This past week I attended a cooking class focused on cooking dishes from the Puglia region of Italy at Casa Italiana. I found the class through TasteDC that is one of the sites I follow for wine, food and spirits related fun.
I arrived a few minutes late as my merry crew and I decided to have a happy hour at Bistro Bis beforehand. We came in and followed everyone into the kitchen. Our three dishes we were to prepare were Friselle con Pomodoro e Alici, Fave con le cicorie and Orecchiette con Cime di Rapa.
We began with the orecchiette as we were making our own pasta! The chef prepared the dough. After the dough was ready, he asked for a volunteer to roll a piece of dough. After rolling the dough into a cigarette width, he would then cut small segments. Those segments would then be molded using a knife and his finger into somewhat of an ear shape.
I finally got into the mix with the rest of the class. Shockingly, I failed. I failed in such a way the chef kept looking at me, laughing and asking “Ehhh…are you ok?”.
The chef had already pre-soaked the fava beans for one of the dishes. He prepared the Fave con le cicorie which produced a great smell of olive oil and garlic.
As we were close to finishing, we put together our starter, Pomodoro e Alici. The bread is very hard sort of looks like bagels. To enjoy the bread, you have to add a salty water in spoonfuls to soften it. You then take a garlic clove (YES GARLIC) and rub it all over the bread. I rubbed a piece of garlic into non-existence. Afterwards, you take cherry tomatoes and squish them onto the bread. You must cover your hands as the tomatoes squirt. The gentleman next to me got tomatoes all over him as the woman across from him wasn’t paying attention. Then you place fresh herbs such as basil and oregano. You can add olive oil and black pepper to finish.
We proceeded to the dining table set up for our group. It was an interesting mix of people who attended the class. Some had participated in pottery classes at Casa Italiana. We opened a few bottles of wine and made sure everyone got to enjoy.
We were done by about 9:00pm. My merry crew with the addition of one of our new cooking class friends finished the night at Kelly’s Irish TImes. While there, I convinced the singer to sing the Unicorn Song and Whiskey in the Jar. Much to my dismay, almost no one in the bar knew those songs! I also chatted with a visiting Irishman and gave him tips on picking up women.
I really enjoyed my experience at Casa Italiana, however, the cooking class has some room for improvement. I think the chef needs an assistant to help him with explaining things and encouraging more hands on participation. Another option would be to change the name of the class to more of a cooking demo.
In the end, I would highly recommended checking out Casa Italiana. It’s a cultural center celebrating and promoting all things Italian.