Friday, 23 September 2011

Italian Cooking Adventures at 3seeds

It’s a special thing when you have a good friend who shares your passion for something you love.  In my case, I am lucky to have the Divine Ms M. to share my love of all things food related.  She and I have been friends for donkeys’ years, sharing the highs and lows of high school, uni, relationships and lots of other experiences.  While we’ve lived in separate cities (even separate countries) and gone down different paths, we’ve always managed to keep in touch.  A few years ago, the Divine Ms M. moved back to Canberra with her young family, to my delight.  Since then we’ve tried to catch up when we can for girls' lunches to talk about what’s been happening in our lives.  
The Divine Ms M. and I had been trying to do a cooking class together for well over a year, but never managed to coordinate due to one thing or another.  So, after careful scoping and scheduling, we finally locked into doing a cooking class at 3seeds recently.
3seeds has just moved to the Fyshwick markets and offers a range of wonderful cooking classes, including tapas, desserts, Thai and Middle Eastern, to name a few.  This particular day, the Divine Ms M. and I have chosen an Italian pasta class.  We are not disappointed.
Our chef and instructor, Andrew, greets us warmly and asks us all to put on our aprons and name tags.  He gathers thirteen of us around the large communal stainless steel kitchen table, explaining what we will be cooking today - basic egg pasta, sweet potato gnocchi, fresh pesto and simple roasted tomato sauce.  The table is laden with bowls of beautiful fresh produce from the markets below and we are ready to start.
First is the gnocchi, which requires peeling and mashing recently boiled potatoes and roasted sweet potato.  Only potatoes with red skin should be used, Andrew advises, and it's best to mash the potato using a potato ricer or mouli to get a nice, smooth result (although you can use a sieve). The two types of mash are mixed with flour (at a ratio of 1.5 : 1 : 0.5) and kneaded lightly into a surprisingly soft dough. Then it’s a matter of making little sausages out of the dough, ready for cutting small pieces off and throwing into boiling salted water.  When the sticky little dollops poke their heads up to the surface, they are cooked.
Next is the egg pasta, which requires blitzing flour, eggs and salt together in a food processor and kneading it strongly into a firm dough.  A tip from Andrew is to be sure to use special  ’00’ flour for best results (you can find this in most supermarkets). 
After resting the dough, the most fun part is rolling it through the pasta machine, of course.  The Divine Ms M. and I enjoy working as a team.  I decide that my next toy will be a large electric kitchen mixer with a pasta attachment! (hint, hint, Mr D.! J).  By the time we are finished, there is flour and pasta everywhere!  The pasta cooks within a couple of minutes in boiling, salted water.
Meanwhile, the tomatoes are halved and then squeezed firmly to remove their seeds and juice and placed on an oven tray for roasting, along with some salt and pepper and what we think is a rather large amount of sugar.  Andrew assures us that this is necessary to balance out the salty and slightly bitter flavours in the sauce.  In fact, a bit of sugar can fix all sorts of cooking stuff ups, he tells us.  I have to remember that!
The roasted tomatoes are mixed with some finely chopped red onion that has been sweated in a frypan with butter.  A few of us think olive oil would be better (especially for our arteries), but Andrew assures us that butter tastes better and makes a richer, glossier sauce.  The mixture is then blended with a stick blender to make a smooth pasta sauce.  We are surprised how orange the sauce ends up, so different from the rich red colour of the tomatoes.
Finally, the fresh pesto.  This is simple too – some lightly toasted pine nuts (toasting brings out the beautiful nutty flavour much more strongly, Andrew advises), fresh basil and rocket, shaved parmesan, roasted garlic (for a much more mellow flavour than raw garlic), lemon juice and salt and pepper.  These are blended until smooth in the food processer, then olive oil added slowly through the top of the machine while it is running.  We are encouraged to taste test as we go, to get the balance of flavours just right.
We serve up the two dishes, the pasta paired with the pesto and the gnocchi with the tomato sauce, and enjoy the feast.  The pasta is topped with some more toasted pine nuts, fresh tomato and grated parmesan.  The gnocchi is topped with some house-made Persian feta – light on the tongue, lusciously creamy, a little tangy, a little salty, and particularly delicious.  The flavours of the dishes are fresh and clean, affirming how good it is when you can make an entire dish with beautiful ingredients and a little time and love.  We all agree the food is wonderful.  We are all totally inspired!

While the recipes are simple, the expert instruction from Andrew (who is clearly passionate about what he does) makes the difference.  He helps us turn what would normally be good food into great food. 
It’s very pleasant to sit around with everyone in the group, getting to know them over the great meal we have all played a part in creating, along with a lovely bottle of wine.  The Divine Ms M. and I have a fantastic time and vow that we will do it all again.  Hopefully it won’t take us a year to organise it next time. J

So tell me, do you like to share your passions?  And what inspires you?

Fyshwick Markets 
(above Ocean Fresh)
Mildura St
Fyshwick  ACT 2609

The class cost $110 and ran for 3 hours (including eating time).  Girl About Town paid her own way.


  1. Ooh thanks for giving us a peek into this class! The last time I went to 3 Seeds the owner was telling me about the classes and they sounded great!

  2. Ohhhh those finished dishes looked so delicious! I would love to be more confident making pasta! Looks like I should take a class :)

  3. Great post. I'm going to have to give one of those cooking classes a go.