Black pepper fettuccini in a white wine cream sauce and lemon-zested veal?
No, I’m not in Italy. I’m grating cheese, frying up bacon and boiling fresh-made pasta at a Vancouver cooking class.
One nifty thing about being travel writers is being invited to media events in our home city – and getting to discover places we’ve not visited before. The Dirty Apron Cooking School & Delicatessen in Vancouver’s funky Crosstown district is such a place.
The reason for this invitation? Air Transat is launching new non-stop summer flights from Vancouver to Rome, starting in June.
What better way to share the Rome news with Vancouver travel writers, editors and bloggers than by giving them a “get-your-hands-mucky” taste of Italy at a Vancouver cooking class!
Wine glasses in hand, we were divided into teams to work on making the pasta, fettuccini sauce, veal, veggies and dessert.
Here’s what we made:
Our Vancouver cooking class prepares this Italian feast
- Black pepper fettuccini in white wine cream sauce
- Grilled veal in a chanterelle cream sauce, accompanied by herb ricotta gnocchi and asparagus spears
- A trio of desserts – lemon panna cotta; olive oil and rosemary cake with orange-and-fig marmalade; and Italian biscotti with pistachio icecream.
I was assigned to the pasta team.
Some team-mates mixed flour, salt and eggs to form the pasta dough, which they then pounded and kneaded. The most fun part was feeding flattened sections of dough through the pasta machine to make LONG strings of noodles.
In the meantime, I helped to make the cream sauce with Karm Sumal (the passionate young founder of Vancity Buzz, a hit Vancouver webzine which draws in more than 4 million visitors a month).
Actually, I confess, he did most of the onion dicing and cheese slicing – thanks Karm!
(I had a glass of Pinot Grigio to nurse. But I did drizzle olive oil over the cherry tomatoes and slip them into the oven!) And we had lots of help from our chef instructors – who no doubt are used to their students getting distracted from their cooking tasks by wine and chit-chat as the evening progresses.
Eventually, our masterpiece was ready, and we served our pasta appetizer to the other teams at a communal dining table – to much applause, I’m proud to say.
There was only one oversight on our part – we forgot to make enough pasta for ourselves! No worries, though. The real chefs (aka, our instructors) quickly got to work and made the pasta team some pasta :-).
Our job done, we got to sit back, relax and enjoy the main course and dessert served by those teams.
Now, just in case you want to make your own black pepper pasta at home, here’s the recipe.
Recipe for black pepper fettuccini in white wine cream sauce
Black pepper pasta dough
120 g double smoked bacon
2 shallots (finely diced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
6 cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
125 ml white wine
125 ml heavy cream
½ cup arugula
¼ cup pitted Kalamata olives
10 g grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
In a saucepot lightly coated with vegetable oil, cook the bacon over high heat until it’s browned and the fat has been rendered. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate. Reserve for later use.
In the same saucepot, sauté the shallots and garlic for about a minute. Add the white wine and reduce the liquid to about half of its original volume. Next, add the cream and Parmesan cheese, cooking until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the pasta to a pot of salted boiling water and cook for approximately 2 minutes. Drain the pasta and add to the cream sauce. Serve on a plate. Sprinkle arugula, cherry tomatoes, olives and crisp pancetta on top.
Adjust the seasoning, and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese.
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The Dirty Apron’s Vancouver cooking classes
- Classes: Want to know how to whip up chicken coq au vin and other classic French dishes? Interested in a night of British Columbia food-and-wine pairings (find out if Pinot Noir goes with crispy seared BC salmon)? The Dirty Apron Cooking School & Delicatessen offers a whole slew of hands-on classes in different foods around the world each month. The class size is limited to 22.
- Times: Evening dinner classes run from 5:30 to 9:30 pm. On weekends, lunch-time classes are from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm.
- Cost: Most classes are $158 CAD ($125 USD) p.p. and include wine.
Air Transat flies to Europe
- About Air Transat: Air Transat is a leading Canadian-based holiday airline. Charter flights take sun-seekers and holiday-goers to some 60 destinations in 30 countries (mainly in Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, the Mediterranean and Europe).
- Mix-and-match holiday packages: You can book just the flights, or holiday packages combining flights and hotels. For added flexibility, you can fly into one city (say Rome) and fly out of another (like Venice). You can also add on guided tours of your choice (e.g., a “skip-the-line” guided half-day tour of the Vatican in Rome).
- Cost: Roundtrip Vancouver-to-Rome flights start at a low of $864 CAD ($680 USD), incl. all taxes and fees.
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We’re Janice and George Mucalov, professional award-winning travel writers, sharing tales of luxury travel with a twist of adventure.