We’ve teamed up with Our Rustica, a unique cooking school in the heart of the Prosecco wine country, to bring you six recipes that will make you fall in love with Italy all over again.
When, more than a decade ago, Ruth Moorhouse and Andrea Conti first came across the ancient pile that was to become Our Rustica, it was in great disrepair with crumbling walls, no running water, no electricity, and no roof. But the house had beautiful bones and, located at the very top of a steep hill, was blessed with glorious views over the vineyards and meadows of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, Italy’s prime prosecco country.
The couple spent more than eight years lovingly restoring their acquisition bit by bit – at one stage living in the grounds in a tent, with their newborn baby girl. Their efforts paid off. Today the sweeping vineyard vista is as spectacular as ever and the house is the epitome of rustic chic.
Once a top stylist for the United Colours of Benetton fashion group, Ruth’s deft touch is apparent in every nook and cranny, while Andrea – an accomplished chef who has worked extensively throughout Italy – weaves his magic in the kitchen.
In summer, classes are often held outside at a long table under a trellised vine, surrounded by herbs, wildflowers and aromatic lavender, where bees and hummingbirds dive for nectar.
The menu is seasonal as much of the organic produce comes from Ruth and Andrea’s own garden or is foraged from their woods and fields. They will sometimes take guests to visit local producers, where they might find themselves grinding flour or selecting cheeses to take back for class. It’s all reassuringly hands-on.
These bespoke classes are casual and fun, and usually kick off with a cup of tea (Ruth is a Brit), coffee or a glass of local DOCG prosecco while guests slip into their aprons and brush up on basic knife skills and other kitchen techniques.
The day might begin crafting handmade pasta, pummelling fresh pesto, mixing a tasty filling for ravioli or sitting astride what they call ‘the Stallion’, a traditional machine for hand-turning perfect strands of spaghetti, before attempting a main course or dessert – all to the strains of JJ Cale playing in the background.
Whatever the case, by the end of the morning you will have helped to prepare a four-course lunch plated using a combination of foraged items – such as flat river stones, shells and roughly hewn timber platters – along with more traditional crockery and cutlery.
Lunch is a joyous affair served at a table festooned with an eclectic array of wildflowers gathered by Ruth. The result of your morning’s work will be supplemented by other special treats from Andrea, and the wine and chatter is likely to flow well into the evening.
Classes & Accommodation.
Classes run for anything from a couple to eight guests at a time and can be booked for as little as a half day to a full week. Our Rustica has charming B&B accommodation for three couples at a time, but you will need to book well in advance.