The sign at the cooking school: it means “the kitchen of Giuseppina.”
Today is our day for the cooking school, with Giuseppina. Her son and daughter-in-law were our chefs for that wonderful meal we enjoyed on the night we arrived in Tuscany, and it was good to see them again today. Some of our group members had been doubtful about spending a day cooking, but everyone participated and had a good time.
We met Giuseppina near the train station in Certaldo, and she took us to a nearby coffee shop so that we could sit and discuss the plans for the day – specifically the menu. The morning was beautiful and the coffee was good.
Then we all walked over to the produce market, a block away on the street, and picked up the vegetables and spices we’d need for the cooking. A visit to a nearby store netted some other groceries along with the pork that we planned to cook. And then we were off to Certaldo Alto, the upper portion of Certaldo, on the hill, where Giuseppina has her cooking school.
Certaldo Alto is a very old town, with buildings and streets dating back 1000 years and more. Giuseppina’s daughter-in-law has a little store there which we were able to visit on the way, and then we arrived at the class and got down to the serious business of cooking.
First we all had to put on our aprons, which were our souvenirs to keep. Then we gathered around the table and started the lesson with tiramisu. We moved on to chopping the spices and coating the pork with them, and then we learned to make a delicious pasta sauce using walnuts, basil, tomatoes, and garlic. An unlikely combination, but it was delicious!
Somewhere in that schedule we also found time to make batter for dipping the sage leaves and zucchini flowers in. They make delicious fried appetizers!
Giuseppina shows off the fried zucchini flowers and sage leaves.
Finally we got to make the pasta itself, starting with flour shaped into a bowl and mixed with egg. As we worked with it, it gradually became dough and we were able to run it through a pasta machine. The machine basically sets the thickness of the pasta and makes it flat, so you can cut it up into various shapes.
Since I’m not really into cooking, I spent most of the time shooting video and you can see it, below, on this page. I am, however, really into eating, and when it came time to eat I was an enthusiastic participant. It was a wonderful lunch!
Decorating the Tiramisu
Chopping the Spices
Preparing the batter
Making Pasta Sauce
Different Types of Pasta