Tuscan Family Cooking Class
This was the type of day that makes your trip. I scoured the Internet high and low for a cooking class that would accommodate our group which included cooks of varying levels and our kids – two four-year-olds and two two-year-olds.
The few classes that took kids were pizza making classes. We had a pizza oven at our villa and make tons of pizza at home. Don’t get me wrong, we love to make pizza, but that was something we could do on our own. Plus it didn’t spark the interest of several of the more serious cooks in our group.
Then I found Al Gelso Bianco. From the very first e-mail I knew we were going to have a wonderful time. They were excited about the kids coming along with us, were happy to discuss menu options and were incredibly easy to schedule.
You pull up to the gate and instantly know you are somewhere special. You have to call from the gate so they can buzz you through. This means though, once on the property, it’s just you and inn guests making this an amazingly peaceful experience.
The drive from the gate to the villa is breathtaking. We were met at the parking area by our lovely hostesses Irene and Susanna who would lead our cooking class.
We walked through the property and directly into the kitchen. Everything was set up and ready to go. They had aprons ready for all of us. The adults were given a glass of wine from their vineyard, the kids got sparkling water and we set to work.
We got a quick briefing of our lunch menu which we would be making: bruschetta, focaccia bread, egg pasta with bolognese sauce, roasted pork loin and chocolate torte. The kitchen was amazingly simple. We used standard kitchen equipment. The Italian flair came entirely from the local ingredients and our chefs’ experience.
The class was run just like your grandma would run a kitchen. We could help with anything we wanted or just sit back and watch. The kids were fully included in everything they were interested in doing. They chopped vegetables and herbs.
The kids’ favorite part was making pasta. They got to feel the different flours, help make the dough and then run the hand crank on the pasta machine.
They were quite good at running the machine and overseeing the pasta operation. All the adults rotated through with feeding the pasta dough through the machine.
While pasta was being made on one side of the kitchen my dad and our middle little were busy mixing up the cheese and sausage for some bruschetta.
My sister was put to work making the focaccia bread. A recipe that we’ve since made twice more.
The middle little loves to cut things, so he helped cut the bread up into pieces. (See the kids could literally help with whatever they were interested in.)
We had no trouble finding helpers to make the chocolate torte, including licking the bowl.
Even our little one enjoyed moving around the kitchen in the carrier and smelling all the smells that come with preparing an Italian feast.
We had some down time while the pork was in the oven and the pasta was cooking so we were given a tour of the property.
The property itself is stunning. The kids enjoyed visiting the variety of animals that call the villa home – from cats and turtles to chickens. We could even see the flock of sheep whose milk went to make the cheese we used.
There were plenty of distractions for the children. A large fenced lawn out front contained a giant cow statue, a gazebo and plenty of space to run.
There is even a playground tucked into a wooded corner of the property. The kids ran around here while a few of the adults snuck away to hear about the estate’s wines (ok, it was a wine tasting).
The time flew by and soon it was time to wash up and help carry all the food and wine from the kitchen to the dining room across the property.
We were all so excited to eat the delicious food that I failed to get a picture before we sat down to eat. The food was amazing though. Enhanced by the hard work, surroundings and company it was the perfect Italian meal.
We snapped a few more photos of the view on our way out of the property.
This was truly one of the best family events we’ve ever booked. I loved getting to work alongside the kids and knew that they were having as good a time as we were.
Cooking classes book up in high season, but they are able to be a bit more flexible on dates and times in the winter. Everything from start to finish was polished, so don’t be afraid to contact Al Gelso Bianco with any questions you might have.