Cooking Class in Florence, Italy
Trying a Cooking Class in Florence, Italy
I love learning about food, and whenever I travel I have a list of food to try, a food tour to join, or a cooking class that I'm eyeing. I recently went to Florence, Italy for a week to hang out with family and of course that trip brought out the foodie in me!
Even though they had been living there for a year, my family had yet to try a cooking class. And since it was one of the top things to do on my list I signed us up for a cooking class.
There are many different types of classes available. Some include a market tour so participants can see the different kinds of fresh ingredients. Others are in a Tuscan farmhouse with rolling hills, vineyards, and olive groves for a perfect setting. There is even an Italian cooking course for pizza in a fancy cooking school. But, for our Florence cooking class, I chose fresh pasta making. After all, I love pasta and it just seemed like the right thing to do.
While traditional Tuscan dishes are the Florentine steak or a lampredotto (a tripe sandwich), any pasta is still amazing because it is after all Italy, and in Italian culture a so-so meal is never acceptable!
A typical dish at a trattoria would be tagliatelle with wild boar sauce or a pasta dish with fresh truffles shaved on top of it. Both of which I tried, and I was in pasta heaven.
Italian cuisine has many types of pasta dishes and each region has its own version. For our Italian cooking class, we were going to make homemade pasta and then prepare it two ways, in tomato sauce and lasagna.
On a Saturday night, we headed across the river away from the city center. The first thing that made my tummy rumble when we arrived for the cooking lesson was the smell of the ragu bubbling away on the stove. Since it takes a couple of hours to make the pasta sauce, we didn't get the chance to make it ourselves but were given a handout with recipes to take home with us.
Our cooking lesson started with making pasta dough. We went to our stations where a bowl of flour was waiting for us. Then we had to break an egg into the bowl, give it a whisk, and mix it into the flour. This was a great tip since the point was to get the ingredients incorporated into a dough and not worry about the egg spilling onto the table.
After a couple of minutes of kneading the dough it had to rest so, we went to another cooking station and watched the instructor make a bechamel sauce for the lasagna. Authentic Italian food doesn't have as much cheese as we are used to in America. So, instead of a layer of ricotta and mozzarella, bechamel sauce and parmesan would be used in the lasagna we were making.
We then needed to work on the pasta again and kneaded it a bit more before shaping the lasagna noodles. The trick to getting the noodles flat and thin was to lightly dust the dough with flour before rolling each side and doing that again and again until it was thin enough. Then we cut the homemade pasta into large squares that were layered into a dish with the ragu, bechamel sauce, and parmesan cheese.
For the tagliatelle, the pasta dough needed one more rest before shaping. While waiting we watched a video where the Italian chef went through the different recipes on how to make the ragu and the dessert, a chocolate salami. No, there isn't any meat involved! The chocolate cookies are mixed and shaped into a log, or salami shape, and then cut into discs.
I really enjoyed making the tagliatelle! After rolling it out, we used a pasta guitar to make the pasta. And true enough, you have to push the pasta through the strings and at some point strum the strings and make a little pasta music.
While waiting for dinner we had some chianti wine and chatted with our classmates. There was a special guest, a black labrador, who a couple brought with them to the class since they didn't want to leave him alone in their camper. That made the class feel even more like home, and it felt like spending a night cooking with family.
The tagliatelle al ragu and lasagna were so good! I still have to try and make pasta at home. I hope it will be as good, but it probably won't!!