Tuscan Food & Wine with Chef/instructor Mark Putnam Cortona, Italy September 17-24, 2011
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Enrollment before May 17, 2011 to reserve your place.... so join us in Tuscany!
Ask a Roman, Neapolitan, Florentine, or Venetian what is Italian Cooking and they will all describe something very different. Ingredients and techniques vary from one region to another, but all Italians do agree that the only thing that really matters is the taste. It does not need to be novel, look like a postcard, be costly, or require elaborate execution. Such things add nothing. Taste in Italy is expressive, but in an uncomplicated, clear, and vigorous way. There are no unnecessary ingredients and no unnecessary steps in the preparation. Originality is reserved. The influence of other cuisines is avoided because the variety of Italian tastes offers more possibilities than our invention can ever exhaust.
Many dishes we associate with Italy today were originally created in the courts of the Renaissance dukes and popes. But those flavors have long since been mingled with the earthier, plainspoken accents of regional kitchens. Italian cooking owes much of its appeal to that vital mixture of the patrician with the humble. At its best, Italian food seems simple. This invites a person to take liberties in the kitchen, which is OK, but it is critical that you honor the ingredients' natural flavors. Otherwise you will only create a parody of Italian food. Here is a short list of things that I believe are important when recreating a convincing Italian meal, and this is the 'philosophy' we will follow in the workshop.
Use only good extra virgin olive oil. You will taste many oils. The best are balanced and expressive; not too spicey, too earthy, too light, too viscous, too murky, or too anything. I prefer the oil made from the olives grown in central Italy. Cheese is a food, not a condiment. Eat lots of it, but don't grate it on top of everything. Wine is - well, a great joy. Herbs and spices are used very sparingly. Paint on herbs with a silk brush, not a broom. Most Italian food is not red, but tomatoes are important. They should taste like tomatoes. If you can't get them out of season, eat something else. Pasta should be taken at least once daily; neither undercooked, nor overcooked. Dried pasta is as good as fresh pasta, just different. Always reduce sauces - a lot! Never serve anything swimming in a bath of cream or wine. Do not avoid salt. It is important for bringing out the depth of flavors. Most restaurants in Italy serve exactly the same food Italians cook in their own kitchens. Meals are not large, but long and satisfying.
Come join us in Cortona and discover for yourself what makes real Italian food so special! Picture Yourself...
among the sights and sounds of beautiful and romantic Tuscany: olive groves, vineyards, centuries-old buildings, winding streets, texture and vibrant sunlight.
in the warm ambiance of Cortona, overlooking Lake Trasimeno and the Val di Chiana, originally fortified by the Umbrians, claimed by the Etruscans, touched by the Renaissance, almost unchanged for centuries, one of Tuscany's jewels.
the joy of cooking in a relaxed and inspiring atmosphere with the expert instruction of a nationally know chef and instructor and the camaraderie of a small group of learners.
great Italian food, delightful wines, new friends, breath-taking vistas, history and the hospitality of the people of Cortona.
Read more about this workshop below!
All-inclusive* workshop includes: Escorted group travel Rome to Cortona September 17, 2011**** Instruction in the classroom and on location Seven nights accommodations in historic Cortona** (Private room & bath) Local Etruscan Museum & Museo Diocesano All meals*** (Italian breakfast, lunch and dinner) Daily wine tasting opportunities Day wine tour Day trip TBA A farewell wine tasting dinner
**Included with "Hotel Oasi" plans only. See details. ***Included with "Group Meal Plan" only. See details. ****Specific departure time only; to be announced *All-inclusive plans are Casa Betania plans only. Air travel and ground transportation to/from Cortona is not included and is the responsibility of each participant.
Hotel Oasi* proud partner of Toscana Americana Workshops since 2003 *equivalent accommosdations may be used
Visit Hotel Oasi online!
Day 1: Arrival, Adjust, Rest or Explore:
Welcome to Cortona… Welcome meeting with wine and chocolate, introductions, and dinner.
Day 2: Students will learn to make homemade pasta from scratch. They will prepare some classic sauces and variations from all over Italy. There will be a brief introduction to the wines of Italy. All-in-all, this will be a time to re-tune your senses of smell, taste, touch, and sight. We will prepare our own lunch.
After lunch: Students will learn to prepare a few regional dishes that exemplify the cuisine of eastern Tuscany. Dinner that night is at a local restaurant*.
Day 3: The morning begins at Banchelli's, a bar in the heart of Cortona. We will munch on fresh pastries as we enjoy a 'coffee primer' and learn the fine art of enjoying a cup anytime. Then we will shop together in the local vegetable market, meat seller, salumeria, cheese shop, pasta maker's shop, bakery, wine store, and more. We return home with our treasures to prepare lunch.
After lunch: Students are FREE to explore Cortona. However, they may have some independent shopping duties. Dinner that night is at a local restaurant*.
Day 4: Students learn how to prepare 'Secondi,' that is, the main course that is the heart of a good Italian meal. Here you will discover the gift of economy, patience, and artistry that makes Italian food so satisfying. We will prepare and eat lunch together.
