A PRIVATE COOKING CLASS AT TOUCH BISTRO, FLORENCE
One of our high priority experiences on our trip to Florence was a private cooking masterclass at Touch, Bistro. On a previous visit, last year, we dined there (have a read of my post on the fine dining scene in Florence) and really loved the style of the food and the story of the three friends who owned the restaurant. When we learned last year that they also ran a private cookery school during the day, Dr C and I were very keen to learn more about traditional Tuscan cuisine.
Touch has three cookery class levels, Lets Cook, Master Chef and Top Chef. We chose the Master Chef as it included three courses, including making two of our favourite dishes. All classes require a minimum private party size of two.
The morning started off at 10 am when we met Executive Chef, Matteo Guiliani, at the restaurant for a coffee and a chat of what the cookery class would involve. Matteo is a local boy, born and bred in Tuscany, however he did live in London for three years, where amongst other jobs, worked at the Michelin Starred Chez Bruce restaurant in Wandsworth.
LESSON 1 : THE MARKET
The first stop was to go the local market, where Touch source some of their ingredients for their dishes. A 5-10 minute walk away is the centrally located Sant’ Ambrogio market, where we picked up an array of seasonal vegetables from family run local stalls as well as some fresh Ricotta.
Matteo introduced us to some of the local traders and interesting foods of the region. He also gave us his little guide on picking and looking out for the most ready to cook produce of the season. We even had a chance to try a number of fresh goods before purchasing! In fact, that was mid-morning coffee break covered, without the coffee though!!
On the menu this lunch time was a fresh, light and delicious three course offering to include the following:
Fresh Tomato Sauce with Guitar Spaghetti
Accompanied with bread and Red wine, all sourced locally including the wine glasses!
LESSON 2 : THE COOKING
We got stuck in right away with the Tuscan Sformato. I can only describe this as the Italian version of a Souffle. A mix of fresh sheep ricotta cheese, an egg, Parmesan, extra virgin olive oil and salt is added to sautéed courgettes.
Panna cotta bowls are layered with the beautiful courgette flowers and the mixture is added. Apart from a 20 minute stint in the oven, that’s job done! Even I can replicate that one! Traditionally, Sformato is made a day ahead of consumption, so it can really take up the flavour of the ingredients.
Next it was time to make a start on the tomato sauce. We bought a mixture of tomatoes in terms of variety, size, shape and colour and yours truly was left to cut them up haphazardly!
These were added to a pan containing extra virgin olive oil, onions, garlic and salt. This was then left to simmer away, until we saw it was going dry. At this point a couple of ladles of water were added and the simmering continued.
Whilst the tomato sauce was cooking away, the fun really started! My favourite part of the cookery class was always going to be making the fresh pasta! I’d tried this so many times at home but failed miserably!
As Matteo explained, we were attempting the 1:1 recipe, i.e. for every 100g of flour, one whole egg is required! I soon had this combined and the fun bit was rolling the pasta out in the pasta machine and then creating the strands via the guitar. I can confirm, this is great therapy for stress relief!
Back to the Tomato sauce, this was strained in a fancy instrument called a passaverdure masher. Just before serving all that was required was a few basil leaves and a grating of fresh Parmigiano Reggiano.
So not done just yet, you know all this cooking lark is seriously hard work! The Dessert was still to complete. I didn’t realise just how easy Tiramisu is to make, all it required was egg yolks being mixed with sugar, with the addition of mascarpone cheese.
Whilst this was chilling, we dipped some ladyfinger biscuits in coffee and then proceeded to layer the bowl with the mixture and biscuits in two stages. Once done, the dish was topped with grated shavings of dark chocolate and chilled.
LESSON 3 : THE PROOF IS IN THE TASTING
Well of course the proofs in the tasting and have a little goosey gander at how our dishes turned out! I say ours but what I really mean is mine! The one’s I made with a little help from Chef Matteo!
There is definitely something to be said for food made by your own fare hands. It always tastes better right? I am looking forward to creating some of these delights at home soon as after the cookery class, you receive an electronic recipe book, which includes a selection of the recipes created by Matteo for Touch.
USEFUL CULINARY FACTS
1.There are 80 odd varieties of tomatoes.
2. Pasta, which is slightly rough takes up the sauce better.
3. The waste i.e the ends, which are cut off, are dried and used in soup! waste not, want not!
4. To thicken the pasta sauce, dried/stale bread is used along with a pinch of salt.
5. Tiramisu means wake me up!
The Master Chef experience is priced at €150 per person with a deposit required to secure the booking. The rate includes everything I have described above.
Have a little peruse of the cookery class movie…
Tell me, have you ever attended a private cooking class? I’d love to hear in the comments…
Touch Bistrò Toscano
Via di Mezzo 42R
Tel. +39 055 2466150
To book a private cooking class, email email@example.com