The lovely Sian from Mark Communications emailed me last minute about a Calabrian Masterclass run by Chef Antonio Ruggerino that was being sponsored by Wenger and held at the Carrick Institute to help promote their range of kitchen knives. Having not ever heard of Wenger before and knowing that they do knives meant that the class would involve some sort of 'knife skills' which I lack, so I thought why not. I was also keen to be educated a little in the area of Calabrian cuisine as it's not something I'm too familiar with, everything is generically 'Italian' to me still.
As I walk up the stairs, the first thing that catches my attention is the very large brightly lit commercial kitchen that is behind a glass barrier. Outside the kitchen is a sort of viewing area where two tables have been set up for dining. We are offerened welcome drinks and spend some time mingling with the people from Mark Comms and Wenger. It was nice to see there were other food bloggers too but didn't really get the chance to talk much to any of them. I also found myself rubbing shoulders with other media who were also present.
Once everyone has arrived we are given a brief introduction to Wenger and then ushered into the kitchen where Chef Antonio Ruggerino and his assistant chef demonstrate the dish that we will be cooking as an appetiser to our meal. We are split into two groups as there are two cooking areas we will be cooking in.
Every station is set up with bowls of ingredients, a chopping board and two brand new beautifully boxed knives from Wenger, a large chef's knife and a smaller paring knife. I totally do a dodgy job of finely chopping my vegetables, scared that I will slice my fingers off!
Half a tomato, wedge of lemon, short batton of celery including leaves, and a splash of olive oil, white wine and a sprinkle of salt and pepper with about half a dozen of mussels. All mushed up together with your hand in one pot. Simple as that!
Spotted some friendly faces as I waited for my mussels to cook.
Some crusty bread is passed around and we eat straight out of the pot. It smells and tastes absolutely delish! I seriously could have done with just a big pot of these and be happy.
Our second demonstration involved dicing some carrots and onions for the 'garnish' for our main meal (which is actually already stewing away as there wasn't enough time for us to be all cooking it from scratch).
I am amazed at the speed at which chefs are able to chop and dice. Something I don't think I'll ever master as I am hopeless with a knife - give me an egg beater or wooden spoon anyday!
My dogdy knife skills - inconsistent and rough. The knife was a dream to use though, I like my knives a little on the heavy side and it is so sharp.
The two knives we got to work/play with. I'm amazed my fingers are still all intact, especially working under the influence of a glass of champagne!
The other half of the class hard at work.
One of the other ladies struggles to dice her onion so the chef gives her some hands on help.
Amazed yet again at the knife skills.
As we're caught up with the onion demonstration we miss out on a little of Antonio's little demo but he pretty much shows us how to do the 'garnish' part for the Osso Bucco.
We leave our stations and head back out and take our seats at the dining tables where we are served a 3 course meal. Before long we are served an entree of cheese stuffed zuchinni flowers, they were crispy on the outside, and oh so creamy and tasty on the inside.
Our main was osso bucco served with mash and our chopped vegetables sitting atop there. The osso bucco was well cooked, tender and melts in your mouth. The mash was soft and fluffy as mash should be. There was also a side salad of rocket, pear and parmasen.
I really enjoyed the dessert of Limoncello pannacotta and crisp almond biscotti, always room for dessert!
At the end of dinner we are all given a nice little goodie bag containing the knives that we used in class all cleaned and boxed up for us to take home, a very nice suprise indeed, we also got to keep the aprons we wore in class. At first I thought to myself 'drats if I knew I wouldn't have bought the Lyndey Milan knife for Ryan' but it was a nice gesture and now I have my very own knives to play with at home. Wenger are also known for their swiss army knives and range of watches. They do a whole lot of other products so check out their website which also tells you where they are sold.