Tuscan Cookery School – Making Field To Table Passata Under The Tuscan Sun
Written by Jaillan Yehia
This is a true slice of rural back-to-basics Italian cookery; walking through the plentiful land surrounding a quintessential Tuscan villa, down steep verdant hills and into the flourishing vegetable garden I crouch down to hand-pick huge succulent tomatoes.
Together with my friends we collect the fruit in baskets and the folds of our aprons, then, glass of wine in hand, we spend the afternoon turning them into a tasty fire-red passata…
I feel like a character from a book – one of those autobiographical novels about people who give up the rat race to rediscover the meaning of life, which always boils down to the same thing; sunshine, nature, good company and of course great home-cooked food. Yes I’m in the Tuscan version of A Year In Provence.
I’m at Eating Italy’s Tuscan Cookery School and discovering the pleasures of simple Mediterranean life. Siena some 30 km away is the closest working city but out here in the countryside there’s work of another kind to be done creating a feast using ingredients from the rich soil – and a key component to this Tuscan cookery experience is creating perfect, fresh, tasty and authentic passata.
Maybe we’re The Waltons, or The Brady Bunch, because we’ve all bonded and are laughing and smiling, whistling while we work as we collect armfuls of tomatoes for this afternoon’s alfresco cookery lesson on Passata di Pomodoro.
We’re shown how to cook the Marzano tomatoes by boiling them in large pot for just 2 minutes – they’re then drained and left to cool. It’s surprisingly hard graft lifting up the weighty fruits and transferring them into and out of the pot, and we need to take frequent wine breaks which slows the process down but makes it a lot more fun.
Working as a relay team, each with their own station we skin and cut the tomatoes in half so we can remove the seeds and water. Despite the age-old tradition of the recipe we throw some 21st century media into the mix in the form of our iPhones and iPods and the passata takes shape to the dulcet sounds of a little mid-cookery karaoke.
The resulting pulp is blended in a food processor, and the sauce is then transferred into glass jars which are sealed and boiled for at least an hour, and left to cool in the pot. Once the water is cool you have your finished, bottled passata.
While we’ve been busying ourselves with the passata chef Stefano has created a host of other dishes to accompany it including chargrilled zucchini and barbequed meats. But despite his undoubted superior skills, somehow the passata tastes better than everything else that day.
The Tuscan Cookery School is organised by Eating Italy and held at Villa Ferraia in the countryside at Tocchi in the municipality of Monticiano, around 30 km from Siena.
For further information about dates and pricing contact Eating Italy or Villa Ferraia.
SavoirThere was a guest of Villa Ferraia and Eating Italy Tuscan Cookery School.[wpdreams_rpp id=0]
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