Tuesday 20 November 2018

Travel Tuesday

When Mr Z and I went to Italy in the summer, probably the best thing we did was take a cooking class. I felt very fortunate to land a place as I only emailed about a week beforehand, thanks to the craziness of my summer schedule, but luckily we managed to bag some places alongside a Canadian-Italian couple who clearly didn't need any help.

Neither did Mr Z as it turned out, because he spends a lot of time watching videos of nonnas cooking on YouTube. Who knew?

It was a very relaxed evening that began by meeting Gianna and then taking a trip to the local food market, to shop for the freshest and best ingredients with which to make our dinner.

We stopped on the way back to her kitchen for a little coffee with almond milk, which is a Leccese speciality. It's not really almond milk: it's almond syrup. I approve. 

Once we got into the kitchen we started cooking a feast. It began with making some focaccia, which involved grating a small boiled potato in with the flour and and yeast. I got to press the dough into the dish when it had risen. That was a lot of oil. No wonder it tasted so good. 

With some caramelised onions and my favourite buratta cheese. 

After that we were taught to make pasta. We made a couple of different kinds, including the local orechiette, which are meant to look like ears, and little tubes. What was leftover, we made into spaghetti. 

It was quite hot in there. 

We made a fresh tomato sauce to go with the pasta, which involved squeezing the tomatoes underwater to get rid of all the seeds - a good tip. We also wrapped chicken thighs around sun dried tomatoes and then rolled them in good bacon, and made another meat dish that I have already forgotten about...clearly I didn't take enough pictures...and Gianna made a panacotta for us to enjoy afterwards with her three home-created spirits.

These were limoncello, rhubarb and the third? I forget. They were quite strong. 

It was an excellent experience that came with plenty of wine and I really enjoyed spending some time cooking with assistance, as well as chatting to the nice couple who was there with us. Gianna had good English but her daughter, though heavily pregnant, stayed the whole time to act as translator when needed. I can definitely recommend going along to one of these sessions if you ever go to Lecce. In fact, I might go again if (when) we return to southern Italy - I'm thinking next May half term. Already queuing up next summer's holidays. 

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