A different and tasty approach to exploring Rome is to sign up for a cooking class or food-tasting tour. That’s exactly what my friend Fran, her daughter Mallory and I did during our visit to Rome last October.
After researching options on the internet, we chose to take a half day class at Chef Andrea Consoli’s cooking school and restaurant in Rome’s picturesque Trastevere neighborhood. (More about the Trastevere another time.)
We took a cab from our hotel near the Spanish Steps across town and over the Tiber River, where the driver unceremoniously dumped us out at a little piazza with a newspaper stand and not much else. “But, where are we going?!” we cried. He pointed vaguely to the left and with his English being about as fluent as our Italian . . . we meandered in and around the tiny streets for some time before finding the little trattoria.
I can only say, it was worth the effort and definitely good value for the cost of the course. I believe there were ten of us in total and together we squeezed into Chef Andrea’s small kitchen and were thoroughly entertained and enlightened by his instruction. We started with a faro salad; faro is a little like barley, I guess, and it was cooked, cooled, then tossed with arugula, tomato, carrots, etc., with an oil and lemon juice dressing. It may not sound that exciting, but it actually was my favorite recipe.
We went on to make homemade pasta with a tomato sauce with eggplant. An authentic
Roman version of Chicken Cacciatore (no tomato!) and roasted rosemary potatoes. And dessert was a chocolate and pear soufflé. All ingredients were seasonal and sourced locally.
For me, honestly – it was just a little long. That was a lot of cooking! I was tired! But Fran and Mallory (and apparently, everyone else) loved every minute of it. I’m sure it was a highlight of Fran’s first experience in Italy. I will say that our late lunch was truly a memorable feast. Each course was absolutely delicious and I will definitely try my hand at the salad this summer.
If you’re interested in taking a class with Chef Andrea, visit his website: www.cookingclassesinrome.com.
When I was searching for ideas, another tour that appealed to me was offered by Walks of Italy. Their Rome Food Tour starts at the Campo de’ Fiori market, visits a bakery, participates in an olive oil tasting, makes pizza for their lunch, and ends with trips to a great gelateria and a café renowned for its coffee. Since I am, frankly, more interested in eating than cooking – I would probably try this one next time. For more information, go to www.walksofitaly.com.
Or, just Google cooking classes in Rome and take a look at what comes up. In the Eternal City, there’s always something new to explore, no matter how many times you are lucky enough to visit. Ciao!