Taking a cooking course is an excellent way to delve into the past, meet a local and get something delicious to eat. That’s a trifecta!
If ever there was a country for cooking classes, it would be Italy. The food has the depth of flavor of French cuisine while remaining disarmingly simple to make. So, while taking a break from the renaissance art of Florence, we learned how to make Italian pizza and gelato.
FlorenceTown runs several cooking classes from a kitchen that is a 10-15 minute walk from the cathedral. In fact, they will meet you in a central location and walk you through the town to their kitchen if you want. This is especially nice for their longer classes where a brief market tour is included before you begin actually cooking.
The kitchen is airy and spacious with roughly 8 tables that fit 4-6 people. Our class was on the smaller end, which allowed for more interaction with the cooks.
Seasoned Traveler Tip: Many times in the winter we have found courses and experiences to be pleasantly overstaffed. The peak season rush pays for a little slower off-season. This isn’t a guarantee, but it’s likely you will be pleasantly surprised to receive a more personal tour.
Making pizza dough is the kind of thing that you could learn online or by reading a book. It’s not a complicated technique that requires precise steps to pull off correctly. So the experience of the class is paramount, and FlorenceTown pulls through excellently.
Our guide was Daniel, but there were several other ‘helpers’ who came around to “make sure we had everything under control.” But really we just chatted. They made little jokes about how Jane’s dough looked better than mine (it did) or where in town they suggest for dinner or dessert. This is a great time to get to know what a local thinks of their town. They know it better than a guidebook ever will and give amazing tips, and not just on your dough-rolling technique.
After making the dough from scratch, rolling it out and selecting our favorite toppings, the pizzas went into a large round oven for a very quick cook. As you’ll see in a minute, just like people, some pizzas break the mold. Or at least that’s what I tell myself about my very oddly shaped effort.
The gelato was quick drop of ingredients into a little machine and then a push of a button. If you are looking for detailed instruction on the fine details of great gelato, this isn’t for you. If you just want to eat some homemade gelato with your pizza, you’ve found the right spot.
In total, this course was very much like the pizza we made; quick (3 hours) and easily digestible. It’s great for families and travelers that just want to have a little fun but are not interested in learning advanced or complicated techniques.
Pizza is hard to get wrong, but I still tried my best! Sure, my pizza looks a little out of shape but I like to think that I was “thinking outside of the circle.” Regardless, Jane’s pizza more than made up for my attempt.
I highly recommend FlorenceTown, Daniel was an excellent guide and really helped us better understand not just pizza, but Florence. In Italy you are spoiled for choice when it comes to cooking courses. Is there a class you took that was particularly good?