It’s practically a crime. I’ve lived in Italy for five years and had never taken an Italian pasta making class. The wonderful team at Castelfali, a Medieval Tuscan town that had fallen into neglect and was recently restored into a 2,700 acre resort, thought so too. They promptly invited me to attend their Castelfalfi Rosso Toscano Cooking School and experience all that the new Tuscan resort has to offer.
At Castelfafli Rosso Toscano Cooking School, you won’t learn to cook with just any Italian. The cooking school and La Rocca castle restaurant are under the leadership of Michele Rinaldi, a young chef from Bergamo who earned his first Michelin star in 2011, at just 27 years old. Chef Rinaldi himself taught me how to make gnocchi, so theoretically I should now be able to whip up a home made gnocchi of Michelin-starred standards. I have yet to try to the recipe at home, but it was surprisingly easy and not too time consuming that I am going to give home made gnocchi a try.
The recipes at Castelfalfi Rosso Toscano Cooking School vary depending on what is in season and what you are most interested in making. Class offerings include everything from traditional Tuscan recipes to sweet Italian cakes and desserts. Gnocchi was a perfect choice because it is the most typical type of pasta served in the Friuli Venezia Giulia, the region where I live.
We started by peeling potatoes and getting them in to boiling water because they need to cook until soft. While the potatoes boiled, we made a beef and mushroom sauce for our gnocchi.
While the beef and mushroom sauce simmered, we made the gnocchi. It was quite easy to made and has just a few ingredients. Chef Rinaldi schooled us with his chopping up of the dough in to nearly uniform sized gnocchi.
Of course, after your cooking class you get to taste the fruits of your labor. You’ll enjoy the meal – with Castelfalfi’s own wine from their vineyards – on either the terrace overlooking the Tuscan hills or in the castle bistro. Our gnocchi, plus the gnudi and biscotti we made, were delicious. My Italian nonna would have been proud!
Know Before You Go
- Cooking classes last 3 hours and are followed by lunch with wine.
- Reservations are required and should be requested at least 4 days in advance. Reservations can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling +39 0571 891000
- Castelfalfi is easily reached from Pisa or Florence by car.
Disclosure: I was a guest of Castelfalfi in order to bring you this story. As always, all opinions are entirely my own.