Sunday, March 11, 2012

Fratelli Fresh Cooking Class

Cooking is my meditation, it's my time out and relaxation, it's my chance to be creative and to make something with love to share with others.

Some days I'm not inspired to make anything in particular, so I don't. There's nothing worse than forcing yourself to do something creative, it's doomed before you even start.

Fratelli Fresh offer free teaser cooking classes during the week. Being a lady of leisure on a small budget, this was a great way to keep me entertained for an afternoon and meet new people.

The class is approximately one hour and it's run by two cooks from Cafe Sopra. The bargain bit is that you get insider tips on how to recreate delicious dishes ala Cafe Sopra direct from the people that make them.

Our instrictors were Will and Phillipa.

You register online, get email confirmation, then Fratelli Fresh ring you the day before to confirm your attendance. Points for customer service and organisation.

The shitty thing for them was that quite a few people cancelled last minute. Good for us that rocked up as it meant we had a cooking bench all to ourselves, as opposed to partnering up.

They had all the ingredients set out on the bench, pre-prepared and portioned.

We got a printed copy of the recipes for reference whilst cooking and to take home.

The class is quite simple. We didn't run through technical cooking terms or (many) preparation techniques. Instead they showed us the sequence of events for each recipe, gave us some handy hints on the produce and provided possible alternatives for some ingredients.

Recipe #1: Shaved zucchini, fennel and green olive salad.

Recipe #2: Amatriciana.

Will tried to make it interesting by researching where Amatriciana originated from. He loves the history of food. And isn't food and culture so intertwined anyway?

In his disappointment, the story was really boring, therefore not providing him with the informative ammunition to excite us students over this pasta dish.

I cross referenced my Italian cookbook:
"Although a standard of Roman cooking today, the dish is named for, and possibly originally comes from, the ancient town of Amatrice in far northeastern Lazio, near the borders of Umbria, in Marche, and Abruzzo. One explanation for its popularity in the Italian capital is that several of the chefs who served in the Vatican came from Amatrice. The sauce is often made with pancetta, but it is traditionally flavoured with the milder cured pork jowl called guanciale...." (Andrews, 2011)
I stuffed some of the food in my face and took the leftovers to my hubby for dinner.

As far as salad goes, you don't make friends with it. So the Amatriciana was my favourite dish of the two. So simple yet so tasty. Horror of horrors I've never made a sauce with fresh cherry tomatoes before, so I found this fascinating. I think it's my mum's fault. She always made her own passata (I have memories seared in my brain of 40 degrees Celsius summers spent crushing and bottling tomatoes in our garage - itchy) so automatically I have a tendency to use passata or crushed canned tomatoes for my sauces. In addition, the last time I ate a tomato that actually smelled and tasted and was sweet like tomatoes are supposed to be, was probably back then too circa 1992.

The cooking class helped me connect with like minded people (the cooks, as the attendees were pretty much mute and had minimal personality) as well as awaken some rustic, home style simplicity I seem to have been missing lately. I miss pasta. I want to invent some pasta dishes pronto.

Colman Andrews (2011). The Country Cooking of Italy. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. p95.

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