Finally, to the cooking part of my cooking trip! We headed to a small town called Spongano the morning after our welcome dinner in Lecce. This is where the castle was located. Some people may call this a manor house, but call it what you want. There were like 20 bedrooms and bathrooms and an awesome pool and a garden filled with all sorts of fruit trees… I’d call that a castle. (Also, thanks to my mom, the host of the trip, for most of these photos! I was too preoccupied to take pictures most of the week. If you think you would like to go on this trip next time she takes people, check out her site here!)
Each day had the same schedule- eat a small breakfast, meet for our lesson, cook lunch, eat lunch, nap, meet for our lesson, cook dinner, eat dinner sleep. It was hard to me to eat a small breakfast each morning, partially because I usually have a big breakfast at home and partially because of these things called Rusticos- puff pastries with mozzarella, tomatoes and béchamel. SO addicting!
We made a bunch of different shaped pastas. Southern Italian cooking uses only water based pastas, most of your egg pastas come from the North.
Southern Italian cuisine also uses a LOT of raw olive oil. They cook with very little or no olive oil, then finish the dishes with a healthy splash. This technique is much healthier and is one thing that I have been trying to work on since coming home.
They also use a lot of red chili flakes instead of black pepper. One of the first nights we asked for pepper and they brought us the crappiest store bought pepper, it was kind of funny. They also used a lot of vanilla infused sugar for desserts, so delicious! It is really easy to make too, all you have to do is get a few sticks of vanilla, chop them finely, and add to your sugar.
I will be posting a few of these recipes on my blog eventually. If you are just dying for one of the recipes feel free to leave me a comment and I can send it to you.
I think this photo sums up how I felt after the week was over…