Cooking is one of my favourite hobbies so it is fair to assume that I love cooking classes. Friends of mine are well aware of this and so when it comes to getting me gifts, my friends know that they can’t go wrong with buying me a cooking class. I recently received a gift voucher for The Dirty Apron and I was eager to use it immediately. Last night I spent a few hours at The Dirty Apron Cooking School getting my hands dirty and eating my fill (plus some) at the “Primo Italiano: Italy from Country to Coast” class. I was so inspired leaving this class that I have signed up for another class tonight (I’ll tell you more about that one when I’ve completed it).
The menu was ambitious and we went a little over our 4 hour time limit but it was absolutely, without-a-doubt, worth it. Firstly, I must say that I saw a lot of improvements from the last class that I did, which was about a year ago. I had a great time at the “Ooh La La” French class but I was a little doubtful about the value. Let me clear that up right now. I am no longer in doubt – with the changes that the school has made the class is absolutely worth the $150. Changes that I had noticed from a year ago were sparkling wine and hors d’oeuvres on arrival, the charcuterie plates that were served whilst we were cooking, and the complimentary apron. I believe that these additions really elevated the experience and made the night even more polished.
You can read my full review from last year here, and things haven’t really changed when it comes to the format of the class. I was still impressed by the professionalism displayed by the Chef and the team – everything was explained very thoroughly and very calmly – there was no Gordon Ramsay style yelling. Once the dish has been demonstrated and tips given, you are sent back to your station to make an individual-sized portion for yourself. If you are unsure of anything during the cooking process, the Chef and the team are always on hand to provide helpful tips or advice. This comes in handy as there are sometimes quite a few steps to remember.
The first dish that we made was black pepper fettuccini, served with crisp double-smoked bacon and a white wine arugula cream sauce.
I found this demonstration particularly helpful as I have made pasta at home by myself and whilst it turned out quite good, I felt that there was room for improvement. Tips provided such as using a mix of flours, not adding flour whilst rolling the pasta, and a demonstration of the correct kneading process, will really help me when I try to re-create this dish at home. My pasta turned out incredibly well and the sauce really couldn’t have been any simpler to make. All in all, this dish was much less complicated than it seems and, boy, was it tasty. Give me just a bowl of this and a glass of wine and I’ll be happy!The second dish of seared sablefish with lemon prawn risotto, blew away many of the perceptions I had associated with making risotto. Risotto would have to be one of my favourite dishes and I really don’t mind spending the 45 minutes to an hour stirring in stock and tending to it. I was told last night (shock horror) that I didn’t need to do this and that this actually made the rice more gluey by constantly stirring. The other tip that rocked my world was that you could make the risotto in advance by cooking it until it is about 80% done and then spreading it out on a cookie tray, wrapped and chilled, until you are ready to finish it off. Seriously, I did not know that this was possible. When done this way, the risotto only took about 15 minutes to finish. The sablefish, much like the Mediterranean bass I made in the French class, was so incredibly easy to cook (less than 10 minutes in total) that I feel like a bit of an idiot ordering fish at a restaurant now.The meal concluded with a warm Frangelico and roasted pear tart, served with soft mascarpone and Muscat sabayon. Before the class, this was the dish that I was the least excited about making but it is now my favourite dish of the evening. The whole process wasn’t overly complicated – really most of the work is waiting for the pears and the syrup to cook down, and then whisking the sabayon until it is light and fluffy. I’ve made cupcakes more complicated than that! I have never attempted sabayon before but I will definitely be re-creating this dish at home, particularly if I’m hosting a dinner party.
The appetizer and the main are served with your choice of red or white wine and the dessert is served with tea or coffee. If you are going to do a course at The Dirty Apron Cooking School, be prepared and go hungry. I was soooo full after eating all of this and, sure, I didn’t have to eat it all but it was all so incredibly delicious that I felt like I had to! When I sat down to eat such beautiful, delicious, dishes that I had created, I really felt a strong sense of achievement. The classes are $150 each and I have no hesitation in recommending them to you, or the foodies in your life.