, , , , , ,

Traditionally Thursday is the day for cooking and eating gnocchi, according to Andrea Consoli, head chef at Le Fate Ristorante in the Trastevere district of Rome. By the end of the week you no longer have eggs to make pasta so you make do with potatoes and flour.

On Thursday I had my day-long Italian cooking class! You spend the morning with Andrea in the tiny restaurant kitchen with eleven other students and then you eat your creations. Andrea told us all about Italian food traditions and gave us great tips about food preparation and cooking. It was informative, fun and delicious.

Here is the dining room of the restaurant – we wouldn’t get to sit down there for a good few hours!

Our fresh ingredients! The yellow flowers are pumpkin flowers. They will be stuffed and deep fried later.

Andrea gets everyone to work – here he is showing people how to blanch, peel and chop tomatoes for the ragu.

A general scene to give you an idea of the size of the kitchen.

Andrea demonstrates the correct way to prepare pumpkin flowers by removing the stamen.

Making gnocchi. Did you know the best gnocchi is made using old potatoes – the ones that are starting to sprout? They have the highest starch content.

One of our two trays of gnocchi – it was a monumental group effort.

The ingredients for the main course all ready to go. See that chicken? I sliced it from the chicken’s breast bone, filleted and then scalloped it into butterflies! Back home I will now need a long, thin, very sharp knife. I also chopped that onion. Less impressive, I know, but I did it nonetheless!

The menu:

Appetizer: Pumpkin Flowers with prosciutto and mozzarella & Southern Style Pesto (Fiori di Zucca dorati e ripieni con prosciutto e mozzarella e serviti con Pesto alla Trapanese)
Wine Pairing: Chardonnay Spumante from the Castello di Torre in Pietra from the Lazio region ed. 2008

First Course: Homemade Gnocchi splashed into slowly cooked ragù sauce
Wine Pairing: Marmorelle, Frascati Superiore DOC  from the Winery Principe Pallavicini ed. 2009 (Colonna – Rome – Lazio).

Second course: Chicken scaloppini with prosciutto, cheese and sage (Scaloppine di pollo con prosciutto e salvia) – Sorry about the poor quality image, it’s a cropped kitchen shot. I forgot to take a photo at the table.

Side dish: Broccoli Romaneschi (Roman Style Broccoli)

Wine Pairing: Cesanese di Olevano Romano from the Winery Azienda Agricola Proietti ed. 2007

Dessert: Tiramisù
Wine Pairing: Cannellino – a Passito wine of Frascati grapes from the Winery Cantina Cerquetta ed. 2009.

It was a great way to spend a day in Rome.

In the late afternoon I walked around the Trastevere district with a few of the other students form the course. It is the more working class district of Rome on the other side if the River Tiber. People like it because it’s less “touristique” than the other parts of Rome. I though I should knock it off the list as Supertourist.

There is a beautiful church called ‘Santa Maria in Trastevere’ with 12th century mosaics.

The church exterior.

And this is the courtyard of the ‘Santa Celcilia in Trastevere’. The gardens made it a wonderfully cool oasis.

It was a lovely part of Rome.

I crossed the Tiber to begin my walk back home via what is known as the Jewish Ghetto.

The Synagogue has a square dome to distinguish it from Catholic churches.

On the way home I passed the Santa Maria in Cosmedin, an 8th century church.

It is famous for the la Bocca della Verità a stone sculpture. It is said that a person of good conscience can place their hand in the mouth without fear, but a person whose conscience is tainted will have their hand severed.

As with everything in Rome, there is a large queue to have your photo taken with it.

I bought supplies and had a light dinner after watching the sun go down on the Colosseum. My two day ticket for the Forum and Colosseum expired, so I never got into the Colosseum but I really don’t mind. I had a great day. After all, I’ve seen the Colosseum in all lights and times of day, I don’t feel the need to see inside. That’s what the internet is for.