Last night I went to a cooking class at Zemin – an agritourismo in the town.
There were 5 of us. Lesley the German girl, Barbara also German, Roberto from Austria and a surprise – an Australian called Ryan. He turned up at the school as we were meeting up to leave.
He is an engineer on a boat in the harbour and is here for 2 months repairing and working on the boat. He’s been having private lessons to help him with his work.
He was very nice , the usual friendly outgoing Australian whose Italian was worse than mine.
We met at the school and headed off for the bus station a few blocks away. The bus left by Via Roma and proceeded to follow the coast line. I thought the driver was driving extremely fast but the others said this was usual in Europe.
We got to the next village and got out at the new station where a slim dark Italian man met us. This was Fabio son of La mama. He drove us up the hill and we drove down a narrow land lined with fruit trees and pulled outside a two story house with a lovely garden where a goat was grazing and the sided of the house had tiled tables, a bocce court, a small swimming pool an outdoor BBQ and a bar. It is an agritourismo, quite well know in this area I believe.
Mama Lena made us very ŵelcome. She spoke no English but her eyes sparkled with good humour and we were ushered into her kitchen and made part of the family . She started with pesto, which isn’t hard except this one was to be done fatto le mani (by hand). Robert and Ryan (the Austrian and the Australian) offered to do this with the mortar and pestle. I got to start on the next job topping and tailing les fragoli ( beans) and the other girls peeled potatoes and sliced the biggest zucchini I’d ever seen on a mandolin.
We made all the courses – but no meat tonight. We started with the fresh pesto on pane, then made spaghetti con fragoli potatoes and pesto. Then a vedura torta which had the sliced potatoes and zucchini onion and buffalo mozzarella . It was made in a cake tin in layers and baked. This was served with the caponata made with fried eggplant, onion, tomato, olives, capers and of course oil. It was delicious. Then we made a dolci with sultanas soaked in white rum, flour eggs, sugar etc. rolled into balls and baked.
Ŵe all sat together in the dining room of the restaurant continuing to drink the wine we had started when we were cooking. It was a lovely evening of laughs and conversation mostly in Italian, discussing eating habits in both Italy and our own home countries. Fabio couldn’t believe people took their coffee away and walked along the streets drinking it! Not very relaxing he said! Also that we mostly only had one course or maybe a main and dessert. I explained that this was because we often snacked in the afternoon. He thought that was strange!
We finished with either Grappa or Limoncello ( guess what I had) and caught the bus home.
What a night.
[l to r] Ryan (the Aussie sailor), Fabio (the teacher), Lena (our hostess), Lesley, Barbara, Roberto (my Austrian “chauffer” to Cotignac)