I love cooking classes. It was an added bonus to my two weeks immersion at Dante Alighieri school in Siena. I love to cook but, I am a stronger baker. I have been baking since I could stand. I am always looking for new tips in the kitchen. I try and take cooking classes both on and off the road. There were four cooking classes included in my Italian immersion package school. I mean, it is Italy, and being Italian, We are all about our food. I was excited and eager to start. In each class we prepared four courses, Antipasto, pasta, main course, and dessert.
Me being the eager student, I always arrive early to class. After I had just finished immersing myself in the beautiful museums all afternoon around Siena with my instructor. More on the school here.
The Chef greets me warmly, upon arrival with a glass of vino. He is still preparing things as the rest of the students filter in. There are eight students in class in varies levels in our Italian immersion. Most are well ahead of me. Each of us don paper apron, we write our names written across the front. The Chef begins by explaining the menu, then demonstrating how we are going to prepare it. The chef, Nando speaks only Italian, but not to worry their is also an instructor from the school to translate if we do not understand. Nando taught the first and the last class. The other cooking class was taught by a local Chef, who reminded me of my mother and cooking with my mother, and I can't remember her name! Ugh! Her mannerisms and the way she cooked, she was the Italian version of my mother. My mother was Polish, but she was an cook and knew how to cook Italian food. It felt like being in the kitchen with my mom again. (My mom died right before my 18th birthday) It was an amazing night to remember, only to forget her name. I will find it!
The first class we made Tagliatelle pasta, a long skinny flat pasta. The other types, we made in class were ravioli, and pici, a small tube shaped pasta local to Siena. We begin by making the dough, a mountain of flour with the center of a marble table Volcano shaped to make a bowl for the water. We crack eggs in the center first, salt lines the flour ring, then water is added to make the dough. Chef making sure each one of us had our turn. Then we let the dough rest, while we move onto the antipasto course. Each class was a different yummy bruschetta except the first class, where we made a savory carrot tart. At this point in class we were broken off to different tasks as we prepare the rest of the dinner. A couple of us finish off the Tarts, Others we tasked with the main course and then dessert. Dessert the first night was a chocolate lava cake, you know the one, where you cut into it and it's still hot and out pours out chocolatey goodness! Yum! The other desserts, were Tiramisu, a staple in Italy, and Silky Chocolate mousse. Onto the main course. First night we stuffed chicken with spinach, second night was pork topped with artichoke and third pork in a pasta dough shell with mushrooms.
As we finished our tasks, we headed to the dinning room and the Chef finished off the details and plated dinner. We sat down as a group to enjoy the fruits of our labor. It was indeed, delicious.
Try an add a cooking class to your travels. You get a more of a local experience into the culture of that country. Not to mention great tips and wonderful memories. I also highly recommend immersion school. I wished I had a few more weeks to take more cooking and language classes. I enjoyed my time in Siena.
You maybe asking yourself why I said four classes and only wrote about three menus is the last class was cancelled due to lack of Chef to teach that night. The school substituted it for another wine tasting to the Chanti region. (one was already included, that blog post coming soon). It was a welcome compromise.