Cooking in Siena


Monday, July 22, 2103
We awoke to a beautiful sunny day in Tuscany. We had breakfast in the Castel Monastero courtyard which was delicious. Lots of freshly baked goodies, fresh juices and the best cappuccinos yet! Our plan for the day was to explore Siena and take part in a cooking class. Siena is a walled fortress town high up on a hill. We parked the car and took a series of escalators up to the town centre. The town has lots of steep, dark alleyways which add to the mystic ambience of the place. In the centre of the town, we visited the Piazza del Campo where the famous Palio horse races are held each year and we saw the Palazzo Pubblico with its high and imposing bell tower. We stopped for lunch at wonderful back street cafe where we had an excellent bruschetta that was made in front of us (tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and fresh basil). We followed this up with an excellent lasagna and penne pesto.

After lunch it was time for our cooking class and we headed down the hill to La Scuola di Cucina with Lella and Giulia. They were accompanied by Irena, who translated everything into English for us. We had two other couples join us for the class - they were from Boston and New York. We had a fantastic time learning how to cook various Tuscan style meals. We made fried sage leaves using flour and sparkling water which resulted in great little snacks. We then made typical Tuscan crostini. Even though the main ingredient was chicken liver, we still found it to be quite tasty! For the pasta dish, we made our own fresh pasta - Pici. This is very similar to spaghetti. We were amazed at how much time it takes to make the pasta dough and rolling it into long thin pieces is quite a work of art. For the pasta topping, we used fresh Italian sausage meat with mushrooms, garlic, olive oil, red wine and tomatoes. This was very tasty. The main course comprised sage stuffed pork loin with roasted potatoes. This was superb. Finally, we made fresh peach crostata for dessert. We learned how to make the pastry and a fresh peach filling - yummy! This was a fantastic experience and one of the highlights of our trip.

The cooking class lasted about five hours and after it was over, it was time to head back to our hotel in the country.

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