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TravelHaven Journal: Italy 2013 – The Cooking Lesson

Arn set a beautiful table for us

Arn set a beautiful table for us

Thursday evening was the big night – a cooking lesson by Chef Claudio!

We started the day by going to an antique salvage yard that Arn had wanted to visit ever since we arrived. It had all kinds of interesting things – metal wall art motorcycles, an old teeter totter, stone benches, old clocks, antique toys, and dozens of other odd and interesting things! Just the kind of place we like to explore. We started out in front of the place, then, after a bit, we went inside. That’s where we found the antique toys, which I simply loved. There was an old spinning top, several wind up toys–all still working and great fun! If I had a place for them at home, I’m sure they would have made their way into my suitcase.

We had just started on the second room inside, with all sorts of old kitchen things when a clap of thunder sounded and the lights all went out. We made our way to the front of the place, where the owner indicated that the storm had caused the power to go out and we had to leave. What a bummer for Arn and me (though I’m pretty sure Ruth and Jeanie breathed a sigh of relief). We were pretty sure we would not have time to come back (and we didn’t), so that’s one more thing for our “next time” list.

We stopped at a little bar on the way home and had a so-so lunch. Most bars only have sandwiches and I think these were made about a week before. But we ate them, content in the knowledge that we would be eating well that night.

We spent the rest of the day cleaning up the kitchen and beginning the process of trying to get all the treasures we had bought into our suitcases and still have enough room for our clothes!

 

The pork roast before prepping and cooking--1 kilo

About a kilo of pork

Rolled pici--looks like a worm!

A pici

Chef Claudio and his assistant and translator, Beatrice, showed up just before four o’clock and started prepping for our cooking lesson. We had chosen a menu of Arista di maiale (roasted pork) with Pici o umbricelli (pici being a very thick, robust pasta served mainly in the province of Tuscany and Umbria) and Contorno (the fresh vegetable of the day).

Chef Claudio demonstrates rolling pici

Arn and Chef Claudio

Because it would take about an hour to cook, Chef Claudio began with the pork. I won’t take up space with the recipe, but it was very simply done, using thyme, garlic, rosemary and sage. Chef Claudio explained that he never puts pork in the oven, because it gets dried out, so he cooked it in a skillet on top of the stove. It was delicious!

Next, we started on the Contorno, which was eggplant rolled with prosciutto and a mozzarella and parmesan cheese mixture inside. I don’t especially like eggplant and was prepared not to like it, but I loved it!

Jeanie tries her hand at rolling pici

Jeanie rolling pici

Then we made the pici – rolling it by hand! It is really difficult and time consuming to make. Actually, making the dough is easy, it’s the rolling out that’s hard! If Chef Claudio and Beatrice hadn’t been there to lend a hand (literally) we never would have eaten. I will definitely be buying pici online when I want it at home.

You will notice that Ruth and I are not in any of the cooking lesson photos. Ruth was serving as photographer and I was the scribe, taking down the recipes as Chef Claudio described what he was doing through Beatrice, our interpreter. Arnold and Jeanie were the “hands on” participants and did a great job.

The finished dishes were wonderful! Unfortunately, we were so excited to eat it, none of us took a picture! I especially loved the eggplant roll ups. And the wines we had with each course were delicious!
One of the wines we had that nightAnd yet another wine we had that night. Then I stopped taking picturesAnother of the wines we had that night

We had a very enjoyable time and spent less than we would have if we had gone out to dinner–just 25 Euro per person for this fantastic experience, knowledge, and dinner! Thanks, Ruth and Jeanie, for treating us!