|(Longboat Key, FL) For the past 15 years, Chef Ray’s cooking classes have been a very popular destination for local foodies and now, Chef Ray is packing his bags and taking his show on the road for an epicurean adventure of a lifetime. And guess what? You’re invited! From September 22 – 29, 2013, Chef Ray and D’Arcy Arpke are hosting “Tasting Tuscany,” a weeklong culinary trip through the beautiful hill towns of Tuscany. The trip will include cooking lessons and demonstrations, market visits, wine tastings, a chocolate factory visit and tasting, truffle hunting and more. D’Arcy Arpke, Euphemia Haye’s co-owner and restaurant operations director, is excited about the opportunity to travel with other fellow foodies to such a delicious location. “Tuscany is beautiful this time of year and anywhere you go with Ray, you can expect there will be good food and of course, plenty of vino!”
The trip is jam-packed with enchanting adventures for gourmands and travel junkies, and with Chef Ray in charge, fun and food are top on the itinerary’s list. “We have so many great things planned but I’m really looking forward to experiencing the simple, hearty Tuscan food,” says Chef Ray. “Mmm…my mouth just waters thinking about a Bistecca Fiorentina!” Chef Ray is also looking forward to visiting the wineries throughout Tuscany. ”Of course, we’ll be visiting some wineries as well, including one of my favorites, Banfi. It’s located inside a beautiful castle in the countryside. It’s just breathtaking…and they also make some fantastic wine. We’ll be drinking plenty of that!” D’Arcy adds, “Yes, and we have a driver, so it’s ok for everyone to partake!”
While traveling through Tuscany, Chef Ray will give his insights on the food and Elizabeth Namack, a native Floridian who now resides in Florence, will act as the tour guide and offer her commentary on sights, art history, architecture and more. Elizabeth has a MA of Renaissance Art History is fluent in Italian and is a licensed tour guide of Florence and the Tuscan region.
Not only will travelers get to dine on sophisticated food from the best restaurants in Tuscany, they will also have cooking lessons from one accomplished Chef – Chef Ray himself. In addition to Tuscan fare, Chef Ray Arpke will be teaching his award-winning Wine-Braised Duck with Olives and Dirty Risotto. In 1999, Chef Ray won first place with this recipe in the “Risotto” category of the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners’ national competition. He was then chosen to represent the United States in the international risotto competition located in Asti, Italy where her placed third in the world. Anyone who has attempted to make risotto knows that it is a challenging task, but with Chef Ray has a few of his secrets to share. “People find it difficult to make risotto with the perfect consistency, but I have a few tips that will make it easy. So when you get home from the trip you can impress your friends.”
Learning to make the perfect risotto is just one of the many things you’ll experience on this great trip. A brief description of the full itinerary is as follows:
September 22: The first day will include arrival at the Florence airport and a panoramic tour of the beautiful city, then off to another beautiful Tuscan town, Lucca, famous for its Olive Oil. Guests will overnight in an Villa La Principess, an aristocratic resident set in a private park.
September 23: Day two will include a tour of Amedei Chocolate factory, then truffle hunting and tasting. The evening will include Chef Ray’s cooking lesson and dinner.
September 24: Day three will include a visit an organic farm that cultivates the crocus flower for saffron and then a farm-to-fork lunch. Our afternoon will include a winery visit and stops in the beautiful “town of towers,” San Gimignano and a classic Tuscan village, Monteriggioni.
September 25: Day four will start with a tour & tasting and lunch at the fabulous Banfi Winery Estate. The afternoon will include a visit to a cheese farm where we will learn about the production and then sample artisanal cheeses.
September 26: On Day five we will head to Siena where we will enjoy free time for some shopping and sightseeing. The evening will include another cooking lesson where Chef Ray will collaborate with a local chef.
September 27: On the sixth day, we will visit some small, charming towns of the Chianti region, then stop in Panzano where we’ll meet at have lunch with the “world’s most famous butcher” Dario Cecchini. After lunch, we’ll visit a winery within the Chianti region and taste some Chianti and other regional wines.
September 28: On Day 7 we will return back to Florence where we will have a day tour with Elizabeth and then have lunch and explore on your own. At night, we will meet for a lavish Farewell dinner at a Florentine restaurant.
September 29: On Day 8 we will have breakfast and then it’s off to the airport and back home. Arrivederci!
For the full itinerary, go to EuphemiaHaye.com. If you are interested in booking the trip or would like pricing information, please contact Lisa Silvestri from Silvestri Travel at 866-966-6535. The trip deposit is due by June 15 and there are only 12 spots remaining, so book now!
Euphemia Haye & The Haye Loft | 5540 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key | 941-383-3633