Travel is probably the biggest influencer of my passion of food, however that’s not where my love started from.
I first started cooking at a young age and I vividly remember experimenting with cooking at around the age of 12. Later on whilst at college, I opted to take an extra-curricular course on a wednesday afternoon of Indian Cuisine.
From that point on, cooking classes have been present for most of my life, either while working overseas to grasp the local cuisine further, or back in the UK to push my technical skills on. I have always enjoyed learning a new technique or recipe in a classroom environment.
Recently when I was asked if I would be interested in reviewing a cookery school in Didsbury, I took a look through their website to see what they offered up.
Food Sorcery is located at the waterside centre in Didsbury and is easily accessible. Their range of courses was listed on their website, with all the popular favorites being there, including Indian, Italian and even Thai, but then I spotted something special – Portuguese!
I have had the pleasure of living and working in the Algarve, but lived most of my time there in hotels full board, so missed out on producing any of the local dishes myself, so this would be perfect for me.
I thought about the food that transported me back to my time there. Obviously there was Bacalao (Salted Cod), which was available in every supermarket and was the national dish. Then came Piri Piri, the chilli chicken dish that originated in the Algarve itself. Then I thought about the freshly caught Sardines that I used to be able to buy from the vendors on the harbour side, where they were grilled and served fresh on a thick slice of bread.
I was getting hungry just thinking about it – this was the class for me, so I accepted and got booked on.
I arrived at Food Sorcery on a Sunday afternoon at 3pm and was greeted with a glass of wine – well that’s a good start.
We are introduced to the team including Jason, the chef for tonight’s class. I find out how Jason has cooked in various countries and how he now has a house in Portugal, so I know the class is going to be authentic food.
Looking at the board featuring tonight’s dishes, all my wishes start to come true. We have all those things I was associating with Portugal, including Piri Piri, Salt Cod and even Sardines.
The class gets underway and Jason starts to demonstrate how to prep the whole chicken which needs to be spatchcocked and marinated. Once the demo is finished, we all head to our own working areas and start to repeat the dish.
Once the chicken is marinating, we start work on producing a homemade Piri Piri sauce.
The evening continues along the same format, with each element being demonstrated, before heading back to your own workstation and trying it out for yourself. This was a great way to learn with everyone helping each-other out, yet each producing your very own dish with plenty of space for everyone to work.
One of the highlights for me was actually the dish I hadn’t thought about. A Caldo Verde (A Green Soup of Potato and Kale). Ours also included a small amount of Chorizo to give it a little edge. The finished soup was gorgeous and one that I will definitely make again.
While we were enjoying the soup, the chicken was placed under the grill to cook.
During this time, we were also able to shape the salted cod and potato into quenelles, ready to be fried later.
The finished chicken was hacked up and after trying some, the rest was potted up to take home.
As a group we then went about finishing off the Salt Cod Fritters which were deep fried and eaten hot.
Before we left Jason grilled some Sardines to finish off the evening perfectly – eaten of course the proper way, with your fingers, gently pulling off the flesh, discarding the bone and eating the bread which is now covered in juices.
The format of this evening meant we sat down at various times and ate in stages, rather than a full sit down meal as I believe happens at some of the events. I personally liked it eating as we went and there was so much food that I left stuffed.
The following day I reheated the chicken and the soup and served it up for dinner. I also produced some more Piri Piri fresh to add at the table. Not only did this class enable me to re-live my time living in Portugal, but it taught me some new dishes to recreate at home.
I would recommend these classes for all levels of skill and the full list of courses can be found here.
As well as various cooking classes, they also have barista school, team building events or even your own private events.
I was invited along to Food Sorcery to find out what it was all about on a complimentary basis, however the review and all the thoughts are my own honest opinions.