Sarah was away with the kitchen fairies in Toscana, where magic certainly did happen in the kitchen.

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It was a rainy afternoon back in March when my thoughts turned to my summer holiday for 2012.  I must say that sometimes it’s not always easy working with such a fantastic selection of holidays every day. Mainly because, as I’m sure you’d imagine, I do occasionally find myself away with the fairies, daydreaming about which holiday I would be on if I had to pick one. Whether I’d be sat by the beach looking out on to the Red sea after my scuba diving lessons, or cosying up by the fire in Rodez, France after creating some ‘must have’ bespoke jewellery on our weekend jewellery making holiday; trust me, it’s not an easy decision to make when in a state of reverie, let alone in reality!

So after much contemplation, I decided to visit our agriturismo in Peccioli, Italy to take part in a Tuscan cookery course and wine tasting.  What better than 40 degrees heat, Italian sunshine, delicious food and wine, as well as stunning Tuscan views; and quite frankly, it lived up to my expectations tenfold.

Here’s why:

What makes this cookery school so special?
The cookery school was set in a in a traditional Tuscan agriturismo with spectacular views of the Tuscan hills, its vineyards and fields of glorious sunflowers. I don’t think I can pinpoint one particular thing which made the cookery school so special because there were so many things, though the friendly people, the traditional Farmhouse buildings and the amazing pool certainly stood out for me. We even had a dip in the pool after our cookery lesson.

What was the chef/sommelier like?
Chef Esther was such a lovely lady; a traditional Italian nonna, whose enthusiasm and brilliant expertise truly brought the recipes alive. Esther’s welcoming approach to teaching, willingness to share her family recipes, and years’ of experience ensured we left with full tummies, and the know-how to recreate the delicious food we made, back in the UK. During the lesson, she told us all about the origins of the food we were cooking with, and the techniques we were using.

Giuseppe, our sommelier produces all his wine from grape seed to bottle, and he talked us through exactly how he does this; from the fermentation process in the wine cellar, to the bottling and of course, the most important part…the tasting!

What did you cook?
Here’s our delicious menu for the day:
Antipasti:
Italian flag bruschetta: Bruschetta al pomodoro, crostino con salsiccia e stracchino, crostino rucola e parmigiano.
Bruschetta with different toppings: tomatoes and basil, sausage and stracchino cheese, rocket salad and parmesan.

Primi:
Ravioli burro e salvia
Hand -made ravioli with butter & sage sauce.

Secondi:
Branzino e verdure al forno
Oven baked Seabass and vegetables

Dolce:
Crostata di frutta
Fruit tart

What was your favourite dish?
My favourite dish was the oven baked seabass and vegetables, although all it was tasty. All our food was made with fresh, locally sourced Tuscan produce so the flavours were just perfect, and our meal was complemented by some cool, crisp Tuscan white wine.

Would you recommend this cookery course?
Of course! I have already recommended it to so many people; friends and clients. One thing’s for sure though, although I was away with the kitchen fairies, there was no fairy dust involved , just fantastic, locally sourced food and wine.  It was simply magical!

Find out more about NotInTheGuideBooksholidays here.