In Tavola Cooking School, Florence
My Review Of Making Pasta At In Tavola. Lots Of Pasta & Sauces. Also Dessert!
Do you have an Italian Nonna to teach you secrets to the tastiest ragu? An Italian partner to show you the perfect technique for making homemade pasta dough? If you do, I am envious and wish I could trade places with you. Since I don’t have this luxury the next course of action is for me take a pasta making course while in Florence. What better way to immerse myself in Italian food culture than to be taught by a true Italian chef – accent and hand gestures included.
Florence pasta cooking classes and schools can easily set you back over €125 for a 3-4 hour class so when I found In Tavolo offering a pasta making class at a reasonable €53 I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. On an excruciating hot Saturday afternoon (they have A/C, what a relief) I learned how to prepare three different kinds of pasta, sauces, and a dessert:
- Pasta: potato stuffed tortelli (tortelli di patate) , linguini, tagliolini
- Sauces: raw tomato sauce (salsa crudaiola) ; chili, garlic parsley; mushroom herb
- Dessert: pannacotta
AN HONEST REVIEW OF IN TAVOLA (June 2017)
My initial impression of In Tavola cooking school was a bit of false advertising. They stated 12 people are the maximum allowed, but 19 of us were huddled around 4 cooking stations. There were 6 people at our station which felt cramped. Maybe it’s asking far too much, but I was hoping for a personal station (or with one other student ) where I could prepare my own meal and taste my own results at the end.
The 4 stations were handled by 2 different chefs. Our chef was kind but firm and had to constantly shuffle back and forth between 2 stations, demonstrating how to knead, roll and feed the pasta dough through the machine. At the same time, he rushed his instructions on how to prepare the sauces as he mainly cooked them. We were merely his sous chefs – chop, chop. At one point I casually mentioned when we would prepare the pannacotta and was informed by another student to turn around as our chef was instructing the other table. What is the point of announcing in your course syllabus that we will prepare our own dessert if only one table learns the technique?
Time would have been better served if he explained and demonstrated at the head of the class every step of the cooking process and provide tips and tricks. As in, how do I know my dough is ready? How thick should the dough be before we assemble the tortelli? How long should we cook fresh pasta and the sauces? One student attempted to ask a few questions, as did I and they were met with a curt ‘read the recipe booklet provided at the end.’ This is a cooking class, right? As I am a pretty well-versed cook, I understand most cooking concepts, but for newbies or the less experience, he should have taken more care in explaining rather than just showing and cooking the dishes himself.
After about an hour and a half our three kinds of pasta were completed and ready to be cooked. We cooked the tagliolini together but the tortelli and linguini were left for the chef to prepare. Shouldn’t a component of a pasta making class be how to cook pasta? Especially one that is stuffed? Rather we were shown to our table in an underground wine cellar – one of the coolest areas to eat our homemade pasta creations. We were served family style by our chef and provided wine for the table. The pasta was delicious, sauces were simple but flavorful and it was fun to chat with our fellow cooks.
While at times I felt discouraged, there were plenty of laughs and smiles. It was awesome to come together as a team when we couldn’t get the pasta to feed through the machine, or when some of us kept flying off the handle – literally, the handle to the machine kept falling off. We learned to be proud of our pasta even if it’s not industry perfect. Better to have a handmade creation than one churned out from a mass-produced machine. Although I was hoping for an informative and slower paced class, I did take away a few techniques and new sauce recipes that I can’t wait to prepare for my family and friends. Now if I could find myself a Nonna!
- What: In Tavola Cooking School
- Where: Via dei Velluti 20r. On the other side of the Arno River. Close to Piazza Santo Spirito
- When: Check their website for times
- Price: €53. They offer different types of cooking class starting at €25.
- Rating: 4/5. Food delicious. At times, felt rushed.
- Souvenir: A recipe booklet to take home.