It was just about a year ago that I was frantically packing my suitcases, mentally reciting a few lines from my presentation and packing my camera equipment, heading towards Florence. I always love traveling to Italy as it’s a country I feel attached to - its rich culture, the atmosphere, the people and the food, all entice me and inspire me on many levels. Traveling to Florence this time was special however, as I was going to be joined by 3 dear friends and 12 new faces. What I did not know however I was going to come away with many new friends and cherish the old ones more.
I was headed to Tuscany to join Ilva, Jeanne and Jamie for our second From Plate to Page workshop under the Tuscan sun. I love the way these workshops were coming to life and with each one we were gaining not only experience but making contact with some incredibly warm, loving and talented people who came to our workshops as participants but within a few days we were laughing, sharing stories and singing together like we had known each other for a lifetime.
We have very successfully completed three From Plate to Page workshops, Weimar our first workshop, which we dived into with all our gusto, then came Tuscany, which we mastered with the typical Italian charm and this year we hit the rolling hills of Somerset for the best of Britain. What a roller coaster ride each one has been.
I have many fond memories from each one of these workshops. Moments that I have captured in my head and there they will be cherished. Be it moments like singing Abba while hulling strawberries in Weimar, bulbs exploding over our heads in Somerset or sitting on the stone wall and allowing the Tuscan sun to rejuvenate me in a quiet moment - there are many such moments.
One of the fondest memories I have is the one of walking into the rustic stone floored kitchen of Il Salicone, at our spectacular venue in Tuscany and seeing Ilva standing alone at the stove stirring a wooden spoon in a fairly large metal pot. Behind me in the dining room there were squeals of joy from our Tuscany group as they discovered boxes of Prosecco and wine from our exceptional sponsors. In comparison the kitchen was quiet and cool. I stood there for a few seconds watching Ilva.
See, Ilva is a cherished friend and although I’ve known her for close to 7 years this was actually only the second time I was meeting her in person! Every time I tried to imagine her cooking the delightful dishes she creates on her blog, this was very much how I pictured it. On this evening she was in charge of cooking and was preparing one of my favorite Italian dishes pollo alla cacciatora or hunter’s style chicken. As I walked up to Ilva I was embraced by the soothing scent of tangy tomatoes, garlic and onions. I stayed for awhile helping with the preparations and we chatted, giggling and making jokes, feeling relaxed. Soon the kitchen began to fill up with the other members of our group and the moment faded. But it was branded in my head.
This week we mark another milestone in our Plate to Page story. We’ve been working on our sparkly new website behind the scenes and putting together a brand new workshop for 2013. We’ve worked hard and there were many frustrations, highs and lows but in the end we rocked it. The Plate to Page website is looking hot - isn’t it?
We’re absolutely thrilled about our fourth workshop in May 2013 in Dublin, Ireland. Mark those calendars! From 10th - 13th May 2013 we’re taking the From Plate to Page workshop to the beautiful rolling green hills of County Meath, Ireland. You’ll find all the details to the workshop in our Ireland announcement page.
This time we have changed our registration procedure by opening the workshop for pre-registrations and offering the opportunity to register your interest before officially opening the registrations. Those who are pre-registered will be getting timely updates and details to everything concerning the workshop and you will have plenty of time to check dates, flights and budgets in advance. Also different this time is that for those of you who are certain about attending this workshop now, have the option to bindingly secure a spot on the workshop by selecting the appropriate field on the registration form. As always the group is limited to 10 participants. Our comprehensive FAQ page covers a variety of topics, explaining many details to how we work behind the scenes.
My favorite page however is the “What Participants Say” page! It makes me beam from ear to ear when I read it and I am filled with joy to read that what we do has touched so many of our attendees in such an inspiring and positive way. We cherish our alumni, and where possible keep a track on how they progress, exchange emails and advice. Staying in touch beyond the 3 days of the workshop is proof of the bond formed during the time. We even like to integrate our alumni in other workshops like we did in Somerset. Hayley, a dear alumni from our Tuscany workshop was the driving force behind the meals on the last day in Somerset, creating a varied and mouth-watering menu, which was relished by the Somerset attendees.
I hope you enjoy browsing through the pages of our new website. We have a lot of motivating and inspiring articles by incredible guest writers - really great reads all of them. We would love your feedback if you have any suggestions on a professional writer/photographer you would like to see on our website.
Maybe you can feel how excited I am about this. I am also sentimental and to celebrate the awesome team I work with, the past and future workshops, the generous and incredible sponsors we have partnered with and the brilliant friends we have made along the way, I decided to re-create pollo alla cacciatore.
Pollo alla cacciatore or chicken cacciatore in English, is a simple dish that is popular not only in Italy but around the world and there are many varieties of this dish. The ingredients for chicken cacciatore vary, but its essentials are chicken, onions, tomatoes and wine. It is often made with rabbit, and many recipes call for mushrooms, both things an Italian hunter might come across in the woods.
In my version I use divine free-range organic chicken and add carrots and parsnip to the dish. I omit the onions allowing the smoked garlic to lead the flavors. Mushrooms, the vegetables and a handful of olives top off the stew perfectly.
As I wrap up this post I am once again frantically packing my bags, reciting lines of my presentation as I head to Dubai this weekend. My parents are awaiting Soeren and me eagerly and this time next week I’ll be in the middle of my second Dubai Food Styling & Photography workshop, which I am very excited about. You’ll find an overview of all my workshops for 2012/2013 on my workshop page. The page will be updated as I finalize other upcoming workshops in 2013.
Wish me luck and I’ll see you when I return with lots of stories and recipes. See you soon!
More great chicken recipes from WFLH:
|Italian Roasted Chicken and Vegetables||Lime Chicken and Vegetable Farro Risotto||Parmesan Thai Basil Crusted Chicken|
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