Saturday, July 9, 2011

Toscana Saporita Cooking School

Now that I've had my morning coffee and breakfast, I feel well prepared to write about last summer's trip to cooking school: Toscana Saporita, located in the hills of Tuscany and run by the indomitable Sandra Rosy Lotti. I happened to be leafing through a copy of La Cucina Italiana (a great magazine, by the way) when I came across the advert for Toscana. My mom and I had always talked about a trip to Italy; what better way to go than to cook our way through? After a few phone calls the trip was set. Easy.
Toscana Saporita
If you ever have the chance to go to cooking school in Italy, jump on it. Cooking in the kitchen of a 15th century villa does wonders for the soul. The food in Italy is just better because the raw ingredients are better -- egg yolks are deep orange, tomatoes are deep red, herbs grow readily outside, olive trees are nearby. Everything is fresh and perfect. Italians take their food very seriously. There's nothing like it.

We made fresh pasta and it reminded me of watching my grandmother make it in her basement kitchen when I was little. We made sauce from fresh Sicilian tomatoes, and no matter how hard I try to recreate that taste, it seems it can only come from those tomatoes.

And of course there were dishes besides pasta. There was meat, and vegetables, and dessert....

And there were the views and the beautiful surroundings....

And Sandra....

My mom, Sandra and me
And in some ways all these pictures and all this text won't ever do the place justice, won't ever fully explain how wonderful this adventure was. But maybe a little taste will do, so here's a recipe from Toscana for a summer farro salad (changed a wee bit by me). Farro is an ancient grain that's eaten widely in Italy. Like couscous, you can mix it with any vegetable or herb and it's just wonderful, and very easy to make. This is just one way of making it, so experiment. It only requires a lot of water and time to cook.

Summer Farro Salad
~Follow the directions on the package for cooking the farro, making as much or as little as desired
~When done, drain the farro and set aside, allowing it to cool
~Add the following to the farro, all diced:
      2 tomatoes of your choice
      1/2 red onion
      1 clove of garlic
~1/4 cup good olive oil
~2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
~Salt and pepper to taste
~Mix and enjoy

There will be more recipes from Toscana to come, and when I get brave enough to make my own pasta (after a crash course from Grandma), there will be plenty on that too. In the meantime, check out Toscana's site, and book a trip if you can. You won't be disappointed.
Toscana Saporita


  1. How wonderful and what a great experience to have with your mother. Love all your photos too.

  2. Thank you, paninigirl. It was a once in a lifetime experience at Toscana, though I believe I'll visit Lucca again some day. I'm a big fan of your blog; thanks for checking out mine.