Those that have met me know, (even those that haven’t, can assume) that I like food, aka scran. All shapes, all sizes and in most cases, the more the merrier. In fact, many of the car launches I attend have a ‘dietary requirements’ question, to which my reply is a flat out NO!
Anyway, having an unbreakable relationship with food ( it never wants to leave me) also means that I have a penchant for cooking too, so when I discovered that as part of the launch for the all-new Maserati Grecale we would be having our ‘lunch break’ at Good From Scratch cooking school in Muriwai, you can imagine my delight – Prestigious Italian SUV driving and fresher than a fresh thing, top notch grub, I’m still salivating now.
‘Good from Scratch’ cooking school is the brainchild of Michael and Belinda (Bee) Van De Elzen, you may know them from ‘The Food Truck’, (TVNZ’s hit series about tackling the fast food industry from an old Bedford truck called Beddy), and their from-scratch concept that began in 2015 with a restaurant, moved being a school in Muriwai over five years ago.
The concept itself is rather simple, the creation of delicious food made (by you) from ingredients either grown from seeds or (wherever possible) sourced from their farm or locally.
The Good From Scratch cooking school classes are held at their specially made rustic ‘kitchen’, a stand alone, open plan unit complete with wood fired oven, smoker, large wooden counter, concrete sink and of course, a huge macrocarpa wooden table for communal eating once made.
The classes claim to be a fun-filled day where their guests pick fresh ingredients from the garden, make sauces and sides ‘from scratch’ and there’s even butchery lessons – I assume for the less squeamish (who knew meat wasn’t grown in packets).
It’s a hands-on affair with Michael and Bee taking you through the cooking process step by step, but it’s also made to be both fun and informative. As it turned out, there was to be no cooking lessons for us/me, just the eating – ah well.
Michael and Bee were the consummate hosts and welcomed us all to their (not so) humble abode set on their stunning and lush farmland, even the sun came out to join us. We had a brief tour of the kitchen and a sample of some of the raw ingredients before being seated at the table to dine.
The menu had been pre-prepared and we began with a prawn (not locally sourced) and Queensland blue pumpkin Tortellini – it had to be something Italian – with saffron rouille. Now my understanding of saffron is limited, but I have heard that it’s more expensive than gold? Either way, it was stunning and went down a treat.
Pork was served to us as our main, however, we’re not talking chops here. Pork belly stuffed with mushrooms, parmesan (more Italian) and sourdough, all resting on a bed of watercress risotto.
And finally, a panna cotta with smoked meringue, raspberry and borage flowers for dessert – hungry yet? In truth, the taste sensations across the board were extraordinary and had no-one been looking I would have probably licked my plate clean!
Full to the brim we bade farewell to the Van De Elzens, and jumped into the Grecale Trofeo for a drive back to Auckland, in fairness, had it been any lesser of a vehicle I would have preferred to spend more time at the school and picked up some real cooking tips – maybe they’ll have me back and we can start again – from scratch.