Rome wasn’t built in a day…but I (sort-of) became a Roman chef in a day!

Ben and I recently arrived back in Sydney from a three week whirlwind trip to Europe.

I was a bridesmaid for my best friend Melissa as she married her now-husband Bradley in Cornwall, UK which was the main reason we went. But we wanted to make the most of that ever-so-long flight.

Me with the beautiful bride, Melissa.

Me with the beautiful bride, Melissa.

So, we were lucky enough to fit in a few short trips before we travelled over to the UK, to the city of love, Paris and then on to Rome!

We had a wonderful first day seeing the sights – the Colosseum, Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II and the Trevi Fountain. We sampled delicious pasta, ice cream and pizza – and the sun was shining gloriously.

Me at the Colosseum

Me at the Colosseum

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for our final day so we didn’t get to see the Vatican, but day two was truly the highlight of our European adventure.

Ben turned 30 at the end of March, and his sister Claire very generously booked for the two of us to attend Cooking Classes in Rome.

Cooking Classes in Rome is Run by Italian Chef, Andrea Consoli. Visitors to the city can sign up for a five hour class beginning at 10am, where chef Andrea educates, entertains and carefully explains how to prepare four courses of traditional Roman dishes.

Chef Andrea with Ben and I

Chef Andrea with Ben and I

Classes are held for up to twelve people at a time and when all food has been prepared, Andrea turns into your waiter and serves the food in his dining room, with accompanying wines if you choose (and of course we did!).

This is a very popular thing to do in Rome, for good reason, see the TripAdvisor reviews here where it is rated #1 of classes and workshops in Rome, so expect the class to be full.

When we arrived at the location, we were sat at what would later be our dining table, where we got to know the other students and were served some delicious coffee and snacks. We were then taught about the dishes we would prepare, given aprons and directed into the kitchen. At first glance it’s a fairly small space, but this works out well as you’re forced to “get to know” your fellow students quickly and you truly feel like part of a “real” kitchen.

In the middle of the room all of the fresh ingredients were laid out. Andrea explained the importance of using fresh seasonal produce for the best flavour.

Fresh Ingredients laid out

Fresh Ingredients laid out

We were told many interesting facts about Italian food – the origins of different dishes e.g. Spaghetti alla puttanesca AKA “in the style of the whore.” – Chef Andrea explained that this dish was a favourite of these women to prepare as it was cheap and quick. They would leave steaming bowls of it by the window to draw in hungry patrons!

Chef Andrea explains...

Chef Andrea explains…

We were then divided up into pairs and helped with preparing and then cooking the dishes. Chef Andrea was never too far away and happy to answer any questions. He would stop us from time to time and show us how to do parts which were a bit trickier. He also called us out on our often patchy understanding of Italian food…

He was particularly unimpressed by my assumption that there is alcohol in tiramisu! Well, I now know that alcohol is only added to the tiramisu if it has not been eaten quickly – due to the raw egg content – as a preservative!

Starter – Carciofi alla Romana – Roman Style Artichokes

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Preparing artichokes…

We were taught how to prepare and carve the artichokes – which was definitely not my strong point – there wasn’t much artichoke left after I’d finished! Then we stuffed each artichoke with mint, salt and pepper after which they were steamed in olive oil and water.

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Artichokes in oil

First main course – Homemade Cavatelli shaped pasta with fresh tomato sauce and basil leaves

Chef Ben!

Chef Ben!

This was probably the most interesting part for me – making fresh pasta from scratch. The pasta was made with semolina or durum wheat flour – no egg (which may surprise you) and water. The flour and water was kneaded into a dough, then using the below device and a special technique we learnt, it was rolled into the cavatelli pasta shape! It was then boiled until the pieces floated to the top. The end result was “al dente”, still firm.

Making the dough

Making the dough

Making pasta

Making pasta

Pasta

Pasta

When we returned to the UK we actually made this dish again for my mum, dad and sister – I forgot to take a picture but I can vouch that it turned out exactly like it did in the cooking school. We will certainly be preparing this dish again, nothing beats fresh pasta, it is divine!

Second main Course – beef “carpaccio” with cherry tomatoes, arugola and shaves of Parmesan Cheese

This dish contained thin strips of beef, which were fried lightly with garlic then mixed with arugula (rocket) and fresh diced tomatoes. I’ve never fried rocket before, but the end result was really tasty.

Lightly cooking the beef

Lightly cooking the beef

Side dish – Broccoli Romaneschi (Roman Style Broccoli)

The Roman broccoli is quite strange looking and took a long while to prepare. Ben and I were tasked with the titillating job of removing each tiny broccoli floret, and then pulling off the even smaller parts, before it was fried with garlic and chilli.

Roman broccoli

Roman broccoli

I have to say this may have (surprisingly) been my favourite dish of the day! It was aromatic and delicious.

