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One of the joys in taking a cooking class is getting to know the people behind the food. Our tour and web coordinator Liz SanFilippo Hall recently spent the afternoon with one of our favorite families when she visited Sorrento. Here she talks about the wonderful day cooking traditional Neapolitan recipes at the villa.
“Before I arrived at the villa, I’d long heard about how beautiful it was — and it was all true! Even though the day was, unfortunately, rainy, it didn’t dampen the spirits of Zia Angela, or her daughters Marida and Roberta. My husband and I were the first to arrive to the class, and we were greeted with some snacks and some absolutely delicious cherry water, which you can bet we got the recipe for. And although it rained, we were still able to admire the beautiful lemon and olive groves, as well as the gardens, from under the covered patio.
Once the class got underway, we knew we were there for something special. The Sorrento cooking class included nine people, but it didn’t feel crowded at all. We all got our hands dirty, working with beautiful zucchini blossoms, making a spaghetti puttanesca sauce, putting together skewers of traditional meats, seasoning potatoes, and — one of my favorites — creating some delicious fruit tarts completely from scratch.
But this cookery course isn’t just about the cooking. Both Zia Angela and Marida regaled us with family tales during the class, and Charlie, another family member, took us to his wine cellar where he makes special wine batches just for family and friends — including us! My husband had been assiduously taking notes during all of this, and to get him involved even more, Charlie asked for his help in pouring the wine from the massive jugs where the wine stays after the fermentation process is done.
After enjoying a lot of wonderful wine, it was time for dinner. The meal started with traditional caprese (mozzarella cheese from the Amalfi Coast is the best in the world, I’ve discovered), then continued with all of the creations we made during class. By dessert, I was absolutely full, but there was no way I was passing up that amazing tart!
The cooking class was wonderful, but I can’t say it enough — what makes this experience even more special is getting to know this Italian family who clearly loves hosting people in their home to cook. My husband and I look forward to going back again!”
For more information, please see all of our one-day-classes in Italy!
By Liz SanFilippo Hall
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Originally published January 8, 2013.