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Cooking classes?

BEERMAN

10+ Posts
Hello, I've been amazed at the generous information provided to me in the "Arrivals" section. I am new to this forum and our family of 3 will finally be returning to Italy after 4 years. We are considering having a cooking lesson in one of our villas. In Guarene the kitchen is beautiful and has a stone wood fired oven and the property has an incredible cave next to the gardens for a cozy dinner. In Nesso we also have a beautiful kitchen with tiered garden spaces on the water to enjoy such a perfect meal experience. Have you had a "cook" come for a few hours to teach you something new? We are going to reach out to our hosts to see if they can recommend something, but curious what others have done. Thank you for any advice and we're thankful that travel is back!
 

Penn251

100+ Posts
No cooking recommendations in Piemonte - but I am interested in the villas you have rented, since we are planning a trip to the region next Spring.
 

BEERMAN

10+ Posts
No cooking recommendations in Piemonte - but I am interested in the villas you have rented, since we are planning a trip to the region next Spring.
I will include a review of the places we stay in the trip report, with pics. FYI, we planned this trip very last minute, actually deciding on the places, all airbnb, only 6 weeks out from our trip. You should have many more available options this far out, but we may have chosen these even with more choices. At first we wanted a pool, actually found a beautiful place in Barolo but the host advised the pool was closed after 7pm, We figure we have 3 days of beaches in Liguria before Guarene and 3 days lake front in Nesso with private dock to swim off of if we want. The 7pm closure gave us time to continue the search and we are happy we did. Hopeful the pics, descriptions and reviews are accurate for all 3.
 

Ian Sutton

1000+ Posts
Sorry no cooking teaching reccos from me either, and it might be a little more challenging there than in Bologna or Amalfi Coast, where I have seen cookery schools.

I reckon you did the best thing though - ask the host. If anyone would know of someone suitable, amateur or it's their business, that ought to be the best attempt to find them.

If that doesn't get any options, there's no reason not to raid the excellent local specialist food shops, something I enjoy doing rather too much. We find the following super-easy, but have cooked properly in the past
- Fresh pasta from a local pastificio. We've yet to find a bad one. Add some butter and fresh herbs once cooked and drained, and that's often enough.
- Gastronomia prepared foods. Some Alimentari also have similar fresh prepared foods, but not all. Generally they can either be eaten cold or reheated.
- Rotating salad / picnic / supper. Getting a mix of whatever looks tasty, and each day have a meal (or two) from it, topping it up with other stuff to keep it interesting. Cheese & cured meats, or eggs can also double up for breakfast, though ideally we get fresh fruit in and grab some yoghurts for that.

I must admit that with a wood fired oven, I might be tempted to make pizza / fresh bread.

One easy and local recipe, is to raid that place with the pears, and also grab a bottle of moscato d'asti wine. Peel the pairs and poach in the wine (in as narrow a saucepan as they have), along with some cinnamon (and other cooking spices if there are any). No additional sugar needed as the wine is sweet, but add some if you prefer it sweeter. 45 mins for the pears, but you can take them out and blast the liquid for a few more minutes to make it more syrupy. If there's enough wine left in the bottle, a chilled glass each should be good.
 
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BEERMAN

10+ Posts
My wife just traded emails with our Nesso airbnb owner, come to find out they own a restaurant in Lezzeno! We will try to do this dinner in Guarene first, because of the wood stove and "cave" dining area, looks perfect for what we envision. But I imagine a restaurant owner might be able to come up with someone on a Monday or Tuesday?!

Ian thanks for recipes, I enjoy cooking, especially fresh pasta dishes, and baking bread is a hobby. My wife likes to decorate our focaccia.........
 

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Ian Sutton

1000+ Posts
Stop making me hungry! ;) That focaccia looks superb and the tagliatelle rather more uniform than mine!

Talking of bread, Piemonte is the home of grissini, and visiting a bakery in Ivrea showed some nice options for stuff to include e.g. parmigiano and black pepper. I always feel pleasingly childish rolling out the 'snakes' that will go in the oven.

I reckon getting some time helping out prep in the restaurant would be something to remember!
 

