Another pretty interesting and unique activity that I have done during my travels would definitely be taking part in a cooking class. This is probably the first time that I have done so while travelling. Italian cuisine it shall be. It is something that we always dine out for? Like, lets go for some pasta! Lets order pizza in! It is nice to finally to see how it is really done by the locals right in their backyard. Of course, while Bologna is named as the true heart of Italian cooking and cuisine, Florence is not far back as well! Cooking class are pretty common in Florence too! In fact, in terms of a true authentic local market, the Florence Central Market is the most famous one in the country! I have been keen on visiting the Central Market for the longest time after hearing about it! Visiting market is one of my hobbies! Somehow I got the idea of doing a cooking lesson to have a hands on experience on making some Italian food!
While looking over my options which I would say that it is pretty compelling given the amount of offering. There are numerous tour companies and cooking classes over the city, some even combine it with a tour around the tuscany region, or cooking in a castle! I decided on a tour by Florencetown since it pretty much covers the stuff that I want to do. Here is the link of the tour that I took. It come at a price of 79 Euros which is pretty ok given that everything is included, including a lunch of what you have cooked and wine, a couple food tasting of local products. I think that it is a fair price. Since I am interested in the Central Market as well, I thought it would be nice to have a tour and get more information and history on it as well.
The tour can be reserved online and you will also make the payment. The confirmation will then be sent to you. All you have to do is to turn up at Florencetown tour kiosk on the scheduled time, which is located right in the heart of the city. Just by the Apple Store in Piazza della Repubblica. That is the meeting point for the tours. I had a light breakfast and of course, without ado that cup of cappuccino from a typical Italian espresso bar. I was there and the chef cum tour guide was right there by the kiosk. Seemingly it was a group of 12 of us, including me. It kind of funny that all 11 of them were americans, with me being the only asian. HAHA. Thankfully they were a nice bunch of people.
We had a little wait for a pair of ladies who were quite late. After that we head to the Central Market for the tour. It was around a 5 mins walk since it is just around the corner. David was the chef and the guide for the tour, he was really nice and funny. It is nice to see that he brings together the whole group, so that it is pretty knit and close, of course the people were very sociable as well. I am thankful to be in a nice group. Once we are there, David gave us a little introduction on the market and the various stalls, he also show us around some local favourite ingredients and the way of cooking. It is nice to see how the Italians prised on making good food the simple way, in fact cooking with fresh ingredients is the main point.
Some of the common used ingredients in the local cuisine include the beef tripe. A cheap cut that the local loved. It is famous for being braised and then chopped up before being sandwiched in a bun. It is a local favourite, can be said as the fast food of Florence. There is also a pork alternative which I tried one day. The most famous stall in Florence is actually located right in the Central Market. Nerborne, which was founded since 1872 is a local favourite, the food here just flies off the shelf during lunch. The prices is affordable too!
I had the bun on the other day, it was delicious, the bun was crunchy and a little chewy, which add lots of texture, then a couple generous slices of meat was sandwiched before some of the braising liquid was drizzle and acted like a sauce. It was heavenly! Check out Nerborne when you are ever here.
Another local favourite ingredient also got to be the T Bone Steak, or more commonly known as the Florentine Steak. We went to a local butcher and have a little insight on the various cuts and meat. We also grab some ingredients that is to be use in the cooking later.
Florencetown have its own cooking studio which is just located opposite the Central Market. The environment was nice and cosy, with all the finishings and stuffs.
We put on our aprons and wash our hands before starting the lesson proper. It is nice to see everyone staying hygienic since we will all be eating what we cook later on. David will always coach us, tell us the method then show us the way. Then we will have our hands on session. He also share with us the techniques and the common stuffs in Italian cooking.
We started off with making the sauce for the pasta before heading on to the tiramisu since the sauce takes the longest timing. We had two sauce to go with the two different kind of handmade pasta that we will be making later. One of them is a bolognese sauce for the tagliolini and then another would be a simple saute tomatoes with garlic sauce for the ravioli that we will be making later. I am so excited to be making my own pasta later on.
I would say that the tiramisu making and pasta making was the most interesting part of the cooking class. To share a little on Dennison tiramisu recipe. You start by beating the eggs white and egg yolk separately. The ratio is one egg for one person and one tablespoon of sugar for every egg. I have some video so you can check out my instagram for that. Then lighten the custard with the whites before adding in vanilla. You then layer your cups with custard with the biscuit soaked in coffee. Guess where the left over custard went? That’s right, out fingers and mouth!
We then started with making our own pasta. Eggs and flour. Actually making pasta is simple. We sure get out hands in it. It involves a lot of kneading, folding and much more flour. Then you rest the dough before getting it into the actual pasta you are trying to make. You will be amazed by how much pasta you can actually get just from 100gr of flour and a egg.
We had a little break after that to rest the dough and have a little wine and tasting of cheese and pate, sundried tomatoes. It sure is a well deserved break from whipping the eggs. I love the little drizzle of balsamic vinegar on the cheese which added a hint of sweetness to the savory cheese.
Then we roll out the pasta to the desired thickness before cutting it up. My favourite part was definitely making the ravioli. I love making these little Italian dumplings. We had cheese stuffings which then we pipe it on to the dough before holding them. Look at these babies that I have made!
Of course after that David cooked them up and then we had it for lunch with more wine. I love the bite of homemade pasta and definitely the ravioli. The tomato sauce for it was so simple and delicious. Each dumpling was coated with the natural juices of the tomatoes. We will all stuffed with all the food.
And of course here is Dennison Tiramisu for dessert! Look at how good that look! Each of us decorated our tiramisu personally and I am the only one that know how to crushed it to decorate. Check that out! Lovely! It sure felt very sweet when I am having them!
With that the tour comes to an end. We end at around late afternoon! I love that the Florencetown tour is very comprehensive. The price point was quite good as well! Look at it, the tour is quite small so you get really hands on and interaction. I would deduct the cost of lunch, the tasting, the wine. In fact I would say the tour is only around 50 Euros, which is a good price. You make two sauce, two pasta and tiramisu. I also got my cert at the end of the class! Best of all, you don’t have to clean up after the mess! How you all like this cooking lesson of mine!