18 May 2012

Behind the T-walls: Roma R&R part 2

Cooking day!
Even before I left for Rome, I knew I wanted to spend a day at a cooking course. Once I arrived, I made a great discovery in Fabiolous Cooking Day. Though it was a little bit pricey at EUR 130 for everything, since the danger pay had me feeling a bit flush, I decided that I didn't care about the cost and just went with it.

Early in the morning, our guide picked us (me and two other people -- a mother and college aged daughter on vacation together) up at the travel agency, and drove us to a little town called Mazzano Romano, about 30 miles outside of Rome, in a lovely mountain-top manse. Before heading to the house for the class, we visited a commune village called Calcata, once home to the Holy Foreskin until is was supposedly stolen by the Vatican. The village was once called, "the grooviest village in Italy" by David Farley in a New York Times article (click the link to read all about it's hippy history). It was a really cool place, and I'm actually thankful for the hippies that had the foresight to save the town, and make it the charming little village it is today.

There are (of course) cobbled streets everywhere, and tiny little apartments all around. You really can get a feel for what it might have been like to live in this village during the medieval times.

The village sits atop a stony mountain, and it would have been virtually impenetrable.

Then it was time to get the ingredients for our cooking class! We stopped at a little market in the village to buy fresh meat and talk to the butcher.

This is our guide talking to the butcher about what we wanted. While she was doing this, I was busy looking around at all the random things available in the shop. I ended up buying a bag of biscuits to give as a gift when I got back.

Once we got to the mansion, we found the great views, and took some pictures Here are some pictures of the interior of the mansion:


These were our two instructors.

After washing our hands, we were ready to get started, aprons and all! I got started on making the Rosemary balsamic chicken. Ready the marinade!

She's getting ready to bread the other chicken dish we were having.

I didn't post pictures of the short ribs, or the ricotta stuffing for the ravioli, but since they both went into various pasta dishes, you will get a better idea of what they looked like below. In the above picture, I'm whipping the custard for tiramisu. I was so happy to be cooking again!

This is how you start pasta.
Don't let the eggs escape the valley...
After kneading the dough enough to get it to a firmish stage, we started rolling it through the pasta machine.

Ta da!

Then it was time for an anti pasti break while we wait for the pasta dough to rest!

And this is Italy, so of course there's wine!

Then it's time to get back to work on the pasta. Above you see the filling made from artichokes cooked in white wine, with ricotta and parmigiano reggiano cheese. mmmmmm....cheese.

Topping off the ravioli before cutting...

Lasagne fresh from the oven. It's a white lasagne, with sausage and bechamel sauce.

The beginning of Cavatelli

And with a quick roll of two fingers, voila! Cavatelli ready to cook!

Ravioli cooking with a bit of pasta water to make a sauce.

Finally! I was so happy to eat! Buon apetito!

Finished Lasagne


Each of the servings were so small, and I didn't think it would be enough, but it was more than we could eat! We had six courses including the antipasti, and everything was so well instructed, I would take this class again and again given the chance! I made a recommendation to one of my colleagues here who is no living in Rome, and he told some friends when they visited him, and they also loved the cooking day, though they took the one that's at the cooking school located in downtown Roma. This day was supposed to last about 6 hours, but we took more than 8, just because we were a small class, and we were really enjoying ourselves. 

The next time I go to Italy, I would like to spend some more time in Calcata. And since the hotel room rates are beyond reasonable, and it's got so much charm, it's pretty affordable to stay a day (or two!) there.

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