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Cooking class in Florence

Cooking class in Florence

Each year I spend some time at Costanza’s renaissance villa in Florence. Sometimes I bring group of people to gather together for a cooking class, and walk in the olive orchards or enjoy an outdoor feast of pizza freshly baked in the stone pizza oven. In one of her cooking classes in Florence, Costanza had a group of chefs from Norway who were being taught to make an authentic Tuscan meal. I personally loved the Faraona del Paradisino – roasted Guinea fowl. Back in my native Canada I replaced the Guinea fowl with grain fed, antibiotic free chicken. My guests were so delighted with this dish that I was embarrassed to tell them it’s a one pot meal. Try this out on your family or friends and let me know what they think.

Cook this amazing dish. Faraona del Paradisino – Roasted Guinea Fowl

The beauty of Paracus, Peru

The beauty of Paracus: Peru’s often overlooked destination

By Eva Stelzer

It’s extremely popular to want to tick off those “10,000 places to see before you die,” but when you do travel to a bucket list destination, be sure to seek out nearby places that give you something exceptional to remember and talk about with your friends.

When one more friend says they’re going to Machu Picchu, you want to tell them also to visit the desert peninsula of Paracas, Peru’s often missed destination of exquisite beauty, just 260 miles south of Lima.

Paracas is where miles of sand dunes meet the bluest of seas. The Paracas National Reserve on the Ica Peninsula is a coastal subtropical desert. There is no public transportation to get there, but a group or private tour can be arranged for you. Considered one of the richest and most unique ecosystems in the world, Paracas is for people who love nature, want to see the desert, and are interested in the wildlife. A marine reserve is dedicated to the protection and the conservation of the sea ecosystems, as well as for the protection of the cultural and historical patrimony of the pre-Incan Paracas culture.

“Considered one of the richest and most unique ecosystems in the world, Paracas is for people who love nature, want to see the desert, and are interested in the wildlife.”

Cook under the Tuscan Sun

Cooking Class in Tuscany

Cooking with Costanza: a culinary adventure to awaken and inspire all your senses and allow you to experience the very essence of Italy!

The Renaissance Villa, on a hill with all of Florence spread out below, focuses on regional cuisine that is more regal and elaborate in preparation than in the villages. Set in a heritage-protected five-hectare property with colourful gardens, this is an opportunity to experience the lifestyle of the Tuscan city folk and immerse yourself in Italy as you imagine it in films. Your experience begins al fresco with a tour of the organic herb gardens. You are encouraged to smell, feel and taste the various greens. Learn how to choose the most perfect natural flavour enhancers of Tuscan cuisine. The discussions will cover food traditions, history, and what makes food such an integral part of everyday life in Italy. Of course you choose the freshest herbs for your cooking lesson.

tuscan cuisineFood choices are seasonal and take advantage of the freshest produce. The first dish to prepare is an authentic antipasto. Too many restaurants ignore antipasti and focus on pasta, but this is a traditional meal to be enjoyed all evening long, and enjoyment of each course is paramount to your culinary experience. The antipasti selection is based on seasonal and local produce. Each course is paired with an Italian wine.

Appetizers are based on both wild and cultivated foods. In spring you might make frittata di carciofi – fried artichoke. Jewish Romans made this dish famous in the ghetto, and it is still a staple of spring cooking. Chef Costanza may thinly slice an artichoke and treat it like a carpaccio – which is usually thinly sliced raw beef or fish – and serve with a deep grassy flavoured olive oil. In summer tomatoes ripening on the vine make delicious bruschetta al pomodoro (tomato bruschetta), insalata caprese (tomato salad with garden fresh basil, oregano and local buffalo mozzarella). Autumn is the season for melt-in-the mouth crostini con i funghi procini (porcini mushrooms in a flaky crust).