Tradition and Innovation in Tuscan Cooking

From the heart of Tuscany to the Hartstone Inn, join Chef Benedetta Vitali in Camden, Maine for a week of Tuscan cooking from June 4-8, 2012.

Benedetta will offer an intensive five-day exploration of the cooking of Tuscany, featuring her innovative recipes based on the traditional dishes of her native region. Starting with a meeting each morning over breakfast, Benedetta and a small group will cook a complete lunch menu with three or four recipes per day and then share it, accompanied by appropriate wine pairings. Since one of the keys to cooking in Italy is the sensitive selection of ingredients, Benedetta will lead a visit to the Camden farmers’ market on Wednesday afternoon to show how she literally sniffs out the best seasonal produce available.

Back in the kitchen she will demonstrate her techniques for making fresh pasta and the classic Tuscan beef ragù sauce. Taking advantage of the proximity of the seashore, she will introduce you to a several dishes from Italy’s coastline featuring mussels, crab, calamari, sole, and swordfish and to one of the most popular first courses from Venice, risotto with cuttlefish ink. Vegetable dishes may include eggplant Parmesan, squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta cheese, a soufflé of broccoli and cauliflower and one with spinach and quail eggs, and the famous Roman Jewish style fried artichokes. Second courses will include roasted stuffed duck with orange sauce and roasted pork loin with apple purée. Not forgetting dessert, Benedetta will show how she makes pastry dough for a cream tart with caramelized lemon peel and one with coffee and dark chocolate, as well as lingue di gatto—cats’ tongues—a kind of light vanilla wafers. The recipes taught may vary depending on the availability of suitable ingredients.  Each participant will receive a complete printed set of recipes to cook at home.

About Benedetta

Benedetta Vitali is a chef who has lived and worked all her life in Florence, Italy. In 1979, fresh out of university, she and Fabio Picchi founded the much-admired restaurant Cibrèo, offering their fellow Florentines an updated version of robust Tuscan cooking that had been neglected in the post-war trend to prepackaged and convenience foods. In 1999, Benedetta opened a restaurant of her own on the edge of the city, Zibibbo, where she serves fresh fish, meat, and produce from nearby small farms and gardens in an original style that combines influences from Southern Italy and the Middle East with characteristic Tuscan dishes.

Benedetta is the author of the James Beard Award finalist Soffritto: Tradition and Innovation in Tuscan Cooking, in which she makes a compelling case for learning to cook as Italians do by fully engaging all of one’s senses and paying close attention to the transformation of ingredients that occurs during cooking rather than by following recipes slavishly. She has taught cooking classes across the United States as well as in Florence. She has four children and a grandchild.

The week long package also includes:
* Private Welcome Dinner Sunday evening: Maine Lobster Bake on the beach at Michael and Mary Jo’s House with Italian favorites
* Fresh Mozzarella Cheese Making class at the State of Maine Cheese Company
* Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar tasting at Fiore Artisan Olive Oils and Vinegars
* Wine Tasting and Private Tour of the Cellardoor Winery

This cooking week package is only available to guests of the Inn and includes lodging for 5 evenings (Sunday – Thursday) and breakfast for two each morning. The package is based on a single participant joining us for the course (second person course cost is an additional $525) which includes lunch each day, 6 cooking courses, 2 tastings, Sunday welcome dinner, Hartstone Inn apron and welcome amenity. Traditional Room: $1250 / Superior Room: $1500 / Suite: $1650. The course is limited to 14 participants. Click here to view the weekly menu and daily course plan.

The following rooms are on hold for participants of the course:

Room NameRoom TypeWeekly Price
ParisSuperior$1500
LoftSuperior$1500
ViolaSuperior$1500
ToscanaTraditional$1250
Garden SuiteSuite$1650
Arbor SuiteSuite$1650
Sunflower SuiteSuite$1650