Active Gourmet Holidays
Active Gourmet Holidays
November News from Active Gourmet Holidays

 Active Gourmet Holidays

Greetings from Active Gourmet Holidays!

Given our September visit to Sicily, this month's newsletter focuses on this fabulous island! Take a look at our new tour called "Bella Sicilia" along with another wonderful cooking vacation called "Savoring Sicily" and also a selection of delicious day cooking class options in "Delicious Sicily ". Our recipe also comes from this island - the biggest in the Mediterranean! 


Please check out our BLOG: Stories for the Foodie

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Bella Sicilia!
Sicily, Italy - 4 or 6 nights

Available March to October 

Sicily invites you to discover its authenticity by engaging in hands on cooking classes with a chef who was born right in the surrounding area where the program takes place. Learn recipes that he learned both as a young man from his family and as a trained chef with instruction by a well known chef in Sicily. His gentle nature and passion for food will be evident as he guides you through the lesson. Stay in beautiful accommodations, explore fishing villages, markets and indulge in incredible food and wine during a four or six night exploration of northern Sicily.



Read more: Bella Sicilia!     


Savoring Sicily 
Sicily, Italy - 6 nights  
Available year round
Join us for a week of hands-on cooking classes and foodie excursions in the charming south-eastern tip of Sicily, Italy. The area is home to mile after mile of largely unspoiled sandy beaches, beautiful countryside, a series of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and lively towns. It is famous for the wonderful baroque architecture as well as for its rich culinary tradition as Sicilian cuisine represents the richness of centuries of euro-Mediterranean cultural encounters.

Delicious Sicily
Sicily, Italy 
Available year round

Savor delicious Sicily by choosing from one of the many cooking classes we offer. If you have a place to stay but would like to experience authentic Sicily, why not take a cooking class to learn about Sicilian cuisine? Take a class from a Duchess, a chef, a cookbook author, vist a wine or olive oil estate - and simply enjoy all that this magical place has to offer all the while indulging in great food and wine and meeting the warm Sicilian people. 

Read more: Delicious Sicily



 Client Testimonial 



"Dear Jo-Ann - 

Just a note to let you know that today we spent an absolutely delightful day with Erick. We loved the idea of being in his home kitchen. We enjoyed our time at the market with him; he was totally hands-on in the kitchen and let us participate actively; and the food was plentiful and delicious. Thank you - I would recommend any time!!"

Adrienne and Brian K.,  Issaquah, Washington 



("Bella Sicilia!" Program

Preparation & Cooking Time, 40 min. + 20 min.

Ingredients, Serves 8

24 sardines

1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup of white wine vinegar

juice and zest of one lemon, juice of 4 oranges (or 2 cups of orange juice)
2 cups (200gr) breadcrumbs
5 tbsp (75gr) sugar, 18 bay leaves
1 tbsp (15gr) fresh parsley, chopped

2 tbsp (30gr) raisins, 2 tbsp (30gr) pine nuts
salt and pepper to taste

Utensils, mixing bowl, plate, baking dish

Wine Pairings: Still White Wine, Medium-Bodied, Soft and Fragrant - Grape "Grillo"


Stuffed sardines, sarde a beccafico in Sicilian dialect, is one of the most traditional and well-loved dishes in Sicily. Sardines are small, inexpensive and are commonly found off the coast of Sicily. For a long time, sardines were one of the main ingredients in the diet of the lower class, especially fishermen, who ate them quite often. 

It should come as no surprise that many Sicilian recipes are based on sardines. In many cases, sardines were used as a substitute for more expensive fish, allowing the poor to recreate the dishes the noblemen were accustomed to eating. This recipe for stuffed sardines is actual the poor man's version of a much more noble meat dish. 

Beccafico is the name of a small bird with very flavorful meat that consumes figs during the summertime, becoming quite plump. Noble Sicilians would catch and eat these birds, stuffed with their innards. They said that their meat was nice and tender so they were eating them with all the guts.

This dish was obviously out of range of the poorer population who tried to recreate the dish with other ingredients. The small birds were substituted with less-expensive sardines and were stuffed with breadcrumbs rather than innards. During assembly, the tail of the fish is twisted upward in imitation of the bird's tail. The Sicilian name of the plate recall the bird: sarde a beccafico (beccafico literally means beak figs) Sicilian stuffed sardines became very popular in Sicily and are now considered an important part of the island's cuisine.

As always, there are a number of variations on this dish. Some cooks add diced caciocavallo cheese to the stuffing and the stuffed sardines are dipped in flour and fried instead of baked. Others soak the currants or raisins in Marsala wine or add saffron to the filling.



Clean the sardines and remove the backbone. 

In a bowl combine breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, the juice of 2 oranges (or a cup of orange juice), grated orange zest, grated lemon zest, the juice of 1 lemon, chopped parsley, 1/2 olive oil, vinegar. Add sugar, raisins, pine nuts. Mix well and season to taste. The dough should be reasonably dense, firm and sticky enough to make balls for the filling - a bit like modeling clay. Add olive oil if necessary.

To assemble the sardines and stuffing 

 Select a baking dish large enough to fit all the sardines once they are rolled. Lightly oil the baking dish. In a big plate have all 18 sardines opened and ready to be filled. Place a tablespoon of filling near the wide end of each fish.
Roll the fish around the stuffing toward the tail very carefully as they are extremely delicate and easy to break.

Place the rolled fish, tail up, in the prepared baking dish. Pack them tightly in the baking dish so that they don't unroll.

Insert bay leaves between the fish rolls. Add some drops of oil and sprinkle the sugar on the fishes. Now bake in a preheated oven (350°F - 180°C) for about 20 minutes. Before serving it, sprinkle with orange juice to moisten the fish. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature. It is a perfect starter or a great side-dish, hot or cold it doesn't matter, you are going to love and enjoy it!!!!

Use the remaining filling to stuff fried slices of eggplant. Sprinkle with grated cheese and olive oil and bake it for 5 minutes in a preheated oven (350°F - 180°C).

If you are using frozen sardines, do not roll them (they cannot be easily sealed anymore) but make them "baciate (kissed)" - see pictures




Contact Information
Active Gourmet Holidays
Jo-Ann Gaidosz
Phone: 1.203.732.0771
Fax: 1.203.734.6903
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Skype: active.gourmet.holidays 


Hi Jo-Ann - We wanted to let you know that we had an AMAZING time at the cooking school. My mother and I could not have had a better time. Paola and Simonetta were such wonderful hosts and teachers. We were treated like family. The house and property were beautiful. The hands-on cooking classes were so much fun...we learned so many great recipes that I cannot wait to test on my friends back home. I will definitely be recommending this experience to all of my friends and colleagues. Thank you so much for all of your help in setting up this once-in-a-lifetime dream vacation. It is something neither one of us will ever forget!


Best, Erin S. and Flor V.,
New York, New York

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