Monday, March 10

Italian 101 at Eataly

This past week, Eataly, the largest Italian marketplace in the world, opened its cooking school, La Scuola di Eataly Chicago. Back in December before Eataly opened to the public, I had the chance to check out the huge food emporium. I was happy to return, this time for a cooking class for members of the media with the dean herself, Chef Lidia Bastianich.


The cooking school is located on the second floor of Eataly and offers demo-style classes ranging from how to make fresh pasta or risotto, wine tastings, interactive chef's table dinners, food and language cultural classes, and more!

The class I attended was "La Scuola 101" and featured Chef Lidia preparing a lovely four-course lunch, complete with wine pairings. In fact, each class at Eataly will also include demo-style instruction, wine pairings, and a deep dive into regional Italian and locally-sourced products. Lidia did a fantastic job answering our questions and giving us an informative play-by-play while preparing each course. It's not everyday I get to enjoy lunch prepared by a world class chef!





The Eataly classroom is beautiful and features commercial cooking equipment, including a gas stove (which the original Eataly in New York does not have!). There are also cameras capturing all of the cooking action which is displayed on monitors for the entire class to see. The space can hold conferences and banquets, and is the largest private dining space within Eataly.


Our four course menu was paired with four glasses of wine including Friulano, Rosato, and Prosecco.The food portion of the menu started with a cooked and raw salad reflecting ingredients currently in season. Butterhead lettuce was topped with roasted onions, turnips, beets, capers, and tomatoes. The salad was super fresh and Lidia made sure to toss it with her hands, which she calls the best kitchen tool. The dressing was a simple blend of olive oil and red wine vinegar (1/3 acidity and 2/3 oil is best, according to Lidia).


Next, was a creamy and rich risotto with pears, black pepper, and grana padano. A large, wide pan is needed to cook the risotto, and in order to keep it creamy, Lidia recommends using a short grain rice which releases starch better. Celery is added to the risotto near the end of cooking to add a crunch, and a drizzle of balsamic adds a complex flavor.


My favorite dish was definitely the steamed swordfish. The preparation was so simple, resulting in an extremely light and fresh dish. Lidia suggests keeping the skin on your fish as long as possible and looking for fish that is firm in texture. The oven-baked fish was served with zucchini topped with anchovies and capers.


Lastly, we enjoyed a traditional Italian custard for dessert. I loved dipping Italian cookies into the custard and could have licked my glass clean! It was sweet, light, and indulgent all at the same time!



I highly recommend a cooking class at Eataly! It's the perfect date night or girls night out, and great for entertaining out of town guests and locals alike. Check out the complete cooking class schedule on Eataly's website!

Eataly
43 E. Ohio Street
Chicago, IL 60611
312.521.8700
Eataly on Urbanspoon

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