Cooking Class with Giovanni Pilu & Andrea Corsi

26 Oct

Last Monday I had the privilege of attending a cooking class by Giovanni Pilu (Pilu at Freshwater) and Andrea Corsi (Cavallino Ristorante) at CIRA. CIRA stands for The Council of Italian Restaurants in Australia and Giovanni expressed his passion for educating the public on the regional differences in Italian cuisine. Giovanni would like to hear restaurant goers say “I’m going to a Sardinian restaurant tonight” rather than “I’m going to an Italian restaurant” which is a very broad statement. Each region of Italy has their signature dishes which showcase the local produce and we were given a taste of Sardinian cuisine by Giovanni and Tuscan cuisine by Andrea.

Including myself, there were 17 people in the class and we sat at 2 separate communal tables with crisp white table cloths, sparkling dinnerware and a platter of olives, cheese and lavosh. When the demonstration began we were invited to leave our seats and stand around the kitchen counter to get a birds eye view of the preparations.

In order of how the meals were served, we began with Culurzones; a pasta filled with potato, pecorino and mint; shaped into a head of wheat. This pasta was traditionally made to celebrate the wheat harvest and when I asked about varying the filling I was told “it is NEVER changed!”. I love it!! Why try to improve on perfection?

The pasta was finished in glistening brown butter, crispy sage leaves and sprinkled with the perfect measure of parmesan cheese. I looked around when I realised my eyes were rolling back and I was moaning but I wasn’t the only one!

The next course was Coniglio al Sugo con Polenta Mantecata e Cavolo Nero; a beautiful braised rabbit dish with creamy polenta that takes dedication and over one hour of stirring to cook; and twice cooked cavolo nero sautéed with garlic and the deep emerald, chlorophyll laden leaves shined with olive oil.

And yes, then there was dessert! Zuppa Inglese di mia Nonna Vittoria. Layers of sponge as light and fluffy as a cloud were enveloped in pastry cream, Alkermes, Vin Santo, cherries in liqueur, chopped chocolate and petite meringue peaks. As my spoon plummeted through each element of the dish I was excited to see what treasures were hidden below!
Alkermes is a red Italian liqueur infused with sugar, vanilla, herbs, spices including nutmeg, cinnamon and clove and other flavour enhancing ingredients. The red colour in the original recipe was derived from insects called Kermes hence the name Alkermes. These days the red colour is achieved using synthetic colouring which is more appealing to customers.

The evening was fun, educational and scrumptious. Thanks Giovanni and Andrea, I look forward to learning more and tasting other Sicilian and Tuscan dishes soon!


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2 Responses to “Cooking Class with Giovanni Pilu & Andrea Corsi”

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  1. Free Italian Cooking Classes, Mangia, Mangia! « gourmetician - December 18, 2010

    […] visited Casa Barilla in Annandale  in October for a regional Italian cooking class with Giovanni Pilu and Andrea Corsi and I can’t wait to go back next year. So what are you waiting for? Go buy some pasta and […]

  2. My Chocolate Mousse Wins in the Armonia International Olive Oil Competition « gourmetician - December 8, 2012

    […] judges and Mauro Martelossi (International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Agency Executive Director) and  Giovanni Pilu (Pilu at Freshwater) welcomed everyone and opened the […]

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