Learning to cook Italian food in the Tuscan countryside at Villa Bordoni
Learning to cook Italian food in the Tuscan countryside at Villa Bordoni

Cooking and Italy are practically synonymous for me. I could eat Italian food every day and be perfectly content. There’s something comforting about a plate of pasta with a slow-cooked tomato sauce. Italian food is really hard to beat in my opinion. It was a top priority for us to take a cooking class while we were in Italy. I wanted to learn from the pros how to make my favorites, like homemade pasta and gnocchi.

When we decided to stay at Villa Bordoni, just outside the town of Greve in Chianti, I knew exactly where we had to take the class. Not only is Villa Bordoni a four-star luxury hotel, it also has a gourmet restaurant, wine cellar, and chef-led cooking class. What better place to learn how to make Italian food than in a professional kitchen with highly skilled chefs?

A beautiful 16th-century villa perched on a hillside in Chianti, Villa Bordoni has only 11 rooms, so the experience of staying there, eating there and even learning to cook there is intimate and personalized. You’re not a nameless, faceless guest to the owners and staff. They know who you are the second you arrive and greet you warmly each time they see you. Staying there is like being a specially-invited guest to an exclusive house party.

Read reviews and check prices for your stay at Villa Bordoni in Chianti.

Villa Bordoni
Villa Bordoni

The cooking class is no different. Delivered in the small setting of the professional kitchen, there is only room for 4 or 5 guests at a time, thus the experience is very hands on and interactive, with plenty of chances to chop, kneed and stir things. There’s no need to angle for a view or peer over anyone’s shoulder to see what’s going on.

Preparing for our cooking class
Preparing for our cooking class

Nick and I quickly introduced ourselves to our fellow cooks for the afternoon, who were visiting from Hong Kong. We were all eager to get started and excitedly flipped through the menu and recipes we were given. We were also supplied with aprons and plenty of red and white wine to drink while cooking.

The class lasted about 3 hours, during which we prepared all of the courses for our evening meal. Our cooking partners were vegetarian, so we made a meatless menu that included focassia bread, stuffed artichokes, cheese tortelli with pesto sauce, potato gnocchi with tomato sauce and tiramisu for dessert.

The first order of business was to get the dough for the focaccia bread mixed up so it could rise. After we mixed the ingredients, we left if to kneed in the Kitchen Aid for 10 minutes, then to rise at room temperature for about an hour. This was the longest process of the day, but it was well worth it when we saw the golden crispy bread come out of the oven.

One of the best things to me was learning the specific ingredients that went into each component of the dishes. I’ve been trying to perfect gnocchi at home for many years, but have never been able to produce a pillowy gnocchi. During the class, I not only learned the secret, I was able to make it myself and prove that it can be done.

What is the secret? I always thought it was how much you handle the dough, but it’s actually ’00’ flour. All it takes to make pillowy gnocchi is 2.5 lbs of potatoes, 1 egg, 16 grams of ’00’ flour and a pinch of salt.

Another major thing I learned was the difference between Italian bread and French bread. They look the same. But they don’t taste the same or have the same texture at all. For the stuffed artichokes, we made our own breadcrumbs, and to do that we dipped thick slices of Italian bread into a bowl of water, then rung out the water and crumbled the bread into a bowl. We would definitely not have been able to do that with French bread.

Making pasta, surprisingly, is not nearly as difficult as people think. I’ve been making it at home for a number of years now, but I’ve never been able to get it as smooth and flawless as the pros can do. I’ve followed a lot of different recipes and have tried to perfect it, but the tips we learned at Villa Bordoni are what have changed my pasta game entirely. First, using ’00’ flour is extremely important. It gives it the elasticity and bite that other flours can’t match. Second, weighing the ingredients rather than using a specific volume is huge. Using three parts flour to one part egg will give a perfect texture and balance. You can’t assume all eggs are the same weight, so it’s important to weigh out the egg.

 

The final course we made was tiramisu, which is one of my all-time favorite desserts and probably yours too. There’s nothing not to love about it. The mascarpone cheese, the coffee-drenched lady fingers, and all that shaved chocolate on the top. We had a great time mixing up the filling and taking turns building an incredible looking dessert. It was really easy to make, even though it looks so labor intensive.

