Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cooking Classes In Italy

If you have perused my blog you have probably seen
my pizza oven
which we installed in our kitchen 
when we remodeled a few years ago.  (Follow this link
to see my post on the oven, or click on the post on the
sidebar to see the kitchen remodel post.)
We had the
chance to go and take a week long cooking class
in Tuscany offered by the distributer of the oven
here in America - Mugnaini Ovens.

Talk about the opportunity of a lifetime.

Andrea Mugnaini, owner of Mugnaini (moon -ya-eeny)
Pizza Ovens offered a one week cooking class to 
owners of her ovens which she imports from Tuscany.

We stayed in a quaint countryside resort which had a special
detached kitchen with 3 wood burning ovens and one
gas fired stove on which we cooked everything.

 There were 22 of us in the class, held just outside of
Florence in the Tuscan countryside.

Chef Alessi, a native of Tuscany was our chef.

Mornings were spent taking walks through the Tuscan
countryside.  How lush and green.

Then off to the kitchens by 10:oo am
to prepare 6-7 dishes for lunch.

 This was our typical lunch spread.  You quickly
learned to eat just a spoonful of everything.

We ate our lunches outside.  This day we had made
roast suckling pig and ate it at the bacci ball court.

 Afternoons we were off touring, meeting the
famous singing butcher, Dario Cecchini in Panzano.
He fills his butcher shop as he sings classical Italian
songs or quotes from Dante's Inferno.

with the meat he cut for us we returned and made this
famous bistecca fiorentina, a 2 inch steak highly
seasoned with fresh herbs and garlic

and roasted over coals in the wood burning oven.

 We also went  to the factory where our  Valoriani pizza ovens were
made.  You see Valoriani ovens in many pizzerias here in the
states that have wood burning pizza ovens.

We toured a centuries old olive oil factory.

And we enjoyed beautiful Tuscany or swam
in the resorts pools or took a nap.

 Then by 5:00 we were back to the kitchen to prepare
 7-8 courses for dinner.
We learned that bread in Italy has traditionally been
made one day of the week, filling the bottom of the
oven with loaves and then using the bread throughout
the rest of the week, that is why so much of their recipes
use bread - they learned to create recipes with the
leftover bread where freshness didn't matter - bruschetta,
panzanella, and bread soup.

In the wood burning ovens you begin with the hottest
fire and you can broil as we are here charring the peppers,
next the heat is perfect for pizzas as you want an oven
around 650 degrees on the floor for that.  Next as the oven
cools you can bake and finally after hours of cooling you
can slow bake like the suckling pig.  It isn't just a pizza oven.

This is the traditional type oven people have cooked in
for centuries and the kind loaves of bread were found
in when they uncovered Pompei.

Each day featured a different meat - 
cooking with fish one day, meat another, poultry another
and pizza only on one day.

We would finally settle down for another feast,
truly, with a table that fit 24, seated outside,

under the Tuscan sunset.

While we were there, we took the train to visit my
husband's cousin 
who is a freelance high-end luxury handbag and shoe designer.

I just adore her fanciful drawings.  

Just imagine the
process of going from drawing to finished product.

She flies all over the world to procure the leathers
and metal hardware she needs.

She studied design in high school in Issaquah,
a suburb of Seattle and at Bellevue College
 and then moved to New York to study illustration.
She graduated with a BA in Technical Design.

She began her career at DKNY and eventually
became their design director.

An offer from Furla got her to move to Bologna
Italy, she moved back to New York after a few
years to work for DKNY again but missed her life
in Italy and has now been there since 2005.

She is a very successful freelance designer,
designing for Sergio Rossi (Gucci's luxury line),
Elie Tahari, Botkier, Coccinelle, and Tommy Hilfiger BV.

Next week we are off to visit Tonya in Bologna, Italy and she
has arranged for us to have some
  cooking classes
which I can't wait to share with you.  

First we stop in Paris.  Oh, I wish we had more time
but we are grateful to be able to squeeze this into our
busy schedules.

My youngest daughter just graduated and
 received her 1st year certificate
Culinary School.

 She will continue on next year and
complete the 2nd year, so we decided to bring her
along so she could take the cooking classes and
taste the wonderful food of Paris and Italy.

I can't wait to share this trip with you from Paris to
Bologna, to cooking classes, and who knows
where else we might traipse off too - Maybe Venice.

I will be sharing this with
 Metamorphosis Monday
Wow Us Wednesday
Tablescapes Thursday
Foodie Friday

Chocolat - French for Chocolate. I adored chocolate from a young age when I had to sneak in the cupboard to find where my mother had hidden the Nestle's Chocolate Chips. Having read about the famous chocolat shoppes in Paris, when I finally got there I was determined to try a chocolate from every Paris shoppe. I invite you to share my adventures in creating, in travel, and in life.


  1. What a wonderful opportunity and congratulations to your daughter! I can't imagine what wonderful meals you are having. Hope you come home with lots of wonderful recipes.

  2. O.K. now WAIT.....PIZZA is my number one FAVORITE FOOD OF ALL TIME. Years ago, we saw these ovens at our downtown Industrial Fair and I WANTED ONE, but our kitchen is just too small for it. I just saw your post on this and I AM IN HEAVEN. Jacqueline, your blog is my HEAVEN ON EARTH! Bread, GOOD BREAD with sauce and toppings is unbeatable. THAT RASPBERRY VERSION with the drizzled chocolate? Good heavens.....thank you for this treat and see you on Saturday for the Paris post? EXCELLENT! Anita

  3. I see... so the way I get my hubby to take me to Italy is to buy one of those ovens, right? I could handle that :).

    Wow, sounds like you are having a great time. I'm drooling over the food and the shoe designs!! I gave up heels years ago, but wow, they are stunning. Love her handbags too - the python clutch is so yummy!

    Congrats to your daughter for finishing her first year of culinary school - so nice of you to give her the opportunity to cook with Italian Chefs. She'll have a fabulous advantage over her classmates.

    Have a wonderful trip and tell us all about it soon!!

  4. What a wonderful time you must have had!
    My all-time favorite food memory is of a simple meal under the stars just outside of Pompeii. We sat at a little table, two of four people in the outdoor restaurant, drinking the local wine and watching our dinner emerge, bit by bit from just such an oven. Your post took me right back.

  5. Way to go Amanda!! I wish I was Jackie's daughter. Have a great time. All that you will miss in Utah it the rain. Enjoy!! XOXOXO

  6. Jacqueline, this post was fabulous. I now know I can live vicariously through your blog!!! I was watching a show on the Cooking Channel yesterday, "David Rocco's Dolce Vita", and the episode was all about this crazy butcher of Panzano and his bistecca all Fiorentina!!! And congratulations to your daughter. Having you as a Mom, she must be a very talented chef. xo,

  7. know I already loved you to death. You're so creative and such a blessing to all of us who read you...but you have won my heart 110% now.
    That is SO AWESOME that you got to take that cooking class from the folks who created your amazing pizza oven. And now you're going back to Italy for more lessons! WONDERFUL! I can't wait to see it all! I wish I lived closer to Bologna (we're in Southern Italy near Napoli)so I could see you!!!!
    I pray that you have an amazing and safe and DELICIOUS adventure! And congratulations to your daughter, too!

  8. What a great experience you have had! So happy for you! Be sure and have a safe trip this week and can't wait to see photographs.

  9. It sounds like a wonderful time. How lucky for you to have had an adventure like that. I am sure that this trip will be just as fabulous! I can't wait to hear all about it. Congrats to your daughter on her culinary school achievement. Keep up the good work!

  10. My heart nearly jumped out of my chest with this post! I can't imagine a more exciting vacation than the one you took to Italy. Cooking, shopping AND sightseeing! Heaven! Congrats to your daughter and what a wonderful learning experience with this upcoming trip. I want to be in the front row the whole trip! Thanks so much for sharing...

