Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Italian for the test. It was our first exam this week and I have to say I am a little disappointed in myself I got a 26.75 out of 30. Why I am not sure because they only gave us a score and not any sort of comments from the judges. But I am told that I should not be worried this is a good score anything over 25 is a good score but I thought I still did better that what I got. I was the final course and was handed the recipe for a duo of, drum roll please, cookies. Even in this damn country I cannot escape the clutches of the pastry world. I have also been assured that i will not have to cook another dessert, Yay.

The Two cookies were Meringhe and Biscotti di Melinga. Both desserts are from the piemonte region and neither catches my interest much but according to my peers and even some of the teachers I did a really good job on my cookies. This bolstered my confidence but made my final score more disappointing.

The Meringhe is a Mirangue(Egg Whites, Sugar, and a touch of cornstarch for stability) Which I piped into little circles and baked at a low temperature for about and hour and a half until they become hardened and have a texture similar tho that of an after dinner mint. If it was available in the kitchen I would have added mint to it but there was no mint so I took too cookies and sandwiched a whipped cream flavored with a reduction of strawberries sugar and water and studded with a perfect brunois(16th of an inch by 16th of and inch cube, I measured for god sakes) of strawberry. This was about as many different skills as I could shove in this simple little cookie. The Whipcream was light and had a hit of strawberry which was intensified when the consumer encountered one of the carefully cut bits of strawberry. I thought it was pretty good.

The Biscoti di Melinga, is a cookie which is made with flour, softened butter, sugar, Polenta flour a whole egg, puls a bit of egg yolk and baking powder. It is formed like a lady finger and rolled in more polenta flour. Needless to say it is sweet but tastes a bit corny. For my bit of flare on this cookie I tempered chocolate, without a thermometer (not an easy feat), and stripped the cookie with bittersweet dark chocolate. The color contrast was pretty neat.

When I got to the Judging table. I served my dish to two chefs and two reporters. One of the chefs was quick to notice that the filling of the meringhe, was flavored with Fragole(strawberries) and seemed pleased with it. The rest of the conversation was led by one of the reporters who just asked me about where I was from and what kind of wines we are produced, if any, in Washington. So I told him that I lived north of Seattle, not Vancouver, and then gave him the rundown on the wines and producers I knew about from over 80 different vintages and 300 plus producers the state. The Geography and Climate differnces around the state a regurgitation of what I learned in school.

Afterwords we had a small celebration and the shortcourse was given their diplomas. At about 11:00pm we returned to Cascina (Cash-ee-na) our home away from home exhausted. Ciao for now, Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lazy Weekend But FUN

This weekend was interesting to say the least. On Friday we were sitting in the breakfast room debating about whether of not we were going to go the a restaurant to have a last hurrah for the boys that leave on Tuesday but it was just pissin' down rain and for fear of melting I guess, Olesia and I went out by ourselves. We went to Cafe Roma, a picturesque little trattoria near the castle.
The menu was all in Italian but the waiter spoke English as he heard us fumble with our Tarzan Italian. I am happy to say that I could understand everything on the menu but speaking and reading are two different creatures.

So I had the ravioli riepieno stuffed with ricotta and spinach. Olesia had a tagliolini co salsicia sausage sauce. for the next course I had Carni Crudo Basically tar tar but the meat was so fresh and it was veal so it just melted in your mouth. I loved it, Olesia was put off by how much I loved it so she had Insalata Misticanza con verdure, a mixed spring greens salad with different vegetables; tomato, mushroom, fennel and a fresh cheese which they make in house. We washed it down with an '06 Barbera d'Asti(Olesia's new favorite wine). For dessert Ole had Tiramisu which was absolutely phenomenal and I had a Grappa di Moscato, a slightly sweet grappa the perfect digestivo. The rain had petered out and we were full and happy as we walked down the hill toward the Cascina we could hear the party had begun.

When we entered the breakfast room it was utter chaos. The "Crazy Japanese Boys" had invaded and were wasted a total transformation from the dreary scene before our dinner. We sat in the corner and enjoyed the spectacle. Then the Spanish returned from their test and were ready to cut loose the party was revived and crazier than before. As midnight rolled around I was ready for bed so we headed upstairs put on a movie and went to sleep.

