I was invited down to Casa Barilla Cooking School, Annandale to spend a couple of hours learning some Italian cooking techniques and recipes from Chef Andrea and Chef Angelo. Chef Andrea Tranchero, has a reputation for being one of the best Italian chefs in Australia! His sensational career includes working in Michelin Star restaurants around the world and cooking for the likes of Giorgio Armani and Richard Branson! Andrea was assisted by Richard Gere lookalike, and fellow Italian, Angelo Di Somma.
On arrival we were greeted with a nice refreshing light cocktail and a slice of freshly baked cake made with pinenuts. My friend, and fellow blogger Raf Ruiz, was already there so we sat down and caught up with our news (so much to catch up with since we only saw each other at another event two days ago lol).
FYI everyone needs to sign a waiver prior to entering the kitchen because it is hands-on so that means knives and hotplates!
To start the class Chef Andrea and Chef Angelo talked to us about the different regions of Italy and each area's own unique style of cooking. These two, coming from different regions, bantered with each other and made me laugh. The kitchen is very well equipped with an overhead TV screen to see an 'aerial' shot of what is going on when the chefs are preparing the food.
Today we were cooking:
"Sfarinata" Chickpea Pancakes with Cheese, served with Cod Fish Mousse and Taggiasche Olives
Linguine with Prawns, Pesto Genovese, Potatoes and Green Beans
Once the demonstration of the first course was over it was up to us to get into our teams and re-create the dishes! This is a great way to experience team work, Raf and I were in charge of making the Cod and our other teammates (blog: Clauds Cookery) were in charge of the chickpea pancakes.
Once we had made our dishes it was time to eat them! Well that's after us bloggers took our pics of course! The meal was a lovely combination of flavours, but a little salty for me when it came to the cod. The wine served was sensational Feudo Arancio Grillo Sicilia Doc and is available in Vintage Cellars for around $17.
There's no rest for the wicked! As soon as we finished the starter, we were called to go back to the kitchen for another demonstration. This time it was on how to cook pasta and make an authentic pesto sauce. Again after the demonstration it was now up to us to reproduce a quality dish! I should point out here there are four work benches that fit a team of 4 and each work bench is very well equipped. So it's quite an intimate number of max 16 students.
I don't think we did as good as we could have on this one. We didn't add enough salt to the pasta or enough pesto. I quickly fixed this by adding a dollop of pesto and olive oil to my bowl; then it became perfecto! Hats off to our teammates - Clauds Cookery for the plating! I failed dismally at stacking the linguine the way were were taught.
We enjoyed our main course with another glass of wine then followed by gelato in a cone! I had the mint one...yum!
Once we finished we were gifted a goodie bag full of Barilla products to take home and we got to keep our aprons. The course costs $90 pp and is a great way to spend a Saturday.
Thanks to the delightful Silvia Gardin for inviting Sydney Chic and Travel Lifestyle Blogs to experience the Casa Barilla Cooking School, Annandale.
Pic: Raf Ruiz
TIPS FROM THE EXPERTS AT CASA BARILLA
Make sure you use a big pot, enough to allow for one litre of water per 100 grams of pasta.
DON'T WASTE YOUR OLIVE OIL
Oil and water don't mix - and adding it to the water is a waste! Barilla pasta is high quality and does not need oil added to it.
Prior to your pot of water reaching boiling point, add salt! It will enhance the flavour. Barilla recommends seven grams per litre of water.
FROM POT TO PAN
Good quality pasta won't stick together so there is no need to rinse. In fact, rinsing removes light starch coating, which is important to hold the sauce. Remove the pasta from the water just prior to it being cooked and combine it with the sauce in the pan. Finishing the pasta's cooking process in the pan helps it absorb all the beautiful flavours of your sauce.
JUST ENOUGH TO COAT THE PASTA
Pasta is delicious so make sure you can taste it. The general rule is that you should use as much pasta as you do sauce.