I firmly believe that food is the window to another world, to a different culture, to history and to the way communities function and live. Whenever I travel, I try to visit the local markets – it gives me an idea of the product, of the cooking tools and even the dishes that people from the culture I visit use. This time, during my brief trip to Italy, I went a step further and signed up for a local cooking class in Milan. After much research, I came across BonAppetour, a website that curates cooking classes in various European cities including Rome, Paris and Milan. Going through the options, I finally decided on joining Chiara and Gigio’s Pica Dell Isola.
It was a bright, hot Sunday morning when I arrived at Milano Centrale Station from Bergamo – after depositing my bags at my hotel, I proceeded to check out the much talked about Duomo – the Milan Cathedral. Gothic architecture defines this cathedral – altogether awe-inspiring and horrifying. Close up, the intricate work and sculptures are simply gorgeous. But the upcoming Cycling Tour that day ensured that the place was crowded and buzzing with activity. Nevertheless, I didnt have time to check the interiors since I had to rush for my cooking class.
Cooking with Chiara
After reaching Isola – the location that Chiara had emailed me and also mentioned on the website (your own data is such a blessing abroad!) – thanks to Google Maps, I found myself facing a woman probably my age looking for me. It was Chiara – and instantly she burst into a smile and chattered non-stop as we made our way into her Art Nouveau building and home. She introduced me to her dog Lucky and eventually after chatting about Dubai and my Italy travels, we proceeded with the class – and yes, it was a one-on-one.
What instantly struck me about Chiara was her warmth and ease with which she spoke to me about food, her passion for it. She is a chef by profession but stopped working in a professional kitchen to do workshops and cooking classes and follow her passion. She handed me a few sheets of paper in which she had painstakingly typed out recipes with cherished tips and tricks. I’ll let the photos and captions below do the talking.
We started with the Tiramisu and went on to the various other dishes according to the priority of each task. As Chiara took me through the recipes and tasks, we spoke about Italy, Milanese food, Indian food (which she loves) and her classes and workshops.
Fresh handmade Ravioli with spinach & ricotta cheese
Homemade Pesto sauce
Homemade besciamella (Beschamel) sauce
Fresh handmade lasagna
Overall, my experience was definitely a highlight of my trip! I didn’t enjoy Milan much, but this class was worth it all! Looking forward to my next cooking adventure!
Note: I really liked the service by Bonappetour – Jessica from the customer service division was kind enough to suggest options according to my dates and requirements and was prompt and quick in responding to me.