Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Italian vinaigrette might be the title of this picture. Finally Silvia send me the pictures of the Olive-oil tasting we held for a bunch of Dutch heiresses last June. The ladies were delighted, the sun shone in an almost Italian way and we had lots of fun.

Here the most simple and delicious of dressings: your best olive-oil from Southern Italy, which is the oil from Ofena as far as I am concerned (see also my previous post on olive oil from Abruzzo) and lemon juice. A bit of lemon zest if you are really doing your best. Sea-salt.

We like keeping things simple, as long as the ingredients you choose are the top of the market.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Yes, my cooking courses in Abruzzo start again coming summer. The last one was in 2006, and now the house in Ofena is renovated and the kids are old enough to entertain themselves (i.e.: they don't need constant supervision anymore) I can start again.

Next to it, since I am officially a sommelier at AIS (Italia sommeliers society) I can integrate this competences in the cooking courses I give.

But I am especially glad to start again, because cooking, showing others how easy it is and eating are, actually, my favourit things in life (+ a couple of others I am not mentioning here).

And cooking with a group is much more fun than on your own.

But the best thing about my cooking courses in Abruzzo is that I can share with others an experience belonging to my childhood: cooking with and for a big bunch of people in the house in Ofena. It is a lifestyle I can experience only there.

The house used to be a trattoria, run by my great-grandmother Annina Silvestrone. It has always been full of people, family (she had 9 daughters), friends, patrons. I still have somewhere her bookkeeping notes, with the prices she paid and got paid for all sort of goods and services.

Here the details of this course:

Period: Weekend Fri-Sun (leaving Mon morning) 31 July- 2 August. Extra group on 7-9 August

Location: Old family home of the Silvestrone (used to be a monastery) within the old city-walls of Ofena. the village lies within National Park of the Gran Sasso, between L'Aquila and the highway Rome-Pescara A25.

Accommodation: Two large rooms with balcony facing South (the view is fantastic), antique furniture and a good, modern bed 180x220cm. If you want to share it with children I can easily add 2-3 extra beds or a bunkbed, and it is still spacious. Other two rooms are small and cosy, for singles or a very much in love couple (bed is smaller, 140X220). A simple, modern bathroom with shower is to be shared with the other rooms. The bathroom is cleaned 1-2 a day.

In the village are available other accomodations, and outside the village there is a camping with a swimming pool (open also to other guests) and a decent restaurant with good home-made local cuisine.

Kitchen: where the old kitchen of the trattoria used to be I made my own cooking school. It is mostly furnished with the stainless steel professional interior of my parents' hotel kitchen, together with all the nostalgic stuff that has always been there, the old flour cases and utensils.

Cooking workshop: Friday afternoon and Saturday morning we are going to cook and learn together. You will learn a number of basic recipes, which you can cook home with all sort of variations. Typical local recipes as well the most popular Italian dishes. we will decide together on the definitive program, as I cook the traditional way with the best ingredients at hand and they vary with the seasons. I use preferably organically or traditionally produced vegetables and meat. Abruzzo is the European region with the highest biodiversity, so we have a very large choice.

Think of dishes such as self-made pasta, risotto, veggies in all manners, salads, cakes, tiramisu etc. seizoensgroenten en salades, tiramis├╣, taart etc. After the lesson we will eat together with the others. This way we can stay inside during the hottest hours of the day, and explore the village and the surrounding nature in the fresher hours.

Wine-tasting sessions: thanks to my background as a recognised sommelier at AIS I will hold two lessons on wine making and wine-tasting, so that you can learn a few things on the most famous Italian wines, how to combine them with dishes, how the Italian approach sometimes differs from the French and how a professional wine-tasting session works.

Extra: if you like participating when we make with the neighbours sweets and cookies, tomato-bottles or other products to store for the winter, you are very welcome to join.

You can also visit the local wineries and buy wine there, or the local bottega, the grocery store, go outside and pick wild herbs, nuts and fruit, which we will use for cooking.

The nicest market in the neighbourhood is on Thurdsays in Popoli, so if you are already there let me know and we can go together.

Costs: € 550 for two include: 3x nights B&B, 2x cooking lessons, 2x wine-tasting with small dishes as aperitivo 2x lunch and dinner cooked during the lessons, all ingredients and drinks during lessons, meals and wine-tastings.

The cooking course alone, if you have another accomodation, is € 180 per person for a group of 3, and € 150 in a larger group.

I can send you a detailed flyer in English or Dutch per mail. You can contact me at: barbara(at)

Cooking with your own group? I am available foor fod & wine lessons for private parties in:

Amsterdam, from 3 to 80 persons, all over the year

Ofena, max. 10 cooking, 20 eating, 50 wining from Easter to October

Abruzzo, larger groups: 30 cooking, 100/150 dining and wine-tasting in several locations about 45 minutes from Pescara-airport, all over the year.