Another exciting day lay ahead of me as I arose to start day 3 of my Tuscany journey. Day 1 had been a beautiful blur of traveling and sightseeing. Day 2 offered me my first glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of the Tuscany region. After all of these experiences, I was all the more excited to embark on my final full day in Florence.
I booked a cooking tour, complete with a tour of local markets, along with learning the history of Florence. Italian food has always had a special place in my foodie heart, so getting the chance to learn authentic recipes from seasoned chefs was so necessary to complete my trip.
Our day began with a historical walking tour of the city. We learned both the general history of Florence, as well as the history of foods in the region. These facts included: the customs that came with drinking espresso and various kinds of coffees, how salt was considered an expensive commodity through most of their history, and why focaccia bread is so darn delicious!
We also got to pass the home where Michelangelo lived for some years, and see ruins of what used to be drive thru wine shops.
While learning these facts, we gathered ingredients for our meal, including stops at a produce market for the freshest tomatoes, as well as the Mercato Centrale where we purchased the meat, bread, and cheeses.
After gathering the ingredients, we boarded our bus to a nearby estate in the Chianti region just outside of the city. While we rode along, our guides taught us more about the different kinds of olive oils, and how Chianti wines were made from Sangiovese grapes.
We'd arrived at the estate, greeted by an older woman who worked in the kitchen, sharing her best recipes with her visitors. After setting our things down, we donned our aprons and prepared to cook!
The menu for the day would consist of the following:
- Lunch: Bruschetta & Pizza
- First Course: Ragú with meat sauce
- Second Course: Roast Porkloin w/ roasted potatoes
- Dessert: Tiramisú and Florentine gelato
First, we prepared the bruschetta (pronounced bru-SKET-ta), taking turns cutting the bread, tomatoes, garlic, and basil.
Next, followed the seasoning and preparation for our main course. This was done concurrently as we prepared toppings for our pizza. Once the toppings were prepared, we went into another room, where we were taught how to knead dough and cut it into our own handmade pasta!
It was now time to complete our pizzas. We were instructed on how to make and roll out the dough for our pizzas. This proved to be a hilarious moment, as I'd managed to tear a hole in my dough, causing a couple retries of tossing my dough in the air like they do in the movies.
After getting our pizzas cooked in a wood fire oven,
we got to enjoy each other's company over pizza, while exploring the great views from the estate.
The cooking had only just begun! It was now time to brown and season the meat sauce for our first course, season the porkloin and potatoes for our second course, and mix the ingredients for dessert. This part of the class went very quickly and taught me a lot about how much time and thought goes into Italian dishes.
We had such a great time making our meal, that by the time dinner was served, we took our time pouring hearty glasses of the finest red wine before taking our seats. Our hosts were gracious enough to put on the final touches of each dish, serving up each course as the afternoon soon turned to dusk.
WE WERE STUFFED. By the time dessert was served, we had to really focus on savoring each bite, so as not to waste any of the ingredients. Since I couldn't enjoy the desserts due to my dairy restrictions, the chef even went out of her way to find some dairy-free cookies for me to enjoy!
Once we finished our meals, we were each presented with certificates of attendance, feeling wildly successful after enjoying the fruits of our labor.
Have you had the chance to explore the beautiful Florence and/or Tuscany region yet? What were some of your favorite highlights? Share your experience below!