Wednesday, April 11, 2012

In Tavola Cooking Class : Florence, Italy

We had signed up for the four-course cooking class at In Tavola and it was a great experience. We had Silvio as our instructor and he was extremely knowledgeable (he had run a Michelin star restaurant in London, which I cannot for the life of me remember what the name was) as well as passionate and opinionated. The class had about 10 people, which was small enough get hands on experience while cooking and large enough to have a fun social dinner afterwards.

Millefoglie di Verdure (Vegetable Millefoglie)
We added way too much salt and probably a bit too much potato filling, but the eggplant came out very tender and took on the flavor of the olive oil and potato.

Pollo alla Contadina (Farmer's Chicken)
Moist and flavorful.  Liked the caramelized peppers, onions and the subtle rosemary hints.  Silvio, interestingly suggested a few tips: 1) cook on high heat 2) do not add pepper (as in ground peppercorns) until the end, since the pepper will lose its flavor throughout the cooking and give a bitter flavor

Potato Gnocchi
The apparent trick to the gnocchi is in getting the mix of types of flour right (this recipe had all purpose flour combined with durum wheat flour), which reduces the total amount of flour needed and which makes the gnocchi more delicate.  The gnocchi came out light and put many of the gnocchi's I've had in restaurants to shame.  Strangely enough, I could see with further experimentation, you could get it even lighter.

Tip: gnocchi floats when it's done.

Sugo all' Aglione (Tomato & Garlic Sauce)
Light, yet longer prolonged flavor that made think some wine had been used to cook with it.

Ragu' alla Bolognese (Meat sauce)
Hearty without being heavy.
A few Silvio tips: 1) stir the sauce as little as possible while cooking.  It keeps as much of the flavor in the pot, rather than evaporating in the air.  2) Go for the fattier meat.  Fat is flavorful and good for you.

Cream, made out of egg white and mascarpone cheese was ridiculously light.  Coffee not very pronounced unlike many of the heavy handed versions in the US.

I found one of Silvio's thoughts rather striking: he does not use free range eggs, since you cannot track what the chicken eats or not.  He was a believer in the Italian food tracking system to the point where Italians were comfortable eating raw eggs (since they knew how fresh the eggs were).

All in all, we had a lot of fun cooking and dining and for the quality of the instructor / food, we thought this was quite economical as well.  Would recommend without a second thought.

In Tavola
Via dei Velluti, 18 50125 Firenze (Map)
055 217672

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