February, 2008

Educational Dining

On Tuesday night I went to a teaching dinner at Apro with some of my ex-colleagues from AlbaBarolo.  It was really fun, and the food was great.  Basically, once a month, the school invites a chef from a highly-respected restaurant to be a guest teacher for a day.  The chef comes up with a menu and explains the preparations to the students, who then work together with the chef to prepare the meal for 40 people.  Each dish (there are usually four or five courses) is paired with a wine from the region.  The wineries are invited to the dinner and present their wine at the beginning of each course.  Since Apro teaches front-of-the-house-management as well, the waiters & waitresses are all students.

The guest chef on Tuesday night was Massimo Dellaferrera from La Coccinella (the ladybug: what a coincidence!) in Serravalle Langhe.  I hadn’t been to his restaurant before, but after sampling his work at the school, I feel we’ll be visiting the restaurant itself soon.  Yummers! Here’s Tuesday’s dinner menu:

Ostriche al lardo con polenta e salsa allo spumante

Oysters wrapped in lardo (like prosciutto) with Polenta and Champagne Sauce


Frisse di capocollo di maiale con verza e salsiccia

Shredded Capocollo with Cabbage and Sausage

Individual Lasagna filled with veal tripe, fresh tomatoes and parsley pesto 

Lasagnetta di trippa di vitello al pomodoro fresco e pesto di prezzemolo


Roasted Duck Leg with braised Scallions 

Coscia d’anatra stracotta con scalogni brasati


Soufflè di melighe e zabaione con sorbetto agli amaretti

Cornmeal soufflè with zabaione center served with Amaretti Cookie Sorbet


Piemonte DOC Spumante 2004 Pinot Nero – Aziena Agricola Castello di Neive – Neive

Barbera d’Alba DOC 2006 – Azienda Agricola Filippo Gallino – Canale

Barbaresco DOCG 2003 – Cantina Produttori del Barbaresco – Barbaresco

Moscato d’Asti DOCG 2007 – Azienda Agricola Bera – Neviglie

Valentine’s Day 2008

The Valentine’s Day party was a big hit! The last guests left at 3am…

Valentine’s Day 2008
Claudia shows off her sexy outfit–
note the fishnet stockings, lace gloves,
Southern Belle hat, and fur pimp daddy coat
Andrea & the Elephant Underwear
Andrea wins a special pair of elephant underwear
with googly eyes.
Serena’s guess of how many conversation hearts
were in the jar was only 143 off!  (She was the closest)

Yes, even Bruce Willis came to the party.

Patrizia does a little dance.
Paolo enjoys the Chicken Salad Patè a Choux Puffs. 
The Chicken salad had sundried tomatoes, apple, 
Spring onions and plenty of black pepper.
Marco comes dressed as a porn star…
or is this his regular attire?
Before the party…Claudia & Fabrizio enjoy the candlelight

Louisa wore a sexy black satin outfit for the occasion.

The games were a big hit (for details see the Valentine’s Party Ideas page).  As was the chocolate fondue (with strawberries, bananas, brownies, and heart shaped cookies to dunk) and whipped cream in a can.  (I’m still enjoying the whipped cream in a can a week later…it’s amazing how much they fit into those little bottles!)


bonsai.jpgLuca got me a sweet bonsai tree for Valentine’s Day!  Score.  I’ve always admired bonsai….from afar (obviously, considering my track record with killing plants). 

It’s a tree! 

Like a big small tree.  Now our whole windowsill is full of plants.  Luca waters them with the turkey baster I brought back from the States at Christmas. lol.

I’m going to have to do some research about how to properly care for my bonsai.  I remember organizing our home library according to the Dewey Decimal System and finding a book about bonsai.  We didn’t have any bonsai, and still don’t, but I guess Mom or Dad must have been interested in it at one time…

I’m Sick Again

Man, I hate being sick!  And in the whirl of Valentine’s Day party planning, I certainly cannot afford to be now.  I almost finished the vday favors tonight (been saving toilet paper rolls for months now), but ran out of candy and didn’t have the energy to go to the store. 

Oh, I forgot to tell you that my car died the other day.  Yeah, I noticed that the little dial that tells the temperature of the engine tended to always be on hot…but we decided the dial probably didn’t work right.  good call.  The other day, Rosanna borrowed the ambulance* to go to the dentist and poof!  It started making jack-hammer noises and then smoke began eeping out of the hood.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t there to witness the theatrics myself, but apparently she pulled over to the side of the road and an 80 year old man rushed up to the side of the car and yelled to “quick get out before the car explodes!”  

*Decided to refer to my white station wagon as “the ambulance” instead of giving it a name.  It just fits.

I finally got the ambulance back today, and let’s see where we’re at–payed €1800 for the car, €300 for new brake pads and 2 snow tires, €50 for a new battery, and now €250 for whatever they did to fix this heat flash problem.  Yup, probably should have got that used porsche instead.

 Did the official head count tonight and, whaddayaknow, there are 22 people coming to the VDay shindig on Saturday.  Yeah, how did that happen?  I think we might have to put our couch out on the balcony in order to make room for everybody.  Either that, or we divide the guests into groups–some party up in the loft, others party in the kitchen and we’ll call out names like they do at weddings when it’s your turn to eat.  I wish my fellow QM was here to help me prepare.

I had to give Luca the party pep talk again last night.  He just doesn’t understand the concept of being a good hostess.  The pep talk went something like this, “it’s time to raise the bar, Luca – our parties have to be the best parties.  That’s right, better than all the weddings we’ve been to this year.  And there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be since we’re both great cooks and I’m a certified Queen Motifa.” 

Later on that night we were arguing about the menu and I found myself chanting, “Is that a dish that raises the bar, Luca?!  Is that dish going to make people beg us for the recipe?  Is that a dish that our friends will remember for years to come?  No?!? No?!? *high pitched squawk*  Then we’re not making it for the Valentine’s Day party!!!” 

(The dish in discussion was a cold rice salad hot dog bits and canned corn.  Yuck.)


No Dog, but Plants & … Ladybugs

ladybugs.jpgEvery since meeting my parents’ new dog, Chewy, I’ve been dying to get a dog.  They’re such good company!  And an excuse to get exercise everyday too.  But everyone keeps saying how much work they are, how you can’t go anywhere or do anything because you’ve got this dog tying you down….blah blah blah. 

Well, they’ve sort of convinced me.  So I bought plants instead.  Five of them: tulips, two primroses, a baby rose bush, and a jade tree.  (Plus, I’ve got the gigantic zinnia I planted a couple weeks ago that’s growing nicely in it’s oriental vase–pron. vaaahhhhzz).

And now, though I don’t know who came first, we’ve got hundreds of ladybugs in our kitchen.  (Ladybugs are called coccinelle in Italian, pron. ko-chee-nelleh). 

Luca keeps making jokes about what great pets they are–you don’t have to take them for walks or clean up their poop.  You don’t have to feed them or listen to them bark or whine…etc, etc.  This may all be true, but they’re also not as fun as dogs.  The only interaction I actually have with the ladybugs is when I find them tipped upside-down and have to right them again.  Ladybugs spend a surprising amount of time upside-down.  And since their life span is 4-7 weeks, I do a overturned ladybug check everyday when I get home… 

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