An indulgent, authentic cooking class on the Amalfi Coast
An immersive foodie experience where you learn to forage & cook traditional Italian meals.
It’s a challenge trying to choose from all the amazing Amalfi Coast travel ideas that are available these days. Trip Advisor, Airbnb and other websites now enable people from all walks of life to offer different experiences and adventures. I was fortunate to discover the Gastronomic Trekking Cooking Class when searching for travel experiences near Positano where I was staying.
This cooking class is a little bit different, it allows travellers coming to the Amalfi Coast to walk some of the historic pathways to get in touch with local food culture. You literally forage for fresh ingredients on the way to an incredible roof top balcony to learn how to make traditional dishes that you devour for lunch with carefully selected wines from local vineyards – all the while you have a birds eye view over the coastline.
Why was this such a great cooking experience?
As we mentioned there are literally hundreds of choices available these days, so making a choice can be hard. This is why we decided to choose Gastronomic Trekking as it was a unique blend of walking, cooking, eating and drinking. Quite different to the other classes in someone’s house;
- The group sizes are very small, only up to 12 people.
- You are not stuck in a bus for hours or with a large group of people.
- Giacomo is a native local who has a firm belief in sustainable food production and sourcing.
- You discover the history and culture of the Amalfi Coast.
- It is hands-on, authentic and educational.
- It isn’t just about learning to make pizza or pasta.
- Multiple course meals and wine included.
- It is a half day travel experience that is done locally.
- You get a copy of all the recipes sent to you via eMail afterwards.
- The style and presentation is relaxed, casual but very passionate.
What Italian dishes can you learn to cook?
As we walked and foraged our bags were getting filled with all types of plants some of which we had always thought were just weeds. When these wild herbs and other greenery are used in certain ways they can create incredible flavours you’d never have imagined.
On this tour we ended up making;
- Sage Leaves in Tempura
- Pesto of Sticky Weed
- Quiche with Wild Herbs
- Gnocchi with Potatoes & Mallow
- Fried Cassatella stuffed with Ricotta and Wild Mint
How good is this cooking tour experience?
Is it the best cooking tour?
Time for a heated debate as there are lots of cooking tours you can choose from on the Amalfi Coast. Many of them are locals that use Airbnb Experiences to open their kitchens to tourists and share family known recipes. Some are led by students trying to make a bit of extra money who walk you through a few shops in their neighbourhood with access to the kitchen or chef.
Although after a bit of research we were fortunate to uncover Gastronomic Trekking food tours that are hosted by Giacomo. A very passionate and super knowledgeable host, he shares his love of Italy’s authentic food culture by starting with old fashioned foraging as you walk the paths of Praiano.
How much did it cost?
It isn’t one of the cheapest food tours available but at EURO$100 or (AUD$160) it is good value for money considering it runs for half a day, includes a 4-course meal, drinks and alcohol in a small group of 15 or less.
It is also the highest ranking workshop in Positano.
What are the best parts?
You begin the cooking tour with Giacomo providing an informative walking tour through the hillside landscape of Praiano, stopping along the way to educate the small group about Italy’s history of food and farming techniques. As you do this he helps the group forage things like edible flowers, wild herbs and aromatic plants that are gathered to be used later for our lunch. Every item collected has a purpose whether it is the taste, aroma or texture that gets used to create together with other staple ingredients to hand craft a tantalising four-course meal to share with like-minded food lovers.
What I loved about this walk, cook and eat food tour was how much Giacomo encouraged us to touch, smell and taste each of the hand-picked ingredients. He made sure we could learn and understand how, with a bit of creativity, they could work well together when we began cooking lunch dishes later on.
What makes it different?
Rather than taking us to a kitchen buried in the back of someone’s home or a restaurant cooking class was held on a gorgeous hotel rooftop. The bespoke kitchen area had spectacular 360 degree views over the ocean. They provided aprons and a glass of wine to kick things off as we all helped wash then prepare the ingredients we had freshly picked. Giacomo then got everyone working together to prepare and cook the most gorgeous looking plates of food we had ever seen during a cooking class. The stunning backdrop, very relaxed atmosphere and the intimate group made it all the more special, like cooking with friends and family. Using such wild ingredients has now inspired us to explore more interesting ways to be creative in the kitchen. Who knew you could eat stunning flowers that were packed with amazing flavours too!
Giacomo and his team guided us through the whole cooking experience from start to finish and everything was done in a rustic, home-style way rather than a precise recipe led manner. We learnt how to make fresh pillowy soft gnocchi, tempura sage leaves, ricotta with wild garlic bruschetta, wild spinach pesto bruschetta, a pretty gourmet salad of dainty flowers followed by dessert which was deep fried ravioli with homemade lemon marmalade. Apart from the staples of flower, water or local cheese everything was made using the ingredients we had collected. Nothing was too complicated or fussy, but the flavours just burst in your mouth with everything having leaving you with that ‘more-ish’ desire. It was all perfectly matched to locally produced wines and even their own homemade fig digestive liquor that was quite potent.
Who is it for?
Gastronomic Trekking is certainly not your run of the mill cooking class. It goes beyond being ordinary, its adventurous, off the beaten path and a wonderful learning experience. It educates you on the sustainable ways of living while appreciating Italy’s beautiful coastline, beyond that you could easily do it a second time for the day’s experience alone.
Enjoy some of our other travel photography galleries.