I was invited to eat leaves while experiencing a Pizza and Pasta Masterclass with La Favorita and Birra Moretti ahead of the Gran Tour pop-up beer and street food festival, popping up at Summerhall from the 9th -12th July. We were in the experienced hands of the lovely Manuel from La Favorita and Joe, who showed us to spin, stretch, slap, slide and hand-crank our way to Italian perfection. It might sound like we were breakdancing, but we were cooking, learning and laughing, honest. All with a cold beer in our hands.
Although Fanny was often critical of the range and diversity found in Italian cuisine, she did her very best to promote it. Back in the 1970's when most of us were only just getting to grips with Spaghetti Bolognese, sprinkling dried parmesan from our storecupboard tubs or going 'wild' with Lasagne, Fanny was publishing her Common Market Cookery book focused on Italy. Fanny's version of Italian food you understand, but mostly fairly authentic. Ish.
She sashayed round Italy for the Nationwide programme on the BBC and encouraged us to delve deeper to rediscover the regional Renaissance recipes using a whirlwind of polenta, pomodoro and parmesan. What on earth would she have made of todays trends for Italian street food, wonderful gelato and beers? No doubt get her food colourings out to create a special pizza for La Favorita - perhaps based on the colours of Il Tricolore?
So how do todays Italian offerings compare? At La Favorita, Manuel wow'd us with expertly made (our own creations magically disappeared, I imagine the staff thought they were so good they ate them...) hand-stretched, wood-fired pizzas, fresh and inspiring toppings, even a melting, flavoursome vegan cheese made an appearance. To go with the freshly made pasta Joe created a simple Salsa di Pomidoro by sweating the finest tomatoes, garlic, chilli, shallots, olive oil and basil before our very eyes. According to Joe, we just won't accept the 70's style of Italian food anymore, why would we when we can all easily travel to Italy and we all know more about the ingredients, flavours and dishes.
As we settled down to munch on our own work (ok, I'm pretending we made these spectacular pizzas now), eat more leaves (for me) and throw back another beer, we were reflecting on all that we had learned throughout the Masterclass. Poor Joe though, he clearly hadn't learnt enough himself. He was keen to swot up and learn from the real deal - Fanny herself. I've got a new name for him in return, Fanatico di Fanny. I wonder what tips he picked up, will he change his recipes and embrace the 1970's once more? We'll find out at the Gran Tour on Thursday. No doubt he'll squeeze a last minute Fanny Cradock Italian Masterclass into the programme? See you there?
I was invited along to the La Favorita Masterclass by Chris from Cow PR and will be enjoying more Italian fare and masterclasses at the pop-up food and beer festival, the Birra Moretti Gran Tour in Edinburgh at Summerhall from Thursday 9th July. Advance tickets are priced at £10 plus a £1 booking fee. This allows you to enjoy two Birra Moretti, two dishes from any vendor and a gelato.
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