When I received the invitation to attend Greekalicious Greek Cooking Class for kids I knew exactly who I was going to take. Not a question in my mind. It was my olive-adoring-spanakopita-and-tzatziki-addict daughter, Eloise. For the most of this year it's been all about her little sisters. They've started school, had first this's and first thats and Eloise has gracefully shared our enthusiasm for these first but I know her deep down she needed some alone time with Mummy.. she's a Daddy's girl most of the time but every now and again I can tell if she's needing 'me'. Just her and me.
The morning started early as she was super excited and she hopped under the covers with me, cuddled in close, smiled big and said 'Mummy, this is OUR day today! I can't WAIT'. Isn't that the best good morning ever? I think so.
So we set off early because the class was on the other side of Sydney - when we got into the city we stopped off for some morning tea, and I bought Eloise her first ever magazine for the next train ride. I remember my Aunt doing the same thing for me when I was young on one of my days with her at the Sydney Film Festival. I felt so grown up. I saw this feeling mirrored in my daughter as she smiled at me and got into reading about Disney. Bless.
Soon enough we arrived at Greekalicious cooking HQ and met Maria Benadis. Maria is the author of the beautiful (and now on my Mother's day gift list) My Greek Family Table
Gorgeous photography and beautiful words to accompany the beautiful recipes..
Maria greets us and I feel her warmth straight away. You know those people who are who they are and you feel like you know them already? Like that. Most everyone is kitted up in their aprons and hats and ready to go and Maria tells me the kids usually get more from the session if the parents aren't present.. I see what she's saying but what about my photos?.. photos!!
Not a problem, come at the last thirty minutes and then you can find out exactly how much Eloise has learned - 'go shopping!' she suggests cheerfully! I sit down and get my stuff together and can't help myself but to eavesdrop on the beginnings of the sessions whilst I skulk into the background.
Maria talks about what they're going to cover today - they are going to cook three Greek dishes. One using seasonal produce - the pumpkin making Greek keftedes (fritters), lamb kleftiko (lamb baked in parcels) and then a modern twist on my culinary nemesis - baklava.
The class shares their favourite food, and unsurprisingly many of them name Greek dishes and a few of them this isn't their first Greekalicious class! It is emphasised that you don't have to like all food, but it's important to try. Sometimes you don't like an ingredient cooked a certain way or mixed with something but you could find you like it cooked differently or combined with something else.
Maria talks with much love about food and shares with the class who range from 7-12 years of age that 'Love is the most important ingredient in any food you make - if you are feeling grumpy or angry, don't cook'. This is sage advice for any cook!
I know Eloise is going to learn a lot and I head on my way 'shopping'. I spot Wheel and Barrow one of my favourite shops, head in and the first thing I see is....
I'm not even joking!
When I head back about 1 1/2 hours later I can smell something amazing walking up the stairs and arrive to the kids eating their lamb kleftiko (lamb baked in parcels) and I'm wishing there was enough for me - there's a child licking his plate and I am totally understanding it.
Next I get to watch the finishing off the the 'Baklava nests' made with kataifi, almonds, walnuts, butter, cinnamon and sugar. Maria shows the kids how to finish it off with warm pure honey... The overhead mirrors ensure everyone can see...
I love this little pot and believe me, it smells a-maaaazing.
And then the most important part - the tasting! This time I get to taste -sooo good. I love baklava.
OK, and then maybe another one.. (like mother like daughter right?)
Then it's time to leave. Big hugs for all!
Eloise makes me promise to bring her back - of course I will - it's great for her to have her own experience of food, even if I'm not there to oversee it - she's in great hands!
And what did she learn? All the way home I heard:
'Mum...! Did you know that potatoes come from Peru in South America? They have 6,000 different types of potatoes - isn't that cool?'
'Mum....! Parsley comes from Rome you know - the capital of Italy- I love parsley'
'Mum...! I need more practice cutting up onions, can you help me do that?'
Inspired she is!
Thank you Greekalicious for our wonderful experience we will be back!
Greekalicious cooking classes run once per school holidays (subject to change/popularity) and cost $90 per child for 2 1/2 hour class in Bondi Junction, Sydney. Includes all food (organic Australian/Greek produce) apron, bag and recipes to take home. Check out Maria's blog here (with recipes) and further tips/information/inspiration at her facebook page.
Maria will also be appearing on the Circle next Wednesday 20th April - showing us some more Greek Cuisine, I'm going to be watching!
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