I love Italy! And Torino is a delightful city, a hidden treasure within Italy since tourists are inclined to visit the better-known cities of Rome, Venice and Florence. Last Spring I began pondering, “How can I share this treasure with others?”

Torino is a beautiful city.

If you use my cookbooks, or read my blog, you realize that I also love food and cooking…and eating! I’ve done cooking demos in Switzerland, Germany, Rhode Island and Michigan…and every time I tell myself that I really need to do them in the convenience of my own home. And so it was that one day last spring, God gave me the idea of offering the opportunity for expats to savor Italian food and culture, while getting some cooking lessons–weekend getaways to Italy which I am calling “A Taste of Italy”.
Ten women signed up to participate in my first Taste of Italy weekends this November. What a great time we had! Each group drove down from Geneva on a Friday morning, arriving in time for lunch. I served them my Ladies Luncheon meal from Around Our Table: Pink Soup, Vegetable Frittata, Tossed Salad and Lemon Mousse Cake.

After our meal together, we mixed up some bread dough and went to the top of Mount Pirchiriano to see the Sacra di San Michele, a monastery complex built about 1000 A.D. The views are spectacular, and the sun even came out to celebrate our arrival.

When we returned home, we made dinner together–homemade fresh pasta, Oven-Roasted Chicken Stuffed with Ricotta–the Classic Italian meal from Around Our Table.

First, we learned to make homemade pasta…

Everyone had a chance to try it themselves…

No one could believe how easy it was!

Hey look. I can do it!

In fact, half of the women who came bought their own pasta maker during the weekend!

In the later evening, Il Faro di Nord Ovest, a B&B in Sant’ Ambrogio, offered a quiet, peaceful rest–except for those who stayed up until 2:30 a.m. talking. A girls’ slumber-party of sorts.

On Saturday we took the train together into Torino, walking under the porticos on Via Roma…

…stopping for a coffee at Caffe Torino before heading over to Porta Palazzo, Europe’s largest outdoor market…

…where several of the girls bought a pasta machine.

Before we knew it, it was time for lunch, a sampling of a variety of fresh pastas at the Pastificio Defilippis, time to relax and enjoy being together.

After lunch we enjoyed a demonstration by the chefs, showing how they make their fabulous ravioli.

Two of the chefs at the Pastificio Defilippis making ravioli.

We saw a few more sights…we shopped a few more shops…before boarding the train for Avigliana where we prepared dinner together…Twin Soups, Lentils with Butter and Lemon, Roasted Peppers with Feta Cheese, Tri-Colored Mediterranean Appetizer…

It was a great way to get a final “Taste of Italy”!

My first Taste of Italy guests…

…and the next weekend, six new friends joined me.

The second group of friends opted for an outing to a winery in the Asti region, south of Torino. Enrico, one of the owners of Il Milin, gave us a detailed tour, explaining the process for making wine as well as grappa, which accounts for nearly 90% of their output. At 12:30 we were seated in their rustic dining hall, where Enrico donned his apron, serving us bottle after bottle of wine to taste with the variety of Piemonte dishes we sampled, each person noting the ones they intended to purchase at the end of our dinner. The boxes of wine loaded into their van, by 3:30 they were on their way back to Geneva…and I was on my way home to do a few dishes.

Sampling and savoring Italy together was so much fun that we’ve already chosen dates to do it in the spring of 2011. Why not join me? Click here for all the details about A Taste of Italy!

Ciao!

Debbie

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