Archive | December, 2011

Ciao Borough!

11 Dec

Italian food – overdone or enjoying a revival? Whatever your view, it’s certain to say that Londoners have their fair share of Italian restaurants to choose from with new ones cropping up all the time, but in terms of cooking authentic Mediterranean cuisine at home, how many of us tend to stick to spag bol and carbonara?

In an aim to expand my knowledge, I signed up to the Enrica Rocca cookery school , described on the website as “London’s best food market and most authentic Italian cooking class.” Born in Venice, Enrica runs courses in London twice a week – one at Portabello and one at Borough.

Meeting at 9am on a Saturday morning, bleary eyed and in need of a caffeine-laced coffee, we were quickly woken by Erica introducing herself in a flurry of designer perfume and ‘Italianess’. The course began with a three hour tour of Borough Market, which although I’ve been to several times before, made me to see it in a completely new way.

Enrica encouraged us to get stuck right in from the word go, touching, testing and tasting all our ingredients before buying them. We started out with choosing different types of mushrooms for a risotto, and learnt that larger isn’t always better when it comes to ingredients – in fact, the smaller, more mishapen the veg, the tastier it can be. Over the three hours, we tasted various olive oils, hams, cheeses, sundried tomatoes, breads and herbs then headed to Laithwaites within Vinnopolis to select wines to accompany the dishes. Settling on a Burgundy to go with the risotto, a Chablis to go alongside the fish and a Chilean Pinot Noir to accompany the veal, we then headed back to Enrica’s house to make a meal out of all the delicious ingredients we’d bought.

As we quickly found out, the course was very hands on with everyone getting a chance to help out with the preparation and cooking. The first thing to make was a salmon tartar, a simple but effective mix of finely chopped salmon, dill, lemon juice and mayo:

Following this was a full seabass, with garlic cloves rubbed all down the backbone then stuffed with various herbs and lemon. This was then cooked in the oven for just under an hour with potatoes and tomatoes and of course, the obligatory glug of olive oil all over the fish and veg:

While the fish was cooking, we prepared the mushroom risotto – a dish which contained so much butter I couldn’t believe my eyes (now I know why risotto in restaurants tastes so bloody good!) Combining giroles, cepes and chanterelles, we sweated these down with butter and onions then added wine and chicken stock, followed by rice which we constantly stirred for around 15 minutes before all the liquid had been absorbed. The risotto was finished off with another block of butter, more salt, Parmesan and herbs making it one of the most delicious risottos I’ve eaten (especially when combined with the creaminess of the white Burgundy):

Having already eaten almost three complete meals along with several glasses of wine (the top button on my jeans had by now been undone for some time), we then moved on to cooking veal. This was served with some tasty peppers which were left to cook for at least 15 minutes, along with a buttery, herb sauce:

Finally, as if we hadn’t already eaten enough, we finished the meal off with a tiramasu full of coffee, cream and chocolate goodness:

For anyone wanting to learn some new Italian cookery skills in a relaxed, fun environment, I’d thoroughly recommend Enrica Rocca’s cookery school – just be prepared to be rolled away afterwards!