Reflections on week five of Cook’s Certificate by Will P.

The past week was very different to any other week on the Cook’s Certificate as we all spent 3 full days on a WSET wine tasting course.

This was after a great day on Monday learning Middle Eastern cooking. We all really enjoyed making (and eating!) baklava as well as some other really tasty dishes like beetroot dip, the lamb tagine, pitta bread and a really delicious spanakopita. This was a great day and would make for great dinner party food. Again, we all left feeling very full! After the cooking, we had time for a group trip to Middle-Eastern grocers, Green Valley on Edgware Road, where Ros and John showed us some really interesting Middle Eastern ingredients. The place was amazing and had everything from essential herbs like za’atar to pulses, meat and pastries. After this we all went for a Lebanese coffee and pastries across the road in a really nice little cafe called Al Arez.



Lovely homemade baklava!

On Tuesday the wine course started. Our group was part of a much larger group of budding wine experts and we went to the headquarters of the The Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) to spend 3 days learning all about wine and take the level 2 wine exam. It was a fascinating course and I’m very glad to have done it. We must have tasted over 50 wines in the course of 3 days, all with varying characteristics and prices, ranging from a budget Tesco’s own brand to a £50+ bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.

WSET wine tasting

WSET wine tasting

The main thing we learnt is that the price of a wine isn’t necessarily indicative of quality, though that being said, some of the higher end wines (i.e. the more expensive ones) were noticeably tastier than what I was used to, which is generally a wine that costs between £5 and £10! Learning about how to taste a wine was eye opening, looking for “oak” or “pronounced” aromas, or citric fruit characteristics and short or long finishes (i.e. how long after you have tasted the wine do its flavours linger?) was fascinating. I think I can now confidently go into a wine shop and have a conversation about good wines, maybe I’ll even be able to identify a bargain.

Wine tasting at WSET

Wine tasting at WSET

After the 3 days of wine immersion we had a really lovely day on Friday learning to make all kinds of wonderful tapas. I was amazed at how much food we all made; the salt cod fritters and tortilla were delicious, as was the butter bean and chorizo stew, but the paella was probably everyone’s favourite.


Tapas day!

We all went on a group trip (again, with very full bellies!) to Brindisa in Brixton where we had a great tasting session of top notch jamon iberico and Spanish cheeses. After this we walked through Brixton market and saw the amazing array of ingredients available. I will definitely be going back there!

As the final week of the course starts tomorrow I can’t help but feel sad that it is all coming to an end. The staff have been amazing and I’ve been totally blown away by what I’ve learnt.


To find out more about the upcoming six week long Cook’s Certificate course, please click here.

Cook's Certificate