Text Raphaella Frame-Tolmie For many people, pizza and pasta is the first thing that comes to mind when they think of Italian food. Really though, it is one of the most varied cuisines, with Etruscan, Greek, Byzantine and Jewish influences, and great regional diversity within the country. Dishes are often quite colourful and incorporate plenty of fresh produce, meat and fish. I recently had the pleasure of attending an evening cooking class at the Enrica Rocca School of Cooking, managed in Cape Town by Enrica’s Italian colleague and friend, Emma Freddi, who focuses on authentic Italian and Ligurian (food from the Northern coastal region of Italy) cooking. Emma is so warm and convivial that it really does seem like we’ve known each other for ages, so it’s easy to feel right at home in her Constantia kitchen. A good thing, because rather than a demonstration, Emma’s classes operate as though you are making dinner with her. On arrival, she already has a ‘snack’ of Buffalo mozzarella and Parma ham bruschetta drizzled with burnt sage butter ready, along with a glass of wine, which makes for a most delicious kick off point. On the menu for us to prepare is Kudu carpaccio with mango and balsamic dressing, ripeni genovesi – baby bell peppers stuffed with a ricotta mixture, tiger prawns with penne and a zucchini sauce, and a soft fruitcake made with pears and raspberries, which is served with crème fraiche, espresso and an optional (yes please) shot of Grappa. The recipes are simple and Emma provides print outs of everything to take home. However, in preparing the food at Emma’s side, you pick up great tips and tricks not always mentioned in the text. Emma does take requests in advance, within reason, for specific Italian dishes that guests might want to learn, and her classes are intimate – never more than six people at a time. One of the options of a full day class, includes a guided peninsula tour, and a visit to a local wine farm, to learn more about food and wine pairing – it’s a novel way for friends or family visiting Cape Town to experience some of the province. Classes are R600 per person, and run on Tuesday evenings between 6pm and 10pm, and on Friday afternoons from 12pm to 4pm, including the prepared three-course meal. Enrica Rocca Cooking School, 5 Domira Road, Constantia, Cape Town, 082 378-8855, enricarocca.com.