La Cucina Di Sandra stunning Mushroom Class
La Cucina Di Sandra Cooking School in Richmond has been offering the best in seasonal classes, the latest being a stunning mushroom class. The World Loves Melbourne was invited along to imbibe the cooking class and amazing dinner; all part of the cost of the night. We entered through the large front gate (ring the bell) into Sandra's Tuscan like converted warehouse, where we gathered around the kitchen with notes supplied for every recipe. The beauty is that all the recipes are accessible and repeatable at home. Cook Italian food like a boss after being at Sandra's cooking classes!
Sandra's classes are hugely popular, with groups of friends booking a class from the website. (By the way, Sandra is cooking at hatted Grand Richmond this Monday night 27/7 for the Italian night; only $30 for a superb Italian dish and glass of wine.)
While La Cucina Di Sandra's mushroom class highlights the best of this season's mushrooms, it's not just about cooking with mushrooms. We were lavished on with superb dishes involving chicken, pasta, Italian sausage and other key ingredients. The World Loves Melbourne was once again taken on a journey with Sandra's personality, excellent cooking, and the conviviality of delightful guests.
La Cucina Di Sandra is a unique culinary experience in Melbourne. It reminds of the social eating trend in Europe. This night there were 5 of us (often there are classes of 6-8) and we enjoyed meeting two people we'd never met before. often groups of friends will book for the 6-8 spots but Sandra welcomes say couples that can be added to a group. There are set classes each month, but Sandra also caters for bespoke classes for say corporate team building (popular) or friends that want a particular class.
What strikes you is the value of the evening. Not only do you get a great cooking class from Sandra that is interactive (in terms of asking her questions and chat during the session) but the meal itself is worth the cost of the evening. Here we were given four courses plus parmesan biscuits on arrival; leaving on a high. Sandra gives plenty of cooking and shopping tips during the night to the delight of the guests.
Il Fungo si incontra con il Prosciutto (Mushrooms with Prosciutto) was a stunning first dish, with the winning combination of mushrooms and prosciutto. The mushroom caps of large champignons are stuffed with a ricotta mixture and finely sliced prosciutto added. This dish can be served a sfinger food, but we received several large mushroom caps each so that it was like an entree and even a main course. Creamy filling, salty rich prosciutto, and the full flavour of the mushroom, combined to hit the high notes.
Sandra then cooked us an Umbrian dish, Pasta alla Boscaiola (Pasta in the lumberjack manner), usually cooked in winter when there are plenty of mushrooms available. Sandra used a wide range of mushrooms for this dish including mushroom royalty of Porcini, Slippery Jacks and Pine mushrooms - to showcase the best of mushrooms. Italian style sausage was also added, as well as a fine stock, wine and finely chopped vegetables. Short ribbed pasta was used and the sauce amalgamated over a lively flame.
The Pasta alla Boscaiola was a rustic rewarding dish, which we imbibed with Italian wine. Sandra always uses fine pasta in her dishes, always cooked al dente.
Sandra then showed us how to cook a spectacular main dish; the Pollo, prosciutto e radicchio rosso con i funghi trifolati (Rolled chicken breast with prosciutto, radicchio and pan fried mushrooms). This involved preparing a premium breast of chicken and stuffing it with a compelling filling of prosciutto and mushroom, as well as bread based stuffing. The dish brings us the best of mushrooms featuring pine mushrooms, shitake, porcini, Swiss browns, and other mixed mushrooms. It was suggested this can be a superb Christmas dish. Sandra prepared the stuffing and rolled the breast fillet (above), before holding each fillet together with string for cooking.
Alf, Sandra's husband is a charming host who plays the odd cameo, in this case preparing the radicchio. We adjourned to the candle lit dining table to imbibe this rewarding dish. Mushrooms were the hero once again, both in terms of the chicken stuffing and the array of top quality mushrooms accompanying the chicken. With the crunch of the radicchio in paly, this was a perfectly balanced full flavoured dish.
Dessert was also a hit with Budini di ricotta alle amarene sciroppate (Ricotta puddings with preserved cherries). This baked dessert had the winning combination of ricotta and honey as well as vanilla paste; not too sweet with the baked flavours coming to the fore. The preserved cherries were a highlight being Amarene sciroppate di Fabbri.
A feature is the intimate nature of the evening. Sit at the counter for the cooking demonstration then adjourn to a large dining table with candles for each course. A great concept. We were able to chat and enjoy the company as well as take in the cooking class.