The next day most everyone had gone to different towns about half of our group went to Turin to party with our Chef from school. Those of us that were left decided to have a BBQ. We got peppers to grill, sausage, veal, onions, potatoes it was fantastic. We sang songs, Diego one of the Brazilians played his guitar, we played music from around the world had wine and cheese and beer. A great time was had by all.

Today Ole and i rose early and headed into town for the Sunday market. We had a blast, there was fresh produce, A guy was working a rotisserie filled with chickens and pork loins. There was even Cloths, shoes and housewares for sale, We even saw the cheese producer C.Bianca that we had visited earlier this week. There was a man selling Grape Vines to start your own vineyard and a boatload of plants and flowers. Ole was sad because we cant have a Garden this year but we might get a pot of Basil that she can take care of so we'll have fresh basil when we need it. We picked up some other produce to cook for tonight and headed back to Cascina making sure to take the long way home because it is absolutely gorgeous outside today. So Ciao for now, Stay tuned

Friday, April 23, 2010

A day on the Farm then we ate the critters

We went to the "factory farm" of C. Bianca. They have a huge production staff of about six people. It was Great, they raise sheep and cows on the farm that we went to and cooperate with another farm which has Goats. Their main product is, of course, cheese. Robiola to be exact but the particular type of cheese that they produce in a given day is determined by the milk which is available to them. If they have milked sheep they make peccorino if they have goats milk they make goat cheese, they mix the milks and and make cheese out of that. It really was an interesting place. I'll leave out the technical process for the sake of sanity because honestly all cheese is made the same way. But interestingly enough their blue cheese is innoculated with penicillin and I discovered today that I am still allergic to penicillin. and the cheese that I ate ended up in the plumbing of the castle.

After lunch we went into the demonstration kitchen where we were learned about Meat. Our Guest Chef was the Executive Chef of La Bettula in Turin, Franco Giacomino. This is a man who knows his meat he was the first truly fat Italian that I have seen since I've been here but his food was so good I could not blame the man for his size. The first dish we started was Caprelle al Forno, Oven roasted Goat, With Lightning fast speed and eficiency that can only come from years of practice Franco broke down the goat from whole beast to the five essential cuts and reserving the offal into a neat pile on the side of the cutting board. The shanks Legs and Ribs were then seared off, draped with lardo(Italian Belly fat of a pig, a lot like Fatty Bacon), and placed into a roasting pan and into the oven 160 degrees C. for about an hour and a half. The end result was a moist and juicy meat that fell off the bone and melted in the mouth.

The Next dish was Guinea Fowl with a sauce made for Balsamic Vinegar, Red Wine Vinegar, Honey, Butter and Green Peppercorns. The Guinea Fowl was nice and moist slightly more flavorful than chicken. But the true star of this dish is the Vinegar reduction sauce. It was amazing, a simple sauce that I will most surely take with me, I would use it on almost any meat it was balanced and the whole peppercorn would explode with spice to counter the sweetness that the balsamic takes on as it reduces with the honey. The sauce was nothing short of divine making Chef Franco in my eyes a Fat little angel sent down to satisfy our gustatory desires and enlighten us to the ways of meat cookery.

As the Goat and Fowl roasted slowly in the oven Franco put some stock on to boil with a little bit of cream, olive oil and salt. This would be the base for a Polenta that was taught to make in the first restaurant that he worked in where, in the traditional italian and therefore the best method, cooked the polenta in a steel lined copper pan over a wood fire. The flour was typical of the piedmont region,we learned that as you go from west to east the grain of the polenta flour gets finer and finer. The piemontese was like coarse sand which meant that the cooking time would be slow. When the polenta reached the desired thick pasty consistency Chef Franco added diced fontina and another sharp cheese the name of which eludes me at the moment. Another simple dish that was simply amazing.

The last dish we made was Filleto di Meiale, Pork lion which was covered with a mix of herbs and lardo finely minced into a paste. This paste waas spread on the seared pork loin and secured with Caul Fat, which is the lining of a cows stomach. It looks like a spider web of fat with windows in it. But when you bake the meat it keeps everything together and dissolves into the meat an amazing little natural tool that I hadn't seen employed since culinary school but Chef Franco uses it everyday in his restaurant. it's too bad his restaurant is in Turin or i might have tried for my extern there but he says he's already got a full boat with three Japanese and one Canadian. oh well. thats about all I got for this entry stay tuned

