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“A lot of fun and a learning experience”
Review of The Spice Lab

The Spice Lab
Reviewed 12 October 2010

I surprised my wife with a class with Melanie in her family's olive grove at the end of September. I had been communicating with Melanie quite a bit by email leading up to the class. She gave me all the details of the class and what we would do and cook.

She picked us up outside our hotel in Firenze and we drove 15-20 minutes away into a secluded olive grove that her family owns. I was ecstatic at this point since we were finally away from the hustle and bustle of Firenze. We got a tour of the grove and saw the different crops and animals. We then picked some herbs for our meal, poured some homemade wine and checked out her outdoor kitchen. We began making pumpkin ravioli, eggplant "rolls" with capers, tomatoes and mozzarella inside with an aged balsamic vinegar sauce. We also made grape and fig tarts with figs and grapes from her property for dessert.

Learning how to make ravioli was interesting. It took some time and effort but it makes my wife and I want to get the tools to make them here at home.

After making everything over 3 hours (we talked a lot which slowed us down a lot), we finally sat at a nearby table and ate our meal in dim light. It was a wonderful, casual, quiet afternoon and evening. We started at 3:30pm. Melanie dropped us off back at our hotel in Oltrarno around 8:30pm.

We recommend a class with Melanie. She speaks perfect English and Italian and is engaging and knowledgeable about the dishes she cooks. Just bring your bug spray. The mosquitoes are everywhere!

Thank lear1000
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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78 - 82 of 83 reviews

Reviewed 21 September 2010

We recently spent a half-day with Melanie from The Spice Lab touring the Centrale Market and cooking in the Olive Grove. We learned lot of tips in the market on selecting fresh products, and made a delicious stop for cheese and appetizers drizzled with balsamic vinegar! She then drove us out to the family olive grove where we learned to prepare a four-course meal that she based on our tastes. The meal was wonderful and I can't wait to put some of the things I learned into practice here at home. Melani is delightful and it was a nice break from sight seeing!

Thank edmondite
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 September 2010

After reading many reviews of the Spice Lab I signed my husband and myself up for an evening cooking class with Melanie. Melanie has 2 Culinary degrees, her husband has one, and her father-in-law is an accomplished chef,(he even prepared the bean packet for our bean dish). Melanie was very responsive to our questions prior to reserving our class, with many suggestions on the type menu that was available to cook. It was important to me that my non cooking husband would enjoy himself, since this activity is outside his comfort zone! Melanie is a great teacher, the food we prepared was delicious,( her 7 year old son caught the fish we cooked) and we had fun! Melanie even came to our hotel and picked us up and drove us back. However, I did not realize that cooking in her kitchen or cooking in the Olive Grove were 2 different activities. I obviously did not ask enough questions at the outset. I thought we would cook in her kitchen and eat in the Grove or prepare most of the food in an indoor kitchen and grill outside in the Grove. The website is somewhat confusing,(it does list Pt A Ema kitchen,and the Grove separately) but to me since Melanie is pictured standing in her kitchen a reasonable inference would be that you always cook in the kitchen. It also doesn't accurately describe the Olive Grove's unique rustic qualities,(totally outdoors, although covered, and only outdoor restroom facilities). In my case how rustic it was is crucial since my husband is not an "outdoorsy" kind of guy. Also, it rained the entire evening of our class,which is problematic if you are outdoors. Her actual kitchen is 25 minutes from the Grove so we couldn't get out of the cold and wet weather. Not withstanding the aforementioned the meal we prepared and ate was fabulous and it was a true privilege to be in her family Olive Grove and prepare and eat our dinner where her family prepares and eats all their family lunches from Easter through the fall.

Thank diamondgirl22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 September 2010

Great experience - would recommend this to anyone looking for some hands-on experience with cooking, Melanie (the teacher) speaks English and is willing to assist with market tours, special requests, and local knowledge. Fantastic!

Thank wanttogoout
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 September 2010

Fun and delicious!!! Melanie is so talented, and I just love her teaching methods! I learned so much and definitely recommend her class to everyone looking to taste a bit of Florence. Buon appetito!

Thank Lauragayton
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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