Today I took my third cooking class. My class started at 2:00pm, so Joe, Emily and I went out for lunch before I left them for the afternoon. We went back to the pizza place down the street from our apartment, La Delizie. It is just so good!
We ordered the zuppa di pane e pomodoro (tomato and bread soup – a Tuscan staple) and a prosciutto and arugula pizza. The pizza was just as good as the others we have had there and the soup was extremely flavorful. Because zuppa di pane e pomodoro is a traditional Tuscan dish and we all enjoyed it so much, I plan to try making it at home soon.
Today’s class was at Scuola di Arte Culinaria Cordon Bleu. The theme of my cooking class today was South Italy cuisine and more specifically, it focused on Sicily. There were only three other students in the class.
First, we made polpette di melanzane alla siciliana (eggplant fritters, Sicilian style). This was my favorite dish of the day. The fritters were basically made in the style of meatballs, but with chopped, roasted eggplant instead of meat. This was a very hearty vegetarian dish.
Second, we made sarde a beccafico (sardines wrapped around a bread crumb mixture and baked). This dish was good, but not my favorite. I don’t think I would go to the trouble of handling the fragile sardines to put together such a labor-intensive dish. But, the greatest thing I learned today was how to clean fresh sardines. That is something I had never done before nor do I think I would have tried if the activity hadn’t been put in front of me like it was today. But it’s actually quite easy and not as gross as it might seem.
Next we made pasta con le sarde (pasta with sardines). It was a very unique pasta dish. The sauce was made of olive oil, onions, saffron, anchovies, raisins, pine nuts, and a ton of fennel fronds (which they call finocchietto) and then the pasta was topped with sauteed sardines. Raisins and pine nuts are not my favorite, although I did tolerate them in this dish. I would attempt making this again, but would try to figure out a substitute for the raisins and pine nuts (even though these are very typical Sicilian ingredients).
Lastly, we made cannoli alla siciliana (cannoli Sicilian style). This was a lot of fun, but also a LOT of work. We made the dough from scratch, let the dough rest, rolled out the dough in a pasta roller and then formed it around metal rods and deep fried the shells. Even the filling was labor-intensive. We worked the ricotta cheese through a mesh sieve to make the filling as smooth as possible. I do plan to try making these again one day, but it will need to be a special occasion or a group activity with friends or family. I will appreciate the work behind every cannoli I eat from now on!
Overall, the experience was great and I do plan to take at least one more class at Scuola di Arte Culinaria Cordon Bleu. However, the experience was much more of a professional cooking school style and didn’t end with a dinner with wine. We tasted each of the dishes, but didn’t sit down to eat a meal. There are pros and cons to the more formal and less formal styles of class, so I plan to continue to take a variety. It is all great experience that I am very thankful to be getting!