A unique cooking and dining experience in Sorrento, Italy

Sorrento, perched on a ledge between the water overlooking Naples and Mount Vesuvius, is a beautiful Italian town of 20,000 residents, with just as many tourists in the summer months (and sometimes it feels like even more). Surrounded by lemon and olive groves, this gateway to the Amalfi Coast has a lovely old quarter (Centro Storico), a lively shopping district, a gorgeous rugged coastline, and friendly residents.

villa-ida-1Sorrento Harbor in the Bay of Naples, looking north to Mount Vesuvius across the bay

We joined a small group from our Ship and participated in a cooking class at Villa Ida, an inviting home surrounded by grape vines, fruit trees and gardens. The estate is owned by Ida’s daughter and granddaughter (who acted as translator for her mother); both served as our instructors, demonstration chefs and cooking chefs (with several assistants). Charlie, the brother-in-law of Ida’s daughter, makes wines in Sorrento from grapes he purchases from friends’ vineyards nearby – local, naturally made wines with little fuss.
After our class and just before eating on the beautiful patio in the garden, we had the opportunity to visit his wine “cellar” and taste his 2014 and 2015 wines with salami and cheese. With our luncheon we had both the red and white wines (“Charlie’s Wine” and “Ida’s Wine”). The experience at Villa Ida was great fun, educational, and a surprisingly savory luncheon (that we had helped prepare!). We left fully sated and ready to head back to the Ship for a late afternoon siesta.

villa-ida-3One of our appetizers was zucchini flowers lightly fried in a tempura-like batter, Villa Ida
villa-ida-4The simple ingredients for our baked pasta- cooked penne pasta tossed in tomato puree, diced mozzarella cheese, diced eggplant that had been lightly fried (in olive oil), and Parmesan cheese for the top
villa-ida-5The finished baked pasta was scrumptious
villa-ida-6Sliced potatoes with rosemary & Italian parsley tossed with olive oil & salt were baked in the oven to accompany veal scaloppini that was slowly cooked in olive oil over medium heat and then served with a wine sauce
villa-ida-7We each made a small tiramisu after watching Ida’s daughter demonstrate the way to combine the ingredients

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