Cooking Experiences

A pasta masterclass

Have you ever been to a food masterclass and been let down? I know I have. On this instance though the use of the word masterclass was actually an accurate statement and not just a fancy word for saying “I am slightly better than you at cooking but I can’t really help you to improve!”

We arrived a little early but nonetheless the excellent staff at Weetons took us to our seats and had us sat down with a drink in hand without so much as a feather being ruffled.

Me

We also got a chance to enjoy watching the awesome knife skills on show from Gip’s son Salvo. He put both me and my wife to shame with the speed and accuracy with which he chopped all the necessary ingredients for the night’s class. In fact, young Salvo was definitely one of the stars of the evening!

Securing prime seating positions for the demonstration was certainly a blessing as we could smell the beautiful freshness of the ingredients and the aroma of the holy trinity of Italian cooking.

With Gip instantly reminding those of us lucky enough to be present that the difference between dry and fresh pasta is simply a matter of time(!) it reminded me of awful memories of eating supermarket ‘fresh pasta’ bags and left me hoping that the Italian products would show their natural superiority and re-affirm his words that pasta can be the star of a dish if treated with respect.

GIP

We then had the opportunity to watch the creation of a beautiful bean soup (the name of which eludes me…). We used a combination of garlic, potatoes and celery as a base with some chicken stock in order to bring it all to the boil and then it simmered away to bring the flavour out. Simply put, when a few more herbs and ingredients were added in later and the soup had been whisked away to simmer, we were left to salivate over the impending treat.

Watching on from the front we questioned how we could break down pasta to “minestrone soup” size (!) as cutting it with scissors is about the most frustrating thing in the world, yet a quick masterclass later and now you’ll know all you need is a tea towel, a table edge and a bit of rage! Thanks for the tip Gip!

soup

We then had the pleasure of watching a meat ragu being made from scratch (with the slight cheat of a sauce base being used) with a beautiful smelling local pork mince as the meat element. Seeing the delicate way of flavouring the meat and being advised correctly to remember not to cover your pasta with sauce but instead to coat it with a small amount of sauce you could start to see that Gip may be a master of what he does but more importantly also his a genuine passion.

ragu

Pasta always has been something I buy cheaply and had not really cared to mess about with. Having now learned how good, good pasta can taste I am rather more than a little disappointed in myself! The key is so simple… good pasta, too much salt(!) and high quality olive oil to mix in when the cooking is done to help the whole dish come together. This can be no more clearly demonstrated when watching the creation of Orzo butter pasta (sounds revolting but trust me it was so good I am making it myself next week!)

Orzo

With the cooking done and the food brought out to try I was left amazed that such simple dishes packed such a flavour punch and despite forgetting to pick up a receipe (foolish I know!) I shall be using many of these ideas in my everyday Italian cooking as well as using them to impress on special occasions.

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