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Cooking La Dolce Vita in the Lincolnshire Countryside

Did you, like me, have notions of learning a new skill during those indefinite days of lockdown? Did you start making your own bread, learn to crochet, take up photography or master the downward dog?

For me I wanted to learn how to make pasta and after a quick google & watching a Jamie Oliver youtube of him making pasta dough from scratch, I thought how hard could it be? I don’t possess a food mixer, so attempted the 'kitchen worktop' method. Well my patience lasted one bag of 00 flour and a couple of free range eggs and then back to Tesco wholewheat fusilli I went.

3 years later, and on the hottest day of the year so far, I found myself in the middle of the Lincolnshire countryside, on a pig farm, in a beautifully converted barn at The Lincolnshire Cookery School on their ‘Pasta Mania’ course. The school is the run by Fiona Lucas, located at Hill Farm, in Snelland - and from the moment you enter the building you are swept up in Fiona’s warm, fun and approachable personality. You’re there for the day, not just an hour or so, but with Fiona’s knowledge and passion shining through, the day whizzes by in a flurry of Magimix, a dusting of flour and a generous glug of olive oil. 

For each stage there was a short demonstration by Fiona, then we simply got stuck in with hands on cooking. First, we learnt how to make fresh pasta dough and use a pasta machine to create tagliatelle, which we used for a Carbonara, my all time favourite pasta recipe and this one was probably best I’ve ever tasted. Next was filled pasta, I stuck to Ravioli with ricotta, garlic, spinach and walnuts, while others got adventurous creating Tortellini. I made some pasta bows with the left over pasta dough (now dried and in my kitchen cupboard waiting to be used) and we even snuck in some gnocchi (not technically pasta, but who cares they were fun to make and bloomin’ delicious)

Fiona is so patient, which is a good job because I wasn’t the fastest pasta maker *, but her charisma also creates an atmosphere where no one feels they are going too slowly or too quickly for that matter, and because the class sizes are limited, it's more like you are having a one-to-one lesson. (* i was also taking the photos, although not of the Carbonara, I was too busy sampling that!) Fiona is also a member of Ladies in Pigs, a group who support the pig industry by working to increase the awareness of Red Tractor Pork, bacon, ham, gammon and pork products, particularly in local schools.

As well as all the ingredients being provided we were given a delicious lunch and refreshments were plentiful throughout the day, in fact the only thing you need to bring with you are some containers to take your pasta creations home and a tray for your pasta bows to finish drying out on, which I didn't have, so cobbled together some tinfoil laid on a car mat.

The Lincolnshire Cookery School won the Destination Lincolnshire's Experience of the Year 2023 Award, and for good reason! There’s a course for all tastes and skills; from baking bread to patisserie, pies, pasties & puddings to Indian, Asian, Spanish & Italian. I haven’t covered even a third of the courses available, but as the tagline says ‘Nothing beats the taste of freshly made pasta’ and there are now 3 new pieces of pasta making equipment in my kitchen.

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