“The Awaiting Table team produces an amazing week of cooking, dining, wining and exploring”
Where do I start with this rave review??? A lot of Awaiting Table students have already waxed on lovingly in Trip Advisor about the week they have spent with Silvestro Silvestori and his staff in Lecce, Puglia, Italy. I will add a few new thoughts. A week at Awaiting Table is an experience, not just a cooking school. Whether we were having our morning coffee at the local bar, or learning how to order produce, meat, fish, cheese or bread at the local market or sampling 11 different wines at one of our blow-out dinners (and learning the identifying characteristics of each one), the Awaiting Table team was very helpful, friendly, knowledgeable; they made every aspect of our week in Lecce an experience to cherish.
Silvestro loves Puglia and thoroughly enjoys sharing his passion for the region with everyone. He is a great teacher who knows a lot about the foods, wines and olive oils of both Puglia as well as the rest of Italy. Not only does he know how to present information in an easy-to-follow manner, he also observes who needs help and who does not and responds accordingly. While everyone in our class were experienced cooks, none of us had been to Puglia before so we were all hungry to learn about the culture as well as the food of the area. He took us on tours of Lecce on our way to the market. He arranged for a guide to take us on an indepth city walking tour one morning (while he stayed home and prepared lunch for us).
Our experiences included:
COOKING - learning how to dry cook seafood, meats, veggies and then adding lots of delicious olive oil just before serving; using high heat to get things started and not worrying about having the pot or grill look well used; adding a variety of fresh herbs, not just parsley, before serving a dish; making several different pastas with just semolina, barley flour and water; seeing that quality food cooked simply and lovingly is absolutely delicious
DINING - using color not only in the food but in the table settings to make for a cheerful meal; eating a Mediterranean diet with lots of veggies and seafood and less meat; taking lots of time to enjoy the meal and the people you are dining with; those of us who were driving away from Lecce after the end of the week were presented with the most thoughtful picnic lunches complete with a delicious sandwich made on some of great local bread, wine, cookies, glasses, Awaiting Table plates and silverware from the local antique market
WINING - always enjoy a glass of wine while you are preparing and cooking a meal - it helps to decrease cooking anxiety and increase social interaction with those around you; get your wine from someone who knows the region and the winemakers; sample as many wines as you can when your teacher is providing the wine; even vin ordinaire can be perfect for a picnic; there is lots of really good wine for well under 10 euro a bottle
EXPLORING - Lecce is a wonderful little city with beautiful Baroque buildings and churches; most of the center of Lecce is pedestrianized (great for walking around, not so great for cars needing to get somewhere); starting about 6 pm (until well after midnight) lots of local people are out on the streets enjoying themselves and the stores stay open late (of course, most of them are closed from 1 until 4 or 5 in the afternoon); visit Otranto as we did on our 'day off' - after preparing sandwiches and packing up several bottles of rosato wine, we headed to the harbor of Otranto where we picnicked near the beach after which Giorgio took us on a nice tour of the old town and the ancient cathedral with the most amazing mosaic floor.
One could go on and on about this week of experiences. Silvestro has created a wonderful week that not only broadens ones knowledge of the foods and cooking techniques of Puglia but also enlightens one to this interesting region of Italy.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.