Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Montalcino - October 20, 2010

Robert cooked us a lovely breakfast of cheese omelette and eggs, sunny side up, I started with the omelette and my clean-up crew ate the balance. Very creamy and flavourful cheese. Leslie picked us up from our B&B around 9:30 to take us back to her place for the cooking class. We had two other people in our class, Mike and Jane, from San Francisco (originally from Ohio). They were a very nice couple who had eight kids between them –that’s a lot a kids a. We started the cooking class by making the Tiramisu so it could chill. I’ve never made Tiramisu, but it was really easy and quick. Next, we made the dough for the ravioli. This is what I was most interested in learning - what the consistency was of proper pasta dough. Check. We did some cutting and chopping for various dishes, and in the end, here’s what we made: Bruschetta, Crostini Toscani (chicken liver, anchovies, capers), Goats Cheese & Onion Savoury Tart, Ravioli stuffed with spinach & ricotta served with fresh sage & butter, Saltimbocca /Involtini (prosciutto, sage & garlic); Peas and Pancetta and dessert, Tiramisu.  We had a fun time cutting, chopping, rolling, kneading, mixing and chatting with Mike, Jane, Leslie and the Italian nameless chef woman. The Italian chef threw out the occasional “perfecto!” when we did things right and when someone didn’t do it right, she was saying “Leslie!” She didn’t speak any English so you just waited for her to gesture to stop as pouring olive oil. I got a good head nod on my pasta kneading. Heel of the hand, roll toward yourself and repeat. Then flip and repeat. See? I got it.
Once we prepared all of our food, it was time to eat our creations (or our demise….). Everything was great. I was a little sceptical about how our egg whites would whip after watching Jane separate the eggs. She did a one-pass of the yolk/white then tossed the yolk with part of the egg white in the dish. Noooooooo! Anyone that bakes knows that if you’re separating eggs (and you want your baking to turn out), you don’t let any whites in with the yolk. Yeah, she didn’t care. I bit my tongue, while she was picking egg shells out of the dish, and hoped for the best. In the end, it whipped up just fine and the Tiramisu was good. The worlds obviously shifted today.
Around 3pm, Leslie drove us back to our B&B. We decided to stroll around Montalcino and headed out. We took a number of pictures (I think we’re at around 700 for the trip already) and after a bit, got thirsty so we stopped at a wine shop. They had tastings there – over 100 bottles – but it was set up to stick in a card and press the button to get the pour from the bottle selected. Of course, the more expensive the wine, the more expensive the tasting. It was about 1/10 of the price of the bottle per tasting so it could get pretty expensive with the Brunello wines. We drank about five tastings then decided to go find a cafĂ© to sit down and enjoy a whole bottle. We went to CaffĂ© Fortezza and ordered a bottle of 2004 La Fortuna Brunello. They decanted the wine and brought us a plate of bread with cheese and salami, which were yummy.  Later, they brought more bread with olive oil and tomato – all gratis, which is rare in Italy.
It was only about 7:30pm now and we weren’t hungry for dinner, but we didn’t feel like sitting at the B&B either so we went on to find another place to have a bottle of wine and maybe some pizza. Low and behold, we found a pizzeria by our B&B. We had another Brunello wine and a pepperoni & sausage pizza. We’ve now upped the daily quote of wine by having 2+ bottles today. Let’s see what tomorrow brings!

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