In this week's post, Payton signs up for a CAPA My Global City event and cooks up a delicious feast of Italian food with help from the Chefactory instructor.
Ciao! I finally got the chance to attend one of the My Global City events that CAPA offers to its students to help immerse them into the Italian culture and lifestyle here in Florence, and I can’t wait to share my experience with you! This week, I signed up for a 3-course cooking class taught at the Chefactory. My friends and I were expecting to learn how to make fresh pasta the authentic Italian way, but we learned so much more in just a few hours, and it was some of the most fun I’ve had in the city so far!
When we arrived, we were greeted by the chef, who also works as the personal chef for the Florence soccer team, who gave us each an apron, a bowl of flour, and an egg. He showed us the proper way to crack an egg--on the table, not the side of the bowl--and instructed us to mix the flour and egg together with our hands until we each had a big ball of dough.
Once we finished, we set the dough aside (the fresh pasta is made last), and gathered around the chef’s table where he would teach us how to properly chop vegetables. He made it look so easy! We spent the next 20 minutes trying to channel his skill with a kitchen knife; chopping onions, carrots, and garlic into teeny tiny little pieces-- chef said there was no such thing as too small! When we finished, we tossed them into a pan over heat with olive oil, and over the course of about 25 minutes added ground beef, tomato (for color, not taste in this particular dish), nutmeg, salt, and chicken stock.
Licking the spoon from the dessert!
While the sauce cooked, we mashed up some baked potatoes, added some spices, plopped them into individual tins, and threw them in the oven. These would be our first courses! We continued to let the dough that we made at the beginning of the class sit as we started on dessert, which would be a chocolate lava cake. For this, we melted 70% dark chocolate (chef said anything over 70% is too dark and wouldn’t taste good) in a bowl with butter and mixed them together. Next, we cracked a few eggs, separated the yolks from the whites, and whisked each with sugar until they were light and creamy. We mixed the eggs and chocolate together in the same bowl, poured the mix into individual tins just like we did with the potatoes, and popped them into the oven alongside our appetizers, or “aperitivi” in Italian!
Last, but not least, was the pasta. Using the dough we made at the beginning of the class, we rolled it as flat as possible with a rolling pin, and then began feeding it into a hand-cranked pasta maker to get the dough as thin as possible. Once it was thin enough, we used the same machine, which can be used to make almost any shape of pasta, to cut the pasta into long strands of fettuccine. We each took a turn cranking the dough through, which was my favorite part of the evening!
Two of my roommates, Amelia and Sami, and me using the Pasta Machine.
Once the fresh pasta was ready to be cooked—for only a few minutes since it was already very soft and had never hardened—the chef told us that he would finish up the rest of the cooking, and that we may begin our meal, leading us to a table where he had beautifully plated our first courses. Buon appetito! As we enjoyed the food that we made, the chef brought our the next courses one by one as they were ready. Our second course was the fresh fettuccine with a tomato sauce, followed by our main course of fettuccine with the meat sauce that we had prepared. It was my first time trying fresh pasta, and it was so delicious! After dinner, we each enjoyed our mini lava cakes, which were the perfect finale to our homemade Italian meal.
Payton Meyer is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Strategic Communication major at University of Colorado Boulder, she is studying abroad in Florence this semester.
Payton's journey continues every Thursday so stay tuned.