A Taste of Tuscany at La Cucina Caldesi Cookery School

There are cookery schools aplenty in London. I don’t know this because I am a cookery class pro. I know this because as the owner of this pretty little blog, I always seem to get invited to them for blogger events. The invitations are lovely, but as an undomesticated goddess with very little spare time, I tend to politely decline time and time again.

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But then a cookery class invitation landed in my inbox that I just couldn’t turn down. It was for these 4 reasons;

  • I love trying new things and I had never been to a cookery class before
  • The cookery class was being hosted by Tuscany’s luxury hotel Castello di Casole and their Head Chef Daniele
  • The class was being held at La Cucina Caldesi in Marylebone a.k.a London’s only Italian cookery school
  • I just really, really love Italian food

Reminiscing about Castello di Casole

I visited Castello di Casole back in April 2015 as part of my Tuscan road trip (I blogged all about it here). Starting our adventure in Pisa, we picked up a hire car from the airport and began the adventure through San Gimignano, Casole d’Elsa, Siena and finally ending in romantic Florence. Castello di Casole was our base for 3 nights and a real highlight of the trip.

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Set in a valley of rolling hills, Castello di Casole is the fairytale Tuscan escape that everybody dreams of. It’s set in a 4,200-acre estate with a charming central castle that dates back to the 10th century. This place has a very special place in my heart and is now my dream wedding destination! Can you see why?

UFFICIALE

One thing I will always remember about Castello di Casole is that it’s where I had the best spaghetti carbonara in my life. With such high standards of authentic Italian cuisine, I arrived at La Cucina Caldesi hoping that Chef Daniele could teach me some of his tricks (as well as how to make that carbonara).

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Arriving at La Cucina Caldesi Cookery School

The day began with a warm welcome from the Castello di Casole team and Katie Caldesi, co-owner of the famous Marylebone restaurant and cookery school. After a morning coffee and a sweet biscotti, it was time to get our aprons on and crack on with the cooking!

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What was on The Menu?

Kate and Chef Daniele talked us through the mouthwatering menu of the day, which included a signature pasta dish with typical Tuscan flavours.

Starter; Crostini with three toppings; anchovy and mozerella, tomato and basil and chicken liver pate

First course; Handmade cappelletti pasta with a pappa al pomodoro tomato filling on a bed of creamy mozerella sauce

Second course;Pork involtini stuffed with sausage meat and pecorino cheese. Served with pan fried potatoes and greens

Dessert;Vanilla semifreddo with caramelised oranges

The dishes were like something you’d find at a fine dining Italian restaurant and with the help of Chef Daniele, we were guided through the processes step by step.

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Getting Stuck in  

The first dish we prepared was the vanilla semifreddo because it needed time to set. I loved piping the mixture into the small pots.

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Crostini Perfection

It was all hands on deck for the crostini making production line. Everyone was assigned their own jobs from cutting the bread to layering on the anchovy and mozzarella. I have always found the taste of chicken liver pate far too rich, but seeing it made from scratch changed my perspective on it although I only tried a tiny bit, it was delicious.

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Pasta Making 

I was amazed to learn that fresh pasta is made from nothing more than flour, water and egg yolks. The higher the concentration of egg yolks, the richer and tastier the pasta. I had great fun rolling the pasta through the pasta machine, and Chef Daniele taught us how to cut up the pasta, pipe in the tomato filling and twist it into perfect parcels.

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The Meat Feast

Another first was bashing down a pork medallion with a meat cleaver. A great stress buster! We placed Italian pecorino cheese and sausage meat inside the flattened pork medallion and wrapped this up ready for pan frying.

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Time to Eat

The table was transformed and beautifully set with cutlery, wine glasses and flowers ready for the Italian feast we had prepared. Along with some fabulous Italian wine, it was a real Friday treat.

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The Finished Product 

Chef Daniele presented the dishes beautifully and by the time the dishes reached the table they looked as impressive as those served up at Castello di Casole. It was so much more rewarding eating the dishes knowing that I played a part in preparing them.

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Aside from realising that my knife skills are terrible, this experience made me realise how much joy can be found in cooking; from lovingly preparing the dishes to tasting the incredible flavours you’ve put together. I thoroughly enjoyed my day at La Cucina Caldesi and cooking with such beautiful Tuscan flavours took me on an Italian adventure without even having to leave London.

What did you think of my first ever cookery class experience? Have you been to La Cucina Caldesi Cookery School or have you been inspired to try something similar? If you enjoyed this post, please leave me a comment in the box below! x 

Thank you to Castello di Casole, Chef Daniele and La Cucina Caldesi Cookery School for being such wonderful hosts.

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The man himself! Giancarlo Caldesi striking a pose for The Travelista

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1 Comment

  1. 14th March 2016 / 10:07 am

    I did a cookery class at Caldesi years ago, it was really fun and they’re such nice people.