunch at a nearby trattoria in the small square.
lunch it was back to the hotel for relaxing around the pool
for the more energetic and a siesta in an air-conditioned
room for the rest of us. The eagerly anticipated first evening
coking session was due to start at 7.00 pm.
our cooking sessions, with the exception of the pizza making,
were to be held in the hotel's cantina which is what
they call their wine cellars. Not a true cellar in the sense
that we understand it as it was built into the side of the
hill with access from the driveway and no need to climb stairs
- which might be dangerous after a full cooking session with
liberally dispensed local wine!
cooking lessons were part demonstration and parts hands-on
but even if you were not helping with the preparation there
were wine bottles to be continually opened and wine dispensed
to thirsty would be chefs!
our first night we prepared and dined on Crostini Neri, Gnocchi
alla Gorgonzola, Chicken Breasts alla Marsala with Pannacotta
to finish. A thoroughly enjoyable meal followed by nightcaps
in The Orangerie.
second full day started with another sunny blue sky to greet
us as we emerged for breakfast. Today our morning trip was
going to be to Pienza for Balsamic Vinegar tasting followed
by sampling of local cheeses and then on to Montefollonico
for a wine tasting.
was an incredible selection of different balsamic vinegars.
After being used to what is available in supermarkets at home
it was a shock to realise that there was so much variety .
. . and the flavour!
next tasting to savour was the cheese in a small specialist
shop just around the corner. The smell was incredible - you
certainly needed to like cheese!
quick stroll around Pienza . . .
. . and then it was all aboard the bus to head for our wine
tasting in Montefollonico. The Innocenti winery was incredible
with its ancient cellars with worn sloping floors and huge
barrels. After a brief talk about the wines and how they were
made we adjourned to the garden for the tasting with wonderful
views over the surrounding countryside.
nicely mellow from slightly too much tasting it was then off
down the street and around the corner to the local trattoria,
with the unusual name of 'I 13 Gobbi', for a wonderful lunch
of pastas and meats. The Italians certainly know how to feed
evenings cooking lesson saw Chef Jonathan tackling the most
amazing T Bone steaks . . .
. . in fact I think they were probably the biggest and thickest
T Bone steaks I had ever seen!
third day dawned bright and sunny and after the hectic pace
of the last few days it was nice to have a day to ourselves
where we could chill out, relax and enjoy the pool . . . until
the evening that is.
was as well that we had all rested during the day as that
evening we were really going to be in the heat of the kitchen
cooking Pizzas in the special ovens that they use.
you been wondering where I am in all of this. That's my hat
at the table!
wonderful evening was had by all and what better way to unwind
after it all than with coffee and drinks around the pool.
The night was so warm some of us were in the pool until well
it is Thursday and today is the big market in Camucia, which
is just below Cortona. As well as getting the chance to browse
all the market stalls our challenge today is to buy the produce
we want to make an out door lunch by the pool. How different
the Italian markets are to what we are used to. You get to
try before you buy and how different the fresh food tastes
. . . you really want to take some home!
so, laden with shopping bags and a significant quantity of
red wine, we head back to the quiet of the hotel to prepare
evening's cooking session turned out to be one of our finest
once we all overcame our aversion to rabbit. The first course
never made it to the table - it was Fried Zucchini Flowers.
A truly amazing starter. Fried in a light batter these were
so delicious they were being grabbed as soon as they left
the pan. We did not go short though what with the rabbit dish,
Ribollita and the polenta.
too soon it was our last full day and this was the big trip
of the week with our visit to Siena, famed for the Palio.
What can you say about Siena? You have to see it to appreciate
the buildings, the narrow streets and the atmosphere. We were
there as they were preparing for the Palio on the following
day so they were preparing the main square where the horses
race and the old town was bedecked in the banners of the different
factions. The camera was constantly clicking!
was certainly a day of contrast as far as the weather was
concerned. The morning started cloudy which after four days
of continuous sunshine and deep blue skies was a bit disconcerting.
The rain never materialised and by the afternoon (as you can
see from the photographs) the blue sky had returned.
a short siesta on our return, and a request to start the evening's
cooking lesson an hour late, it was sadly our last evening.
Again Jonathan had us all, aprons on, busily preparing a variety
of dishes to savour for the last supper. Everyone had a lot
of fun making the fresh tagliatelle and a degree of satisfaction
in having succeeded in what was at first approached with some
trepidation. The fresh made Tagliatelle with baby Clams was
wonderful and as with all of Jonathan's cooking there was
none left. Other delights created during the evening were
our very own Focaccia and Cacciuco, a fish and shellfish dish,
which was so simple to make yet so delicious to eat.
. . and Saturday dawned hot and sunny with everyone departing
for Rome and their respective flights home feeling totally
relaxed and very well fed. Everyone agreed it was the most
relaxing and stress free holiday they had ever taken.
photographic account of a cooking holiday in Tuscany was created
If you have any questions or comments please email <click
. . and that was cooking Italy
you want to find out what Chef Jonathan is doing this year
then have a look at his new website www.italywithrelish.it
Hub-UK : firstname.lastname@example.org