In the kitchen of Ristorante Buca di Bacco in Positano, a motley crew of six Americans gathered together to learn how to cook an Italian feast.
Wine was poured and we got to work.
We were taught to prepare eggplant parmigiana, riced potatoes for gnocchi, and cut up cherry tomatoes for sauce. The gorgeous tomatoes, along with some salt, olive oil, garlic, and basil leaves, were set onto the stove to cook down into sauce.
More wine was poured, and our teacher, Chef Andre (who, lets be fair, did most of the work) measured out ingredients for homemade pasta...flour, eggs, chopped parsley, salt, olive oil, and milk. With his hands he mixed them together to form a beautiful dough. Flour was tossed across the work surface and we rolled out the dough and sliced it into long strips of fettuccine.
Eggs and flour were then added to the potatoes to make the gnocchi dough. Chef showed us how to roll it into ropes, cut off pieces, and then indent them with our thumbs as we rolled each one across a grooved wooden paddle. We were good at this! The gnocchi went into the pot of boiling water on the stove and we drank more wine.
Soon, the garlicky aroma of eggplant parmigiana was wafting from the oven , and we were getting hungry.
Finally, our faces dusted with flour and flushed from the heat of the kitchen, we sat down to enjoy the fruits of our labor.
We learned to cook, made new friends, drank lots of wine, and ate a fabulous dinner.
That was the best class I've ever had.