When it comes to Saturday mornings, there isn’t much that beats a lay in, workout, blog posts and a cosy, carb-fuelled night in. But this Saturday was very different. I bought Toff an Italian cooking class two Christmas’s ago and this week we finally got round to going. I don’t often blog about this kind of thing but in the interest of including some more everyday bits I thought it might be useful for anyone that is looking for something a bit cultural on a Saturday morning!
You guys know how much we love Italy. It’s a country that has been the place we feel in love, healed broken hearts and made memories we’ll never forget thanks to its amazing food, friendly people and rustic surroundings. It’s the reason we’re getting married there and will live there (if we win the lottery!).
The class was everything I was hoping an Italian cooking class would be – long wooden tables, a cosy kitchen and a laid-back approach to the day. As a class of 15 it was big enough that you could interact in passing rather than a cringey, forced social situation! It was a mix of couples and singletons, lawyers and students, all looking for an easy way to expand their culinary skills and maybe meet a few new friends along the way. We were all given a four-course menu and the option to make any course we desired. As someone who feels very comfortable with an electric whisk and icing sugar in hand, I volunteered to make our tutors Nonna’s famous cake. The pressure was on.
Our tutor in our Italian cooking class was Ursula – half Italian, half English, she told us of her idyllic childhood in southern Italy where she’d cook with said nonna at 5am and spend her days running wild on boats and amongst the Mediterranean landscape. Her love of cooking and passion for her home country was infectious and she nurtured us as if we were her own. We spent the next 4 hours created an Amalfi-inspired feast intersperced with hints, tips and demonstrations – from how to make perfect pasta from scratch to the best way to prepare and cook an artichoke. We followed out recipes to the latter and leaned on Ursula and her sous chef Stefano for guidance when we needed it…or when we totally f***** up!
Our cake, although complex was an overall success. True, we curdled the buttercream and the Genevieve sponge was a little on the dense side, but like everything pretty, we bodged the flaws, covered the holes with cream and soaked it in rum. Ta-dah! The smells coming from the kitchen were incredible – spoons were passed around to sample sauces bubbling away on the hob, reductions in the pan and a rogue bruschetta on the side. It was like a little Italy in the heart of Belgravia.
As the rain began to pour, it was time to taste the fruits of our labour over a glass (or three) of wine and get to know our fellow chefs. While we cheered each other on throughout the morning and consoled one another when something took on a slightly charcoal appearance, there was a solidarity amongst us that was unusual in strangers. Like we expected, it was an insanely delicious lunch of homemade gnocchi followed by tagliatelle, red mullet and fresh salads and of course, the grande finale – nonna’s cake! It was the perfect way to spend a Saturday and we can’t wait to it again…
To book Caldesi Cooking Classes, click HERE