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Nugget Factory

On Wednesday we went to the nougat factory D. Barbero it is one of the top producers of Italian Nougat. It has been around and run by on family for an amazing 127 years. Their particular Nougat is made from some very simple ingredients: Honey, Sugar, Glucose Syrup, Egg Whites and Hazelnuts. First the honey is heated until it becomes very thin then sugar is stirred into the mix along with the glucose syrup to make a sweet warm liquid into which the egg whites are added. the whole mix is whipped until it triples in volume to from a huge mass that looks a lot like marshmallow cream. Once the "raw" nougat has reached the perfect texture twice roasted whole Piedmontese hazelnuts are added to the mix. The mix is then pulled from the mixer on to a floured table in batches which are rolled into logs and transferred to another table where a crew of guys are waiting to take chunks from this log and hand press it into wooden forms to make bricks of nougat. These bricks are then set aside to rest and cool until they can be cut into the desired portions for further production.

They are either cut into small sheets about 3x8 in, and packaged in bundles of six, or Bars 4x9 in. about 1 in thick. Both of these are meant to be eaten as you would Grana Padano cheese, broken into chunks and consumed with family and friends. These are the classic methods of preparation, in the 1930 one of the sons got it in their had that they should expand into the Chocolate market as well. Thus another production method was created chocolate covered Nougat. They sell this in 3X1/2X1/2 in. bars covered with Dark or Milk chocolate. These proved to be Olesia's favorite. They also offer a chocolate that comes from a recipe that was created in Turin. A mixture of dark chocolate and milk chocolate combined with Hazelnut butter(nutella). I am sure I an oversimplifying this process but the end product is nothing short of Divine.

Now most regions and towns in Italy claim that their product is the Best in all of Italy and the World but in the case of the Piedmontese Hazelnut I really have to side with David, the owner, of this one and the same goes for the Nougat. This is not the nougat that one finds in a Three Musketeers it has a crunch to it and it is dotted with big pieces of the Hazelnut. It melts in your mouth and leaves you craving for more, not overly sweet but just right. Unfortunately we forgot our camera for this field trip but I will try to get some pics from my compatriots. Though I have been having trouble uploading photos of any kind. So that about covers our Journey to the Nougat Factory. Ciao for now, stay tuned

This is the End...for the short course

So here in Costigliole there has been two section of English speaking students here at ICIF. There was the short course, an accelerated program that will end at the end of this week and the Master Course which I am enrolled in. So My brothers will be leaving and it will be me and my girls.

The short course consisted of Ido a chef from Israel, a very nice fella who confirmed for me that all of the Hebrew stereotypes in You Don't mess With the ZOHAN were in fact true. This guy has a passion for food and the photography of food. He takes a great picture, I have to say. Then there is Fernando, though he is in the English course he is from Brazil and his English ranks on a par with my Italian. But he has been in Italy for the last two years studying the language and speaks fluently the small conversations that we have had though let me know that he's alright by me.

There is also John, a guy from Cleveland who is direct and to the point he doesn't sugarcoat anything. But aside from his gruff facade he is a talented chef and a nice guy as well. He tells it like it is and doesn't take shit from anyone all great qualities in a chef. Last there is Dominic, the New Yorker who is fast to make friend with anybody, easy to laugh and also a caterer before he started this program. He knows his shit and amongst the short course the aside from Fernando speaks the best Italian. A funny guy to say the least.

But they will be gone to their externships by next Tuesday and our group of nine will pair down to five. Buon Viaggio amici.

As for the rest of us there is Alice, the blond haired blue eyed self admitted Klutz. Her passion is pastry, this was proven this week when we were in charge of preparing lunch for the school and she leaped at the opportunity to make the dessert, then with tears forming in her eyes she says, they want me to use this powdered vanilla to flavor the creme brulee, and they won't let me make a sugar cage to garnish said brulee. I had to laugh a little but it show gumption. Jessie, the self proclaimed former tomboy from Arizona is the greenest of the bunch but only because she hasn't been to Culinary school. She also is easy to laugh even at the crudest of the jokes in my repertoire. Thank God for that. But she know her stuff as well it's just the classical techniques that she needs to get down, a small step.

