Special occasions call for extra special foodie experiences. These blow-the-budget treats include a beautiful venue to hire in Somerset, a luxury train trip and a once-in-a-lifetime cookery class in Sicily.
Merlin Labron-Johnson at Rocca delle Tre Contrade
A week-long luxury cooking experience in Sicily
Treat yourself to the delights of springtime Sicily and hone your culinary skills under the guidance of chef Merlin Labron-Johnson (under whose aegis London restaurant Portland gained a Michelin star). Staying at the grand Rocca delle Tre Contrade villa on the east of the island, you’ll spend your time learning how to make Sicilian dishes through hands-on classes, cooking demonstrations and market visits while enjoying five-star surroundings and meals.
The blush-pink private villa and former wine estate of Rocca delle Tre Contrade is an impressive sight, perched on a hilltop, surrounded by palm trees, bougainvillea and jasmine, it has panoramic views of the blue Ionian Sea and Mount Etna. This is your home for an all-inclusive foodie experience, designed to inspire guests with the very best of Sicilian ingredients, much of it sourced from local artisanal producers and the villa’s own kitchen garden. Breakfast includes prosciutto from the black pigs reared in the nearby Nebrodi Mountains, baked sheep’s milk ricotta, lemon blossom honey, freshly squeezed juice and marmalade from the villa’s own citrus groves.
Classes take place in the villa’s sleek, purpose-built kitchen. With a maximum of 16 participants and four work stations, there’s ample workspace and personal attention from chef and his team. LebronJohnson calmly guides you through preparing classic Sicilian recipes such as pasta alla Norma, arancini and delicate pastries like cannoli. After each class, guests eat together to enjoy the fruits of their labours.
Shop like a local with an early morning trip to the charming coastal town of Riposto. Led by Lebron-Johnson, select from the fresh catch at the fishmonger’s including amberjack, red mullet, and bonito. Walk to the fruit and vegetable market to find a dazzling array of citrus fruits and wild greens; you might even spot Sicilian avocados and mangoes which thrive in the Mediterranean climate.
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