Our Feel Good Day At An Italian Cooking Course
Simon and I loved the Cinque Terre, especially our Saturday morning cooking class at the restaurant, Osteria Della Corte, just for the two of us.
We caught the train to La Spezia and met up with Andrea, who with his wife, Sylvia, own two restaurants and have four children the same as Simon and I. Two boys, then a girl, then another boy.
Andrea is the quiet one of the pair. He met us off the train and walked us to the market, where we purchased produce to cook. We bought mussels, haigh fish, and mortadella. While shopping at the market I spoke to Andrea about supermarkets, as I am not a fan. He said "They are soul destroying" and I agree with him. Since coming home I try to avoid shopping supermarkets, instead opting for local shops, markets and La Manna Fresh, where I have a lovely shopping experience purchasing fresh produce.
On the way to the restaurant, Andrea took us to a shop that sells the best focaccia. The store was packed, with the line three deep and everyone was extremely patient. When the hot focaccia came out, it was almost like they were tossing them out like frisbees to everyone who had prepaid. Andrea was right; it was the best focaccia we had ever tasted.
We met gorgeous head chef Sylvia at the restaurant and all their team. Andrea told me he operated at the front end, Sylvia (apparently the boss) had to stay out back as she wouldn't put up with the customers, so she worked the kitchens.
They showed us how to make beautiful recipes from their region, which is something the Italians pride themselves. They have specific foods each region invented and still cook today. Today's recipe was mussels stuffed with a mixture of breadcrumbs (listed below as powdered bread), chopped mortadella, parsley, and egg, cooked in a Napoletana sauce.
We were taught how Italians don't waste anything when cooking. We watched the staff fillet the fish; and we used the bones for the stock for the seafood risotto.
After our class, we sat down to a magnificent meal (and very filling) of seafood risotto, stuffed mussels and "Fish in Papillote," and a beautiful bottle of wine from the local region.
While cooking, Sylvia asked both Simon and me what our favorite dishes were and what our family liked to eat. Of course, we said pasta. Sylvia told us she loved cooking and eating desert. We were lucky, Sylvia enjoyed spending time with us so much that she wanted to make us a special dessert.
Although I was almost ready to burst, I am so happy we said yes as her dessert was the best I have ever tasted. We were handed the menu to make our selection, which was gorgeous. The menu front covers were pictures their children drew when they were younger.
Sometimes when traveling you can see all the sights, but you can also meet the most heart warming people who love to share experiences and their family who we will always hold dear to our hearts.
Sylvia kindly emailed me the recipes, listed below in Sylvia's own words. Buon appetito.
Recipe for four persons
24 big mussels
150gr of mortadella (Bolognese)
50gr of parmesan cheese
30gr of powdered bread (bread crumbs)
250gr of tomato sauce
1 small onion
Clean the mussels and open them; chop the onion, brown it in oil and add the tomato sauce; mince the mortadella and mix it with all the other ingredients except the tomato sauce (mix the bread with a little milk, before).
Stuff the opened mussels with the resulting mix and put them in the tomato sauce. (Sylvia placed a plate over the mussels to squish them down a touch while cooking in the tomato sauce).Cook for 15 minutes
Recipe for 4 persons
320gr of rice
1 small onion
2 spoons of extra virgin olive oil
500gr of mussels
2 more spoons of oil for the finishing
Mince the onion, brown it in oil and add rice and hot, lightly-salted, water continuously mixing with a spoon.
Open the cleaned mussels on fire and take out the fruits.
Clean shrimps and squids and cut in small pieces.
Add the sea food to the rice and mix adding hot water.
When rice is cooked (15-18 minutes) remove from fire and add olive oil and parsley, then serve.
Fish in Papillote
Recipe for four persons:
4 sea fishes (we used haigh fish, but any white "sea fishes" will be fine).
basil 12 leaves
4 garlic cloves
4 pieces of oven paper
Clean the fishes and filet it, take the oven paper and put inside tomatoes in slices, basil, a garlic clove, and the fish. Then season with oil, salt, pepper.
Close and cook in an oven at 180° for 15 minutes, then serve.
Thank you for reading. When making any of these beautiful dishes, please share on social media and tag in Cazinc blog and leave comments below.
Also, please share your cooking school experiences. So much fun.