LEARN – TASTE – SHOP
Learning how to cook in Florence – my first cooking class ever!
I have always wanted to do a cooking course and last week finally got to take part in a class at the newly created Desinare Cooking School located in central Florence in the beautiful surroundings of Tuscan interior expert, Riccardo Barthel.
I didn’t know that the word Desinare meant before finding this class. The following translation is taken from the Desinare website and I think it is my new favourite word now.
DESINARE is an old-fashioned Florentine term for that time of day when the family would gather around the table to eat. It refers not just to the act of dining but to the ritual of conviviality, the need to take a break from work to talk, exchange ideas, renew the bonds of love that have long been at the heart of our domestic culture.
Looking at the calendar of classes on offer, after a bit of indecision, I finally decided on the ‘Altre Carne’ (other meats) as I wanted to do something that I might not necessarily know how to do at home. I was very excited about the menu of three dishes that we would be preparing :
Coniglio Ripieno in Porchetta
(rabbit de-boned, stuffed and rolled in the ‘porchetta’ way)
Petto d’Anatra all’Arancia
(Duck Breast with Orange reduction)
Quaglie Arrostite con Vermicelli di Riso e Verdure Croccanti
(Roast Quail served with Vermicelli Rice Noodles and Stir-fry Vegetables)
Our Chef for the evening was Arturo Dori, well known for being at the helm of Il Cavolo Nero, one of Florence’s most highly regarded restaurants, for more than fifteen years. He made everything look very easy and effortless so I will let you know when I try these dishes at home if they are as simple and straight-forward as they seemed.
Upon arrival we all met each other and then put on our lovely new Desinare aprons before sitting down in the beautiful surroundings of the classroom. The decor is just gorgeous, as you would expect from Barthel. We had a typical Tuscan antipasto of salame and pecorino and were extremely fortunate that Jim Lahey from Sullivan St Bakery in New York had visited for an earlier class and made some of his amazing bread and foccacia.
The atmosphere was extremely relaxed and we all enjoyed a glass or two of red wine while watching Arturo prepare each dish. Volunteers were called upon to assist and I shot my hand up to help stuff herbs inside the quail. One thing I realised was that I need to sharpen our kitchen knives at home. I also learnt that you can eat certain cuts of duck raw, that a rabbit can be completely de-boned by your local, trusty butcher at no extra cost and how amazing a good reduction can taste.
Evening classes tend to mainly be in Italian as these cater mostly to the locals who can’t make the morning classes due to work commitments. The morning classes are normally in English which cater to tourists and as all the chefs are fluent, this would be a great experience to anyone wishing to immerse themselves that little bit more in their Florentine experience.
So now Emiliano is eagerly awaiting his Coniglio in Porchetta which I have promised to make this week so I had better go and have that chat to my friendly butcher. We did visit Nonna yesterday however and so I now have a whole rabbit (already cleaned and cut in two) plus two pigeons in the freezer so might have to eat these first.
As I mentioned at the start of this post, I had never done a cooking class before but I already can’t wait to go back to Desinare and do another one. As you can see by the size of the plates, we just didn’t taste each course, but ate a generous portion of each dish. The class went for three hours, from 8-11pm and for 80 euro, I think you will agree it is excellent value!
I also met some lovely people; Francesca Fumagalli
, the photographer who took the photos below and Cinzia, a fellow foodie and mamma of two whom I had so much in common with that we probably chatted a little bit too much during the class. It really goes to show how good food can bring wonderful people together.
Desinare is walking distance from the center but probably also a 10 minute taxi ride from most central hotels. If you have a car, there is very convenient parking available. For those of you that know Florence, it is located very close to Porta Romana.
VIA DEI SERRAGLI 234/R
50124 FIRENZE [FI]
MONDAY – FRIDAY
9AM-1PM | 3PM-7PM
10AM-1PM | 3PM-7PM