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Food is Love at this Lively Cooking Class in Rome

Chicken, tomatoes, and peppers for our cooking class in Rome

It’s no secret that we love food and wine. We’ve tried stroopwafels in Amsterdam, eaten empanadas in Ecuador, sampled the wines of North Carolina, and eaten our way through London’s Soho neighborhood. But on this trip, we wanted to experience the perfection of Italian food in a completely different way – a cooking class in Rome. And not just any cooking class, but a cooking class with an Italian grandmother.

Woman spooning sugar onto a scale in a cooking class
Carefully weighing the sugar

Chefs and culinary experts are great. They train for years to develop unique flavor combinations, expertly dice and sear, and please the palates of demanding gourmands. But there’s just something special…something cozy…about cooking with someone’s grandmother in a real apartment in Rome. Her training ground was cooking with her mother and grandmother and her goal was loving her family with food. And Eating Italy’s Cooking with Nonna (literally, cooking with grandma) gives visitors a chance to experience some of that love while learning along the way.

Cooking chicken during a cooking class in Rome, Italy
The night’s main course was chicken with peppers

From the moment we stepped into the apartment, prosecco and conversation were flowing. Our group of eight was made up of people from Hong Kong and all over the US. We talked while we sipped and chopped, getting to know each other over the four hours of our meal preparation and dining. Though there was plenty to do to create the fabulous meal, there was also plenty of time for laughing and talking about our love for Italy and our favorite things to do in Rome.

Blackboard menu for our cooking class
The night’s perfect menu — all our favorites

The first order of business was reviewing our menu – bruschetta, gnocchi with tomatoes and basil, and chicken with peppers. And no cooking class in Rome would be complete without the quintessential Italian dessert – tiramisu. Food heaven. In fact, when we went around the room to name our favorite Italian food, everyone named something that was on our menu (or in our glasses) for the evening. We were a happy group.

People grating an onion
Nonna taught us to grate the onion (rather than chop) as a shortcut for the sauce
Woman pouring olive oil in a skillet
Adding oil and water keeps the garlic from burning

Our first tasks (after munching on a few snacks) were getting the chicken and peppers on the stove along with starting the sauce for the gnocchi so the flavors would have plenty of time to blend.

Nonna and her assistant/translator did much of the heavy lifting for us, but true Italian home cooking includes a lot of steps. In order to have everything ready at the appropriate time, it was a well-choreographed evening of doing every task at just the right time. And we loved every minute of it.

Prepping the tomatoes for the bruschetta during a Rome cooking class
Prepping the tomatoes for the bruschetta

After the first and second courses were underway, we took a step back to work on the bruschetta. One of the things I love most about Italian food is the way the simplest but best quality ingredients are combined to make something spectacular. In this instance, a basic blend of tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper became perfection on a good piece of crusty bread.

Woman cracking eggs to make gnocchi
Adding eggs and flour to the cooked potatoes to make gnocchi

Then it was time to move on to the gnocchi itself. Although gnocchi is Lance’s favorite Italian food, we’ve never attempted it at home because it’s kind of intimidating.

Nonna expertly made making gnocchi look easy. But still, I have to say, making gnocchi is no joke. While it’s not particularly complicated, it takes a kind of finesse that is probably best left in the hands of grandmothers with lots of experience.

Person rolling and shaping gnocchi
Delicately rolling the gnocchi to get those classic grooves

After boiling and ricing several pounds of potatoes, you add flour and eggs until the dough is just the right consistency (this is the finesse part). Then you roll it out into the appropriate thickness, cut it, and roll it again so that it gets those characteristic grooves. After that, the gnocchi needs to be cooked quickly in order to maintain its delicious potatoey-pillowness. Heaven. But I’m very glad our first attempt was under the watchful eyes of an expert in a cooking class.

Gnocchi topped with tomato sauce
Fabulous, perfect gnocchi

Along the way, we also made our own individual tiramisu. With the sugar, coffee, cocoa powder, and oh-so-much custard, it was a lot of fun to make. We all learned quickly how fast ladyfingers have to be dunked in the coffee in order not to disintegrate.

People making tiramisu in a cooking class in Rome
Working on the tiramisu custard. Lots of eggs required.

After a fun evening of chopping, ricing, seasoning, and sipping prosecco, we all sat around the dinner table to enjoy the results of our work. With the quality of the ingredients, the expertise of our teacher, and the lots of fun and laughter that went into our cooking, this meal was one of the best I’ve had. We all enjoyed every bite and toasted to the success of our cooking class in Rome with Nonna.

Mmmm, tiramisu

We were the guests of Eating Italy for their Cooking with Nonna class in Rome. All opinions of the fun, fresh, and delicious are our own.

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Sunday 21st of August 2016

looks delicious! Will sure to add this in my 'to do' list while visiting Rome


Monday 1st of August 2016

This looks so yummy! The food in Rome is so delicious! We were there in October, dined out every evening and everything was great and very uniquely Roman!

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