Wednesday, February 10, 2010

the food of italy.

One of the classes I am taking here in Florence is called The Food of Italy. In it, we focus on a different region of Italy each week, taking into account its geography and history and how they have shaped the kinds of food typical to that particular area. This week, we learned about the Piedmont region of Italy, located in the northwest corner, bordering on France and Switzerland.

I thought you'd all enjoy a little (visual) taste of what I helped to make this evening. The pictures aren't the most flattering (plastic plates, plastic forks, and bad lighting will do that), but rest assured that everything was incredible.

We started with a Risotto di Barola, which is an Italian rice cooked in red wine. We started with an onion and butter base, then added the dry rice directly to the saucepan. When the rice became a little crispy, we started to add chicken stock by the ladle, allowing the stock to evaporate before adding more. When the risotto was close to being done, the teacher added the Barola (wine), more butter, and Parmesan cheese.

Like I said, not the most flattering picture, but it goes the job done. It wasn't my favorite dish of the night; I'm not a huge fan of wine, but it was definitely interesting. And the teacher said that most Italian risottos are made using the method he taught us, so it would be quite easy to substitute mushrooms or asparagus for the red wine.

Next, we made a kind of veal dish native to Milan. The veal is pounded thin, then coated successively with flour, beaten eggs, and breadcrumbs. It is then fried in either olive oil or butter for about 3 minutes on each side. After being placed on a napkin to drain some of the oil, the teacher placed two slices of thin prosciutto and a slice of fontina cheese on each chop, then baked them for about 3 minutes to melt the cheese.

This was my very first taste of veal ever! Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not a huge fan of steak or red meat in general, but this was very good.
Finally, for dessert, we made a Torte di Nocciole, or hazelnut cake. Starting with an egg yolk, flour, sugar, and baking powder base, we then proceeded to add coarsely chopped hazelnuts and beaten egg whites. Very simple.

Obviously, the dessert queen loved the cake. It would be AWESOME with some fresh strawberries or pineapple, but was good on its own as well.
It blows my mind that this is the kind of thing I get to do for a CLASS. I get a GRADE and receive CREDIT for learning to cook these incredible things. All I have to say is that everyone should be jealous of my future roommates; they are in for some insane meals when I get back.