Friday, 3 December 2010

Cucina casalinga

I recently had the pleasure of spending an evening with friends taking in a lesson on Italian home cooking. Hidden in the tangle of side streets that make up Jaitehwey, Italian Nina Betori invites you into the privacy of her own home to pass on the secrets of Italian food.

Nina Betori

Having bounced around Italy, including stints in Rome, Milan and Sicily, and having worked in restaurants in Italy and the UK, Betori’s a mine of information when it comes to doughs, pasta, breads and everything else in Italian cuisine. Full of culinary knowhow – for example, I discovered a new (to me) way of checking if an egg is fresh, you crack it and pour it into a bowl, if there’s a relatively thick area in the white, it’s fresh, if all of the white’s a little watery, it’s gone off – Betori passes on hints and tips while answering your questions with a smile.

Pasta, or at least it will be...

In our two hour session we sat and watched as pollo panna e funghi, focaccia with tomatoes, red peppers and mozzarella, Pan Molle, frittata and dolce supreme were prepared. Obviously, we did all the hard work by wolfing it all down as soon as it hit the table.

You can help as much, or as little, as you like, the only limiting factor appeared to be the size of the group. Sitting around the table was a wonderful experience, to be honest, any thought of rolling up my sleeves and kneading dough disappeared after ten minutes, it’s simply great fun to sit, drink, eat and chat as someone who’s genuinely enthusiastic about food cooks for you.

Dinner by candlelight

While we learnt about Italian fast food (essentially because my friends and I are a lazy lot), Betori offers courses on traditional Italian meals and a specialised session in which she teaches you to make your own pasta.

As if all this isn’t enough, Betori donates a proportion of her earnings to Alpha, a Lebanese NGO aiming to implement psychosocial and educational activities for children affected by war in Tibnine.

So, you’re eating and drinking for a good cause.

And, finally, some shameless
product placement...

Give it a try, I strongly recommend it. The ingredients are included in the price and aprons are provided. Though, if you’re soaks, like us, you’ll have to bring your own booze.

Email Nina at or call her at 7 121 1891 to register for a class. Courses take placeTuesdays & Thursdays from 19:30 to 21:30 (“Italian Fast Food”)  and Saturdays from 16:30 to 18:30 (“The ItalianTraditional Twist”). Upon request catering for dinners for up to 15 people and children’s cooking classes can be organized.

You’ll soon have a chance to check out her skills in person when she performs a live cooking event at Zico House.