Some time ago when I had too much time to spare, I found free cooking classes offered by Fratelli Fresh on Danks St, Waterloo. The classes are offered on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 4-5 pm, and booking is a must. Two recipes are taught in the session, and they are changed every month.
I had my first booking on July, but something came up so that I had to cancel it. Since the classes were quickly filled, the next slot was in August. I finally made it to the class despite the obstacles I had to face, such as my indolence and the change in bus route that I didn’t expect.
The neighborhood around Fratelli Fresh is quiet and pleasant. I saw Whole Foods and some coffee shops, and they are just very inviting for afternoon tea followed by a short walk. Fratelli Fresh sells quality produce and Italian products, and it also offers casual dining at its Café Sopra. I actually walked passed by it although I was looking for the sign meticulously. Perhaps I got distracted by signs of other shops around it. Well, it’s actually hard to be missed because it’s located in a huge warehouse-like space.
In the class, two people shared a bench, which I think was more fun than cooking alone. I partnered with a friendly Singaporean lady that I just met there. The ingredients were already prepared beforehand, so it really felt like being in a cooking show. There were fancy Electrolux stove and oven in each bench. Too bad we did not make anything that required baking, so the oven was not put into use.
The first thing we made was Spaghetti alla Carbonara, followed by Wagu Bresaola Salad with Gala Apples and Aged Balsamic Vinegar. The whole process took less than 30 minutes, not including the prep and washing. This is the ultimate cooking experience, don’t you think? Actually not much cooking was done. We mostly just chopped and mixed things except reheating the pre-cooked spaghetti and cooking the pancetta until crispy.
Being the only ‘Asians,’ my partner and I didn’t miss the opportunity to snap as many pictures as possible. Two chefs first showed us how to make dishes. Then the participants went back to their benches to get their hands dirty. Printed recipes were also available, but they weren’t necessary because the ingredients were not too many and the steps were simple enough.
Together with my partner, I just had fun throwing stuff in the mixing bowl. One tip is to be moderate with salt. Put a bit in the beginning, and you can put more later, if necessary. So, here are what we made during the class. Most people actually packed the food they made and bring them home. I shared the food with my partner although she kindly gave most of it to me. It was so good, and I hope to make it again by myself in the future.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara Recipe
by Cafe Sopra (serves 4)
- 1 whole egg + 1 yolk
- 60 grams pancetta, sliced
- 20 mL olive oil
- 180 g spaghetti, cooked al-dente
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- 20 g grated parmesan
- salt and pepper
- 1.5 bunch of chopped parsley
- Cook pancetta in pan with olive oil, until crisp. Set the pancetta to the side of the pan to remove some of the oil.
- Whisk eggs lightly.
- Drain cooked spaghetti and put it in a mixing bowl.
- Pour eggs, salt and pepper, parsley, garlic, parmesan, and pancetta into the mixing bowl. Fold through and serve.
Wagu Bresaola Salad
by Cafe Sopra (serves 4)
- 100 g Bresaola, sliced
- 1 gala apple, sliced thinly
- 75 g slivered almonds
- 150 g baby spinach
- 150 g rocket
- Parmigiano Reggiano, sliced using potato peeler
- 1 lemon
- 50 mL extra virgin olive oil
- 25 mL balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 180 C
- Spread almonds on a tray and bake for 8-12 min. When turned golden, remove and let cool
- Slice gala apple
- Toss apple, almonds, rocket and spinach, cheese, and all but four slices of bresaola
- Mix juice of lemon and olive oil
- Dress and season to taste with salt and pepper
- garnish with the remaining bresaolla and drizzle with balsamic vinegar to serve.