Cooking with The Duchess

January 21, 2013

So, we’re in Palermo. We’ve explored markets, dodged rampant cars and devoured seafood, now it’s time for something more hands-on. A cooking class sounds perfect.

Ben and I had agreed on wanting to do a cooking class somewhere on our honeymoon. Initially we thought France, but after a bit of research we found ‘A Day Cooking with The Duchess‘ in Palermo and couldn’t resist.


This class is run by Nicoletta, the Duchess of Palma, in her stunning palace (with rooms to rent). Nicolette is supremely knowledgable and very down to earth. In her extremely hands-on class, you learn to cook authentic Sicilian cuisine in her beautiful kitchen alongside her lovely guidance and encouragement. Your day begins with a market trip and ends over a celebratory feast with all our creations. I cannot rave about this class enough. Thank you to our dear friends, the divine Welsh family, who, as their Wedding gift, afforded us this experience. We will never forget it. In fact, we’ve already made the Swordfish for loved ones on Christmas Eve!


Early morning we met Nicoletta and the four other group members at her palace, before heading out to Capo market

Here we met vendors and shopped for local produce, learning about our purchases as we went. Nicolette stressed the importance of a good, honest relationship with your vendor. I was just in awe of the magnificent, fresh and cheap produce.



When visiting Capo market, be sure to stop by the Chiese Dell’Immacolata Concezione al Capo. It’s a hidden gem and is just spectacular.
Back at the palace we got to work! Instructed by Nicoletta, we made our way through each dish. We were all assigned jobs and worked together on our culinary creations – everything from washing and chopping, to peeling and stirring, even picking herbs fresh from the garden. It was endless fun.


Time simply flew by! And after all our hard work, we moved into the dining room to enjoy our meal with some well earned vino.
Sun-dried tomato, pistachio and basil on toasted bread. I am now in love with this fast and inspiring combination.
Peppered pecorino and capers.
Eggplant croquettes. Truly, some of the most scrumptious bites I’ve had. Roasting the eggplant to perfection encouraged such deliciousness.
Pasta with fresh tomato basil sauce. Like a heavenly garden blend, this was pure light and love.
Swordfish involtini and potato caper salad. With a herbed, pinenut, craisin, zesty, breadcrumb, anchovy filling, these fish rolls were beyond. As was this gutsy and welcoming potato salad, with generous use of red wine vinegar. These two dishes to me are just perfection. A perfect plate, a perfect meal. Perfection.
A drop of Marsala, very Sicilian.
And then we have this beauty, decorated with nuts and chocolate and jasmine kisses. An almond set custard of sorts, which no doubt has a terribly distinct name that I am forgetting (forgive me, our recipe notes are currently in storage). Either way it was pure divinity.
Thank you, Nicoletta for your encouragement and instruction, and to your husband alsofor your warm hospitality and company. I cannot wait to come back to Palermo and stay in your rooms, and delight in some more cooking adventures together.

And to you, lovelies, thank you for letting me share our honeymoon travels with you. This post concludes our somewhat epic trip. Thank you to all of our loved ones who sent us on this incredible, dearly cherished journey as our Wedding gift. We are so very lucky and shall be forever grateful. It was a dream trip and I’ve had an absolute ball recounting these tales and sharing our adventures. And I’ve only shed a few tears of longing in the process…

I guess I’ll just have to start plan our next trip.

Heidi xo

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  • Hannah January 21, 2013 at 10:52 am

    I miss you Heidilove. You are divinity.

    I could eat peppered cheese and capers forevers.


  • Lisa @ Blithe Moments January 21, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    What an amazing cooking class. And thank you for sharing your travels, they were delightful and inspiring. I've already sent links to some friends who are considering Morocco for their honeymoon and hope I will get to reference this for my own travels sometime.

  • Not Quite Nigella January 21, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    What a gorgeous wedding gift! And I had to take a peek at the links-what a stunning place the Duchess has!

  • jac January 21, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    Love this post. Love the action mezzaluna shot!! Very sad that this is the end – Thank you for sharing your amazing travels 🙂

  • Terry Turtle January 22, 2013 at 8:04 am

    Wow – a real duchess?!?! That's so cool!
    The food looks so delicious too!!!

  • The InTolerant Chef January 22, 2013 at 8:56 am

    What an awesome present indeed! It looks looks you had a wonderful time, and I'd love you to post the almond custard when you get your notes back 🙂

  • Heidi January 22, 2013 at 10:01 am

    Hannah – xo oh & I hear you!

    Lisa – thank you, lovely – that's really nice to hear 🙂

    Lorraine – it's beautiful!!

    Jac – thank YOU for reading!

    Terry – SO delicious!

    InTolerant Chef – I'll ask or at least look for an equivalent! most definitely 🙂

    Heidi xo

  • Ashley January 22, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    I think my jaw hit the floor with that picture of that swordfish (I think?), it's huge!

    Really just sounds like a divine afternoon though, what a beautiful setting to do a cooking class in and a lovely way to end your honeymoon travels 🙂 Thank you for all the sharing!

  • Hannah January 22, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    Wow… what an incredible day!! It sounds like a dream! And a beautiful way to end your honeymoon posts- they were a pleasure to read 🙂 xx

  • Just a small town girl February 24, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    Heidi..random question but, I was wondering where you got your dress from? its really nice:)

  • Heidi February 24, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    From Springfield in Lisbon, Portugal. A bit random, sorry! Thanks, I do love it too 🙂
    Heidi xo

  • fred parle May 6, 2013 at 12:40 am


    im fred a 73 yearold retired marine engineer who is travelling 22 may to rome stay overnight there then maybe thurs or friday entrain for palermo. dearly love to be chosen as “student” in cookery class as i have a lifelong passion with cooking and especially seafood collecting all my own from seashore on our atlantic coast here in Sligo home of the famous writer poet and painter w.b.yeats. i live only ikm from the lake isle of innisfree often picnicking with my grandchildren there. please pretty please may i have a booking ?
    i must be back in rome for sunday for Pope Francis audience my bride may be chosen to sing an irish song for Him.

    • Heidi May 6, 2013 at 9:06 am

      Hi Fred,
      Actually I was a student also, I do not run this class! Follow this link & all the best with booking. Sounds like a magical trip! x

      • fred parle October 14, 2013 at 7:49 am

        Hi Heidi, All went according to plan and more. It was a wonderful two days in Palermo . Friendly, wordly and fun. Saw Pope Francis in Rome, Canonisation in Palermo and a divine day with Nicoletta and her charming unique household . I definitely imagined I was part of the scene within minutes of arriving. The Cuchino was impressive , the dining and fine wines memorable . I cannot wait to return next Spring. My recording of the visit being edited right now . Cheers !

        • Heidi October 14, 2013 at 11:05 am

          Oh Fred that makes me so happy to read! Sounds like a dream trip, thanks for checking back in. I too am itching to return 🙂
          Heidi xo

  • Sandra July 29, 2013 at 8:04 am

    Hi Heidi.. I loved your pictures. We just got back from the class and I took my two young children too. Nicoletta was fabulous with them. In all the packing and hurrying about I left without my recipes. We must have had the same menu that you did.. By any chance do you have the recipes she gave us.

    • Heidi October 14, 2013 at 11:06 am

      Hello Sandra, I’m sorry I only just saw this. I note you commented when I was overseas so I must have missed it during transition. I will email you now! x

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