Turning up the heat at Carluccio’s cookery evening
Cookery is a real passion of mine, and while I don’t profess to be any kind of masterchef, I do like to experiment and try out new things on my ever-willing family! And as a particular favourite of mine is Italian food, I was the first to put my name down when Carluccio’s in West Bridgford let us know about their cookery school evenings.
Normally when I announce I’m turning my hand to a brand new recipe, I’m met with a certain amount of trepidation and cold sweats from my other half, but as he rightly pointed out, Carluccio’s would be holding my hand every step of the way – so what could go wrong?
Our two hour course took place at Carluccio’s in West Bridgford the latest addition to the firm’s Nottingham portfolio. The restaurant is prominently placed on the high street, set in a warm, bustling environment with an authentic Italian feel.
When I visited with my colleague Sarah we were welcomed with a drink and introduced to the other members of our class for the evening. Shortly afterwards our host and teacher, head chef Dwight Clayton, explained what he did and what we’d be creating with him. The task was a mixed mushroom risotto and a gooey chocolate fondant. Dwight talked us through all the ingredients and explained why certain foods were being used such as the speciality risotto rice and the gluten free flour.
After we had acquainted ourselves, the chatter started to flow between all the class members and we made our way to our workstations. Set to one side of the restaurant were our gas hobs, pots, pans and all our ingredients, all prepared and set out in order of use, not dissimilar to a scene from Saturday Morning Kitchen. My kitchen is never as organised so it made a welcome change to the chaos that normally goes hand in hand with my cooking!
We started by preparing our fondants under the expert supervision of Dwight – and something I never imagined I was capable of making was surprisingly easy to put together.
We then moved onto our risotto, made once again under step-by-step instruction with some very helpful tips which I took away with me for future use. Half way through I realised the flaw in my usual technique was organisation as by this stage I’d usually be covered in flour, egg and oil, with the kitchen resembling a war zone and every pot and pan that I could lay my hands on used. In Carluccio’s I resembled a vision of calm; here I was cool, collected and clean!
As the risotto bubbled away and the fondants baked in the kitchen, we were able to pick the brains of the very knowledgeable Dwight with an array of questions from how to make a perfect Victoria sponge to easy gluten free recipes. It seemed this chef’s knowledge had no limits. Soon we were ready to dish up and the group was given bowls for our risotto and the all-important glass of wine to accompany our dishes.
Settling ourselves back into the restaurant side of the room, our group were able to mingle and chat about the course over our delicious risotto and melt in the mouth chocolate fondant – bellissimo! The fact that we made this fabulous feast just added to the banter and pride at the table.
It was great to learn something new whilst having so much fun. I definitely feel that I’ve complemented my culinary skills and judging by the state of the clean plate after I took some risotto home in a doggy bag for my partner to try, he clearly thought so too. I will definitely attempt to make the dishes again as everyone was given recipe cards to take home plus the added treat of 10 per cent off Carluccio’s in-house deli products on the evening.
I’m keen to get cooking again at Carluccio’s very soon, maybe trying one of the other courses such as pasta or gnocchi making either at the West Bridgford or Nottingham city centre restaurants. From around £35 per person with the meal included, why not grab a friend and head along to Carluccio’s for some fun in the kitchen?