Imagine an Italian wine-maker, two chefs and five suitcases bulging with Italy’s finest produce all packed into a Fiat Panda. Now add two dozen eggs, copious amounts of virgin olive oil and the mother of all pasta pots. This was the cosy scene as the Palazzo Tronconi trio travelled to Rome airport, en-route to the UK, to host an Italian culinary masterclass.
Bookings for You director, Jo Mackay, invited me along for a taste of unrestrained Italian hospitality and to learn about a new addition to her villa portfolio. For a taste of Palazzo Tronconi Italian food and wine holidays read on…
Charismatic Marco Marrocco, biodynamic wine-maker and Palazzo Tronconi’s owner, acted as master of ceremonies and head interpreter for the day. He explained the ethos behind the Palazzo’s food, wine and Italian cooking classes. Simple, uncomplicated dishes made with the highest quality locally produced ingredients. Sounds like my kinda food.
Accompanying Marco were two chefs and restaurant owners who both run Italian cookery classes at Palazzo Tronconi. Leonardo Grimaldi, owner and executive chef of Leonardo’s in Fontana Liri, would be wowing us with his creative culinary skills. Later that evening, Giuseppe Marcuccilli, award-winning master baker and pizza maker would be hosting a pizza-making class for another group.
Creamed cod fishcakes with DOP Avezzano potatoes dusted with Pontecorvo peppers was created for our first course. This is a perfect example of the Palazzo’s ethos. Simple food which is easy to cook at home but beautifully presented and totally delicious. Accompanying was a glass of white Fregellae brought over from Marco’s vineyard. I wished I’d caught the train that day instead of driving. One sip of the slightly citrus deliciously crisp white just wasn’t enough.
Primo Piatto was a classic carbonara of ‘Benedetto Cavalieri’ rigatoni using pasta from the antique pasta factory at Otranto. Leonardo explained that Otranto pasta is made using bronze presses which gives it a slightly rough edge allowing more sauce to stick to it. Anconaetana eggs and DOP Pecorino cheese made the sauce with jowl of black pig from Caserta. Marco explained what was going on as Chef Leonardo worked his magic. They made an entertaining double-act and there was more than a dash of humour on the menu.
Black pig stew from Caserta cooked in Zitore wine was the main course. The use of black pig a clever link between the two courses. The breed was in danger of dying out some years back because they take twice as long to mature as white pigs. This means they’re more expensive to rear. It’s worth the wait. The meat was melt-in-the-mouth tender, succulent and sweet. Zitore wine, a light fruity red, from Marco’s vineyard was the perfect partnership.
Our final masterclass dish ended on a sweet note with Kaiser pears cooked in Mocevò wine with home-made strawberry marmalade and organic lemons from Palazzo Tronconi. The combination of sweet and tart was delicious and a perfect ending to a day of authentic Italian food, wine and fun.
If this sounds like your kind of experience you can enjoy your own Italian culinary encounter on a Palazzo Tronconi food and wine holiday. As well as a delightful place to stay in the Lazio countryside the Tyrrhenian coast is also easily accessible.
Located in the small medieval village of Arce, about an hour’s drive from Rome, Palazzo Tronconi is an 18th Century boutique Palazzo B&B. Palazzo guests can experience hands-on cookery masterclasses, visits to Marco’s biodynamic vineyard for wine-tastings, and tours of artisanal olive oil and buffalo mozzarella producers.
After acquiring land once owned by his ancestors Marco’s dream was to plant a new vineyard. Ancient vines and native grapes grown by his family years before were discovered on the land. The vineyard is now restored and today produces biodynamic wines, grappa and extra virgin olive oil.
Local cultural excursions to Montecassino Abbey and the coastal town of Sperlonga, considered to be one of the most beautiful towns in Italy are available. Casa Lawrence, where DH Lawrence wrote part of ‘The Lost Girl’, is an option for those with literary leanings. Itineraries are bespoke and tailor-made to suit individual tastes. The perfect break if you’re looking for an authentic culinary and cultural encounter on your Italian villa vacation.
Italian Food and Wine Holidays
Packages for the Italian cookery vacations start at two nights from 400 euros per person. This includes breakfast, a hands-on cookery class followed by dinner with the estate’s own wine, a visit to the winery and vineyard with wine-tasting and one cultural/culinary excursion. There are various other packages available – you can check out all the options at Bookings for You.
Bookings for You
Bookings for You are holiday rental specialists. They offer a range of villas and apartments all over Italy and an abundance of local knowledge. Jo Mackay launched the company in 2010 with just five Italian properties in her portfolio. Today that number has grown to more than 350 in eight regions of Italy and more recently into France and Croatia. The company’s ethos is to provide outstanding levels of customer service and advice on property, destination and travel arrangements. Despite strong growth they remain a small company providing a personal touch and are available evenings and weekends as well as weekdays for their guests. They understand how important a holiday is and do their utmost to ensure that guests enjoy the best possible time away.
Many thanks to Bookings for You who hosted this culinary encounter. As always, all opinions above and total love of everything Italian remain entirely my own.