An Extra-Virgin Intensive for Food Writers, Chefs, and Others Interested in Deepening Their Experience of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
When: October 15 to 21, 2011
Where: Villa Campestri Olive Oil Resort in the green rolling hills of the Mugello northeast of Florence.
What: An unusual opportunity to expand and deepen your knowledge of extra-virgin olive oil: how it’s made, what’s good and what’s not good, nutritional values, how to recognize and describe flavors, and how to choose and use this remarkable ingredient in the kitchen and at the table. We’ll explore the world of super-premium olive oils that go “beyond extra-virgin,” a new category of high technical standards and outstanding sensory profiles.
This intensive five-day program has been developed by Nancy Harmon Jenkins, food writer and authority on the Mediterranean diet and the important role of extra-virgin olive oil, and is designed specifically for food writers, chefs and others interested in developing a more profound knowledge of extra-virgin. It’s a chance to explore one of the most widely used and most mysterious ingredients in the modern (and ancient) kitchen.
We’ll be headquartered at Villa Campestri, a splendid 13th-century retreat, a few kilometers north of Florence, high on a hill overlooking the Mugello (home of Giotto, Fra Angelico and the Medici, among others) where the Pasquali family, Paolo, Gemma and Viola, offer warm hospitality to their guests, harvest their own olives, and make their award-winning oil. Paolo is well-known to olive oil enthusiasts for his development of Oleoteca Villa Campestri and the OliveToLive program, a unique way to appreciate and understand high-quality, super-premium extra-virgin oils, featured at the Culinary Institute of America’s California campus in the Napa valley.
We’ll take part in the harvest of olives from Campestri’s extensive groves, then quickly press and taste the fresh new oil—an astonishing, truly mind-awakening experience.
We’ll be introduced, through guided tastings, to a surprising variety of extra-virgins from around the world, all representative of the super-premium 3-E program for olive oil excellence sponsored by the Accademia dei Georgofili in Florence, all illustrating the enormous range of flavors and aromas that extra-virgin includes.
We’ll have hands-on classes in the Villa kitchen to explore cooking with extra-virgin—braising, frying, sauteing, baking, even making ice cream, as well as other uses of extra-virgin—garnishing, for instance, and preserving.
We’ll visit an old-fashioned frantoio (olive mill) in the Mugello to see how olive oil was traditionally made, and we’ll learn about recent changes in olive cultivation and olive oil production that make fine extra-virgin more available for more consumers.
We’ll have meals in traditional restaurants in the vicinity to explore the culinary heritage of this fascinating region of Tuscany, known in Italy as the cradle of the Renaissance, and we’ll learn how other cooks use our precious ingredient.
We’ll also explore many other traditional food processes for which Tuscany is famous—wine, for sure (the DOCG Chianti Rufina district is just down the road), but also cheese-making, the production of salumi (cured pork products, especially fine mortadella di Prato), and the time-honored craft of baking in old-fashioned wood-fired ovens, as well as the production of traditional biscotti di Prato. If you have special interests, let us know—they will be accommodated whenever possible.
Cost: € 2,500 per person, includes pick-up and delivery at Santa Maria Novella station (the main train station) in Florence, six nights and five days at Villa Campestri, all meals, and transportation to off-site events and activities. (Reduced prices may be available for accompanying spouses or partners who don’t wish to participate in the full program. We are happy to include them on a first-come first-served basis as space is limited.)