Since champion of Venetian cuisine Russell Norman founded his Polpo restaurant empire in 2009, he has been inspiring Londoners to fall in love with dishes from the Veneto. Polpo’s neighbour in Soho is a celebrated purveyor of Italian regional cuisine and gelato, Bocca di Lupo, and the two gastro forces are joining together for a six-day Italian cooking masterclass with Stirred from Sunday May 27 to Saturday June 2 in the 15th-century Palazzo Casagrande an hour north of Venice. Here, Norman and Bocca di Lupo’s chef de cuisine Jake Simpson will share their passion and expertise with 14 guests.
Norman takes the helm for two days of the culinary adventure and, bringing his new book, Venice: Four Seasons of Home Cooking, to life will take guests to Venice and the bustling, red-awninged Rialto fish and fresh food markets to pick up the best seasonal produce. This will be followed by a boat ride to Mazzorbo. “The island has a unique grape variety that almost disappeared due to flooding,” says Stirred co-founder Patrick Obert. “The local winemaker obtained a single cutting and Mazzorbo is the only place that produces La Dorona wine.” A vineyard tour and a tasting of the wine known as the Gold One will precede a four-course lunch. Back at the Palazzo, Norman will lead the cooking for dinner, accompanied by Simpson, using that day’s Rialto market ingredients. Norman will also host the following morning’s class.
At the daily 10am-1pm classes guests will learn new techniques and become acquainted with the rich and diverse local seasonal produce. Learning to cook like an Italian will involve preparing lunch and dinner, conjuring dishes such as pumpkin tortellini; crushed amaretti with mostarda di cremona; roast guinea fowl with spicy pepper sauce; cuttlefish stewed in its own ink; and sole with sour onion marinade and Venetian fritole. Afternoon activities include hikes in the Dolomite foothills or a dip in the palazzo’s 18m pool. But according to Obert, a siesta is the most popular afternoon pastime.