Sunday, June 2, 2013

Chefs Extraordinaire!

Paul and I are now master Italian chefs!  We took a 6 hour cooking class on our last day in Lake Como and are ready to wow everyone back home with our mad cooking skillz!

Okay, so that might be a slight exaggeration.

On Thursday, Chef Moreno Maglia picked us up from a piazza near our hotel at 10am.  By 10:30, we were at his restaurant, Il Caminetto, enjoying cappuccinos (have I mentioned yet that the cappuccinos in Italy are amazing?) and cookies.  By 4:30, he dropped us back off at the piazza.  So, maybe not 6 full hours of cooking, but a long day nonetheless.
Chef Moreno smushing the potatoes for the gnocchi
There were ten people in the class: us, two Wisconsinites, two Canadians, and four Australians (one of whom was an academic librarian!).  It was fun to spend some time with other folks, chatting, watching Chef Moreno cook, and eating delicious food.

The class wasn't overly participatory, so the only hands-on experience we got was rolling out and cutting up gnocchi dough.  Paul and I both gave it a try:
Roll that dough, Paul!

Chef Moreno showed us how to make three dishes:

1. Gnocchi with a creamy zucchini sauce:
2. Tagliatelle in a tomato sausage sauce:
3. Porcini mushroom risotto (turns out the key ingredients to this one are loads of butter and cheese - delicious!):
The ingredients were surprisingly simple (well, beyond issues like the need to get low pasteurized cream and such, which I'm sure would be a challenge in the US), yet the food was amazing.  The endlessly flowing wine didn't hurt either!

We also had a simply amazing pumpkin gnocchi dish at a restaurant in Lake Como the other day that I will be very tempted to try to replicate.  It's clearly a lot of work to make homemade pasta, but where gnocchi is concerned, it's completely worth it.  The homemade gnocchi we've had is many times better than that which you can purchase in a store in the US.

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