A day in Juls’ Kitchen – a Tuscan cooking class

Disclosure. I’m about to tell you what it’s like to cook with one of my very dear friends, in the kitchen of her picturesque, quintessentially Tuscan home. So I am possibly a little bit biased. But when I write, I like to write about something I love and something I wholeheartedly recommend, whether it’s a recipe, a book or an experience – and this is no different.

Juls Kitchen cooking class

I first met Giulia over dinner in Florence several years ago. But even before that, we ‘met’, like so many lovely friends I have now, via our blogs, where it became obvious very quickly that we had a similar love for Tuscan traditions. Then one day she invited me to her home and I made her a pavlova. It’s hard not to fall in love with her infectious smile and be swept up by the surroundings and the views of her family home near Colle Val d’Elsa. We planned many, many more meals, exchanges and trips and I knew in that moment that we would be very good friends.

Lately Giulia has been busy fitting in intimate cooking classes at her home between writing cookbooks and she finally invited me to sit in on one.

Juls Kitchen market visit Colle Val d'Elsamarket cheese at Colle Val d'Elsa

Dressed in a 50s style black dress, her curls swept away from her face with a colourful fabric headband, she took us first for a coffee and a pastry (she knows how to start things off on the right foot) in the middle of Colle Val d’Elsa’s main piazza. It’s market day, which means it’s bustling more than usual, and our next stop is the market itself to buy cheese, fruit and vegetables for the class – she doesn’t have a shopping list, but rather, an idea or two in her mind that will be influenced by what’s around at the market when we get there.

With the shopping done, then it’s time to head back to Giulia’s countryside house, which, I must say, is one of my favourite drives ever, anywhere. It’s those Tuscan hills, which change from green to golden, the vines, those shimmering olive trees and pencil-straight cypress trees. It’s all that.

Juls Kitchen GardenJuls Kitchen TerraceJuls Kitchen Cooking Class

Because it’s summer – and Tuscan summer is sweltering – she has wisely decided not to do any slow cooking or too much with the oven, apart from a delicious cecina (something between a crepe and a bread, made with chickpea flour). Between sips of ice-cold mint water, and a lot of talking (because, just like Laurie Colwin wrote, “One of the delights of life is eating with friends; second to that is talking about eating. And, for an unsurpassed doubly whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends.”), we take turns stirring, chopping, dipping and tearing.

Custard for a trifle’s Italian cousin, zuppa inglese, easy but tactile salads like caprese (did you know that buffalo mozzarella is better at room temperature?) and panzanella, fried eggplant to eat with the cecina which is crisping up nicely in the oven… Soon enough it’s time to eat and the table is laid out with a summery feast, including homemade onion jam to dollop with cheese and prosciutto and melon from the market. And wine, plenty of wine.

Juls Kitchen

When the breeze picked up and the heat settled down a bit, we moved outside to enjoy dessert with Giulia’s homemade limoncello and massive slices of chilled watermelon, al fresco in the garden under the olive trees. A rather idyllic, relaxed day in the Tuscan countryside with the charming Giulia, cooking, eating and talking about cooking and eating.

For more information on Giulia’s Tuscan cooking classes, see this page on her website.

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Comments

20 Responses to “A day in Juls’ Kitchen – a Tuscan cooking class”
  1. Her infectious smile, she sure has that gift! I’ve been telling people I know who are travelling to Tuscany that they should go to Giulia’s for a cooking class, it is in my opinion thé best way to visit Tuscany! If not only for that epic view you know where :))

  2. Fantastic write-up Emiko, as always! It was such a wonderful afternoon, despite the stifling humidity. I came home excited to cook again and even used her menu as inspiration to make our weekly food list. I hope we do all get to meet up again for events like this, of course the lovely Giulia made this all the more special. I would be happy to recommend her class to anyone and everyone!

  3. Flavia says:

    A cooking class with Giulia is at the top of my bucket list. I feel pretty lucky to have also befriended her (and you!) via our blogs. Lovely post, Emiko.

  4. Juls says:

    Thank you so so so much! Having you again in this part of the world – same region, same time zone, same season – is exciting and inspiring. Since the first day we met we started writing down lists of things to do and experiences to share. We have also recently realized that the most important food experiences are those we can create together, with a bunch of good friends. I almost feel invincible, do you have the same feeling? xx

  5. Thanks for sharing this beautiful day! I’ve dreamed about cooking with Giulia for awhile now, and your description of the food, the setting and the hostess make me want to even more! How lovely. xx

  6. Rosemarie says:

    Sounds like Jul’s made some wise menu choices given the torrid heat we’ve been experiencing all over Italy this summer. A cooking class with Giulia is definitely on my to-do list should I ever make it to Tuscany sometime soon…

  7. Annette says:

    I love this so much, I actually missed the opportunity to cook with her at her home this summer, I am still kicking myself, but my summer in Italy seems so short with so many great events I have to pick and choose… I did get to have lunch with Georgette Jupe, which was amazing. I love all my Tuscan girlfriends, and like you I have met so many amazing people through social media.
    I do hope we get to meet up, maybe in Giulia’s kitchen next year?
    Great write up about one of the truly loveliest and most talented women I have met in awhile. Ciao xx

  8. Giulia Mule' says:

    Such a lovely post, thanks for sharing Emiko! I’d love to attend one of Giulia’s cooking classes one day!

  9. Marie Patriacca says:

    I just found you reading your tomato recipes in food52. Your blog is wonderful to read and I’m looking forward to going through your site and reading and trying your recipes. Thanks for making my day. Ciao!!!

  10. janie says:

    A class with Giulia has been on my to do list for some time. I hope I can make it happen next time I’m in Italy. Thank you for sharing this wonderful day with us.

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