Sunday, 26 October 2014

Brisbane Good Food and Wine Show 2014 - Barilla cooking class with Sammy and Bella

One of the big ticket items on the Brisbane foodie calendar is the Good Food and Wine Show, held over at the Brisbane Convention Centre each year.  Over a three day period in October, the foodies of Brisbane congregated and celebrated all things food and wine. Not only is the Good Food and Wine Show an opportunity to sample the amazing produce and wine that Australia has to offer, but is an opportunity for people to get up and close with their favourite chefs and talk to the people who spend their lives bringing the good stuff for us all to enjoy.

I've not been in Brisbane during the show over the last couple of years, which has been lousy timing, but I was definitely around this year and was excited about getting finally getting back amongst it. There was extra incentive, with an invitation to participate in the Barilla pre-show, hands on cooking class with My Kitchen Rules Season 2 winners, Sammy and Bella, to learn how to cook one of their favourite Sardinian breakfast dishes.  Given my status as a person who prefers to eat out as opposed to cook, I thought it might be a good way for me to 'get my hands dirty' and give that cooking caper another try.

The cooking class had been arranged by Barilla, one of the Good Food and Wine Show's major sponsors and was at the Barilla stand.  The class itself was scheduled to kick off at 8am, but I've been getting up extra early lately and found myself wandering into the convention centre just before 7:30.  This had a couple of benefits, I was easily the first person to arrive, which gave me the opportunity to find a great spot to cook from as well as chat to the chefs who would be assisting the class.  It turned out that I'd jumped the gun (oops) a little bit and got booted out of the arena while the setting up was finished off.  By that time, the queue for the class had already started and I was at least able to join the front of the queue and watch it grow and snake along the convention centre floor.

By the time we were allowed to enter the cooking arena, there was a mighty queue and I was pretty happy that I'd managed to get over early and get to the front of the line (I hate queuing!). Being at the head of the queue allowed me to jump straight back onto the station that I'd claimed earlier and all was right with the world.  

While everyone was finding their station and checking out the ingredients and tools that we'd be using for the cooking class, Sammy and Bella had arrived and were cracking a few jokes to warm up the class.  If you're not a fan of MKR, then you might not remember Sammy and Bella, but I do love watching cooking shows on TV so the dynamic duo were quite familiar to me.  Probably the thing that I remember most about season two of My Kitchen Rules was that it was more about the cooking than the drama at that stage and Sammy and Bella were able to win without all of the melodramatic scenes that plagued later seasons of the show.

We were to be cooking a traditional Italian breakfast of Seadas, which are quite different to the traditional Aussie breakfast, which can be quite sweet.  Seadas are a regional specialty from the island of Sardina and are a fried pasta, filled with fresh ricotta and pecorino cheese then drizzled with honey.  

The class started off with Sammy and Bella running through the recipe and chatting away, and I was mesmerised by how easy the girls made the cooking of the Seadas.  I've had the pleasure of watching chefs cook a number of times and it's always amazed me how easy they make it look and Sammy and Bella were no different.  It seemed like it was only minutes before they had their golden brown pasta parcels cooked and it was our turn to go.

It was clear that I was surrounded by great cooks.  I was careful to roll out my pasta dough to the right thickness, mix up my ricotta and pecorino cheese to the right texture and consistency and prepare my Seadas.  Thinking I was going really well, I looked up and saw that almost everyone at my station was well ahead of me and had their plump looking Seadas already frying in their pans!

Sammy and Bella were walking around the arena, helping people with kind words and advice.  By the time I'd completed my preparation and had the pastry frying, the girls were at my station and I was very encouraged by the kind words and enthusiasm they showed for my Seadas, which I have to say looked pretty amazing, especially given it was my first ever attempt at crimping.  

But looking good is only part of the story and it's much more important that cooking tastes good, so with a little trepidation, I cracked onto my golden brown Seadas which had been drizzled with lashings of local honey.  It was pretty good!  My main criticism was that the pastry was a little too thick at the edges where I'd crimped the pastry, but overall, it was a pretty good effort.

There was a lot of energy in the room, with lots of smiles and laughter.  It was in no small part the effort from Sammy and Bella to get around and engage with the audience.  I'm never going to be a great cook, it's more often a chore for me than a pleasure, but I could see the appeal and feel the love of cooking deep down in the pit of my stomach.  The class left me a little bit more inspired to get home and use the huge kitchen in my new apartment - you never know - this cooking gig could grow on me!

** I was a guest of the Good Food and Wine Show and Barilla for this class

All the ingredients and tools for a successful outcome!
Sammy and Bella - last minute pep talk?  Or, talking about last nights dinner!
There were a few familiar faces in the crowd - it was a morning for the bloggers!
Yeah, I'm cooking that!
And yeah, I cooked that!  Just time to drizzle some honey..
OK, I really needed both Sammy and Bella in on this one!
A photo of me taking a photo of my Seadas!
And this is what we were marvelling over!  My golden brown Seadas
Wrap up time - thanks to Sammy, Bella and Barilla for a fun morning.

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