High up in the clouds in a small Italian town on the Amalfi coast called Ravello, deep blue water surrounds your view and lush gardens color the scenery with brilliant hues of gold, pink, purple, violet and green. This is the endless view from Mama Agata’s terrace where we learned how to prepare traditional Italian dishes from ingredients grown on-site or from regional farmers (yes, even the wine!). Mamma Agata’s family home, The Hidden Treasure, is covered in bougainvillea and smells deliciously of soft jasmine and fresh sea air, where the lemons are as big as grapefruit. Here, Mamma Agata and her family host an unforgettable cooking school. On the table before us are numerous little dishes holding secrets that taste like treasures. You can’t stop eating everything and the dishes and conversation flow seamlessly.
Agata Lima affectionately known as “Mamma Agata” has been lovingly preparing food since she was a girl in the 50’s. Her simplistic style and ingredients have attracted generations of admirers, including the likes of Humphrey Bogart and Fred Astaire (whose favorite dish was pasta with zucchini and eggplant parmigiana). Today her family carries on her passion through the family cooking school, her daughter, Chiara will guide you through the day with endless cooking tips and funny family stories. Mamma and Chiara cook in the morning making to-die-for eggplant parmigiana, and then her son-in-law Gennaro, takes over the cooking in the afternoon. Chiara has an unyielding love for people that shows with a smile as big and bright as the sun. She speaks multiple languages fluently and easily bridges the gap between cultures. She introduces us to her husband, Gennaro, (the quiet one of the two) who in addition to cooking with Mamma for over 25 years is a professionally trained chef, winemaker, Sommelier and certified cheese and olive oil taster. “Since olive oil is a staple in all Italian pantries, we thought it would be a nice touch to include an olive oil tasting to our wine and cheese tasting… And of course, we must serve delicious wine with delicious food, too.” We couldn’t agree more. Gennaro’s additions to Mamma’s cooking and Chiara’s guidance were incredibly informative and hands-on (some with eyes-closed) so we could fully understand what they were teaching us using all of our senses.
If you are planning a trip to the Amalfi Coast, Mamma Agata’s cooking class is truly A Hidden Treasure and an experience you will never forget. Booki well in advance, the classes are small and fill up fast. MammaAgata.com.