Rosa is a mother from California who also knows her way around the kitchen. She won't do her externship in Italy but has worked out a position in California that will work out for her. She is a nice lady and you can tell that, aside from coming half way around the world, she really like to cook. Rocio is the Peruvian she speaks fluent English, Spanish, and pretty spot on Italian too. She is our liaison when we don't have an interpreter, truly a stand up lady and a great chef. She reminds me of many of the great women chef I have come across in my life, full of piss and vinegar and knows how to cook great food.

So these are the chef I will be cooking with when my brothers in food take off for their various restaurants of externship. It's gonna be a smooth ride and it seems like the program is going to pick up a bit more for a true Masters Course. Cant Wait. Stay tuned

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Genova The amazing port town with too little to do.

Caio Amici,
This last weekend I and a group of friends went to Genova on the Ligurian coast. It was an interesting Journey and one in which Rick Steves yet again failed us. In our copy of Rick Steves Italy 2010 there is nary a paragraph about this port town just north of the Cinque Terre. But as we walked around the whole of the town because we got off at the wrong stop on the train I realized that aside from the requisite Duomos, Chiesas and Museums that there was little happening in this town. There was shopping which to those on a budget holds little interest. But as we got closer to the port and saw the extravagant Yachts and Cruise ship in the harbor I was Vaguely reminded of Bellingham crossed with the piers of Seattle. There was some modern Art scattered here and there and a little shopping/Cineplex center that had, Que the angelic chorus, A BREWERY. In Italy I know like a needle in a haystack.

The Brewery was called Bicu. Unfortunately, in Italian Style, it was not the quaint Bistro that I used to work at Boundary Bay, but a chic restaruant. they had a Ginormous menu that had everything Italian on it. Many Pizzas and Pastas, a boatload of traditional dishes fused wiht modern cuisine. I convinced everyone that the best thing that we could do was to order the Gran Misto(Pictured), a starter plate fit for a King and his Court with four Pork Shanks four half chickens, a sellection of sausages all piled atop a more than generous portion of French fried pah-taters. It was protein heaven in this world which prides itself on the mastery of the carb. And I have to say the beer was not Bad either. I had a German Style Double malt which was so nice I had to try it twice, though it was touted as having a strong Hop Character I figure they haven't been to the northwest, but a good beer anyway. Olesia had a really interesting Greek style beer which was light on the pallet and made with Basil called Akiropita al Basilico. Akiropita is greek for "Created By God", I have to believe it because Olesia actually had two of them and it was a light beer I could see myself drinking on a hot day, which unfortunately it was not.

Filled with food and a beer or two we set out for the only other thing that caught our interest the Genova Aquarium. We are told that it is the largest aquarium in Europe and if this is true I am truly disappointed. I am a sucker for aquariums and I had a really great time walking around the different exhibits. The had sharks and seals and dolphins. There were Piranha, and a few display about the fish of the Mediterranean. The Billboards that explained the histories of the fish and urging the public to be more conscientious about our oceans and their creatures. Touch-tanks and weirder still and exhibit on reptiles and amphibians from the Amazon. I have been to many aquariums in my life and this one ranked about a 4 on a scale to ten but my favorite part of all was the Manatee they had a pair of them imported from Florida. God bless those little sea-cows they were asleep and they still fascinate me. My inner marine biologist satisfied we headed for the train station and back to our sleepy little town of Costigliole.

Sorry the internet in this town SUCKS!!! will upload photos ASAP

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Cheese Of Grana Padano

This small factory in the Emilia Romagna Region of Italy produces a cheese that is very similar to that pf Parmagianno Reggiano. This is because if this particular cheese factory were to be moved a few Kilometers to the east it would be Parmagianno Reggiano. But because of the DOP and they use a bit less salt in the brining process they cannot be Parmagianno. Everyday they turn 30,000 liters of milk into about 3,000 Kilos of this beautiful chees they spend about a day letting the whey leak out the harvested curds in round forms with marble tiles laid on top of them they are flipped about every 4 hours or so before they are mover to a separate room wrapped with a mold that imprints the label into the skin of the cheese with the company logo, the the factories number(Grana Padano is a cooperative with over a hundred such factories, for Grana Podano is the largest DOP region in Italy), the Batch of Milk that the Cheese came from and the Month and Year the Cheese was made. This lable is pressed into the cheese as still more whey is pressed out then it is left to air dry for another day or two before it goes into the Brining tanks a 25% solution of Mineral salt in pure water for 20 days then it is places on huge shelves nineteen shelves high with room for about 50+ wheels of cheese per shelf where it is aged for up to 3 years was the oldest that we saw. Then our Guide grabbed one of the wheels off the shelf from 2008 and we went into the tasting room. He knocked on the cheese with a small hammer listening for impurities and when he was sufficiently pleased that the cheese was of good quality he set about the task of cutting into the wheel no easy feat considering it weighs abot 30 Kilos and was the size of his upper torso. But the Cheese was amazing as he made small stabs into the cheese it Calved like an delicious salty glacier. The hunks of cheese usually only used for grating and seasoning was simply amazing. Putting a drizzle of honey over a chunk before popping it in to you mouth was sheer bliss. Funniest part the factory was called Latteria soc Stallone. Stay Tuned.

