Italian Cooking Class with Rosario at Locanda De Gusti

Last week, hubby and I attended an Italian Cooking Class at Locanda de Gusti on East London Street.  We had been to the restaurant in it's previous incarnation as Bella Mbriana so we were looking forward to another visit.

We were welcomed to our group of fellow cookery students with a nice glass of Prosecco - and took our places at the long table.  Head Chef, Rosario, introduced himself and gave us an overview of what we'd be cooking.  His ethos is very much around comfort food, and by that he means quick, tasty and healthy food that can be thrown together with a few ingredients and some basic cooking skills.  Here was our menu:

Grilled aubergine sandwiched with goats cheese and 'peppery' rockette served with stewed sweet and sour Sicilian way cherry tomatoes.


Fillet of sea bass pan seared and served on a light broth of kale and borlotti beans, with grilled polenta and crispy Parma ham crisps.


Shortcrust pastry tart filled with vanilla infused mascarpone, topped with raspberries and finished off with a drizzle of Strega syrup

First up, was the sweet shortcrust pastry for the dessert.  For those of you who read my blog regularly, you will know that I've been making a LOT of pastry recently, so I let hubby have a go.  And he did an excellent job!

Next up was the grilled aubergine which was grilled with just olive oil (no salt), then sandwiched with goats cheese and rocket and popped in the oven.  Rosario then took us into the kitchen (which was boiling!) and showed us a couple of dishes we could whip up with some cherry tomatoes.  He made an amazing Sicilian sauce with tinned cherry tomatoes, some sugar, white wine vinegar, onion and some basil.  This was to accompany the aubergine, but would have made a perfect pasta sauce.  We then sat down to enjoy our starter, which was just delicious.  So simple, healthy and tasty - just as promised.  A big hit with hubby too who isn't a big aubergine fan!

Then onto the main course.  And I have to admit, I wasn't looking forward to it.  You see, I do not like fish.  And I was hoping fish wouldn't feature on the menu.  So I faced my fear and got stuck in with the sea bass!  Rosario showed us how to present it nicely, and a big tray of it went off to the kitchen to be cooked. 

And the students went back into the kitchen to see how to make the broth, kale and polenta.  The end result was surprisingly good, and I will definitely be buying some sea bass to cook at home. It was really nice to be pushed out my comfort zone a little.

So finally, we got to see how our little tarts cases turned out, and hubby had done me proud.  Out came a huge bowl of chocolate sauce, mascarpone infused with vanilla and sugar and big bowl of berries.  We were given a free rein so we dug in like kids in a sweetie shop!  Here is what we came up with...

And hubby's...

Such a simple dessert, and again, delicious.  It was safe to say by the end, we were stuffed.  We both had a great time, met some lovely people and picked up some really great tips from Rosario.  The nice thing was, he let us all ask lots of questions and the cooking class wasn't about following a recipe, it was showing how some basic methods can be used with lots of simple ingredient combinations.  We will definitely be visiting again, but will opt to have Rosario cook next time!  A brilliant birthday gift from hubby, thank you. x


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