As we walked up to Cooking Lisbon‘s door, I could already smell the savory chicken broth on the stove. This is when I knew we were going to cook and enjoy a delicious meal over the next few hours.
History of Cooking Lisbon
Cooking Lisbon is a small family-run cooking institute in an unassuming building on the north side of Lisbon. Teaching local and homestyle cuisine to foreigners, I was excited to try my hand in the kitchen. Portugal is famous for its cuisine, so why not take home a few recipes of our own?
A group style class, Sam & I cooked with 8 other people, 6 of whom were an adorable and teasing family from the east coast of the US. The modern kitchen has two island cooking stations with lots of space for everyone. We got outfitted in our aprons and set off to prep and cook our 3 course meal. On our menu was bacalao (codfish) con matas (potatoes) in a creamy sauce, chicken stew with local veggies in a tomato broth and a sweet custard pavlova.
To avoid any hangry situations during class, our head chef served up some appetizers of cheese, chorizo, bread and olive oil along with a bottomless wine policy. Needless to say, everyone was quite comfortable throughout class :)
Hands-On Cooking Experience
All of the prep work was split up between the various students so we each had the chance to help out. I was responsible for blanching & peeling tomatoes, shredding the codfish, and cracking eggs for the custard. Sam took on prepping the meat, including the cutting the bacon and sausage and spicing, seasoning and pan-frying the chicken.
Along the way, chef would delegate tasks as they came up and explained the various steps concisely and clearly. In total, the prepping & cooking process took about 2.5 hours. We definitely learned a few kitchen tips along the way, but I enjoyed the class more for the fun social environment. We really got a chance to engage and interact with the other students as well as chef. And with that bottomless wine policy, everyone was feeling pretty chatty by the end of class!
Enjoying the Fruits of Our Labor
Cooking Lisbon has a nice big table for everyone to congregate around, so as the dishes were cooking in the oven, we sat around and got to know one another even more. Dinner was served around 9pm, and it all turned out beautifully.
For me, the best dish was the creamy bacalao. It is basically a fish & potato bake with a bechemel sauce, onions and crispy bread crumbs. Hearty and rich, this is a really classic dish in Portugal that you see on tons of menus. The dessert was also super special. I’ve never had a custard & pavlova as light as those, and it was incredibly refreshing to eat alongside a nice glass of sweet port wine.
Overview & Reflection
Although this wasn’t my first cooking class abroad, it was definitely one of the most social & fun. I really liked the environment and casual atmosphere that Cooking Lisbon cultivates. They have a cosy and comfortable space to cook and socialize, while also enjoying delicious food and learning some local cuisine.