BEERMAN

10+ Posts
I had to look up grissini! When we order drinks in Piemonte will we see these instead of chips? hope so!!! If I could spend a day prepping in an Italian restaurant I would be a happy man! Quick edit to say, my kitchenaid is considered cheating by some, I have made and cut pasta by hand and well...I'm gonna cheat whenever possible!
 

joe

500+ Posts
Beerman, I see that you and your wife really love and appreciate good food, and enjoy preparing a great meal yourselves. You didn't say exactly when in September your trip is going to take place, but if it meshes with your plans, I strongly urge you to attend the Salone del Gusto, the major event of the Slow Food organization, held in Torino every two years. This year it is scheduled for September 22-26. This is a MUST event for anyone who wants to experience a cornucopia of quality foodstuffs made by small producers from all over the world, but mostly from Italy and Europe. We have been two or three times, and planned on going in 2020, but Covid destroyed our plans. This is probably the best 3-day marketplace experience anyone could have. The sheer variety and great quality of the foodstuffs, plus the opportunity to speak directly with these artisanal producers, are simply fantastic.
 

Ian Sutton

1000+ Posts
Very much more likely to get chips, but especially if drinking early evening (aka aperitivo hour), don't be surprised to get some more substantial nibbles, freshly prepared.

Grissini in many places will be industrially made uniform bread sticks, crispy but bland. However if there a basket of knobbly / wonky sticks as they seat you at the table, that's the real thing and well worth trying. The legend has it that they were invented to solve the gastric problems of a young prince (served instead of bread), and it worked, with him growing up healthy and becoming King.

Cheating is good and your cheat is better than my cheap hand-cranked alternative.

Whether you change plans based on Joe's suggestion of Salone del Gusto in Torino or not, it's certainly a city that I've long adored for its food and indeed for so much else. I've lamented a few specialist shops closing, but that typically spurs me on to find alternatives, e.g. Bait Del Formagg on via Lagrange shut, but I found another place in the covered Piazza della Repubblica market, that whilst different, was equally exciting. I even have a favourite fruit & veg shop (primizie di Osvaldo) that I can't think I've ever found better anywhere else. On our last visit, the agent for the apartment asked what we were there for, so I said (only part jokingly) "fare la spesa" ... to do the grocery shopping:D

IMO It's a great city to be in ~ October / November/December, but I also like April and into May. That's partly influenced by the seasonal food, but also by the weather being typically, but not consistently milder in April / October
 

BEERMAN

10+ Posts
Beerman, I see that you and your wife really love and appreciate good food, and enjoy preparing a great meal yourselves. You didn't say exactly when in September your trip is going to take place, but if it meshes with your plans, I strongly urge you to attend the Salone del Gusto, the major event of the Slow Food organization, held in Torino every two years. This year it is scheduled for September 22-26. This is a MUST event for anyone who wants to experience a cornucopia of quality foodstuffs made by small producers from all over the world, but mostly from Italy and Europe. We have been two or three times, and planned on going in 2020, but Covid destroyed our plans. This is probably the best 3-day marketplace experience anyone could have. The sheer variety and great quality of the foodstuffs, plus the opportunity to speak directly with these artisanal producers, are simply fantastic.
We are going to be traveling this weekend! so unfortunately we will miss this incredible event. FYI, for internet stalkers my mother inlaw is house/puppy sitting for us, she's been known to conceal carry a smith and wesson revolver ha ;-)

I read through the workshops, which are all sold out, but the forest foraging would be very interesting to me, we just found a person to do this on our West Virginia property! This would interest us and our daughter perhaps for a future trip, her background is in Public Health, food security (insecurity) and nutrition on a global scale. She got her brains from her mother and a nice head of hair from me !!
 

Ian Sutton

1000+ Posts
If foraging appeals, the Asti funghi group were very friendly when we got chatting to them at the Truffle fair in Alba, and did suggest we join them for a walk / foray if we were in the area when they were heading out. I think this is them
We also had a lovely walk around Castino with a local walking group, who had arranged for a truffle walk with a truffle hunter. The fee wasn't huge and it was a good walk. There is a great joy in finding local events / groups for a shared interest, and that's something I love doing when timings align.

If you do decide to head out to Barolo, there's a lovely woodland walk going out of the village towards Monforte d'Alba, and I think it started off via della valle here, with free parking nearby Plenty of other good woodland walks, but that was rather nice and pleasingly cooling.
IIRC Farmacie (chemists) in Italy are typically trained in mushroom identification, though we've not stumbled across too much in the Langhe.

Mostly I forage the market stalls!
 

BEERMAN

10+ Posts
I only pick what I absolutely know won't hurt us, which isn't much! On our property that would only be chanterelles and black berries at this point. A friend showed us "leatherback" mushrooms on our property, but we didn't care for these. I have tried dandelion leaves in a salad, but just because someone says it's edible doesn't mean it tastes good ;-) My uncle makes dandelion wine, I'll stick with beer!
 

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