Dessert -Traditional Tiramisù

Some of the group were surprised to find out that real tiramisu contains no cream, it’s egg whites, yolks and mascarpone cheese that provide the dessert’s creamy element.

Egg whites

Egg whites

Ladyfingers

Ladyfingers

We dipped ladyfinger biscuits into freshly brewed espresso, then whisked the egg whites with sugar. The yolks were then whisked with sugar and mixed with the mascarpone cheese. It sounds a lot easier than it was, but the finished dish was by far the best tiramisu I have ever tasted.

Time to eat!

At the end of the cooking class, we were sat at the table to devour our creations and a few glasses of wine – matched perfectly with each dish.

Beef with rocket and tomato

Beef with rocket and tomato

Cavatelli pasta

Cavatelli pasta

Artichoke

Artichoke

Roman Broccoli

Roman Broccoli

Tiramisu with a personal touch!

Tiramisu with a personal touch!

Cooking students dining together

Cooking students dining together

I can’t recommend Cooking Classes in Rome highly enough, it was interesting and so much fun.

It is a refreshing break from the crowded tourist traps and a productive way to spend your time in Rome if you only have a few days.

I’m certain if we go to Rome again, we will return! You can check out their Facebook page here.

Coco xo

2015 so far: sunshine, beaches & a PR

After a two month hiatus, I’m back!

I have had a busy few months – Ben & I went to New Zealand in December, and I unexpectedly had to return to the UK in January as unfortunately my grandmother passed away over Christmas.

I’m really glad I was given the opportunity to head back to England in September to spend some time with her, when she was almost fully aware, and able to recognise me. Dementia is an extremely difficult and upsetting illness for both the sufferer and the sufferer’s family. I would not wish it on anyone, but my grandma passed peacefully surrounded by family, which I am very thankful for.

Sarah-Nanny-Me

RIP Nanny Miriam, you were a very special lady who will be sorely missed.

On to some happier news from the past weekend, where I entered into my first 10K race for some time, as I begin to train for the Gold Coast Airport Marathon in July.

The Sun Run is a fairly challenging course, beginning at Dee Why Beach and ending at Manly Beach with a few hills along the way. There are two course distances – 7K and 10K – I entered into the latter with my father-in-law-to-be, Kim who is always up for a challenge.

Me & Kim before the race

Me & Kim before the race

The beautiful 10K coastal course is as follows:


10k

And with perfect conditions of 16-18 degrees and bright sunshine allowing optimum performance, I actually ended up running my fastest ever 10K at 55.40 – despite a serious lack of training! I was enjoying the scenery and keeping a faster than usual pace with the other runners which allowed me to maintain a 5.34/km average page vs my usual 5.50 or so.

It goes to show that (good weather,) attitude and determination make a huge difference. I was in a such a good mood – see the below pic at the start for proof of that!


happyrunner

I’m considering trying out some trail running next, as it really helps when you are absorbed in your surroundings rather than stopping at traffic lights every 5 minutes. I’ll keep you posted what happens with that!

My training schedule for the next 5 months looks something like this..

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However, I have some horrible blisters at the moment because my trainers have been rubbing, so I am going to spin and swim while they heal this week. And I think it might be time for a new pair.

I also need to incorporate some strength training into my schedule, so I think I will either add in some extra evening sessions or add some weights before or after my runs. Any advice would be appreciated, so please let me know in the comments 🙂

Until next time!

Coco xo

Hello!

Hello!

My name’s Coralie, or you can call me Coco.

I live in Sydney, Australia with my fiancé, Ben. He’s Australian, I’m British and we met when I came over here in 2012 backpacking.

I never returned home and now we’re planning our wedding for December 2015!

Me at Heron Island

This is me

I have just turned 27 years old and I work in digital communications/PR.

I love to write, I love to travel, I love the online world, and – more recently – I love keeping fit and healthy!

Last year I lost around 13kg (28 lbs) over 6 months. It was difficult, and at times I didn’t feel like I could stick with it, but the one thing it did do is inspire me to keep moving.

I’m not a fitness nut, but I do aim to stay active 4 to 6 days of the week. I also love experimenting with food, eating out and exploring what this city and this country has to offer.

I’ve learned over the past three years is how important it is to be happy. That doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone, but it’s really important to find what works for you.

So, this is a list of the things I’ve done and things I’ve found that have inspired some happiness in me, that I thought I’d share. I’ll also be discussing ways to stay active, because that’s one of the things that makes me happiest.

Marmalade

This is my 17 year old cat Marmalade; he makes me happy.

When I research things to try that I’m a bit unsure of, such as a new gym class or beauty treatment, I always look to blogs and videos from people online for advice, so this is my way of doing the same for others.

So, here it is & I hope you enjoy The Happy List.

Coco x

P.S. Your comments and feedback are most welcome!

Please feel free to say hello: thehappylistau@gmail.com Twitter | Facebook