With five Flavours cooking holidays under her apron, Heather tells us what she loves about Italy – and why she diets before each trip!
You’ve done five cooking holidays with Flavours now, mostly with your husband – what keeps bringing you back?
Well, part of the appeal is Italy itself: the sheer beauty of the towns, the food culture, the way the people just know how to live – it gets under your skin. But I also love the way Flavours do things: you’re never so busy you don’t have time to explore, and you see places you would never ever see on your own. In Catania, our host took us down this side street you would never in a million years walk down on your own, and we ended up at this incredible little restaurant. We’ve done cheese-tastings and vineyard tours, visited olive oil farms and limoncello distilleries with our Flavours hosts. I just think having a passionate, knowledgeable local with you all week adds so much.
Which is your favourite Flavours Holidays base?
That’s a tricky one. I love the Amalfi Coast because it so ridiculously beautiful and because there are so many spectacular places to visit when you’re not cooking. I mean, Capri, Pompeii, Positano – what a choice! But Puglia is a real favourite, too. For one thing, the base there is this incredible 17th-century hunting lodge with an amazing walled garden. It was simply stunning. But it’s also a great base for exploring, with some of the best-preserved villages in Salento, close by. I like the way Flavours keeps adding to its choice of venues, too: every time I open the brochure there’s yet another place I want to go and see.
What do you enjoy about being part of a group?
Inevitably, there are one or two in every group that you won’t be Facebooking once you get home, but conversely there are also always several you end up being really good friends with. It makes the learning experience loads more fun, and the meals are always great fun (the ubiquitous Prosecco aperitifs help). Speaking of meals, the Flavours Holidays lunches are notoriously long, lazy affairs. I would seriously advise anyone choosing a Flavours Holiday to go on a diet first – you will put on half a stone!
And what has it done for your cooking?
Oh my goodness, it’s done so much. Over the years I’ve incorporated Flavours dishes into my repertoire. In fact, my signature pud is a failsafe chocolate and Amaretto semifreddo I learned on my first Flavours Holiday 14 years ago!
People who come on our Cooking Holidays in Italy are of all different abilities. Our local chefs are just as happy answering technical queries from kitchen whizzes, as responding to basic questions from those starting their culinary journey. What to find out more? Download our brochure here!