Getting bad food in Italy is near impossible, even if you are doing the cooking yourself! We had a cooking lesson in the apartment we were renting and amazed ourselves with what we produced. The company who provided the lesson is called Toscaneggiando (Via Villa Fontana 90, 55012 San Colombano, Capannori LU tel: +39.348.644.6423 website: www.toscaneggiando.it).
I cannot recommend them highly enough. Not only was their food so good, but the three ladies were interesting and helpful about food, recommending shops in Lucca, visiting Italy, speaking Italian, raising children… It was a unique opportunity to visit with some native Lucchesi people and get to know a bit about life in Lucca.
As for the cooking, we learned to cook Crostini garfagnini, a crostini with a herb flavoured tomato sauce on top; Pasta tordellata, a hand made pasta with a meat ragu, ricotta, and chard; Fagiano al forno, roasted guinea fowl; Fagioli al fiasco, beans cooked in a wine bottle and Panna cotta con cioccolato, custard with chocolate sauce.
We were sent their brochures before we left for Italy and selected the dishes we were interested in learning to make. The list of dishes is extensive and all local to Lucchese cuisine. The cost varies depending on the number of people taking the lesson. For two of us, it was €60 each. Not cheap, but for all the food we had, including wine, and the instruction, it turned out to be a good deal because we eventually had two meals for the two of us and could have made it three if we wanted leftovers a second time.
The ladies came to the apartment, brought all the ingredients and a couple of bottles of wine. The first thing we did was open one of the bottles. How often does that happen when you are supposed to getting an education? They then patiently guided us through the preparation of what turned out to be a fabulous feast. They explained a lot about the ingredients and techniques. We got our hands in on most of it, especially making pasta by hand. And now, I hope, after their instructions and helpful tips, the next time I make panna cotta, it will turn out properly.
We spent three hours for our cooking lesson and the ladies of Toscaneggiando left us with recipes and the most wonderful memories.