Four Seasons Canary Wharf, Italian Cookery Classes with chef Moreno Casaccia

Ravioli is one of my favourite things to eat so I was delighted to discover that the Four Seasons Canary Wharf chef, Moreno Casaccia would be teaching us how to make this delicious pasta.

Moreno has an impressive culinary background and has been instrumental to the operation of the Hotel, where he started his Four Seasons career in November 2005 as a Chef de Partie. Since then he has held the positions of Junior Sous Chef, Sous Chef and Executive Sous Chef. He was named Executive Chef at Four Seasons Hotel last year. Prior to joining Four Seasons, Moreno gained extensive experience while working in a variety of top-end establishments including The Dorchester in London and the one Michelin-starred Le Moulin, and three Michelin-starred Taillevent, in France.

Pasta is a staple part of most people’s diet, though many have not tried homemade pasta, which in my opinion is infinitely tastier than the shop bought variety. It is also a lot more time-consuming and challenging than emptying a plastic bag of dry pasta into a pan of water.

With Moreno we learnt the recipe for fresh pasta and helped him create a delicious dish inspired by his mother’s cooking: Ravioli filled with potatoes and herbs with “cacciatora” sauce. He was kind and enthusiastic, displaying his creative flair in the kitchen whilst also teaching us some crucial Italian culinary basics.

I highly recommend the cooking classes at Four Seasons Canary Wharf, and perhaps trying this delicious dish at home:

Ravioli filled with potatoes and herbs, “cacciatora” sauce

Ingredients for 4 people
For the filling:
200 gr King Edward potatoes
20 gr of salmoriglio oil
50 gr of double cream
30 gr of parmesan
Salt and pepper
For the pasta dough:
700 gr flour
300 ge semolina flour
6 eggs
12 egg yolk
For the cacciatora sauce:
500 gr tinned tomatoes blended
100 gr celery
100 gr carrots
100 gr onions
100 gr extra virgin olive oil
50 gr pitted taggiasca olives
500 gr diced chicken legs
300 gr white wine
300 gr remouillage
3 gr rosemary
3 gr sage
Salt and pepper

For the filling:
Boil the potatoes, peel and mash them, Add salmoriglio oil, parmesan and double cream, adjust with salt and pepper
For the pasta dough:
Make the pasta dough in the traditional way by mixing all the ingredients and resting for at least four hours.
For the cacciatora sauce:
Trim celery, carrots and onion, peel the garlic and cut it on half, cut the vegetables in small dice
On a medium sauce pan, reheat the oil, sauté all the vegetables with the garlic and the bouquet garni (rosemary and sage).
In a separate saucepan, sauté the diced chicken leg meat until golden, add to the vegetables and cook for a couple of minutes.
Then stir in the white wine, leave to reduce and add the tomato, remouillage and chopper taggiasca olives.
Prepare the ravioli, making sure the pasta is as thin as possible, blanch them in salty boiling water, drain and sauté with the sauce, add parmesan, freshly chopped parsley, season with salt and pepper.

More information here:

Fine Dining in St. Lucia

photos from our cooking class and meal with Orlando

There are numerous dining options in St. Lucia. Many of the best chefs mix traditional Caribbean flavours and produce with other cuisines and techniques to create innovative and exciting fine dining.

Orlando’s: One evening at C’est La Vie we had a special guest. Orlando (or Share the Love Chef as he calls himself) gave us an enthusiastic cooking demonstration and a dinner that was truly delicious and very memorable. Born in England, Orlando moved to St. Lucia thirteen years ago and has since been promoting Caribbean cuisine and the vibrant flavours so readily available in this climate. His first solo restaurant has just opened in Souffriere, St. Lucia and promises to be magnificent.

The Cliff at Cap Maison: Cap Maison is placed on the edge of a cliff as the name makes clear. After a very informative wine tasting, we were treated to an exceptional meal at the restaurant. In my opinion, the food here is Michelin-star standard, I couldn’t fault the Sweet Pea with White Truffle Risotto or the Braised Kobe Short Rib.

East Winds: A more rustic but equally exciting place to eat… East Winds is a unique all-inclusive boutique resort with a generous patch of beach and lovely facilities. At lunchtime the hotel restaurant offers a great buffet where we tried Caribbean classics like beef roti, fish stew and fresh salads. I’d also recommend the tropical Pina Colada.

A few other fine restaurants I heard complimented during our stay in St. Lucia are the following: Hotel Chocolat, The Edge, Ladera and Jade Mountain.

Many thanks to Premier Concierge for advice and arrangements.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MAN: Cooking Classes at School of Wok

Last weekend, after an all-day extravaganza at the BBC Good Food Show – I cannot recommend this highly enough, book your tickets for next year – my intrepid photographer and I embarked on a journey of discovery at the Soho-based School of Wok. Playfully named, there is nothing childish about the undertaking of the chefs/teachers at the helm. Their mission is to teach Asian cuisine to the masses, be it Chinese, Singaporean, or any other regional variation.

We were put through our paces, first with a vegetarian egg-fried noodle dish, with spring onions cut at a “jaunty angle”, as was apparently crucial to the process; then the group split, half tackling the classic beef in black bean sauce, while the others grappled with sea bass. After an excellent demonstration from our resident expert Nev, who guided the group through our magical mystery tour of Asian gastronomy, we were let loose on the woks, more or less one per person, although my cameraman and I teamed up for moral support. Perhaps the most important pieces of kit in the whole kitchen were the industrial-strength extractor fans, crucial for dealing with cooking at the intensely high heat that, Nev informed us, was essential.

One might be forgiven for thinking that the cooking experience was all you had signed up for, but there is an equally enjoyable part of your evening left, once you have completed your cooking masterclass. Once everyone has finished their respective dishes, they are served up and the whole class gather round one of the tables in the front restaurant, and dig in. Nev informed us that our noodles were in fact the tastiest, so we were perhaps a bit robbed by this communal approach, but it is a sociable way to meet your fellow chefs-to-be, who may have been too engrossed in making sure their mushrooms didn’t burn during the cooking segment of the evening.

Nev cracked out a bottle of wine, and we all sampled our neighbours’ contributions to the feast, and soon the table was wok-ing with conversation and good cheer. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking to expand his or her cooking repertoire, or if you’re out of ideas for an inventive dinner date. If you’re in the latter category, a trip round the corner to The Experimental Cocktail Bar is an easy way of impressing your companion.

More information here.

Written by a Thoroughly Modern Man, James Bomford.