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.