Friday, May 16, 2008

Striking Truckers = Impromptu Dried Pasta Class!

Buon giorno tutti!

The holidays are fast approaching. It’s a little strange being here in Italy. I would be decorating the house, our Christmas tree, making my annual gingerbread house … it is festive here - large Christmas trees in the various piazza’s, lots of lights … not quite NYC though. I’m missing you all … especially Larry, Elinor and Senore Cocoa. I’m really looking forward to Friday – winging my way home in just 5 days! Yippee!!

So let’s get right to it! This week we studied the regions of Lazio and Campania. If you happen to be checking a map you will see that we’re shifting south. Lazio claims the city of Roma in its region, and Campania has Napoli. They have very different cuisines than the northern regions – but instantly identifiable by everyone.

Our first guest chef was from Rome. Everyone loved him. He instantly reminded me of one of my teachers in NY – Chef Bobby – no one saw the resemblance but me … maybe I’m just missing the NY kitchen? Anyway, his cuisine was great and we had a lot of fun with him. Here is the link to his restaurant: http://www.ilconviviotroiani.com/eng/index.html.

Our second guest chef represented Campania. His restaurant – no his castle – is located on Lake Orta in Piemonte. You have to check out this web site: http://www.hotelvillacrespi.it/indexeng.htm, the location is so amazing. What’s even more interesting is that he is only 32 years old. He created old style dishes from Naples, with a modern twist. We were all pretty sated at the end of each day!

One funny thing that happens here is that people tend to go on weird strikes. This week the truckers were striking – but not on picket lines – they had a driving “slow-down.” On the highways for most of the week trucks were traveling at a very slow pace. This of course affected all kinds of deliveries – including food for us! (Can you even imagine that happening in the States?) So we had a little change of plan on our cooking days. One morning in particular we ended up having a great last minute class on dried pastas. Imagine what you see in the grocery store multiplied by a hundred. All shapes and sizes – all used differently and served with different sauces. It was a lot of fun to learn which sauce works better with which shape, and to taste the differences in pasta flavors – yes, each shape has its on unique taste when cooked – believe it or not! One of my classmates couldn’t resist and took a shot of me holding a huge package of pasta.

So the rest of the time we cooked of course – had great wine and history classes too. On Saturday I trekked down to Bologna again for some last minute shopping. It’s such a fun lively city – and looked spruced up for the holidays. I ventured around the gastronomic section of town for a few hours and snapped some pictures of the food for you. The candied fruit was just so beautiful!

So this week will end up being a short week. We’ll be studying Pulia, Calabria and Basilica, in just three days. On Thursday we’ll be taking our last field trip to meet Gualtiero Marchesi (one of the founders of ALMA) and to a winery in Franciacorta. I’ll be heading to the airport on Friday morning and on the ground in Newark at 1:30 pm!

I’m excited to see everyone, and to be back at home in our cozy house. So until next week … arrivaderchi!
Molto amore,
Maria

PS: No word yet on where my stage will be. I’m hoping to get the news this week before I leave!

1 comment:

Allen said...

Good to hear that Naples if getting some love in the instruction there. Lived there for 3 years, and hoping to work my orders (Navy) to go back. Of course I'm also looking at doing the ICE program once my commitment to the Navy is up, hence finding your blog. Good insight into what they're actually teaching you guys, it's a nice bit of extra info. Thanks.