Marche Cooking Tour
Our inaugural tour was a cooking tour in the Marche region of central Italy from October 2–9th, 2016.
The town of Matelica, in the province of Fabriano, was a revelation for the tour members and us. The townspeople, the Matelicesi, were very hospitable, friendly and down-to-earth. Not being a touristy area, each time we told the Matelicesi that we were there for a cooking class, everyone asked, “Why Matelica?” with genuine surprise.
The cooking lessons by the chef, Antonella Cofanelli, at her son’s local restaurant, Al Teatro Da Bach were hands-on, informative and wonderful to see, smell and eat. Antonella was initially nervous to teach, not having ever done it before, but quickly felt at ease with the clients. She was delighted and proud to share her extensive knowledge of local cuisine with us.
The amazingly fresh and delicious local food products we tried literally blew us away. The creamy ricotta (I don’t like ricotta but could eat this one quite willingly); organic honey made from chestnut and acacia; an incredible variety of salumi such as a paté-like one called Ciauscolo; egg-based pasta to rival Emilia Romagna; the famous DOC Verdicchio white wine. We ate our way through so many delicious types of food like a melt-in-your-mouth butter, a memorable pistachio panna cotta, a chicken cacciatora similar to coq au vin, huge meat and cheese stuffed olives, an extremely light version of lasagna called Vincisgrassi.
We visited a local vineyard run by the Gagliardi family; the amazing Frasassi caves, the largest in Europe; Braccano, otherwise known as the town of murals for its 70 plus murals; the tiny walled town of Cerreto d’Esi; the city of Fabriano, famed for its fine watermarked paper production; and wandered through the tranquil, old streets of Matelica.
Our time in Matelica and its surrounding area was made even better by the townspeople we got to know. Antonella, the chef; Tania, the language school director; Angelo and Manuel Fioriti, the owners of the hotel where we stayed; Marco and Andrea, the two drivers who took us around for various excursions; Anna and Pietro, owners of the local fresh pasta shop; and the innumerable restaurant and shop people we met. And last but not least, our five tour members: Ania. Heather, Sandy, Shay and Theresa, who made this a very special, memorable and happy initial tour.