The cooking part of this experience was really fantastic. I came away with so many tips and new information that will definitely improve my cooking at home. But I have to say the dinner we had that followed the class was just as incredible. Not only did we get to eat all of the dishes we made in the class, we got to share it with our new friends Melody and John from Hong Kong in the beautiful rustic dining room at Villa Bordoni. The cooking class was an experience I’ll never forget.

If you’ve seen our International cooking series, you already know that I love to bring recipes home with me from our travels so I can recreate them in my own kitchen. Sometimes just the aroma of a dish we ate on our travels brings back a flood of priceless memories. I think we should all be cooking at home the foods we loved while traveling. Whenever we get the chance to take a cooking class, we do. The things you learn are priceless, but the memory of cooking in Italy with the chefs at Villa Bordoni will always make me smile.

If you’re going to Italy, I strongly recommend stopping for a few nights at Villa Bordoni, to enjoy the Tuscan countryside from this beautiful hotel and, of course, participate in a cooking class. Learn all about this fantastic hotel and book your stay on their website.

Find and book Tuscany tours and activities on Viator.com. Book ahead to save time and money!

We were invited by Villa Bordoni to participate in this cooking class free of charge, but all opinions expressed in this article are my own.

(Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link.)

22 thoughts on “Italian Cooking Class at Villa Bordoni in the Tuscan Countryside

  1. Vicki says:

    What a fabulous experience – and in such a beautiful setting. Your tortellini looked very professional and all the dishes sounded delicious!

  2. Meg Jerrard says:

    Wow you guys did an amazing job of the food! I love taking cooking classes when I travel, I’m not a huge foodie, but for some reason my food always seems to come out ok when I’m cooking in a class!! And then I can never seem to replicate the same when I get home lol. Will absolutely make sure to stop by Villa Bordoni when we’re in Italy!

    • Laura Lynch says:

      You will love it there, Meg. They were so accommodating with food restrictions too. I hear ya about never being able to replicate at home. I have the problem too.

  3. Karla | karlaroundtheworld says:

    I enjoy food tours, I tried several cooking classes too in Thailand and in Indonesia, perhaps next time this would be good class to join. I love that you can learn how to do it then you get the chance to eat good food after. However, when I try it at home ( I still have to improve my cooking skills), I never get it right.

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Karla, I’ve had that problem for years, but learning from the pros really does help. They have all the secrets. Weighing out the ingredients is the most important thing I’ve learned. It helps a ton.

  4. Scott says:

    First, excellently written. Second, what a fantastic experience! Looks like something to look for on my next trip. What a great way to increase your understanding of where you are traveling.

  5. Andrea Leblang says:

    What a dream class! I would love to participate. I have to admit that I always thought that making pasta was so difficult.. even too difficult. You’ve really inspired me to give it a shot! Looks like fun too 🙂

  6. Elaine J Masters says:

    Sounds like so much fun and tasty. Love your mission to bring recipes home to make too. I’m too impatient to be much of a cook but do love eating. There has to be a middle ground!

    • Laura Lynch says:

      I find that choosing a recipe that you love and making a fun event out of it is a great way to enjoy cooking and not feeling like it’s chore. Maybe that’s the middle ground.

  7. Rob says:

    Italian food is one of our favorites. This sounds great I would love to take a cooking class while traveling and this one sounds wonderful! The whole experience of staying at Villa Bordoni and taking the class would be a fantastic experiance. Although I do have a question what is ’00’ flour?

    • Laura Lynch says:

      It’s an Italian style flour that is really finely ground, making it better for use in certain things like pasta and pizza dough. You get more bite and less chew from it, if that makes sense.

  8. Francesca @onegrloneworld says:

    I love Italian cuisine and I’ve always wanted to take a class! Loved this post, and thanks for including some of the things you learned! I haven’t attempted to make my own gnocchi, and I have to admit I’m kind of scared to try tiramisu on my own but if I had taken a class like this I think I’d have more confidence! I’ll definitely keep the Villa Bordoni in mind for my next trip! Pinning now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *