Friday, June 20, 2008

Walk To The Cafe With Me!

Buon giorno tutti!!
Well, I’m settling in to my new routine nicely. This week was actually a wee bit shorter. On Wednesday Chef Niko went to ALMA to teach as a Guest Chef. It worked out just fine for me – I needed to catch up on my sleep!! My (old) body seems to be taking its sweet time getting used to the hours! J

So, a few of you have been asking me about the 40 minute journey I take on my days off, walking between the towns. I decided to snap a few pictures for you to get an idea. When I leave the hotel I walk about 5 minutes to what seems to be the edge of the village, and I am “Looking at Rivisondoli.“ From one side of the field to the other is exactly 25 minutes. Then I start my ascent! I decided to count the steps from the bottom to the top – 330. (I kid you not!) Well … don’t be entirely impressed - I’m not sprinting! My first stop is step 125. I have a drink of water and loosen my scarf! At step 222 it levels a bit, I stop for another breath, water and take a look back (“Looking at Roccaraso”) at where I came from. If you focus on the top center of that picture you will see the path I crossed in the field. I press on! OK – so now I’m just about dying at this point! At step 274 there is a little church with a bench in front of it. I have to sit down and unzip my down jacket! When I turn and look to my right I see the last 56 steps, and the very top of the building where the Gran Caffé is. I’m inspired for a cappuccino and a cozy seat, so off I go. In the Caffé picture you are seeing the view from my seat. (lap top in the bottom right corner.) It’s very cute and I am officially a regular!

I also thought it would be fun to show you a few snaps of my teeny room.

View 1 is taken from the doorway looking in. Directly to my right behind the wall is the bathroom. In View 2 is from the opposite corner. Thank god I’m a small person!

This week I completely executed all the components for the dish called “Crespelle.” It’s one of the appetizers on the menu. The base a clementine sauce with vanilla bean seeds. The “crespelle” is actually a thin crepe, about 3” in diameter with a lemon curd filling. It’s folded like a half moon. The crespelles are covered with sugar and torched quickly to make a crispy melted sugar crust, then warmed in the oven. The crespelles are placed on the sauce and serve. Very yummy!

I’ve been floating around the kitchen all week doing random bits of cooking, but mostly prep work. Prep work to some can be boring – but for me it’s always been a time where I can “zone out” and let my mind wander. Removing hundreds of tiny clams from their shells, peeling chick peas … my mind wanders to home, Larry, Elinor, Mr. Cocoa. (I sometimes look down to my right and half expect to see him looking up at me for a nibble!) I’ve been thinking a lot about how I want to reorganize the kitchen, the den, the basement … yeah – ok … I’ll stop! Aside from that, I must report that at times it is a little frustrating for me. I’m working with three boys more than half my age. They execute the Chef’s menu pretty flawlessly. (Niko is a perfectionist – so I’m finding that nothing is actually perfect that they do) Never-the-less, I am impressed with their skills. For me that frustration is being in a kitchen and not actually cooking intensely when we have customers. I’m not sure if they don’t completely trust me, or if they think I might actually know what I’m doing, and might do it better … whatever it is, it has driven me crazy from time to time.

With age comes patience – right? I have just six weeks to go, and I’m done. As Larry would say, “they have no idea what they are dealing with!” J

Arrivederci fino alla settimana prossima!
(Goodbye until next week!)

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