Sunday, 21 August 2016

La Cucina Caldesi 'Sunday Farmers Market' Cookery Course

I cannot believe it’s already a  week since I attended the ‘Sunday Farmers Market’ cookery lesson at La Cucina Caldesi.
I was given the lesson as a Christmas gift, through ‘Virgin Experiences’, to enhance my recent interest in Italian cookery.
La Cucina Caldesi is situated at the bottom of Marylebone Lane, London. Owned by Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi the various classes offer hands on Italian cookery with the emphasis being on seasonal Italian food using fresh local produce.  
La Cucina Caldesi, Marylebone
I was rather nervous as I travelled to the school last Sunday morning as I don’t mix well with strangers, and I hate it in these situations where you have to introduce yourself and say something about yourself. Much to my delight there was none of that.
I was first to arrive and was offered a coffee whilst awaiting the others. 13 other people joined me, along with our chef/tutor for the day Stefano and straight away a relaxed atmosphere was achieved.
Stefano was the perfect host/tutor. He worked the room well with his knowledge, skills, conversation, wit and humour.  
The entrance to La Cucina Caldesi
The first part of our day was a visit to Marylebone Farmers Market, which is just a few minutes’ walk from the school. Stefano bought ingredients for our lesson whilst we had 20 minutes to have a walk round and look at all the stalls.
Marylebone Sunday Farmers Market

There were lots of fruit and veg stalls with fresh, and sometimes unusual produce. Everything looked very vibrant.
Marylebone Sunday Farmers Market
Tomatoes at Marylebone Sunday Farmers Market

I was very taken by the appearance of some gluten free savoury muffins, of which I bought 2! I wanted to have a taste as it would be an interesting addition to our cake counter at work. One was filled with squash, goats cheese and sage, and the other tomato, pesto and ricotta.

I saved them both for the following day and am now definitely looking into making some, they were divine!

Homemade produce at Marylebone Sunday Farmers Market

On our return we all donned our ‘Caldesi’ aprons (which we got to keep at the end of the day) and picked a spot around the big square table. Each dish to be prepared was explained in full detail by Stefano.

We were to make bread sticks, tomato bruschetta, stuffed courgette flowers, ceviche, sea bass with roasted potatoes, olives and tomatoes with green beans and aubergine and, for dessert, an amaretto trifle.  

Stefano, chef/tutor at La Cucina Caldesi demonstrating ceviche
It wasn’t possible for us all to make everything so we went in groups of2s and 3s and were given different parts of the meal to prepare. I paired up with a lady called Freddie, and we made the custard for the trifle.  
I think the only criticism I have of the day is that while we made the custard we had to leave the table to use the stove which took us away from everything else being prepared, and a bit out of the group. Freddie had hoped to be able to make bread dough and I had wanted to watch the courgette flowers being prepared.
Prepared, stuffed courgette flowers

Despite not making the bread dough we each were given a piece from the ‘proved’ dough to roll out breadsticks and coat with sesame seeds and nigella seeds.  

Breadsticks ready for the oven

We then got to fillet the sea bass, something I have never done so enjoyed having the chance to learn the skill.

The fish was then laid on top of the roasted potatoes, olives and tomatoes and put in the oven to cook.
Prepared sea bass dish ready for cooking.

All the final parts of the meal were then put together and a long table was laid up for us all.  
Finally we all sat together and enjoyed all the food from the days lesson with red and white wine to accompany the meal.
It was a lovely atmosphere. We had all got on so well right from the start of the day and the room was filled with good conversation and plenty of laughter. Again Stefano was a great host!

Enjoying the end of the Sunday Farmers Market cookery lesson at La Cucina Caldesi

Even though the day was due to end at 3pm I didn’t feel that we were pushed out at all, in fact I think it was about 3.20pm when we all started to say our goodbyes.

What a day! Totally exceeded my expectations, learnt a couple of new skills and had great fun.  

More info on other classes, or indeed this one can be found on the Caldesi website along with info about their restaurants and café.

I would certainly recommend, and am even tempted to try another myself!