After lunch: Students will create a dozen or more anitpasti, the little morsels that amuse the senses, and entice you to relax and enjoy a long meal. That night we will show off for the other workshops by inviting them to a real Italian meal students have planned and prepared.
Day 5: We will spend the morning in the kitchen. This will be a chance to make a few dishes associated with the other regions of Italy: risotto and veal from the Piedmonte, sardines from Liguria, and maybe (of course) pizza from Naples. We will eat our creations for lunch
After lunch: Students will learn to make Italian dolce, that is, desserts. We will sample some distilled spirits, passito wines, and vin santo. That night we will join the other classes for a Tuscan Cooking Class.
Day 6: Students have the option of spending the day in Cortona on their own, or visiting another nearby village. We will eat lunch in the day's destination*. Dinner that night is at a local restaurant*.
Day 7: We will take a trip across the valley to Montepulciano and Pienza. We will tour wineries and sample the beautiful cheeses of that region. Lunch* will be a picnic of cured meats, cheeses, and wine.
That night there will be a farewell dinner and wine tasting*.
*Included with "All-inclusive Plans" or when the Group Meal Plan has been chosen.
Here is a general list of topics covered:
Antipasti & soups
Pasta & Rice
Meat & Poultry dishes
Fish & seafood dishes
Vegetables & Salads
Desserts & Cakes
Cured meats and salumi
Classic kitchen techniques
The Italian passion for good food
Saturday – Arrival in Cortona
-Arrival and Check-in in Cortona at assigned accommodations.
-7:30p Welcome to Cortona wine and chocolate tasting at La Saletta.
-Evening dinner in Cortona at La Locanda nel Loggiato
Mark Putnam is an accomplished chef and cooking instructor who specializes in classical cuisine. He celebrates fresh ingredients, remarkable flavors, and beautiful presentation. Putnam has studied with, and worked beside, passionate chefs around the world to build a truly exciting repertoire of techniques and recipes.
The cuisine of central and southern Italy holds a special place in his heart because it typifies how beautiful ingredients can be combined to evoke the history and culture of that wonderful country. In true Italian fashion, Putnam cooks authentic Italian foods as a celebration of la vita bella.
Drawn by the lure of sunlight and olive oil, Putnam and his wife moved to Italy in 2008. In the most rural corners of that country he re-discovered the true flavors, colors, and aromas of Italy. In his own words, "What started as research became a way of life. The experience changed me; the way I think about food, how I cook, and how I enjoy every bite."
He learned to prepare seppia repiena (stuffed cuttlefish) from the wife of the Adriatic fisherman who pulled the inky creature from the sea. He walked through the vineyards of Montefalco and tasted the sagrantino grapes. He stood among the old women in the Spoleto market and listened as they argued about the best way to cook wild asparagus. Putnam charmed his way into humble kitchens, bakeries, and wine cellars across Puglia, Umbria, and Tuscany with a smile and his inexhaustible curiosity about great food and wine.
As a teacher, his serious passion is matched by serious fun. Putnam enjoys teaching people with many different levels of experience. He listens to each student and evaluates what they hope to learn. Together they find a path of instruction which promises success... and satisfaction.
Meet your hosts in Tuscany...
Angela Lucani was born and raised in Cortona and never tires of living within the walls of this vibrant Tuscan hilltown! She trained as an elementary school teacher and taught in various locals within Cortona from its mountain villages to the growing post-war part of Cortona known as Camucia. Angela has always been passionate about Tuscan cooking, which she began to learn at an early age aiding her mother in the kitchen. She maintains respect for local cooking traditions and recipes and shares that with Italians and foreign visitors through cooking classes conducted both in Italy and in America. She has extensive knowledge of Cortona's various areas, from the mountains to the fertile Val di Chiana, and continues to learn about its long and colorful history. She is also passionate about travel and enjoys learning about and experiencing customs, traditions and characteristics of other countries, cultures & people. Her travels destinations have included the United States, England, Egypt, South America, France, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Greece. She enjoys serving as a bridge between visitors to Tuscany and the local culture.
Patrick Mahoney (Miami University BA'80, MA'82) lives in Cortona where he continues a thirty-year career in the field of Arts & Entertainment producing events, workshops and tours and providing opportunities to share the Italy experience with travelers, artists and people who share his interests for foods, wine, art, culture. Patrick's passion is to conceive and realize various ways in which the human spirit can express and demonstrate its capacity to create. His ability to fearlessly think, conceive, and work "out of the box" has earned him the attention of artists & musicians, colleges & universities, public & private organizations, and business and industry. Patrick brings integrity and a unique vision to Toscana Americana and he is committed to realizing the opportunity for participants to create in an atmosphere of peace, joy, respect and mutual support. As a "slow traveler" and a supporter of "slow food" Mr. Mahoney rides trains, walks, lingers over lunch, dinner or a cup of espresso, stops to smell the roses and savors the sensory feast wherever he is!