A Tour and Tasting @ La Caudrina

Gianni was right the Muscato and the Asti Spumante were some of the best that I have everr tasted. Both would serve perfectly as dessert wines with some salty cheeses, the were light on hte pallet but intensely sweet with a very pale yellow coloring. We couldn't help but pick up a bottle of the spumante, the favorite of the day. The Vinyard produces about 150,000 bottles of the two types and it is truely the best. It was a very small vinyard by comparison to the others in the area only 27 Hectares but they have a much larger outfit in another part of the piedmont region. It is a family affair with Mom and Pop overseeing the whole operation and each of the three sons oversees the different aspects of the business; marketing, cultivation and Cellars. They live in a beautiful house that sits on top of the hill that makes up the vinyard. Unfortunately the plants are just starting to get going on the season so they all looked like stumps with a few spindly sticks sticking out of them but the view was second to none from the top of that little hill. We learned how the process of making the wine differs from the production of other wines. First of all When they Harvest the grapes they are immediately crushed and the must goes into large holding tanks where it is kept at -2 degrees C. This prevents any unwanted fermentation. The juice is Kept in these storage tanks until it is needed. Then it is put into the fermentation tanks where it is heated to 20 degrees C and the Yeast is added and it is left to ferement for four to five days. A note Moscato and Asti Spumante are made from the same grape. After it is bottled they add different pressures of CO2 gass to the Bottles the Moscato get 1-1.5 Bar (about twice 14.2 PSI which is normal Atmospheric Pressure) and the Asti Spumanti gets 5 Bar( about six times normal atmospheric pressure. This is what causes the bubbles. The bottles are racked to age and wait to see if there are any defects in the wine. Then is is labled and moved to the Cellar where it is rotated in the Method Champagnios even though they cant call it that. This process Produces a D.O.C.G Spumanti d'Asti or Moscato d'Asti. So the method and origins of these fine wines are protected by the Government and therefore must strictly adhere to the regions laws for making the wine because the end product is guaranteed.

