Mister Bianco curds and whey plus boysGiorgio serving up creamy ricotta

Italians have been making delicious food and wines using traditional methods for generations. Their knowledge is passed down the family line. What happens if you’re not of Italian background and still want to know how to make Italian favourites? This year’s Melbourne’s Food and Wine Festival offered the solution with Kew restaurant Mister Bianco serving up the perfect opportunity for want-to-be Italians with a hands-on sausage, cheese and wine masterclass of giant proportions: The Tastes of Italia at Home.

Chef and owner Joseph Vargetto cooked up his contribution to the Festival by serving up Sam Canning from Canning’s Free-range Butchers, Frank Bovezza from Home Make It and Giorgio Linguanti of That’s Amore Cheese to a small class of 20 attendees in a well run series of demonstrations by each of the three guest presenters, followed by a good pinch of hands-on experimentation and concluded with a generous taste of Mister Bianco’s classic dishes.

Mister Bianco Cannings carving two ed copySam de-boning a leg of pork

Joseph’s native Sicilian wit whipped up with a dynamic collection of anecdotes on family recipes gone array entertained participants while learning from Sam Canning how to debone and slice up a leg of pork and Frank Bovezza’s demonstration on how easy it is to make fresh pork sausages with the Home Make It “hot continental” recipe kit full of secret herbs and spices.


Mister Bianco sausage making kit twoThe Home Make It Sausage Recipe Kit


Mister Bianco sausage making threeThe spice mix for our sausages


Mister Bianco sausage making one ed copyThe sausage making begins


Mister Bianco sausage making fourSausages being stuffed


Mister Bianco sausage making fiveDelicate twisting


Mister Bianco sausage making sixTwisting and tying close up

Stories of exploding grape juice and vintages turning into expensive vinegar accompanied Frank’s explanations of how to make wine that will not only be drinkable but easy to Home Make It when you use a grape de-stemmer and air tight barrels.


Mister Bianco Frank Home Make It ed copyFrank from Home Make It


Master cheese maker and owner of That’s Amore Cheese, Giorgio Linguanti outlined the steps to making beautifully creamy ricotta and later served up a fresh, warm batch for us to sample. Who ever knew ricotta was the result of what Little Miss Muffet was doing when she sat on her tuffet, eating of curds and whey.


Mister Bianco Thats Amore ed copyGiorgio making the ricotta


Mister Bianco adding curds and whey to punnetsGiorgio scooping up our creamy ricotta samples


Mister Bianco curds and whey testingThe ricotta being served up

Our masterclass was finished off with Joseph hitting the kitchen and producing an array of Mister Bianco classics. He started us off with a generous serving of fried baby school prawns with green chilli jam, complemented with arancini and meatballs ‘messinese’. Continuing the theme of the day’s class we were next served fresh sausages, from meat provided by Sam Canning of course, plated up with delicious, spicy caponata. It wasn’t hard to tell that all in the room were now full to pussy’ s bow, but that did not deter Joseph as he then enticed his masterclass group with a giant bowl of cavatelli mixed with mussels, prawns and scallops.

Mister Bianco prawnsFried baby school prawns with green chilli jam

To finish the day Giorgio, of That’s Amore Cheese, served up a bowl of warm ricotta surrounded by whey for each to try. It was my first time trying ricotta warm and like many around the room, I was not sure what to expect. The ricotta was smooth and creamy, yet with a flavour and texture entirely different from the same product when chilled. Call me a heathen, but its texture reminded me more of custard than cheese, yet the flavour was reminiscent of condensed milk. That being said, I consumed the lot. Joseph served a palate cleanser of mixed gelati and a cinnamon cannoli made from Giorgio’s ricotta to finish off our meal and our day, before packing us off home with a goody-bag of sausages we had made and a fresh basket of ricotta. The Taste of Italia at Home was an absolute highlight for me at this year’s Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, looking forward to what Joseph brings to the table next year.

Words and images by Scott Samson.


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