in Tavola Cooking School in Florence Italy

In Tavola is a cooking school in Italy where I took a brief 3-hour lesson, designed not to make me into the next Barefoot Contessa, but to make me believe that whipping up a delicious 3-course Italian meal is not only doable, but also fun.

The fab Fabrizion

We were led on our Italian cooking journey by the fabulous Fabrizio and 3 of his trusted assistants.  The class was made up of 12 women and 1 man.  Though the man is not a member of our group, the American Women’s Club, he fit right in since, he too, at least for a few months, is a trailing spouse. We are divided between the 3 cooking stations where we find bowls of flour, eggs, a bowl of liquid and utensils.

The ingredients for tiramisu
We began by combining the egg and flour to make the dough for the linguine and ravioli for the 2nd course.  Setting aside the dough, we started work on the dessert, the classic tiramisu, which required the use of the the remainder of the eggs and the bowl of liquid at our stations, which we discovered is coffee with a splash of rum.

The ingredients for tiramisu

After being separated, egg yolks and whites are whipped and beaten into submission, then reunited in the form of fluffy clouds of creamy goodness, dolloped on top of the coffee-dipped ladyfingers.  Topped off with a sprinkle of cocoa powder, the tiramisu is placed in the refrigerator where the flavors settle and meld into perfection.

cooking up trouble
Cooking up trouble. 

With dessert finished, we return our focus to the main course, chopping the potatoes, tomatoes and zucchini that will be used for the sauce for the linguine and the filling for the tortelli.  The usual suspects of Italian cooking – basil, garlic, rosemary and olive oil – also make their appearance.  

After we’ve chopped, sliced and diced, Fabrizio takes over the reigns, manning the saucepan and adding the finishing touches to the sauce.  In the meantime, we continue work on the pasta, using a pasta maker to produce thin strands of linguine and thick sheets that we eventually fill and cut into tortelli.

Making fresh pasta.

The tiramisu is now chilled and ravioli filled, and the time has come to assemble the first course, eggplant caprese.  Rounds of grilled eggplant are topped with tomato, buffalo mozzarella and doused with olive oil and given a dash of oregano before being put in the oven to allow the cheese to melt. While the caprese is in the oven, the freshly made pasta goes into a boiling pot of water, taking less than 5 minutes to cook.  

Eggplant caprese

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At last, everything is finished.  The caprese, with the cheese evenly melted, comes out of the oven and is placed on a platter, as is the pasta and sauce and the tiramisu is taken out of the refrigerator.  Fabrizio and his assistants carry the plattters from the kitchen down into the wine cellar, where the tables have been set and the wine chosen.

The wine cellar and dining area of in Tavola cooking class in Florence, Italy

Not even bothering to take off our oh so stylish plastic aprons, we dig in, devouring our food enjoying the fruits of our labor.

Ladies and (man) eat lunch
Trailing spouses unite over a great meal.

Absolutely full, and completely satisfied with the meal we prepared during our Italian cooking class, we say “ciao” to Fabrizio, his 3 trusted assistants and our gentleman friend, and head back into the center of Florence where we embark on next adventure: shopping.