Ashley Curtin began traveling the world at a young age when her parents would buckle her into a car seat and bring her along for the ride.Now a way of life, she left the corporate world to pursue a nomadic lifestyle.She has traveled extensively through North America and Europe and parts of Africa. ...Find out more!
With garden-grown produce, freshly caught fish, and hand-cured meats, I am totally convinced that you cannot go to the Amalfi Coast of Italy without taking a cooking class - and not just any cooking class rather this one of a kind, hidden gem tucked in the mountain side of Ravello: Mamma Agata’s Cooking School. There was nothing better than being on top of a cliff, looking out at the turquoise water of the Amalfi coastline and cooking inside a private home—a beautiful old farmhouse at that—with fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables at your fingertips. There have been people from all over the world including a few celebrities that cooked in the same kitchen we did. The experience was grand and something I would do again and again.
Mamma Agata (the chef herself) along with her daughter and the rest of their family not only opens the doors to their private home, but also their hearts as you share in an emotional and passionate experience. From a top a cliff overlooking the Amalfi coast the house sits. With rows of fresh produce growing in the garden and big vibrant lemon trees positioned throughout the yard, there was a true organic feel. Patches of herbs grew wildly while chickens, turkeys and rabbits wandered free. Growing flowers were scattered up the steep slopes of the mountains as large ceramic pots and humongous glass bottles spotted the land.
We were warmly greeted, and so kindly treated by all. Along side us taking the class were a few American couples, a Canadian duo and a few other Italian natives. We quickly mingled, but before long it was time to start cooking. And the cooking began with dessert. World famous lemon cake baked by many who have taken her class and enjoyed by some of the most famous of people.
Since this area is renowned for growing lemons and producing the ever so delicious Limoncello, home-picked lemons were the main ingredients. We started squeezing its juices and folding it into the dough. As the aromas from the lemon cake baking in the oven filled the kitchen, we started chopping colorful peppers, stirring homemade tomato sauce and grilling slices of eggplant.
Being raised American-Italian, I have come to appreciate cooking. Sitting next to my grandfather at the butcher block when I was just a little girl, I was always covered in flour and made my impressions with my fingers in just about anything he made. So I knew my visit to Italy wouldn’t be complete without taking in my ancestors' heritage and cooking up a storm.
The three hour cooking class was filled with all kinds of dishes made with meats, pasta, and vegetables. From sausage and peppers to eggplant rolls, we made it all. We watched, listened and got our hands dirty with chopping, rolling, tossing and stirring. I learned to never fry in olive oil, never cut up sausage until it is fully cooked, always use fresh tomatoes when making anything and overall how to eat like a true Italian. Soups were made, sauces were poured over pasta, meats were served, breads were baked. We took with us the knowledge Mamma Agata puts on the table; elegant simplicity!
After all the hard work in the kitchen, it was time to feast. We indulged in all the homemade Italian, Mediterranean cuisine we just cooked. We dined next to friendly people, sipped on good wine made by the family itself and took in the majestic views outside of Mamma Agata's home. Glasses were clinking, stories were told, and friendships were formed. This experience will last a lifetime!
Mamma Agata’s Cooking School is located in Ravello off the Amalfi Coast of Italy. For more information, visit their website at www.mammaagata.com.