During my time spent on Planet Earth, I have learned that there are typically four different kinds of people in life… There are those you won’t particularly care for, and those that don’t much like you either (and there’s no point in losing sleep over them!). There are those whose company you enjoy, and who you love spending time with, and then there are those that you absolutely wish you were related to – because you would be inviting yourself to stay the entire time, just so that they would cook something delicious for you. Paola Davies Romano definitely falls in to that last category…
With an impressive Cambridge culinary history, Paola started her life long passion for food alongside her chef father in their family restaurant in Italy. Here he passed down his vast cooking knowledge along with the important belief that food should be both simple and delicious, but that it tastes even better when enjoyed with friends and family. This is the premise behind Paola’s Company – Baked By Romanos, and her now legendary Supper Clubs (with all 17 places typically selling out at lightening speed – make sure you keep an eye out for newly released dates!). Having spent the whole of last Saturday in her kitchen cooking under her tutelage (I was a guest at her very first Cookery Master Class – this time with an “Essentially Italian” theme!), it’s very easy to understand why these supper clubs are such a success. I think Paola’s new cooking master classes will quickly go down this same route!
After a brief introduction, we started our day the best way – over copious fresh coffee and pastries. We discussed the dishes we would be making, and chatted about food generally with the other participants (there were five of on this class but there’s space for six). As you can imagine given her half Spanish/half Italian heritage, Paola’s food and cookery knowledge is extensive, and although I consider myself a reasonable cook, I knew I would still be taking home new skills.
Our first lesson was how to make a Butternut Squash and Prawn Risotto that you would be happy to dish up to royalty (we also learned the art of preparing a squash quickly without severing any digits!), finished with a beurre noisette full of fresh sage from the garden. We ate it for lunch with a glass or two of prosecco, along with a gorgeous stuffed focaccia as a side – something we would be attempting to make ourselves as soon as the plates were cleared. Paola also showed us how to make a quick and easy birthday cake for one of the students celebrating, and after a hefty slice, it wasn’t long before I too was feeling like a stuffed focaccia…
Mr R possesses the bread making skills in our house, but I have attempted a few recipes down the line, and more often than not something goes wrong. In the space of a couple of hours, Paola taught me where I was making mistakes, and I managed to produce a pretty respectable looking (huge) focaccia stuffed with roasted vegetables, two different kinds of cheese and topped with olives and rosemary. I felt prouder of that than the time I stood back to admire my first Christmas Yule Log (complete with plastic robin) in Home Economics back in 1987. A moment I never thought possible…
And whilst the kitchen slowly filled with the mouth-watering aroma of five of these spectacular breads, we set about tackling the pudding of all puddings – a Zuccotto. If I was to tell you that the name means “little pumpkin” in Italian, it will give you some idea of the shape… Its truffle centre is surrounded by a coffee and marsala cream with chocolate chips. This has an outer layer of sponge (soaked in marsala) and is coated with a dark chocolate ganache. Top that with chopped nuts and you have what completely resembles the biggest Ferrero Rocher you have ever seen, and has to be the most impressive dinner party dessert. I say dinner party as it serves a lot of people. But of course, if you fancy having a go at it by yourself? Heaven!
I liked so much about this class. I liked the fact that we sat and enjoyed the first dish we made together, this made it feel like we were at some kind of interactive Supper Club. I liked that it’s a great way to socialise – what a great way to spend an afternoon with friends learning new skills? Or even better, what a great way to make new friends with like-minded folk? I loved that Paola is such a natural teacher, and whatever level cooking skills you think you might have, you are guided in the nicest way and not made to feel like you are making any terrible mistakes! Unlike in my own kitchen, it was really nice to be able to concentrate on the task in hand without any small people interruptions, or the general distractions of home life. I also really liked that it felt relaxed enough to feel like you were cooking in the kitchen of a good friend! We even had a “kitchen disco” at one point with songs being shouted out for Alexa to play as we worked…
When the day was over, I was sent home with enough food for dinner for the family, a set of new recipes and skills, my cheek bones aching from laughing all day and not an ounce of room for a single slice of that giant zuccotto. I truly had a lovely day.
As Paola describes herself as happiest when feeding people, I am hoping she will adopt me soon enough.
Do check out the Baked by Romanos website for details of further Master Classes (- the next one is ideal for those with teenagers about to start Student Life – How to Cook for University!), future Supper clubs, or if you fancy having a dinner party at your own house, but want someone else to do the cooking!
Nichola - Globalmouse says
Woah this looks amazing, that food! I would love to go to a class like this, or better still send my other half…in fact, it would be the perfect present for him (secretly to myself!)
That is a really good idea! :D Thanks Nichola!
This sounds like a great class! I’ve thought about doing a cooking class near me but it always seems to conflict with my work schedule! One day!!!!
Oh I hope you get to one! Thanks Di! :)
Love this it all looks and sounds amazing!!xx
You would have loved it! I will make it all for all of us when we move! :) xxx
OMG, I would so love to do this, I am hopeless at baking. The food you created looks amazing
Thanks Kara, it was a great experience! :)
Nayna Kanabar says
This Cookery masterclass sounds amazing and how lucky you are to have had the opportunity to spend a whole day creating these amazing mouthwatering dishes.
Thanks Nayna! (:
Wow, what a feast :)
It truly was! Thanks Lorelle! (: x
Penny Golightly says
This looks like an amazing day out, and a big confidence boost for a home cook. Best of all you get to take everything you make home afterwards.
That was a great plus point. I didn’t have to think about dinner for everyone that evening as I had already made it! :D Thanks Penny!
It sounds like such a fun class. The food looks incredible and it sounds like everyone really enjoyed themselves.
It really was a fun class! Thanks so much Kate! :) x
Oh my God, Emma, you’ve gone to food heaven. This looks like such a cool experience and that food – to die for!
It was such a great day! Thanks Carolin! :) x
It was so wonderful reliving Romano’s Essentially Italian Masterclass through your post. I agree with all the lovely things you wrote about Paola and the food. It was fun being your risotto partner!
Thanks Pina! I am so glad you were my risotto partner, it could well have been a different dish otherwise! :D x
Krista Bjorn says
What a delectable and inspiring experience. :-) Everything looks absolutely scrumptious!!
Thank you Krista, it really was! :) x
Laura Dove says
Oh wow you did so well! I would love to have cookery lessons too, I’m not a great cook and am always looking for new ideas!
This is honestly the perfect class! Thanks Laura! :)