My first trip to Europe was tagging along on a trip to Paris with my brother and my mother when I was 30-something. I come from a foodie family. Growing up in the South, family life revolved around long leisurely meals of Southern classics. So it was no surprise that the three of us ended up at the Ritz enrolled in a cooking class, learning classic French cooking techniques and making homemade pasta.
That trip kind of set the course for the rest of my European travels. In almost every destination I’ve visited, I’ve enrolled in local cooking classes to learn about the cuisine and pick up a few techniques.
On a recent trip to Umbria, we hired a private chef to not only prepare our evening meals, but also to teach us to make some authentic Italian foods like homemade pasta. We learned to make ravioli stuffed with spinach and ricotta and pizza dough which we topped with fresh tomatoes and cured meats. Even my husband, who can’t make a bowl of cereal, got in on the act.
If you’re headed to Umbria, I’m happy to put you in touch with our chef. And if you’re ever in Tuscany, I can also recommend spending time with Gino Stipo of Ecco la Cucina. I first met Gina in the states, oddly enough. My brother gave me tickets to her Italian cooking demo and she graciously autographed one of her new cookbooks, Ecco la Cucina, for me, knowing my affinity for Italy.
Next up on my list? I’m headed to Dijon, France for an entire week at a cooking school…on a vineyard.