“Terre di Conca” Cooking School
Learning the Secrets of Traditional Italian Cuisine
Imagine an 18th century villa set in the heart of Italy, amid rolling hills, surrounded by woods, meandering streams and waterfalls. Visualize 40 acres of organically grown fields and orchards, free-ranging cows, pigs, chickens, capons, and geese.
Now picture the interior of the villa with charming rooms (all ensuite) natural stone walls, exquisitely embroidered antique linen sheets and lace curtains; the stately living room with its huge fireplace and smell of freshly waxed wood, an atmosphere that is at once relaxed, warm and vibrant. Looking outside you can see the swimming pool and free-standing wood-burning ovens and on the far hill, the tiny town of Conca. This is the setting for your cooking retreat at Terre di Conca.
Cooking here takes center stage and Berardino Lombardo is dedicated to making every culinary aspect of your stay a celebration of the senses.
Born and raised in the Sannio, Berardino is a man with a consuming passion to maintain the great country cooking traditions of southern Italy. Over the years he has tracked down hundreds of traditional recipes culled from the farmers who have worked the land over the centuries. His philosophy is based on three basic principles: respect the land, follow the seasons and always keep in mind the history behind each recipe. He has created an organic farm to supply all the ingredients, fruit, vegetables, meat, and poultry used in his cooking classes.
It goes without saying that no two courses will be the same because each is based solely on the seasons and what the climate and nature have to offer: Spring classes will be centered around the preparation of lamb and how to use the spontaneous as well as orchard-grown vegetables with a special accent on recipes for Easter. In Summer students will encounter eggplant and tomatoes and learn how to cook them fresh as well as how they are preserved. The rich variety of summer fruit will be used in baking and the preparation of jams. Autumn cooking activities will focus on mushrooms and the exquisite annurche apples native to this region. Of particular interest, students will see the gathering and pressing of olives and taste Berardino’s freshly made oil. In Winter the cycle comes to a close with the preparation of capons and the many transformations of pork into prosciutto, capocollo and salami. Emphasis will be made on special Christmas recipes.
All courses partake in the ritual of baking home-made bread, pies and cakes in the outdoor wood-burning ovens. Visits will be made to see how mozzarelle di bufala are made and excursions to fine local wine cellars.
Cooking techniques will be taught with a sensual, hands-on approach and, when possible, with picking the products and herbs from the orchards. Classes will include the preparation of lunch and dinner followed by discussion over an excellent selection of wines, grappas and liquors. So whether you are an adept gourmet or simply a lover of good cooking, Terre di Conca offers an oasis of pleasure, an unforgettable culinary experience and an opportunity to meet friends of a kindred spirit.
Minimum number of participants per course is four. Courses last from three to five days and can be modified to suit individual needs.
Visits of interest in the area
The beautiful city of Benevento.
The monastery of Montecassino.
The Samnite theatre at Pietrabbondante and picturesque ‘tratturi’ of the Appennines.
Hikes through the forests of the extinct volcano of Roccamonfina and the Matese Mountains. Roman Amphitheatre of Sessa Aurunca Archeological Museum of Teano