Ever wanted to be able to cook restaurant quality dishes to impress your friends? Cibo E Vino and their head chef Paul Toogood are opening up their kitchen for you to come in for a hands on cooking class to learn to cook a three course meal. I was recently invited to a media preview of the class and also get my hands dirty learning to make some pasta.
We were split into 2 groups. Chef Paul takes us through how to make orecchiette. The dough is prepared before hand and chef starts breaking it up into little balls. We're then shown how shape them into little ears, he seems to be making them at the speed of light so I ask him to slow down so that we can see exactly what he is doing. It's then our turn to churn them out. It's simply a push of the thumb and then a quick flick and they are done - easier said than done of course ;)
Working hard or hardly working? ;)
Our combined effort, is this going to be enough for lunch?? ;)
We then move on to watch Chef Colin Lambrisket prepare the pasta dough for the linguine. The dough has been premade and he rolls it out with a rolling pin until it's the right thickness and width to go through the roller of the pasta machine.
Once it's almost ready, we also get a few goes at cranking the handle. Chef makes it look so easy! It's actually quite an effort for me to turn the handle just a couple of rotations, lacking some arm muscles I think.
The dough is folded multiple times and put through the roller to 'laminate' until a nice smooth silky consistency is achieved.
We then all come together again to watch Chef Paul show us how to make gnocchi. The potatoes are peeled, chopped and then steamed. Once cooked, they are put through a mouli which grinds them down to a smooth mash. An egg yolk is added to the potato mash and then equal amounts of plain flour and semolina are added and worked into the dough.
Chef Paul showing us how it's done.
My baby! We all get our own batch to make.
Once the dough has come to the right consistency, it is divided up and rolled into long sausages and then cut into little pillows.
A finished batch of gnocchi.
Chef Paul takes out a block of truffle pecorino cheese to shave to make the sauce for the orecchiette. He lets us all have a small tasting. The cheese was so tasty, I could have easily eaten the whole block!
The orecchiette is added to a stock, to which the peccorino is added to make a creamy sauce - no cream added.
Due to time constraints, we missed seeing the linguine being cut but this is what the end result looked like.
Once the gnocchi is done, Chef Paul moves on to preparing the pasta sauces while talking us through the processes.
Tossing the gnocchi in a butter sauce, helps prevent it from sticking as well as adding flavour to it. The third chef in the brigade at Cibo E Vino is Chef Danny Westside. They are all super friendly blokes and made the cooking class experience a fun one. The three pastas are dished up and we all get to eat! Not before photos are taken of course...
Orecchiette with truffle peccorino sauce.
It was a shame that by the time we had this, the pasta had gone cold. It was a little too firm for my liking but I'm sure if we had eaten it while it was piping hot, the texture would have been absolutely wonderful.
Gnocchi with house made sausage sauce.
There was a lot of murmuring around the table when everyone tucked into this dish. The gnocchi dumplings were soft pillows of melt in your mouth potato goodness - just how they should be.
Linguine with prawns, tomato, peas and basil.
The flavours and colours in this dish were vibrant and fresh. I absolutely adore basil! The prawns and peas added some sweetness to the dish.
What sets this cooking class apart from the others is that after your hands on session with the chefs, 3 of your friends get to come in and eat what you have cooked. Your chance to impress them with the skills the chefs have taught you ;) Though there are 3 pasta dishes shown above, the chefs will teach you how to make an entree, a main and a dessert from the restaurant menu. For more information and bookings, visit the class information page on their website. The next class will be held on Saturday 18th August and will be limited to 4 people so that you get a bit more one on one time with the chefs.
All I can say is that I was so inspired by the class, I went home and tried to make gnocchi on my own! Ryan has made it before and has done a pretty awesome job and I have just always been too afraid to try. After watching and learning how to make it from Paul, I wanted to see if I could do it myself. I succeeded, though my gnocchi was no where near as good as Paul's or Ryan's. Lots more practice needed. And yes, that's shavings of truffle. We visited the Marrickville Organic Markets that weekend to buy some produce to make an anniversary dinner and were very excited to get our hands on some fresh truffle. What better way to eat it?
This is not my first visit to Cibo E Vino though it has been a long long time since I had last been (Castle Hill is a little bit out of the way for me, if I was a local I'd definately be visiting more often). It's where I had my first taste of hand made gnocchi, which I absolutely fell in love with. It saddens me when I see packet gnocchi being used, it's just very very different in taste and texture, it's not the same! The restaurant has been through some changes since but it's great to know that the gnocchi is still just as good, if not even better than when I first tried it. They now focus on a range of hand made pasta dishes and have established themselves as an 'Artisanal Pasta House'. I've also heard that their fries are to die for. YUM! Go pay them a visit. NOW.
Cibo E Vino
Shop 2, 299 Old Northern Road
Open Tuesday -Saturday, 6:00 - 10:30pm