Learning to Cook the Italian Way

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A couple of weeks ago I attended a wonderful cooking class at the Miele Experience Centre at Abingdon in Oxfordshire. I had been offered two places, so I was accompanied by my 18 year old son, who is also a keen home cook. Miele offer a huge variety of classes, from introductory Italian cooking to basic bread making, Thai and Indian courses, and cooking for children. There are even courses on how to prepare and cook fish. As my son and I both enjoy Italian food, we agreed almost immediately to choose an Introductory Italian cooking course.

On the whole, I am largely self-taught, so attending a cooking course was a new experience for me. I was a bit nervous about it all, but we were warmly welcomed at the Miele Experience Centre. Our fellow students were really friendly, and came from a variety of walks of life. From a geneticist to someone in publishing and an entrepreneur, we were all very different, but we got on famously. And it’s interesting to point out, that of the six ‘students’ attending, only two of us were female.

After coffee and a bit of chance to get to know one another we went upstairs to a large classroom, complete with some gorgeous appliances, and had a talk on a few of the basics of Italian food. Our tutors were really knowledgeable and it was incredibly interesting. From how to choose the best olive oil to what makes a good Balsamic vinegar, we covered a good overview, including what areas of Italy different products came from. Then it was time to cook!

Everywhere you look in the Experience Centre there are banks of gorgeous Miele appliances and possible kitchen layouts. If I wasn’t living in a virtually brand new house with a brand new kitchen, I would be very, very tempted! However there is no hard sell at all, this is a cooking class, and the tutors let the appliances speak for themselves.

We spent the first part of the morning making antipasti, and then after a break to enjoy the fruits of our labours, we got started on making lunch. Everyone worked at different stations and we were all responsible for preparing a different part of the meal, from starter to desserts. Although my son and I were responsible for a chicken dish and rosemary roasted new potatoes, you could move round the stations learning about other dishes, and my son was even taught out to gut and fillet a fish by one of our expert instructors, who is a trained chef.

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While our lunch finished cooking, we went back to the classroom for hands on instruction on how to make homemade pasta.

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After tasting the freshly cooked Butternut Squash Ravioli with a Butter and Sage Sauce, we all agreed that it is definitely worth the effort to make your own pasta from scratch! We then returned to the kitchen to finish off last minute preparations for lunch, and then we all sat down to enjoy the fantastic selection of Italian dishes we had prepared, all of which had turned out beautifully.

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There was also a selection of desserts, all made by group members.

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Everything tasted delicious, and it was interesting to talk to everyone who had participated and the tutors over wine and Limoncello. The day finished after 4pm, with coffee and Italian shortbread, served downstairs.

It was a fantastic day in great company, and I also really enjoyed using the really interestingMiele appliances – I did like their built in ovens, and as someone who cooks in a kitchen with just two of them, it was rather nice to have a selection of four to choose from!

I would definitely attend another cooking class at the Miele Experience Centre. Both my son and I learned a lot and it was really good fun. I’m looking forward to blogging some more about the day, and to sharing some of the delicious things we cooked. Watch this space!

The 21st Century Housewife was not paid for this post. My son and I did attend the class at the Miele Experience Centre free of charge, but this has not influenced my opinion in any way.

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Article by April Harris

April has written 1272 great articles for us.
April is a food, lifestyle and travel writer who lives in Berkshire, England. She shares inspiration, tips and trends for anyone who loves food, cooking, entertaining, fashion, travel and the finer things in life at her blog, AprilJHarris.com.
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