Active Gourmet Holidays
Active Gourmet Holidays
December News from Active Gourmet Holidays
Active Gourmet Holidays
Greetings from Active Gourmet Holidays!

In this month's newsletter we are featuring tours in Lazio and Tuscany as well as a recipe for Creamy Porcini and Farro Soup. It's the perfect hearty dish for this time of year.
The 2010 program dates are currently being updated on our website as well as some exciting new tours that are being added. Why not surprise your loved one for the holidays with a gourmet tour?
For more information on specific tours or pricing, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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December Newsletter Feature TourCOMING SOON! Cook Like a Roman
Rome, Italy - Day Cooking Classes and Market Tours
Available year round 
Learn the true techniques of Italian cooking with a chef from Rome. She learned to cook from her "nonna' at the tender age of fourteen. You will visit the Roman market, enjoy a hands-on cooking class in a beautiful home in the center of Rome and enjoy the fruits of your labor while savoring delicious Italian wines.
NEW!  December Newsletter Feature TourThe Treasures of Tuscan Cuisine
(Options: Customized Tours, Cycling, Villa or Yacht Tours, Wine Tours)
Tuscany, Italy - 5 nights
Available year round
Where better to learn the art of preparing Tuscan cuisine than Tuscany? This tour will provide you with the skills and knowledge to prepare authentic Tuscan menus using the jewels of the Italian kitchen. Take cooking classes with talented chefs, stay in beautiful accommodations and experience all that is Tuscan in this very special "foodie" tour developed exclusively for Active Gourmet Holidays' clients.
Dec 2009 News Program HighlightCooking and Italian Lessons in Tuscany
(Options: Day Cooking Classes)
Tuscany, Italy - 5 nights
Available year round (except week before Christmas)
Italian cooking and wine classes, organized in a private Tuscan home in Tuscany with  sisters Simonetta and Paola, are fun, lively and friendly. You will learn cooking secrets from their 20 years experience in cooking and teaching. Traditional Italian family recipes, taught in English, will allow you to get the flavor of living in an Italian country home and being with an Italian family.
Dec 2009 News Progam HighlightMagical Montalcino
Montalcino, Italy - 1 to 3 days

Available year round
Take hands-on cooking lessons in Montalcino from Teresa. Born in Rome, Teresa speaks fluent English and French and will share her knowledge of food preparation with you as well as giving you the tools you need to create simple dishes that are easily replicated once you get home. 
dec 2009 newsFlorentine Escape
Florence, Italy - 3 or 4 nights
Available year round
Recommended by Karen Brown Guides "Most Romantic Inn 2009"
Conde Naste Johansen 2005 Recipient

Treat yourself to a relaxing three or four night getaway with a cooking lesson in a small and elegant Relais, located just 20 minutes outside of Florence.

In This Issue
"Cook Like a Roman"
"The Treasures of Tuscan Cuisine"
"Cooking and Italian Lessons in Tuscany"
"Magical Montalcino"
"Florentine Escape"
  Client Testimonial

Slow Food Logo 
"Thank you, JoAnn!  Everything was great! The driver was right on time to take us to the class and the class was wonderful!!  It was really the highlight of my trip! I attached some pictures of the class.
Thanks again for your help!" 

Allison Z., Colts Neck, New Jersey    

Recipe of the Month


("Exquisite Wine Tours in Italy, Spain and Portugal" - please inquire) 
Here is a wonderful recipe from my partners who run incredible wine tours in Italy, Spain and Portugal!
Every fall, you'll find my piemontese husband out in the woods, poking under piles of leaves for fresh porcini. In his village, mushroom hunting is serious sport. Grown men's spirits rise or fall depending on whether they've outdone their neighbors in the pounds of mushrooms bagged in the wild.
      Here in Brooklyn, I can find fresh porcini at my local farmers' market. But no matter where you are, fall is the ideal season for mushroom soup. The following recipe is a sophisticated version of the classic mushroom and barley combo: It's creamy, with a dash of sherry to add depth. I use Italian farro (an ancient grain similar to spelt), but barley works fine.
       If time allows, I prefer to make my own mushroom stock, which offers a much deeper, earthier result than canned chicken or veggie stock.
Dec 2009 Recipe Newsletter

1/2 cup farro (or pearl barley)
4-1/2 cups mushroom broth (see below) or reduced-sodium chicken broth divided
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
2 cups boiling water
2 teaspoons butter
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup minced shallots (about 4 medium)
8 cups sliced white mushrooms (about 20 ounces)
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage, or 1 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup dry sherry (do not use cooking sherry)
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup minced fresh chives

 Bring barley and 1-1/2 cups broth to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until tender, 30 to 35 minutes.
    Meanwhile, combine porcini and boiling water in a medium bowl and soak until softened, about 20 minutes. Line a sieve with paper towels, set it over a bowl and pour in mushrooms and soaking liquid. Reserve the soaking liquid. Transfer the mushrooms to a cutting board and finely chop.

 December 2009 Newsletter Recipe Photo
Heat butter and oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
Add shallots and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add white mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until they start to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the porcinis, celery, sage, salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring, until the flour is incorporated, about 1 minute. Add sherry and cook, stirring, until most of the sherry has evaporated, about 1 minute.

Add the soaking liquid and the remaining 3 cups broth; increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the soup has thickened, 18 to 22 minutes.

Add the cooked barley and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes more. Stir in sour cream until incorporated. Garnish with chives.
Recipe & photo from Eating Well magazine.
Mushroom Stock
(Makes 7-8 cups)

1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 leek top, chopped and washed
4 garlic cloves, in their skin, crushed with the side of a knife
1 oz dried porcini (or shiitake) mushrooms
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
1/2 pound white mushrooms, sliced
2 small carrots, chopped
6 parsley springs, coarsely chopped
3 fresh thyme sprigs
2 fresh marjoram or oregano springs
2 fresh sage leaves
2 bay leaves
9 cups cold water
Pour just enough water into the stockpot to start the onions cooking. Add the onion, leek top, garlic, dried mushrooms, and salt. Give the vegetables a stir, then cover the pot and cook gently over medium heat for 15 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cover with 9 cups cold water. Bring the stock to a boil, then simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour. Pour the stock through a strainer, pressing as much liquid as you can from the vegetables, then discard them.
Stock recipe from Field of Greens: New Vegetarian Recipes from the Celebrated Greens Restaurant (Bantam Books 1993) 
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Contact Information
Active Gourmet Holidays
Jo-Ann Gaidosz
Phone: 1.203.732.0771
Fax: 1.203.734.6903
Skype: active.gourmet.holidays
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




"It was an absolutely marvelous week. The accommodations were superb. I loved the course, the host, and the Chambre d'Hote which is a lovely country house equipped with everything one could possibly need. I was incredibly pleased to when dealing with AGH. All in all, a fantastic experience that I hope to be able to repeat, perhaps in Italy next time." Anita D., Encinitas, California

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