We took our time getting up the next day and had a light breakfast before heading to our cooking lesson. Mario, the owner of our B&B, had recommended a cooking lesson with a former chef friend of his, named Massimo. Mario took us to Massimo’s house where we were greeted by Massimo, all dressed up in his chef’s jacket. He presented us each with an apron and a towel to tuck into our apron strings. He took us into his kitchen and presented us with our menu.
Antipasto – pureed zucchini with prawns and mullet
Primo – ravioli with spinach and ricotto in tomato sauce
Secondo – osso bucco with green beans
Dolce – tiramisu
I was totally intimidated by the menu from the antipasto straight through to the dessert. I like shrimp but prawns seem ginormous. Not a big fish person and I think the only time I’ve ever used mullet it was for bait, not for eating.
The ravioli sounded really good, but all I could picture was me disastrously trying to roll out pasta dough with the little hand-crank machine. Osso bucco? Veal? Veal. Never had veal, because… it’s veal. And tiramisu? I knew what it was and how to make it, but it seems so delicate and intricate that I was sure we’d mess it up.
But we didn’t. Not even the pasta. We were with Massimo in his kitchen for hours. (We arrived at 10:30 and didn’t get back to our B&B until almost 3:30.) He walked us through every course, jumping around from preparing dessert to working on the osso bucco, to pureeing the zucchini, to showing us how to make the ravioli, and then cleaning and steaming the seafood.
While one of us was doing the prep or cooking, the other one of us was furiously taking down notes for each recipe. As we ate and wrote, Massimo provided us with prosecco to toast with as we completed the preparation of each course. Finally, around one o’clock, it was time to sit down and eat.
We plated everything beautifully and took it outside on the patio to eat. In addition to the prosecco, we had a bottle of chardonnay, a bottle of chianti, and a couple sips of vin santo, a dessert wine. Mario returned for us as we were eating dessert, so he sat on the patio with us. The guys talked about football and politics, and I thought how funny it was to be sitting around and chatting with these two strangers; although, after spending several hours in Massimo’s kitchen with him, he felt like an old friend.
We were stuffed after lunch, but felt like we needed to eat something later, so we went to Piazza del Campo again and ordered a light, late, dinner. I ordered a tray of meats and cheeses and my husband got a simple margherita pizza. We couldn’t bring ourselves to finish everything, but we still got gelato afterwards and walked around.
As we were leaving the town, we ran into Mario and his wife Elizabeth, the B&B owners. They were coming in for a pizza just as we were heading home.
Coming up: Last Night In Florence