All preparation secrets for the delicious traditional Tuscan recipes will be revealed at the cooking classes at Villa le Barone, in the Chianti countryside. Cooking lessons are “hands on” and great fun!
Italian cuisine has a long history! It has evolved through centuries, with roots as far back as the 4th century BCE and external influences from the Etruscans, Greeks and Romans. The name of Apicius, a Roman gourmet and lover of refined luxury, is well known to the world although he is not the writer of a collection of Roman cookery recipes, “De re coquinaria ” (on the subject of cooking), wrongly attributed to him, which were published in the late 4th or early 5th century AD in Latin, but a translation in English do exist!
During the Renaissance, the courts of Florence, Rome, Venice and Ferrara were central to the further development of Italian cuisine, with the addition of herbs and spices. Common foods included vegetables, bread, pizza without tomato sauce ( tomatoes, today a typical part of Italian cuisine, only started to be used in the late 18th century), hard biscuits, pasta, lasagna and ravioli. In addition, soups, stews, rice, risotto, omelets, meatballs, pork, small birds, fish, and other game were often eaten. Several conservation means were used: salting and smoking for meats and fish, drying and preserving under oil, vinegar or brine for vegetables and fruits. However the food eaten at that time was simply the food in season.
At the beginning of the 18th century, Italian culinary books began to emphasize the regionalism of Italian cuisine and this has continued ever since.
Simplicity is central to Tuscan cuisine. Care given to the quality of basic ingredients is an essential part of Tuscan cultural traditions, still closely linked to country cooking and genuine products. Products are fresh, locally produced. Extra virgin olive oil accompanies almost all the most characteristic recipes in the region. At Villa le Barone we use extra virgin oil produced by ourselves at Villa le Barone or at our farm Vecchienna .
A Tuscan style lunch starts with a series of appetizers (antipasto=before meal) , based on cold cuts and crostini (croutons), slices of toasted bread spread with chicken liver pâté, or with chopped fresh tomatoes with garlic, basil, olive oil and vinegar(“Bruschetta”). Both these recipes are taught during Villa le Barone’s cooking classes
Traditional first courses include simple but delicious vegetable soups, like the “pappa al pomodoro” or the “ribolitta”, or a dish of risotto or pasta, served with various types of sauces. Our Tuscan cook will share her secrets to prepare “Villa le Barone’s sauce” made with fresh vegetables.
Second courses consists of meat, poultry or beef. Florentine steak (bistecca alla Fiorentina) is internationally famous and in Panzano in Chianti, close to Villa le Barone, Dario Cecchini enjoys a great reputation for meat menus. But also famous are the “straccotto” or the “peposo” that Brunelleschi was serving to his workers during the construction of the Duomo in Florence. At Villa le Barone, you get beef coming from our free range cattle in our Fattoria, labeled “Agroqualità”. What a taste! Vegetables are almost always tossed in a frying pan with garlic, or fried. You will learn during the course to prepare “peposo” and the vegetables accompanying it, carrots with rosemary, unless you wish to prepare a vegetarian dish.
Let’s not forget dessert: Tuscany is well known for its many pastries and cakes : schiacciata all’uva, torta della Nonna, torta alla ricotta.. and the famous “Tiramisu” (literally meaning “pick me up”) a popular coffee flavoured dessert.
After the class, enjoy what you have cooked and, later, back home, you will be able to treat your friends with Tuscan cuisine!
Enjoy cooking classes with genuine Tuscan Recipes at Villa le Barone, a boutique hotel in Chianti!