Sunday, March 10, 2013

Wildwood Valley Cooking Classes

I love this photo, this is Sioban and Carlo Baldini, this is their kitchen which is our classroom. Together they run the Wildwood Valley Cooking Classes located in the picturesque rolling hills of Yallingup, above Smiths Beach. You can see the sea, from the hacienda.
Looking down to Smith's Beach
This was my third class, I love, love, love them. I have done a combined Italian/Thai and a separate Tuscan and a separate Thai. Never cooked the same thing twice. There are normally about 10 people in the class. 
The hacienda, originally Sioban's family home
Looking north, love the stone work
We arrive about 10.30am, register, enjoy a freshly made coffee, meet our new class mates and then the fun begins. We don our aprons as Sioban runs through our menu, the recipes, the strategy, then it's into the cook fest. So much fun. We all get to participate and Sioban and Carlo are lovely teachers.
Sioban siting on a Gkra-dtai which means 'rabbit', its a coconut grater that you sit on
Zesting, squeezing, pounding, I can smell it now.... beautiful citrus aromas
Choppy, choppy choppy:)
I have always gone along with friends, but would happily go on my own, as everyone quickly finds like minded people, food being the common thread. I have met people who are tourists to the area and people who are local. For my girlfriends and I, we have driven up from Margaret River which is a 40 minute drive along Caves Road, which is one of my favourite drives.
The Barramundi Spring Rolls with Red Nam Jim
The menu is set up so we can enjoy an entree kind of thing about an hour into the class, last class it was Barramundi Spring Rolls with a Red Nam Jim dipping sauce (super yum), a peanut brittle and a Coconut Soup with Oyster Mushrooms. It is often necessary to enjoy a glass of wine as well. We bring our own. Then more cooking and tasting... then everything we have cooked is presented at a long table lunch, Grilled Tamarind Chicken with Crispy Noodle and Herb Salad, Mussaman Curry of Beef, Grilled Fish with a Green Mango Salad and for dessert a Coconut Panna Cotta with Caramel and Bananas. OMG so delish. (more wine!)
Gosh, the work that went into this Massaman Paste! So we made a triple quantity. 
But that work directly translates to a super delicious curry
The other day, we met a couple of girls, who had done 22 of these classes! With each class you receive a cook book, they had all 22. Instead of going to a restaurant for lunch, they decided that it was a great idea to do a cooking class instead. I agree, it is a fabulous idea.
The hibiscus, a nice touch from Carlo
Grilled Tamarind Chicken with Crispy Noodle and Herb Salad, it's making my mouth water. 
Its not just for the girls, the first class I went to had several blokes there as well, the boys loved this casual kind of format. The thing I love about cooking classes is that it re motivates me to cook, ignites my passion with food and opens my mind up to cooking something different. Excellent for a jaded palate. And you don't have to do the washing up!
I have printed this recipe with permission from Siobhan. It was delicious and easy. I put it here as, Silverbeet is about one of the few things I can grow, and when I do, there is so much of it that I am always looking for recipes that use it. Try it, its yummy
Sioban and Carlo, spend half the year in Yallingup and half the year in Tuscany. In class, I met a few people who had actually joined them in Tuscany for their hosted tours Mad About Tuscany. After getting to know them, and hearing the stories from others that have joined them, I have put it on my list of places to go and things to do.
A baby kangaroo, standing just outside the kitchen door. Apparently the Baldini's have been caring for it. Tooo cute 
That's me, I could not resist a cuddle 
Yep, I went for the hug, her little head was on my lap, check out her gorgeous long eyelashes!
I will add post this to the things To Do in the Margaret River Region. I have only seen the cottages from the outside, so can't endorse them. But, what a great idea if your coming down to the South West for a weekend?! Book a cottage, book a class, go exploring, have a surf, try and buy some wine (you need to take something to the class). How lucky are we. It really is a beautiful part of the world down here and that, and the cooking classes I can endorse.
One of the cottages @ Wildwood Valley, looking cosy to me
Wildwood Valley Cooking Classes
Wildwood Valley Cottages
Mad about Tuscany

I will just share this song that has popped into my head, it illustrates how lucky and privileged I feel.

Life could be a dream....... 
(Found the song by The Crew Cuts - Sh Boom)

PS if you want to enlarge the photos you click on the photo once and it will take you to an album


  1. Thank you Cath for such a beautiful write-up! It's an absolute privilege to share my favourite meals with friends old and new. We hope to have you visit again soon. Sioban, Wildwood Valley

    1. You are so welcome Sioban. Can't wait to do the next one. Cheers Cath



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