Saturday, 15 November 2008

A tip for lone travellers...and all foodies of course!

It's sometimes tricky knowing how to spend your time if you're travelling on your own, and after finishing gardening duties in Rome I wasn't quite sure what to do, as I still had some days free. So I decided to follow my instincts and e-mailed the address of a cookery school I'd seen recommended in The Guardian a couple of years ago to see if by any SLIM chance I might be able to go and cook for a few days near Lucca, a beautiful town in Tuscany that I've visited before. And so, as sometimes happens when you follow your gut, I found myself travelling North on a train to Lucca, booked in at the last moment to have some foodie fun. I was welcomed in the pouring rain by the smiling Irene - who held out a welcome umbrella. It wasn't long before I met chef Gianluca Pardini, who runs the grand-sounding International Academy of Italian Cusine in Lucca . But in spite of the grand name, I immediately felt at home here - everything was done to make this last-minute guest feel comfortable. Gianluca is a chef with an international reputation, and over the years, he has built up strong links with Japan where he once worked. Thus, my cooking classmates were from Japan and Korea, and a more charming bunch of people I couldn't imagine meeting. And so began my exploration of Italian food - lessons in Italian, translated into Japanese! A truly international, stimulating experience....but on top of this...the food the food the food!! With Gianluca's help and guidance we cooked a three course lunch, and a meal for the evening. He made it all seem do-able, and such fun too. He's a great teacher - warm, enthusiastic, ...and his passion for his native food really rubs off on you.

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