Today I got to do something I’ve been waiting a year to do. Those of you who have been following me for a while may remember that during last year’s trip to Rome, I took a cooking class. However, it was not the cooking class I had originally wanted to take. I had been hoping to get into Chef Andrea’s Cooking Classes in Rome, but it was already booked for that one free Saturday that I had during my trip.
So this year when Katie and I started planning our trip back in February, I immediately said, “Let’s try to get into that cooking class in Rome that I couldn’t get into last year.” Well, it’s a good thing we booked it right away because Chef Andea’s classes book up at least three months in advance.
Chef Andrea’s school is located in the fashionable and family-friendly neighborhood of Trastevere, which (as its name implies in Italian) is just across the Tiber River from the center of Rome. Katie and I arrived a bit too early, so we stopped in a nearby bar for some coffee (cappuccino for me, caffe latte for her). Like proper Italians, we drank ours standing up at the bar. (Only 1 Euro! I love it!)
When we walked into Chef Andrea’s school, four other students were already there, and the table was already set. Katie and I had opted for the additional wine pairings with each course, so there were four different wine glasses set up at our places. Chef Andrea came out of the kitchen to greet us and offered us coffee, some little pieces of toast with three different jams, and some really yummy pastries for breakfast.
Once everyone had arrived (a few people were a teensy bit late because they got lost even though their hotel was around the corner–just take that as a warning that it’s easy to pass by the small entrance to the school), Chef Andrea explained the menu for the day and then led us back to the kitchen.
The appetizers we made were Fiori di Zucca. These are zucchini flowers that we had to take the stamen out of. Then we stuffed them with things like prosciutto and mozzarella. They were later fried in a beer batter.
We even made a really yummy red pesto sauce for dipping the zucchini flowers. Super yummy! Seriously, I don’t have the words to describe how good this was. Even though the zucchini flowers were fried, they weren’t greasy or heavy, and the sauce was just heavenly.
Our first course was cavatelli pasta in a fresh tomato sauce. Katie and I helped to peel a lot of tomatoes for this sauce, but it was worth the messy hands covered in tomato guts. 🙂 We also had a lot of fun using our thumbs and these cool wooden paddles to roll the pasta into the cavatelli shape.
For our second course, we had Roman style chicken with peppers and roasted potatoes. Simple but very yummy. (Here’s the thing I’ve learned from the Italian cooking classes I’ve taken. They don’t load their food with tons of different ingredients and spices. Simple recipes with good, fresh ingredients make all the difference.)
Then for dessert we made tiramisu. Some of you know I’ve made this before using a recipe from a cookbook I bought in Rome last year. Good to do Chef Andrea’s recipe was the same. Hint: if you’re making your tiramisu with liquor, you’re making it wrong. Or at least, you must be planning on not finishing it soon, so you’re using the liquor as a preservative.
There were a total of twelve students in the class, and everyone was really nice. Chef Andrea is a lot of fun, and he takes his time to explain why the Italians cook the way they do. You’ll learn a lot and have a great time in his class.
The class started at 10:00 and went until at least 3:00, after which Katie and visited a few of the beautiful churches in the Trastevere neighborhood (Santa Maria in Trastevere, Santa Cecilia, and San Francesco a Ripa). Unfortunately, a wedding was just about to start at Santa Cecilia, so Katie and I will have to head back there some day.
If you find yourself in Rome and you enjoy cooking, try Chef Andrea’s Cooking Classes in Rome. You’ll have fun, learn something new, meet nice people, and eat some truly amazing food. Seriously. I wish I were better at describing food with words or that I could send some of it to all of you. Sorry. You’ll just have to come here yourselves.