On my tours overseas I usually add a cooking class and so on one of the tours I took to Tuscany we organised for our group to visit the Locanda Nel Cassero in Civitella Marittima. It is a small walled village that my good friend Sharon Bernardi lives adjacent to (on a little farm plot that she run as a bed and breakfast) with her husband Francesco. Sharon and I were collaborators on the tours through Tuscany in the first part of this decade. Sharon recognised in Alessandro Prosperi a talented chef, who had trained in Germany, England and France but recently had returned to his roots (he was born in a small village on Monte Amiata that is close by) to open his own restaurant .
We all crammed into the kitchen, he had never given a class before so it could have been risky but Sharon felt his English was of the high standard required and his organisation and preparation proved to be as good as any experienced teaching guest chef I had ever employed at my own cooking school in Australia. Sharon’s professional experience also included organising cooking classes so she used her gut instinct and it was a success.
The individual lasagnette di Parmigiana con Melanzane were a delight, and somehow when made this way seemed just a little more sophisticated and lighter than when it comes out in a dense lump that has been baked in a large dish. The Scottiglia di Carne Mista della Maremma was braised mixed meats from the Maremma. The region of Maremma has large tracts of forests that remains a good source of wild meat and birds for Tuscan hunters. I particularly liked the fennel timballo (the French call it a timbale or a terrine) it was definitely something like a cross between a mousse and a souffle. Actually I recall Alessandro calling it a Fennel pudding. The dessert was an amazing coffee and chocolate confection set on sponge biscuits, I don’t think he provided that recipe because I think he added it at the last minute. Chefs can do that. Roz MacAllan