The Calabrian region extends several hundred miles along the Mediterranean coast in southern Italy, reaching up into the mountains and to the Ionic coast. Calabria is famous for its peperoncino (hot pepper), and this week you will learn how this spice can complement any dish, even dessert. Their award-winning crostata del diavolo is a delicious pie which uses hot pepper jam as one of its fundamental ingredients, giving it a surprisingly delicious extra kick.
The restaurant where your cooking class will be held is located in a coastal area and a midway point along the Mediterranean coast of Calabria. The restaurant owners are internationally acclaimed chefs and their restaurant appears in numerous guides including the Michelin guide, Gambero Rosso, the Academy of Italian Cooking and the Restaurants of Italy (Osterie D’Italia).
Two of the dishes you’ll learn to make are gnocchetti al salvadoro, a spicy homemade potato gnocchi dish with a fresh tomato and shellfish sauce, and tagliatelle giallomare, homemade pasta with an equally delicious tomato-based seafood sauce that’s topped with thinly sliced radicchio, giving this dish an unusual and unique presentation.
Seafood dishes are characteristic of the Calabrian region, particularly tuna and anchovies (alici). The restaurant chefs will show you how to make some typical dishes such as braccioletto di alici, which are prepared as involtini with a filling of bread crumbs, cheese, oregano, parsley and white wine. The involtini are then dipped in white flour, deep fried and served hot, occasionally with tomato sauce.
A Diamond of Town.
Home of the peperoncino, Diamante is a continual host to hot pepper festivals, where you can learn peperoncino recipes along with this the red fruit’s many curative effects. This Calabrese town is also known as the città delle dipinte (city of murals). The famous Italian painter Nani Razzetti helped establish a “painted towns” mural project here: every June the comune restores old murals and adds new ones.
Suspended in the splendid scenery of the blue sea of the Capo Bonifatti bay and the green of the surrounding mountains, the historic palazzo where you will be staying is the ideal place to experience the fascination of the culture and the art of hospitality of bygone times. The palazzo was built in various stages from the 11th to the 18th centuries as the residence of the dukes of Dealoe and has only recently been opened to the public as an elegant five-star hotel. Rooms are beautifully furnished with antique furniture. The restaurant offers both international and traditional dishes, all accompanied by the precious wines from the in-house wine cellar.
Day One: After you arrive in Diamante by train, we will provide your ground transportation to the hotel. You can spend the day settling in, strolling around town or relaxing at the beach. In the evening there will be a welcome dinner, along with a summary of the week’s course.
Day Two: The day begins with a morning cooking class in Belvedere Marittima, a short 20-minute walk from the hotel. Two desserts you might make today are the crostata del diavolo with the famous Diamante peperoncino, and the scavunisco, an antique country recipe originating from the Latin words sclavus (slave) and nesco (dark). This dessert is prepared by making a dough from flour and cooked grape mosto, the not-yet-fermenting juice of grapes pressed for wine. To this mixture, you add peeled and thinly sliced almonds and julienne-sliced orange peel. It is then shaped into bread form, allowed to rest for an hour and baked.
Day Three: Your morning cooking class today will focus on the use of peperoncino, including an afternoon visit to the Accademia del Peperoncino.
Day Four: Today we will relax and head off in the midmorning to a nearby winery where we will spend our day tasting this producer’s wines, particularly the outstanding Ronco dei Quattro Venti. Following lunch you will be able to purchase some wine as well as the fattoria’s grappa and olive oil.
Day Five: This morning you will visit the local fish and produce market to select today’s ingredients for your class. Focus will be on pasta dishes, such as ziti al sugo con tonno (a fresh tomato sauce flavored with chopped anchovy fillets and fresh oregano to which chopped tuna is added at the last moment). This sauce is served over ziti and garnished with freshly grated caciocavallo cheese.
Day Six: Today is your last morning cooking class. One of the outstanding main course dishes you might make will be prepared using the fabulous local fresh fish. This simple but delicious swordfish dish is pisci-spatu a ra menta, as it is called in calabrese dialect, or, pesce spada alla menta (swordfish with mint). Swordfish steaks are rubbed with garlic, salted and breaded, and fried in hot oil. They’re removed and placed to drain and cool. Just before being served, they are lightly drizzled with white wine vinegar and sprinkled with chopped mint leaves. They are allowed to sit for a half hour before serving – simple but delectable.
Your afternoon is free to enjoy the beach or to wander along the narrow streets of Diamante and do some last minute shopping.
Day Seven: You will leave Diamante by train following breakfast, during which you will receive your course certificate, recipe book and complimentary hand-painted Italian platter.
6 nights double room accommodation & breakfast
5 cooking classes
4 lunches, 2 dinners
All tours, winery and producer visits
Course certificate, recipe booklet & commemorative hand-painted ceramic plate