Italy Day 9: School of Leather and Cooking Class at Cook Eat Italian

We woke up a bit later than normal this morning, which was fine because the itinerary was fairly loose for the day. We started off by just casually strolling around the city, and then made our way to Scuola del Cuoio (the School of Leather making). I purchased a belt from another leather shop yesterday, but I was really in the market for a wallet. I found the leather products at Scuola del Cuoio to be some of the highest quality items in Florence, so I purchased a wallet for myself, and another one as a gift.

We then walked to Piazza della Signoria, which houses many replicas of statues, including the fake David. Overall, it was a neat plaza but didn’t really stand out. It was fun to people watch there, though.

We then stopped off at Dondino for some coffee and tea. It is primarily known for being a great wine bar, but unfortunately, we wouldn’t have the chance to try it since this is our last day in Florence and we already have plans for this evening. After our drinks, we took a quick look at Ponte Vecchio, which is a well-known bridge across the Arno River that is home to many different shops. The shops may have been better at one point in time, but nowadays, they don’t offer much in the way of excitement, quality, or value.

Ponte Vecchio bridge and shops in Florence, Italy
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From there, we took the 20-25 minute walk to Piazzale Michelangelo. It is definitely a hike to the top as the steps are absurdly steep. However, the views from the plaza were absolutely stunning, and may have actually been better than the views from the top of the Duomo.

View of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo
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After taking it all in from one of the best vantage points in the city, we walked another 25 minutes or so to our cooking class at Cook Eat Italian with Manuela. The class was one of the highlights of Florence for both of us because Manuela was wonderful in both explaining the concepts to us, and letting us actively help with the preparation of our meal. We started off by preparing Tiramisu, which isn’t exactly a “classic” Italian dessert (originating only in the 1960s), but it is a popular one.

Making Tiramisu at Cook Eat Italian cooking class in Florence
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Whilst we were working on the components for the Tiramisu, Manuela informed me that the Caffè Americanos to which I had become so accustomed in Italy were not actually anything other than the standard espresso shot with added hot water. Who knew?!

Once we had the Tiramisu ready and put into the refrigerator so it could chill and set up, we moved on to making our mains of chicken Cacciatore (which was originally done with rabbit, not chicken), and the mushroom sauce for our fresh spaghetti. When we were beginning the sauce for the Cacciatore, Manuela had us sample a bunch of types of tomatoes so that we would better understand the differences between the varieties of such a common ingredient in Italian cooking.

Sampling various tomatoes at Cook Eat Italian cooking class in Florence
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Now, for me, the highlight of the cooking class was getting to make our own pasta. We worked on the mushroom sauce for the pasta a bit earlier, but we then shifted focus to making the pasta itself. As a rule of thumb, Manuela taught us that 100g of flour (a 50/50 split between all-purpose and Semolina) is good for two portions. We then made a crater in the mound of flour and dropped in an egg per 100g mix. After working the dough (which is difficult because it sticks to your fingers), we wrapped it in plastic wrap and let it proof. Then came the fun part! We rolled out the dough, and put it onto the pasta chitarra (“Pasta Guitar”) in order to cut it into Spaghetti.

Making spaghetti on the pasta chitarra guitar at Cook Eat Italian cooking class in Florence
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Lastly, before indulging in our wonderful culinary creations, Manuela made us fried Zucchini blossoms two different ways. I stirred up the beer batter, and she showed us that less batter results in a thicker coating, whereas more beer makes the batter light and crispy (like a Tempura).

Here are the results of our labour:

Fried Zucchini blossoms at Cook Eat Italian cooking class in Florence
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Spaghetti with mushrooms and sausage at Cook Eat Italian cooking class in Florence
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Chicken Cacciatore and spinach and garlic at Cook Eat Italian cooking class in Florence
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Finished Tiramisu at Cook Eat Italian cooking class in Florence
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Overall, the cooking class was an absolute blast, and one of the experiences from the trip that I wouldn’t trade for the world!

We then took a taxi back to the hotel, but I accidentally gave the driver the address to Vivoli because I misread the itinerary. He didn’t seem to mind, and took us the rest of the way back to the hotel. Seeing as 1) I am a glutton, and 2) I wasn’t feeling all that well today, we went down the street to Habiki-an Japanese restaurant so I could get some takeaway pork Katsu. It turns out that I was just having Asian food withdrawal, and this was a great fix for that problem as it was some of the best Katsu that I’ve had outside of Japan. 😉

We then went back to the room, and had the bottles of wine that we had purchased earlier from Incontro di Vino. It was lovely to just sit in the room and enjoy our wines together.


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