  11. How fantastic Jacqueline!! Do you need someone to cart around all your fabulous finds and treasures in Italy? I would be happy to help out! :) I am married to an Italian- a Sicilian to be exact- and we would so LOVE to travel to Italy and France! Such a huge dream of mine! I cannot wait to hear all about your trip!! Have a wonderful time! :)

  12. Oh what fun for you and a valuable learning experience for your daughter! Have a great trip!

  13. Your kitchen is absolutely beautiful!!!!! I think a pizza oven would be so fabulous. I know that you enjoy each and every day in your kitchen. I always love to see what you have created and how you put your special touch on everything to make a beautiful presentation. I know that your daughter will always remember this special trip to Italy. I wish I could just squeeze into your suitcase and go with you. I am looking forward to seeing all of the wonderful photos of your trip.
    Katherine S.

  14. If I go to Culinary School will you take me to Italy next year??? Sounds like you have a great trip coming up Jacqueline! Can't wait to see and hear all about it. I'm sure your daughter is thrilled to be going! And congrats to her, that's a great accomplishment:@)

  15. simply extraordinary!! what a trip of a lifetime, thank you for sharing, anne

  16. A once in a lifetime trip. How exciting! I love to see the dishes you made.

    Your cousin is extremely creative...wonderful illustrations!

    Art by Karena

    Do Come and enter my Great Giveaway from Serena & Lily!

    You will love it!

  17. hey Jacqueline
    Thank you for a lovely post!!! It brought back so many memories of my trip to Italy. I didn't get to the cooking, but I did enjoy the culture and cuisine!!! ahhh! That is life:) its so wonderful that you know someone who designs shoes. How cool is that? I work as a technical designer but in garments. I've never seen the shoe side of it:)
    have a wonderful time in Italy and I bet your daughter is super excited to go and will never forget this trip:)

  18. This is my kind of fun!!! WOW wow!
    Have a super week and thanks so much for sharing!

  19. What a wonderful kitchen, pizza oven and experience. Your kitchen is to die for. The trip of a lifetime to learn to use the oven to it's fullest is fantastic.
    Thank you for sharing. Ginger :)

  20. I love this blog post. I envy that trip. It looks so fun. Thank you for sharing!

  21. You Lucky Pup you~what fun! Can't wait to hear about your current trip. Safe travels, Jacqueline!

  22. What an amazing experience! Enjoy the rest of your trip... can't wait to hear all about it!

  23. Have a fabulous trip. I can't wait for your posts and I'm glad your daughter is doing so well. I'm sure you will have a great time together.

  24. Congrats to Amanda -- what a fab trip you had and will have with the new set of cooking classes! Take lots of pics to share with us. Joni

  25. This trip sounded like a dream... I'm excited for your next trip, and can't wait to hear and see all the pictures from it!

  26. What a fabulous trip! We attended a cooking school outside of Luca many years ago. Tuscany is such a beautiful part of Italy, and the food, well ... magnifico!

    Can't wait to see more of your trip. More photos, please! Have fun and stay safe. ~ Sarah

  27. I love your pizza oven, Jacqueline. It must have been fun to learn how to use it to cook many Tuscan specilaties and sampling all that wonderful food! Congratulations to your daughter! She will love accompanying you to Paris and Italy for cooking classes..what a dream come true for her!

  28. So proud of Amanda! ....and so jealous of the trip you're all going on. Have a wonderful time!

  29. oh my gosh! that is like my dream come true! wow! And you make it look as amazing as I've always dreamed it would be! :)

  30. Congratulations to your daughter!

  31. Yummmm....I can taste those Italian breads...fresh vegetables....oooh and the tomatoes of Tuscany. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Cherry Kay

  32. Amazing! Not only you're the only person I know with a pizza oven in the kitchen, but you're also my inspiration as of right now! I see the value and the greatness of having such an oven! You also opened my mind about food - trips / cooking classes! Thank you!

  33. I posted a note on Tonya's facebook that if she wants to clean out her closet while your there I could use some fashion hand-me-downs... Whats old and out of style to her is up and coming for us:)

  34. wow. I love that pizza ocen in your kitchen!

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