Welcome to our courses in Tuscan farmhouse cookery
Not only cooking, but also sightseeing, learning italian, wine-tasting, you name it!
§ Stay in a seventeenth-century farmhouse on an organic olive farm and a riding centre.
§ Have daily hands-on cooking lessons with Isabella, using locally reared meat and, above all, Tuscany’s glory: the variety of vegetables and fruit.
§ Learn about the production of wine and olive oil from Jenny, an Oxford graduate who came to Tuscany some years ago and lost her return ticket.
§ Visit local sites of interest not known to the average tourist. Visit a famous winery in the heart of the Chianti region.
§ Learn from an experienced teacher useful words and phrases in Italian, such as “delizioso!” and “buon appetito!”
When do the courses take place?
We have chosen periods when there is a great variety of local produce on which to base our cooking courses, avoiding, generally, the busy tourist season, when flights are more expensive and tourist destinations crowded. Please note, however, that we can organize tailor-made courses at other times of year for groups of 4-6 people. Find out by getting in touch!
In early spring the sun is beginning to get warm and wild flowers spring up in the fields and woods: violets, primroses and the first poppies. During the courses you will be able to use fresh produce from the local farms and gardens: asparagus with eggs and cheese or for a risotto, wild chives to combine with ricotta to make a delicious antipasto, various types of lettuce for salads and garnish. While Tuscan pecorino is available all the year, it is only now we can find marzolina, the exquisite fresh cheese produced when the sheep begin to eat the first tender shoots of spring grass.
This, too, is the season for lamb and Isabella will learn you the traditional way of preparing it. Alternatively she can show you two delicious vegetarian dishes that also meat-eaters will enjoy. You will make pasta or gnocchi with Tuscan sauces and buy the first strawberries of the season at the market, so that Isabella can show you how to make an exquisite icecream.
At last the torrid Italian summer is drawing to a close and we can begin to enjoy the golden light so typical of this season. Now is the time that our gardens are full of sun-ripened tomatoes, zucchine and aubergines, and Isabella will teach you recipes using these tasty vegetables, stuffing them, frying them, sautéing them, you name it! You will learn how to make pomarola, a tomato sauce that can then be bottled and used over the winter, as well as other spreads for crostini and bruschette, both with meat and without.
We can visit a famous wine-farm, visiting the gardens and cellars and sampling their world-famous wine which is matured in vast oak barrels. We may also visit a local honey-producer and taste the various honeys his bees produce from heather, acacia and sweet chestnut flowers.
The climate is mild, the wine harvest has just finished, the woods and vineyards are ablaze with colour and the olive-picking has started: you may, if you like, take part! You will be able to visit an olive press and taste a bruschetta of newly-made olive oil, thick, green and peppery. This is the chestnut season and Isabella will teach you how to use chestnut flour to make castagnaccio, a traditional Tuscan sweet. It is the month of porcini mushrooms, too and Isabella will teach you to make her very special risotto.
Gardens are full of autumn vegetables and you may learn how to make minestra di pane e ribollita, the typical Tuscan soups, and Isabella will also show you how to make home-made pasta.
This is Isabella, the chef of our farm restaurant. She was born in Milano and came to Tuscany when she married in 1984. She learnt to prepare many Italian dishes, but she is also expert in Tuscan cuisine. She loves cooking for her family and for our guests too.
This is Jenny, the owner of Rendola Riding, where people come to ride as well as cook. She is a language teacher and is also very knowledgeable about Tuscan traditions and culture. She is author of two books “Pietro’s Book”, a biography of a peasant farmer, and “Pietro’s Book of Recipes”.
“The variety of demonstrations and recipes was well thought out and a good representation of seasonal, easy, tasty to a bit more challenging-to-make (gnocchi). I loved the opportunities to visit a monastery, churches and markets and a boarhunters’ hut.”
– Marian Kaminitz