Here is a picture of Olesia and my first full day in Milano. In front of the Duomo here we are right at the top of the stairs to the Metro. Hoooray I can Publish Pictures now.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Today was the wide world of wines and how to go about tasting them with the critical eye of a seasoned professional. This was the first of 14 lessons that we will be having on wine and pairing of wine with food. Gianni, our resident master of all things viticultural really proved his mettle. We learned about the process of growing the grapes from vine to fruit and then to vinification. We learned of the best types of earth to grow the grapes in and how the mineral content of the soil changes the flavor of the Wine. How the Chemical composition of the grape affects the aroma flavor and look of the wine. The 3 types of Micro-organism that aide of detract from the quality of the wine. The yeast of which some is more resilient to the temperatures and pressures created from the fermentation process and have since been harvested and cloned to control the fermentation reaction to give the highest quality wine. The bacterium which are beneficial to the vine (Batteri Lattici in Italian Lacto Bacillus in English) and the Mold Botrytis Cinerea AKA noble rot a mold that protects the grape for late harvest Sauternes. All of these things are strictly regulated by the DOCG, For example if you were to make a Barolo wine and at the end of your process your wine came out at 12.6% ABV you did not make a Barolo because by the DOCG definition a Barolo must be 13%ABV of higher. Needless to say it was an indepth look into the manufacture of Wine from seed to bottle and that was just the first part of the day. In the afternoon we went into the tasting lab. But before we got to taste one of the two wines that we sampled we were introduces to the art of tasting wine. Wine is a complex creature and we are still learning new information about this age old beverage. There are over 600 components that make up the flavor, look and consistency of wine. The Perfume of the wine comes form 3 sources; aromatic grapes which are rare, the fermentation process, and the aging and refining processes. Because these aroma occur at different stages of the fermentation process wine is biologically speaking a living organism and the only product allowed by the WTO to not have an expiration date. After about 2 more hours of class about the intricacies of tasting wine we finally arrived at the tasting itself. We tasted a White, a Sicilian Grillo "Il Giglio Bianco Inzolia" a crystal clear straw yellow young wine of good consistancy, intensity of flavor and persistence with floral and fruity tones of grenn apple and spring lilly. It was dry and but refreshing with a mild mineral taste a delightful balanced wine that would pair well with lamb or seafood. Go figure, but probably one of the white wine I have ever had, even better than Spiny Back. The Last wine we tasted was a Chianti Rufina Reserva "Nipozzano". A garnet red wine with strong legs which was delicate on the nose with tones of cherries and spice with light vanilla aromas. The Actual flavor of the wine was a perfect balance dry yet soft on the pallet slightly acidic but balanced by the minerals and smooth tannic quality. It comes from a small Provence near florence north of Chianti. I am definetly going to try an visit this area when I go to Florence for my internship. I wm going to Grana Podano tomorrow a cheese factory to learn the cheese making process. After which we will tour a winery which makes, according to Gianni, the best Moscato in the World. I am not the hugest fan of Muscat it is a bit too sweet for my tastes but when an award winning sommelier tells you it's the best you kinda have to take him at his word. Saturday Olesia and I are going to go to Genova, the beautiful port city on the Ligurian coast home to Europe's Largest Aquarium and a very large local brewery Bicu, Hooray Beer. I promise that the next post will be more interesting but I was excited about the things I learned today, after all it is what I am here for. So...Stay Tuned

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

First Entry Bare with me

This is going to be a short blog entry today because I have had a long day. I know it is my first but it will not be my last. I started this blog at the request of many Facebook friends who were tired of long winded and difficult to read wall posts. I am living in the small town of Costigliole d'Asti in the Piedmont region of Italy if you like Italian Wine you will know exactly where that is if you don't it's in the northwest of Italy. I am Studying Culinary Arts at the International Culinary Institute for Foreigners, ICIF of "ee-chief" to the locals. It is an interesting program to say the least but I am trying to learn as much as I can while I am here before I head to Florence for my externship. Today was the wonderful world of pastry, a world I have become annoyingly accustomed to over the last several months as I was a baker in the job I left but loved at Boundary Bay Brewery and Bistro in Bellingham, Washington. We learned about desserts from the region. I will be the first to say that pastry is not my long suit, nor my favorite part of the Culinary world but I had fun learning about the different desserts that use the same skills that I have been using at home but in different ways. This was pretty cool, but the afternoon really took the cake, pun thoroughly intended. We learned the sacred art of making Italian Pasta. We made four different types of Pasta that included, A tagliolini which is a thinner version of Tagliotelle which is like Fettucini but made with a mix of Semolina and AP flours. We made a simple and light sauce with asparagus and tomato. Molto Bene. Then we made a few types of stuffed pasta including another local favorite Ravioli Plini, Plini is the regional word for Pinched. It was stuffed with a mix of onion, shallot, carrot, celery, beef, pork and rabbit. We tossed this with the simple but delicious sauce of burro e salvia (butter and sage). My god, these simple flavors combined to make the most amazing dish I have tasted since I have been in Italy. Last we made Lasangette which is a small personal sized lasagna made with a cream of broccoli, chicken liver sauteed with leek and prociutto sauted with carrot. There were chunks of blanched broccoli thrown into the mix and a bit of Grana Padano which is the Parmesan of this region. It was amazing and quick to cook because of it's size. This afternoon alone would have made the trip worth every penny spent to get here and it is only my second week. The only downer this week has been a return to Service, the front of house work that most chefs loath. I can also do this and pretty well but it's not my cup of tea. It is still good to keep the skills sharp and the professor for this section is one of the smoothest and most graceful people I have ever met. He has been in the Maitre D business his whole adult life from plonge to head waiter. He is also an award winning sommelier and will be teaching us about wine tomorrow. I can't begin to tell you how excited I am to be learning from such a true Master of Viticulture and Enology as Gianni. Well the hour is getting late and aside from Wine I have my Italian language class in the morning so I will sign off for now but will be back soon. Stay Tuned.