IMG_0945.JPGIf you can’t take the heat get out of the kitchen.  Our cooking class tour decided to do just that this week thanks to extreme heat in Florence.  Spencer and I arrived in Florence on the 4th of July during a heatwave where temperatures reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 37 degrees Celsius. Weeks earlier I had booked a cooking class for our first night.

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When we arrived our Weekend in Italy representative told us that due to the extreme heat we were getting a free upgrade to the Chianti countryside cooking class.

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Not a single person complained! We were bussed to a beautiful villa overlooking countless vineyards. Our guide and chef Giovanni led the sixteen of us to our kitchen for the evening.

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We were given aprons and sat comfortably in the air conditioned building.

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A small mountain of flour sat in front of each of us and we listened quietly as Giovanni explained the correct method of pizza making, keep it down to three ingredients (flour, water and yeast) and keep it simple. Giovanni first showed us how to properly create a crater in the flour, then measured water and poured for each of us. The trick here is to mix the flour and water with a fork working from the inside.

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After we mixed our ingredients into a dough, Giovanni demonstrated the art of forming the perfect pizza dough ball.  While we waited for our dough to rise Giovanni moved on to the art of making proper Italian gelato. He asked for volunteers and Spencer jumped at the chance to help.

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He and the other children in our group helped mix the cocoa into the heated milk and sugar. After putting the sweet mixture into the gelato machine we turned our attention back to the dough.  Giovanni helped us form perfectly round pizzas then handed us our sauce and toppings, including freshly shredded mozzarella, olives, spicy salumi, onions and fresh basil.

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Spencer and I both opted for the salumi and I added some fresh basil.  While Giovanni cooked our pizzas his assistant brought out bottles of local red wine for the adults and sodas for the kids. I had barely made a dent in my first glass of wine when our pizzas were pulled from the oven.  Maybe it was the wine talking, but we all boasted that our pizzas blew away all American versions of Italian pizza pies!

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After the vino bottles ran dry we moved into to the main building to taste our gelato.  Having a week stomach for chocolate I worried I’d have a rough ride home, but the gelato was so smooth and better than any I’ve ever tasted in my many Italian journeys.

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Thankfully Giovanni ended our evening handing out recipes and certificates of competition.  My dear Mother gave us an ice cream machine last year and it will get a lot of use as soon as we return home in mid August. Spencer and I had a wonderful evening and have never been so happy to have our plans changed so abruptly.

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