Last month, we hosted a sold-out Tomato Sauce Cooking and Food experience.
It was the first time we had held a full day cooking and food event like this. It was certainly an ‘Experience’ and not just another “cooking class”. Traditions were learnt firsthand, food and wine shared and with stories and laughs abound, it ended with a dozen inspired and excited “Cooks”.
“I learnt much more than I thought I would. It was great to learn some traditional ways of making food – from scratch! But the experience of working together with others was so enjoyable!” – Ruby-May M.
“Great content, learnings and a great mix of activities. I loved being able to do so much hands-on and the food WE made was delicious! A great overall menu presented here today” – Natalie M.
Penny Hills and The Black Chook
We were extremely privileged to have magnificent wines supplied by Penny Hill’s Winery from McLaren Vale. Two wonderful ladies, Anthea and Sian from Penny’s Hill, started the event by delving into the land, processes and traditions that have been followed to create the Penny Hill’s and Black Chook brands.
They then discussed the wines that they had expertly matched to each of the foods and activities. We started with Black Chook Sparkling Cuvee, sampled the Black Chook Sauvignon Blanc while mincing tomatoes and then indulged in freshly baked bread paired with the Black Chook Pinot Grigio. Then after all the hard work was done, they topped our glasses with superb Penny’s Hill Malpas Road Merlot, Cracking Black Shiraz and The Veteran Very Old Fortified NV for the shared feast. They also offered all in attendance a substantial discount on their full range of wines.
The Secret Bread Making Formula
We then went into a discussion about the simple formula we use to create any type of bread. We answered questions regarding rising, gluten free flours and using dry and fresh yeasts.
Four large loaves (which were prepared earlier and had already risen) were placed in the oven and the smell of freshly baking bread had everyone eager for a slice or 2 (or maybe 8 – just ask Nick W.)!
Pasta Making – Part 1
It was time to get the hands dirty and make authentic egg pasta – no bowls needed! It was exciting to watch the Cooks work together to sift flour and beat eggs using a fork. There were some very happy Cooks when they discovered how easy it was to make the pasta!
The pasta dough was then stored in the fridge to rest while the Cooks moved on to the main event – Tomato Sauce Making.
Tomato Sauce Making
We refer to it as Tomato Sauce, but it is not to be confused with the sweet tomato sauce used on the humble meat pie in Australia. Making authentic tomato sauce requires nothing more than fully ripe and juicy in-season tomatoes and the whole process from coring, to boiling and then finally to mincing and bottling were learnt by the Cooks. They were having so much fun (they left the cleaning to me) we think they forgot how much work it takes to process 50kg of tomatoes.
Sampling and Blind Infused Olive Oil Tasting
We took a short riposo (rest) while making tomato sauce as the smell of freshly baked bread was making everyone hungry. The bread was disappearing from the plate as fast as we could cut it as everyone dug into an elaborate tasting of Back 2 Basics Traditions products including sundried olives, Giardiniera, roasted almonds and broad bean chips. There were also some delicious local cheeses provided by the Beston Marketplace. We also had a blind infused olive oil tasting competition – hats off to Heidi M. and Mary C. for their hilarious reactions!
Pasta Making – Part 2
Once the tomato sauce was bottled and an extra-large pan of the fresh sauce was put on to cook for the shared food experience (more on that below) it was time to roll and cut the pasta into fettuccine. One batch of fettuccine was prepared without salt and was set aside to cook and the remaining fettuccine was hung to dry so that all the Cooks could take some home to share with their families and friends. There were lots of comments about the surprise at how easy and simple it was to make delicious pasta!
Shared Food Experience
The experience would not have been complete without a traditional shared table feast! This is an important part of our core philosophy – one where through food, people can interact, tell stories, have fun and enjoy a break from our fast-paced modern lifestyle.
Everyone was excited as we served up plates of fresh fettuccini topped with the delicious tomato sauce – and we were even more pleased with the requests to fill up the bowls! Also on the table were antipasto platters, a special treat of marinated wild artichokes and salads the Cooks prepared earlier with our Red Wine Vinegar and premium Olive Oil. Mark gave a small emotional speech and everyone topped their glasses with vino a few more times.
Then it was time for dessert! If I may say proudly, this was one of the most delicious desserts I have ever tasted – freshly picked figs, topped with Roasted Almonds, drizzled with our Vino Cotto and then baked and served with our 80% dark chocolate and Jersey Fresh cream. The Veteran Very Old Fortified NV was superbly matched.
As with our Italian tradition we made sure everyone left with a basket of food – freshly dried fettuccine, a jar of bottled tomato sauce, figs, basil, bread and of course a certificate of proficiency in Tomato Sauce Fundamentals!
The day was memorable and as Vicki W. put it
“I Learned far more than expected. Wasn’t expecting to learn and be making so much more than just tomato sauce. Can’t wait to see what we will uncover during the next experience”!
Do you want to be part of our next cooking and food experience? Please sign-up to our mailing list and get on our RSVP list. It is sure to sell out again.
Please remember to sign up to our ‘Be A Cook, Not A Chef’ newsletter to receive our latest recipes, tours and cooking experience details, product updates and member only specials. Simply use the sign-up form below the comments section.