I must admit, I spent a really wonderful time last Saturday. I attended a cooking class at Taro’s restaurant kitchen. It’s not a secret that I love cooking, as well as looking into the restaurant kitchens. Totally love it! Therefore, it was my pleasure to take part in a cooking class with Adrian Buttigieg organised by Taro restaurant. It was my first visit to this place, so I didn’t manage to try their food earlier. Hence, I was very curious, especially knowing that the chef had reached a semi-final stage of yet another prestigious competition (San Pellegrino Young Chef of the Year Competition).
Even before everything had started, I was attracted by the newly installed dry aging cabinet with impressive collection of meat. While I was studying what this cabinet contained, other participants had started to gather around the table in the hotel lobby.
We were welcomed with a light but diverse breakfast to suite everyone’s taste. While we were enjoying snacks along with our morning coffee, the chef introduced himself and we had a nice and relaxed chat about the event, food scene in general and in Malta in particular.
After the talk, we moved to the most anticipating part of our day – cooking! We went to the kitchen, got our aprons and took up places on our cooking stations and then the team was introduced to us. Chef explained what we were going to cook today, gave us necessary safety instructions and the fun began!
Prawn & preserved lemon tortelloni and ox-tail & celeriac agnolotti were on the menu as starters, followed up by the local seabass cooked two ways with wild Gozitan asparagus and chocolate fondant to finish.
We started with fresh dough for pasta to allow the gluten to rest a bit, then moved to making the filing for our tortelloni and the prawn bisque.
All the time we were guided very thoroughly by the chef and the team. They were constantly explaining to us the importance of right techniques and methods of cooking, as well as sharing some tips on how to choose the fresh produce.
Future prawn bisque was bubbling on a stove of the hot kitchen and we were smashing these prawn shells to get all those flavours and inhaling the appetizing aroma.
Then we switched to another entertaining task – the filleting of round fish. I must say everyone done well thanks to a few helpful tips we were thought earlier. And later we discussed different ways of cooking this delicate fish, as well as other species. We prepared the fish fillets to be cooked al cartoccio and moved to my favourite part, pasta making!!!
I do fresh pasta at home quite often but it is so much fun to make it in a big cheerful company! I think next time I need to gather the crowd to roll out some spaghetti!
So we roll and we roll, we fill and we cut. As Adrian noticed, everyone’s way of closing tortelloni was different. As different as how different our hands were. Our pretty tortelloni were filled, sprinkled with semolina and were ready to be cooked. After that, they were thrown in the boiling water for a few moments, then they were finished in strained prawn bisque. I must confess, that the scenes like these take my breath away!
We moved to our desserts. Shawn Zammit, the pastry chef, taught us how to make this classic dish, chocolate fondant. Though I am not keen on baking too much and have more experience with savory food, I had no difficulties to prepare, cook and, most importantly, to release the fondant from it’s case. All thanks to Shawn’s guidelines.
I have to say that a few hours of cooking flew by and we were quite excited to try all the food we prepared and cooked! The table on the terrace was arranged for us, wine was opened and we were ready.
Our beautiful tortelloni arrived from the kitchen plated nicely. They tasted excellent, the dough was cooked just right and at the same time delicate filling wasn’t overcooked, so we could enjoy this nice combination of prawns and preserved lemon rinds we appreciated so much when trying them raw.
One of our beautiful participants was allergic to prawns, so ox-tail & celeriac agnolotti were cooked for her. Unfortunately, I didn’t try it, though definitely I had to! They looked mouth-watering!
Next we tried seabass cooked two different ways – al cartoccio and pan seared seabass served with some wild Gozitan asparagus, herb emulsion, roasted potatoes and seriously good, super tasty roasted fennel. We compared the textures and discussed which one we liked and which method we preferred. Yes, to cook, to eat and to talk about food, this what we like to do! And it feels so good when you are in the right company!
It was time for dessert. Gooey chocolate fondant was a very good finishing note to our lunch. And I think, everyone was happy because properly cooked classics make you happy, don’t they? Rich but balanced, it was a delightful.
In conclusion, I want to say that it was a remarkable experience, we learned something new, had a great food and spent wonderful time in a very enjoyable company. It is a pleasure to meet a person so passionate about his profession, like Adrian and such a close-knit team. I hope there will be more events like this and I will be looking forward for it. And I will definitely come to try their menu!