Enrich Rocca Cooking School in Notting Hill offers Italian inspired cooking classes in an intimate and personal setting. Originally set up by Enrica Rocca, it is now run by her enthusiastic daughters Charlotte and Claire who developed their love for food early on in life from their mother who is passionate about Italian cuisine! The fun, informative and exciting Cooking Classes are held in their beautiful Notting Hill home where a small group of like minded people come together to learn hands-on about authentic Italian cooking. Their Saturday Cooking Class, which includes a tour of Portobello Market, was a fantastic day filled with shopping, cooking, drinking and of course eating delicious home made Italian dishes.
My blogger friend Suze from Luxury Columnist, who certainly knows about the best places to eat in London, was already raving to me about her recent experience at Enrica Rocca which fuelled my excitement when my husband and I were invited to come along to one of their cooking classes. We met Claire and Charlotte and the other cookery students at 10 am on a drizzly Saturday morning at Ladbroke Grove Tube station. From there we started to embark on a shopping spree through Notting Hill with its beautiful Portobello Market and individual shops. At Fabrique (picture above) we bought a delicious white bread called Mr Toast for some exceptional bruschetta (more about that later …).
Charlotte and Claire stressed many times during shopping the importance of high quality ingredients in cooking and I could not agree more! For meat we went to Provenance who only sell the best seasonal produce of meat that has been raised as nature intended. Beef and lamb have been grass fed and chicken and pork are free-range all sourced from small family run farms. We left with a bag of minced meat for traditional meat balls and lamb shoulder for a slow cooked meat dish.
For vegetables we headed to Portobello Market, bursting with an abundance of colourful stands packed with fresh produce of fruit and vegetables. Claire’s cute wicker basket trolley filled up rather quickly with the freshest vegetables, meat and fish (which we bought at George’s Fishery). At the fish monger we got hints and tips on how to make sure that the fish is still fresh when bought. The choice of menu for the day is all based on people’s food preferences as well as what is available on the day which is a lovely way of cooking.
After we finished all of our shopping we followed Claire and Charlotte to their Notting Hill home, where the kitchen and dining area has been transformed into a cooking school. We started with a beautiful glass of chilled Prosecco from their own brand (available to buy from their online shop) which has been produced in the hills of Conegliano Valdobbiadene from hand picked Glera grapes, it was full of floral and fruity aromas. Throughout the cooking class wine and prosecco was flowing freely which made for a very relaxed atmosphere.
The first dish we prepared was bruschetta – a lovely traditional Italian appetiser. For this we sliced up the bread we brought from Fabrique earlier and which we then fried in a heavy pan on each side until golden brown.
Next we brushed the crispy bread with garlic halves before we added some olive oil and topped them with cherry tomato halves and fresh basil. It was a clever tip to use tomato halves rather than chopped tomatoes as they easily fall off when eaten – also pushing the tomato halves into the bread releases their aromatic flavours right into the bread! Admittedly these were the best bruschetta I ever tasted – the bread was beautifully crisp on the outside, yet nice and soft on the inside. In addition to that the flavour combination of the garlic, tomatoes and basil worked their magic.
The day continued with chopping, preparing and cooking the various dishes while we started to chat and learn more about the other participants. We all got different little jobs to do in order to create an incredible Italian feast with antipasti, two main courses and dessert all under the supervision of our two charming hosts.
It was almost like cooking with friends in their home where we all gathered around the big kitchen island, chatting, chopping and sipping on Prosecco.
Some dishes needed longer to prepare like the home made fish stock (picture above) for the seafood risotto and slow cooked lamb shoulder which were dealt with first.
The antipasti, small dishes which are traditionally served before the main meal, were prepared in a group effort and included: Fresh Salmon Tartar, Sword Fish with fresh Mint & Lemon, Asparagus with Truffle Oil Dressing, Roast Beetroot Dip, Figs & Goats Cheese, Courgette & Bacon Frittata, Italian Meatballs and Roasted Vegetables with Homemade Pesto. The roast vegetables in the picture above were prepared with much care by my husband 🙂
I was in charge of the traditional meatballs made from half minced pork and half minced beef, fresh herbs such as sage and thyme, bread crumbs and eggs. They were first fried in a medium hot pan and then cooked in a passatta tomato sauce for about 30 minutes. What set them apart for me was the gorgeous taste of sage that came through – absolutely delicious!
Equally delicious was the Sword Fish with Fresh Mint and Lemon, prepared by a lovely husband and wife team. The big wooden dining table filled up quickly with an assortment of delights from which the hungry cooks could freely choose from (first image on top of the post) before settling at the kitchen island with plates that were filled with a variety of favours, colours and textures. It was an absolute pleasure to be able to try that many different dishes which were unbelievable only served as a prelude to the feast to come!
The first main course that followed antipasti, was a seafood risotto – the importance here we learned is the kind of rice being used. The best risotto rice according to Charlotte and Claire is either Carnaroli or Vialone nano rather than the popular choice of Arborio Rice. What also makes a difference is the quality of the stock and here a homemade fish stock is just unbeatable! The result of 25 minutes continuous stirring, of which I had the honour, was a perfect risotto with a light, creamy consistency and beautiful fish flavour from the stock and added prawns.
While we enjoyed cooking and eating, our lamb shoulder was roasting in the background for our second main dish. It was succulent and tender – falling from the bone by the time it was ready to be carved up.
The lamb was served on a bed of celeriac mash with the cooking juices from the baking dish and some fresh parsley on top. It was cooked to perfection and even though that we were already full – all of the plates came back empty.
The finale to a wonderful day of cooking and feasting was a light and airy Tiramisu which is Italian for ‘pick me up’. A traditional, timeless Italian dessert made from lady fingers dipped in coffee, egg whites, sugar and mascarpone. It often also contains alcohol which was not used in this version and no one seemed to have missed the added alcohol.
Enrica Rocca’s recipes, tips and tricks can be found in her book ‘Venice on a Plate’, with her dishes beautifully photographed and presented in Murano glass art. Enrica Rocca’s cooking classes are available not only in London but also Cape Town and Venice where Enrica Rocca opens up her Venetian kitchen to eager students in the heart of Dorsoduro district.
Enrica Rocca Cooking School Notting Hill, 227 Ladbroke Grove, Notting Hill , W10 6HG London, United Kingdom, Tel: +447957078974