Everyone knows I love cooking and everyone knows I love cooking Italian food. I loved cooking Italian food even before I lived in Sicily and now that I don’t it has ruined me for eating supermarket Italian food forever more because it is just not as good! Don’t get me wrong, at the end of a long day I will crack open a jar of sauce or bung in a frozen pizza but it is not the same. Nothing can beat the tastes and smells that come out of an Italian kitchen and there are some days when I really long to be sat on my balcony in the sun eating fresh olives and drinking wine… why did I come back again?! Anyway, so when you love Italy and the food as much as I do, being invited to an Italian food masterclass is literally like a dream come true isn’t it?! Well fortunately for me… I was! The wonderful owner of Bookings For You, Jo Mackay, organised an amazing Italian Masterclass in Surrey and invited along the incredible chefs from Giovanni Enterprises to show us how to really cook food and give us a delicious taste of Italy…
Arriving at the location for the Bookings For You Italian masterclass I have to say my stomach fluttered with nerves as it does before any event I go to through my blog. We may be a lovely community but it is still stepping out of my comfort zone to step out from behind the computer and meet other bloggers in person. However, I pulled on my big girl pants and step through the door into the most gorgeous house ready for my senses to be set alight.
To begin with we all gathered drinking tea and coffee, chatting and eating some absolutely gorgeous cakes made by Miranda Gore Browne (GBBO Series 1 Finalist – I admit I had a total fan girl moment and told her as much as well!) and just got to say a hi and hello to everyone before settling into our spots around the island in the fantastic kitchen (I need this kitchen in my life!!)
To give you a little background – Bookings For You are a company that provide the facilities for you to book villas throughout various regions of Italy and they have also now added a few in France. All beautifully luxurious but also family friendly too they offer the perfect way to see Italy in comfort and style. They also happen to work with Giovanni Enterprises who will be conducting the masterclass and taught by the Giovannini family themselves. Husband and wife team – Giancarlo and Fabiola – came all the way from Tuscany and were joined by their son – Dario and their daughter in law – Vera – to demonstrate how to create an amazing Italian dinner. The family have lived all their lives in the beautiful region of Tuscany and own the oldest pastry shop in Volterra – Dolceria del Corso. They also own a renowned catering company that has been the winner of countless awards throughout Europe. Not only that, but they also own a stunning villa – Country Relais & Spa Le Capanne – which is available to rent and where they now have the opportunity to showcase their culinary talents for their guests in Tuscany. Following the masterclass I am now desperate to visit!
There were going to be four courses though there were many more dishes than this and it felt almost like ten courses but obviously we weren’t complaining. The main course, which was started first, was a black olive and wine roasted boar. However, being a vegetarian obviously I’m not really going to go further into that course and instead I’ll be focusing on all the veggie options (however if you’d like to read all about the boar check out why not read Tiffin and Tea’s Post about her experience there!)
For our starters, they prepared us some beautiful Bruschetta in three different ways. Obviously the bread was all baked the same and then brushed very lightly with raw garlic and then the toppings were added. We had plain garlic with olive oil, delicious juicy tomato as well as a liver pate all of which they made themselves with us watching and snapping. I was pleased to hear that they actually brought the majority of ingredients including the tomatoes with them as they had so much more flavour than our ones.
Next they showed us how to make some pasta – watching Giancarlo’s hands work, manipulate and make the pasta was absolutely amazing. He made it look so easy which of course to him it must be – we all sat there wondering how much pasta those hands must have made in their lifetime! They rolled the pasta out incredibly thinly and then Fabiola filled the pasta with spinach and ricotta before cutting out the perfect ravioli. These were served with a deliciously simple fresh tomato pasta sauce.
We also had a second pasta which was literally made from flour and water which was mixed into an olive oil, herb and egg style pesto which coated the pasta. Both pasta dishes were absolutely delicious. One thing I enjoyed the most was the smells as it literally transported me straight back to the streets of Sicily where you can always smell something cooking. Giovanni enterprises make their own delicious olive oil which was featured in most if not all of their dishes!
It was also at this point we got to sample some of the delicious wine that they had brought with them – sadly I was driving so I could only have a little sip of each but they really were something I could have quite happily sat down and drank for hours with friends whilst putting the world to rights with some fabulous food to go with it.
Next came the main courses which of course for most people involved the Roasted Wild Boar but for us vegetarians (thank goodness I was NOT the only one) it involved Melanzane Parmigiana which translated is basically Aubergine Parmesan. It was stacks of sliced aubergine which had been lightly fried, sandwiched with the fresh tomato sauce, delicious Italian Buffalo Mozzarella and basil and topped with Parmesan cheese then baked in the over. Now, I’ve made this myself and always done it as a big messy sharing dish but not only did they blow me away with the flavours, they also showed me how to smarten this dish up and make it in individual portions. Scrumptious!!
It was unfortunately at this point I had to leave as the event had run over time and that is one of the perils of being a single mother with a child to collect from babysitters. I was completely gutted as I left whilst they were preparing what I was told was an absolutely to die for Tiramisu which was the followed by Dolceria Del Corso’s famous pastry…I drooled over the pictures from home. However, I was very lucky to leave with a goody bag full of delicious samples of products from Italy including Giovanni Enterprises own Olive oil which as I said before was delicious.
It was an incredible day and the food was absolutely divine so I cannot thank Bookings For You and Giovanni Enterprises enough for inviting me along and allowing me to taste the amazing food they had to offer. I genuinely cannot wait until I can book a holiday because I know exactly where I am going – Country Relais. It is a beautiful location, they have a spa and I know how good the food is already so that’s already a winner for me.
*I attended the Masterclass for the purposes of the review – all opinions are my own.