Ciao! Updates from Tuscany | September 2023

Welcome to Chicca's Cooking Club | Since 2002
Italian Cooking Classes Online and In-Person From Bolgheri, Tuscany

We’re a small international business that operates between Tuscany – Italy and the US. I’m Chicca, an architect by trade and a home cook – recipe writer by passion. I teach Italian cuisine both in-person and online from my farmhouse located on The Wine Road that leads to Bolgheri. I work with Arnaud, my French husband and creative mind behind all the photos and videos. We partner with Denise, from Portland-Oregon, my trusted co-host for the online classes and business manager.

If you enjoy what we do and want to master Italian cuisine, have access to an exclusive collection of recipes and videos while becoming a part of our joyful community of cooks, please consider to become a member of Chicca’s Cooking Club. Grazie!

Hello and Goodbye September. You whisked in a blink of an eye. You’ve blessed us with hot summer days, and cool, crispy autumn nights — a truly perfect time to visit. You are the month when two miracles happen: grapes are transformed into wine and olives get ripe for becoming precious extra virgin oil. You are the month when we transition to another season, often accompanied by a touch of melancholy.

September, you have been an exciting month here in this corner of the Tuscan coast. I had to compile a list before writing this letter to make sure I cover everything I want to share with you. I’ll try to be short and wrap up the most recent events.

Beautiful colors on the Tuscan coast.

A Heartwarming Visit from a Dear Friend

When a friend travels four hours just to spend four hours with you, it’s more than friendship; it’s love for connection. I had the pleasure of seeing MaryAnne again this year and, even if it was just for a few hours, her golden heart filled my kitchen with warmth and joy. She joined one of our Food & Wine Trip in May and this visit was totally unexpected. We got to know her husband Larry too, and the hours together were well spent: cappuccino, pizza and gelato! I’m truly blessed to call her my friend.

MaryAnne was in Florence after her trip on the Dolomites and came for a very short andl visit.

In-Person Cooking Classes Are Back

As usual, in September my kitchen becomes the kitchen of many people from across the world. Visitors are back and despite being thrilled and exhausted at the same time, I always love seeing people cooking together. Their laughters, their chats and the unique feeling of connections brought by cooking together fill my kitchen.With some guests we discover together different ways to make handmade pasta, from pappardelle to gnocchi from scratch. The process of turning simple ingredients into something this beautiful is truly rewarding.

Apart from the cooking, during my cooking classes I love to share with my guests a tour in the vegetable garden. In September, when days are shorter, we provide them with little lanterns to guide their way through the garden. Surrounded by dark, with the soft glow of the lamps, touching and smelling fragrant herbs becomes a deeper sensory experience.

During my cooking classes I take my guests for a tour in the garden.

Baking Sourdough Bread and a Special Gift

For years, I’ve been baking sourdough bread without a set method, but I have to say that the result was good, at least for me and my family. There’s just something about fresh bread, right? Then, my journey with baking sourdough bread took a turn when I discovered Maurizio from The Perfect Loaf. And here’s the exciting part: I had the pleasure of meeting one of Maurizio’s friends, Bob, who had been visiting us for a week with some of our other dear friends from the US. They all came to enjoy food, wine and some good biking as they’re all cyclists. Well, Bob brought along Maurizio’s book, and surprised me with a personalized dedication—a true honor. The book is just amazing and if you’re a home baker, don’t miss following Maurizio form The Perfect Loaf.

A Short but Sweet Visit from Giuliano Hazan and His Family

​​Last year, I had the opportunity of assisting Giuliano Hazan with his cooking classes, which was a great learning experience. This year I couldn’t join him but we reunited over a delicious aperitivo with his family. We cherish our time together and can’t wait to see them again. In case you didn’t know, Giuliano, a cookbook author and cooking instructor, is the son of Marcella Hazan, the extraordinary woman who had a great impact on how Americans cook and experience Italian food.

A Food & Wine Adventure with a Lovely Couple

Steve and Melodie joined us for a 5 day Food & Wine Trip, opting for a private journey to explore our beautiful region with our local insight. We designed their itinerary to reveal the most authentic side of Tuscany, far from the crowds. It was about experiencing our everyday life, discovering genuine local culture, meeting our local friends, and savoring incredible food and wine. Arnaud captured the essence of this trip in countless pictures: spending a few days together in good company and learning something meaningful about our beautiful region.

I’m sharing here only one picture, while he’s still editing the other 237893…

A Party, Four Birthdays, and a Surprise

In the midst of all the work, we also threw a party to celebrate Arnaud’s birthday, along with three more friends who share this special month. Everyone pitched in to cook, and our trusty pizza oven was the star of the show, satisfying the appetites of our lively crowd. To top off this special day, a charming ice cream truck driven by Gianna Tutta Panna (means: Jane All Cream) arrived as a delicious surprise. With vintage music playing and her spirited attitude, Gianna Tutta Panna ended the pizza party with a gelato galore. This was the perfect birthday treat for Arnaud, who adores ice cream! You can watch the video of this fun moment here.

The First Edition of Driver's Rally Bolgheri

At the end of September, our village was the base camp for the first Driver’s Rally Bolgheri, organized by our friend Franz Hummel, with whom Arnaud has already worked on automotive events in Paris. While I didn’t get behind the wheel of any fancy cars, I had the pleasure of providing participants with insider tips to explore our region. From food and wine to local shops and must-visit spots, the participants traded their Ferrari speed for a taste of la dolce vita!


New Online Live Class – Gifting never tasted so good!

In less than two weeks Denise, my American partner, ‘sister from another mistress’ and cooking club co-host will cross the pond for a visit to Tuscany from Oregon. We’re so excited, as the last time she was here was in 2016!

She will also be here physically in my kitchen during our Saturday, October 21st class, when I will teach you how to make Parmigiano Rosemary Savory Cookies. These cookies made with a combination of rosemary and Parmigiano cheese are incredibly tasty and easy to make. Made in any shape or size, these are the perfect cocktail appetizer, quick snack or homemade treat.

They also make perfect gifts and are great to take as a host gift for a holiday party, give as a delicious homemade gift, or as a wonderful twist at a cookie exchange. We’ll show you how to festively package them up and we’ll even provide a downloadable recipe card to top it off. Voila you can give the taste of Italy made with your own hands.

If you want to join us for this fun class, sign up here: Parmigiano Rosemary Savory Cookies. Normally priced at $37, you may get this course for 25% less (at 28$) by entering the coupon code ENEWS25 at checkout. ​I would love to cook with you.

That’s all for now. I hope it was not too much to reading…but I really wanted to share a glimpse of our September life in Tuscany. And stay tuned: the olive harvest will be in a few days…

Love from Tuscany,