Pasta proficiency from Italy, noodle knowledge from Thailand, dumpling education from Georgia, taco tips from Mexico. We might have lost something in the intimacy, the sociability and the hands-on help when it comes to virtual cooking courses, but what we have gained is access to culinary masters from ardor the world, encompassing an extraordinary diversity of cuisines and techniques. There are plenty to get stuck into, but here are a few of the best, taking your tastebuds and your techniques from Tbilisi to Koh Tao.
Pasta with an Italian nonna
For the last few years, on the outskirts of Rome, Nonna Nerina has been initiating cooking enthusiasts into the art of pasta. In lessons that have since been rated in the top 10 percent of Airbnb’s once-in-a-lifetime experiences, visitors to the 84-year old’s wine press-turned-rustic kitchen spend a couple of hours making three different types of pasta from scratch, then devouring it alongside generous servings of wine and stories. Of course, since COVID hit, this hasn’t been possible — so Nerina’s granddaughter Chiara has stepped in with her smartphone and tech skills and taken this seemingly quintessential analog experience into the virtual sphere.
For $59 attendees will receive a shopping list and wine parings in advance, translated notes from Nonna Nerina, and two hours of live-streamed instruction from Nonna Nerina herself, her sister or Chiara. Classes with Nonna Nerina are confined to the weekends — she is 84 after all — but Chiara is equally adept, having spent her life under Nonna’s instruction. There’s vegetarian fettuccini with tomato sauce, cannelloni, vegetarian ravioli with butter and sage, gnocchi with pesto and lasagne. See the full line up and how to book here.
Pad Thai with a former Thai street food stall-holder
Joy Piadrmong started her cooking career straight after high school, selling Thai breakfasts and lunches to commuters, then setting up a street food stall to support her journalism studies. Fast forward through years of successful trading, traveling the world and teaching in various resorts around Thailand and she has her own cookery school on the famously beautiful island of Koh Tao.
COVID means you can’t go there — not this year, anyway — but you can transport Koh Tao and the taste of Thailand to your home via Zoom, the Asian section of your local supermarket and a decent blast of central heating. Teaming up with The Chef and The Dish, an online cooking school connecting kitchens around the world, Joy is offering lessons in Pad Thai, Tom Yum Soup, Massaman Curry, Cashew Chicken and others. For the full line up and instructions on how to reserve your place, click here.
Vermouth with an artisan vermouth producer
By day, Luke Watson makes vermouth for his local Barcelonés; by night — well, early evening in his time zone — he teaches vermouth fans (and the vermouth curious) around the world how to brew to their own). Via Skype, and at a time that suits you, Luke will invite you into his Barcelona-based kitchen — otherwise known as The Lab — and initiate you into the history and culture of vermouth.
He will then proceed to teach you how to create your own bespoke bottles of traditional, slow-macerated vermouth (ready several weeks after the class) as well as an ‘instamouth’, developed via an express method that will allow you to reward yourself with a sip or several the second the class is over. A shopping list — simplified so it can be made around the world — will be sent to your home prior to the lesson, but other than that no prior experience or equipment is necessary. Contact Luke here to book a class and find out more.
Khinkalu Dumplings with Tbilisi local
A family Khinkalu recipe passed from generation to generation — to you via Zoom and Tina: a Georgian mother of seven who had made her name selling wraps and crepes at the famous flea market in Tbilisi, her home town. In Georgia, these beautiful, brothy dumplings are a staple, stuffed with spiced meat or mushrooms and served, steaming, alongside a glass of Georgian wine. Classes with Tina last an hour and half, can be arranged at your convenience, and can be customized for any dietary requirements. Recipes and ingredients will be sent in advance. To get in touch with Tina and have a crack at Khinkali, visit The Traveling Spoon.
Dutch Pancakes with a Dutch cookbook author
Though not a country known for its cuisine, if there is one dish you cannot miss on a trip to the Netherlands it is pannekoeken: the rich, fluffy pancakes studded with apples and drizzled with treacle or scattered with bacon and oozing with cheese. Acclaimed Dutch cook and Amsterdam resident Fusina will also teach you Stamppot, the traditional Dutch dish of mashed potatoes with endive and smoked sausage — but it’s the pannekoeken you’re here for (and by here, I mean in your kitchen with your laptop open). Recipes are sent in advance, ingredients can be customized and the lessons arranged at your convenience. Visit The Traveling Spoon for more.
This article was originally published on Spectator Life.