Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cocktails and Canapés Class at La Cucina Caldesi


As a birthday gift, my friends signed me up for a cooking class at La Cucina Caldesi. Given my haphazard manner of cooking and the fact that I can not cut or chop to save my life, I was quite thrilled to find out that wasn't your typical cooking class. It was a 'Cocktails and Canapés' class that ended up being a second mini birthday celebration with my friends. I had so much fun and learned a lot - I now know how to make 2 cocktails and 4 canapés! Quite an accomplishment in my world :)

La Cucina Caldesi is an Italian cooking school in Marylebone. It is located right behind the Caffe Caldesi restaurant.

Chef Stefano Borrella

Our cooking instructor Stefano Borella was brilliant – very skilled and informative with a dry sense of humour, he first gave us a brief overview of the canapés we were going to make, the ingredients used and then split us up into groups. Soon the kitchen was busy with people cutting, chopping, stirring, and mixing. My task was to toast pine nuts. Don't ask me how but I lucked out and managed not to do any cutting or chopping which I was quite happy about. I also had a great vantage point to view all the activity in the kitchen.

We learned how to make an Endive Gorgonzola canapé which was so simple yet came together beautifully. Endive leaves topped with gooey Gorgonzola cheese, drizzled with olive oil, honey and toasted pine nuts. A little pepper at the end and all the flavours came together beautifully. The slightly bitter taste of the endive is offset by the honey and the whole dish took like 10 minutes to assemble.

Next was the classic Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese on a cracker. Sounds pretty simple but this was nothing short of amazing. The cream cheese was mixed with cream, finely chopped dill, chives and onions, lemon zest and lemon juice. The crowning glory was a sprinkle of glistening orange salmon roe. This was my favourite canapé of the night.

Then we made bruschetta topped with mushrooms. Stefano used a variety of mushrooms like chanterelles, porcini and button and then cooked them with finely chopped chillies and a few cloves of garlic and the secret ingredients - sprigs of rosemary and thyme that gave this gorgeous infusion to the mushrooms. He then piled it on a piece of toasted bruschetta and drizzled over some truffle flavoured olive oil. 

We then had deep fried bread and jamon - which I don't think I will attempt at home. Deep-frying is for those with brave hearts.

Finally, desert was little decadent cups of rich chocolate mousse, which I can’t remember how to make as by this point I was in canapé-induced haze of happiness. Not to worry – they gave us all the recipes on paper which was a nice touch as it meant we didn’t have to worry about taking notes during the class.

Cocktail tutorial begins


Once we finished the food preparation, our cocktail instructor swooped in to show us 2 cocktails - a champagne cocktail with blackberry puree and Chambord liqueur called ‘Black Betty’ and an Espresso Martini. The cocktail lesson was as fantastic as it really helped me get comfortable and gain confidence in making a cocktail. He taught us a few tricks of the trade and showed us how not only to stir and shake but also to present a cocktail beautifully.

Espresso Martini

The Black Betty Champagne Cocktail


All in all, it was a lovely experience and I would highly recommend going for a class. La Cucina does a whole range of cooking classes - all focused around Italian cooking. Classes ranges from around 50£ to 120£. So if you want to learn more about Italian cooking or just have a fun night with friends, you must try out a cooking class at La Cucina Caldesi. And I definitely can say this would be a lovely gift to give someone :)

La Cucina Caldesi
4 Cross Keys Close
London W1U 2DG
Tel: 0207 487 0750/6/8

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