In which I decide to face my fears of making dough from scratch, and learn the art of dumpling making in Castlemaine, and pasta making in Bendigo. It just so happens that both classes finished with a sit down dinner that include many tastes, laughs and conversation about food...loved.
I took a road trip with a lovely local (we talked so much we forgot to drink our coffee for the entire trip...which is basically unheard of for both of us!) and we met some fellow foodie friends at Kitchen Bliss for an afternoon of learning how to make (and then partake in) dumplings :)
"Pairing up, we each select different recipes so that we’ll have a table full of different tastes and textures to try. We spend our time choosing from an impressive collection of Asian ingredients. Pausing to examine and smell those we haven’t come across before, we listen to Carol as she explains where she sources them from and how they each contribute to the overall dish. On hand to instruct and help with any technique we might be unsure of, she also balances this with letting us experiment on our own and interact with each other. I discover that the dough making isn’t as tricky as I thought, although folding, encasing and pinching said dough around the soft fresh fillings we have just made takes practice and concentration. The best part is Carol’s partner Michael is right there to take any dish/implement that needs washing and drying…and does so with an enthusiastic smile (and the deft experience of having run his own commercial/educational kitchens for many years). This aspect of the class helps speed us along immensely and is something I could get very used to! Somehow Carol has gracefully orchestrated things so that we all finish the assembly of our dumplings at the same time, and we sit back with a glass of wine as Michael shows us various cooking methods. There’s an impressive tower of stackable bamboo steamers, and the familiar sounds of Paul Kelly in the background mix in with the sizzle of the wok..."
Continuing my theme of conquering my hesitation in working with dough, I booked myself into the warm & friendly Epicurean Delicatessen for a night of pasta making.
"We gather around the gleaming kitchen island behind the counter, clutching our workbooks (which cover the history/ingredients/methods) and watch as Cathy cracks a dozen eggs into a mountain of fine flour. With a beautiful warm accent she explains how it’s the feel of the dough as it comes together, as opposed to an exact recipe, that is key. This, I realize, is why a hands-on class is what I have been missing.
Everyone in the group gets a portion of dough to practice kneading as she tells stories about the pasta making of her childhood. I love that she’s showing us how to roll and cut the pasta traditionally (ie without a machine). She recounts memories of visiting her grandmother who would string drying pasta from various broomsticks around the house. Learning to recognize the qualities of good dough, we start to feed it through the machine to achieve the silky texture of good pasta. Maria and other family members are on hand to help and answer questions, and Tony arrives through the front door with a box of wine and a cheerful grin..."
If you've tried a cooking class (or have your eye on one!) I'd love to hear about it :)
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