Saturday, June 12, 2010

"Don’t you think it’s better to be extremely happy for a short while, even if you lose it, than to be just okay for your whole life?" The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffengger

How to Make an Omelet. 

One of my favourite classes yet was this week with Brady Haughton who started the Bourdeaux Quay in Bristol, England. He was incredibly sweet and interested in each of us with an inspiring story of his own to share. Instead of asking us who we were and why we were here - which we’ve all heard a bunch of times - he asked us to describe a favorite and least favorite meal we’ve had. It was nice. Some people were really able to remember all the details of the food, some told more about the people and the context more than the food - if at all. Some people were favorite’s because they were their mum’s food or just a unique ingredient. Some people shared cooking disasters that still haunt them. We longed to experience the good memories and laughed at the bad. We appreciated them all - even the bad, knowing that only better meals could come. Our homework assignment then, was to buy some ingredients and cook the next day in the ALMA culinary school’s kitchens. I don’t know who came up with the idea, but four of us (who worked in the same group to present ways to connect UNISG and ALMA students - it was great) decided to drive to La Spezia, to buy fresh fish at a market on the sea coast. ROAD TRIP! 
"look, they're still alive!"
i was just along for the ride as i had decided to make the courgette-gorgonzola soup which was easy and tasty enough to make in the allotted kitchen time. I woke up at 4.45 to the sun barely rising yet and the birds chirping from the tree outside my window. Diana stopped by and Asher came to pick us up. We were on the road by 6am. Surprisingly not tired, it was so fun - and back to where i have never been before but now for the third time in a less than two weeks! a little over an hour later, we arrived as the markets stalls were setting up and we went to a small cafe for cappuccino’s and foccaccia genovese. soft and buttery, they almost, although i don’t want to make this comparison because they are so much better, but they almost reminded me of a dunkin’ donut’s plain donut. sweet, salty, and melt-in-your-mouth. the market was filled with fresh fish - of all kinds. i don’t eat fish so i can’t even name names, but whole octopus, squids and sepias, live shrimp, baby shrimp, huge shrimp, strangely coloured shrimp i have never seen before, eels, oysters, mussels, snails, clams, flying fish, flat fish, the long skinny silvery ones. they were all beautifully presented on ice too. arina bought a bag of mussels, asher bought large live shrimp and bargained with the woman for an oyster deal. i took pictures of everything. the market was my photography heaven. i need to get a grip.
 as the others were deciding what to buy and make, one woman offered me a taste of a raw shrimp. it was delicious and not like anything i had every tried before. the tiny little bite was so sweet and fresh and full of the taste of the sea. so then diana bought some to cook with the zucchini blossoms she bought. the market also had all types of herbs and plants, selections of local cheeses, italian cured meats, tuscan olives, bounties of fruits, pots of flowers, and vegetables - beautiful tomatoes marbled with red and green that i had to buy to taste, wild mushrooms, crates stacked on top of each other and each stall just a rainbow of fresh produce. i wish we had something like this in colorno. we raced back in the early rush hour city traffic to get back in time for class. we were late, but the road trip was definitely worth it. the kitchen was small so it was beneficial that we got to start in the second shift as others were finishing up their dishes. it was so fun to cook together, working together with prepping and cleaning and sharing ingredients, we squeezed in and around and past each other, wary of hot dishes and slippery floors. it was sweaty, steamy, tantalizing our noses and teasing our appetites for lunch. everything turned out absolutely fantastic. really really wonderful - there wasn’t one bad dish. i think everyone was impressed with each other - at least i was. just because we love to talk about, learn about, and eat food, doesn’t necessarily mean we have the culinary-skills to cook well, but these students are constantly impressing me. bravo, UNISG, bravo. GRANDE. 
looks prettier than it tastes.

Prof Haughton - raw courgettes with parsley and lemon zest with green beans provenciale style - with garlic and lemon
Popi - greek meatballs and tzatsiki
Nanae and Louise - guacamole, pico de gallo, humus
Lauren - whole roasted chicken on a bed of ruccola & bread salad. 
Caro - home made bread
Brittany and Naama - garlicy yogurt dip topped with red onion and herbs and a tri-color salad of tomatoes, pine nuts, basil, and ricotta
Sung - korean braised ribs in a ginger and grappa sauce
David - sesame chicken noodles
Sandro - halfed aubergines stuffed with caponata like filling - eggplant, tomatoes, courgette and a crusty bread topping
Arina - mussels in a white wine, lemon thyme and leek sauce
Suzie and Reena - austral-ipino sasauge-orange-fennel rolls with a tomato dipping sauce
Diana - pasta with shrimp, zucchini and blossoms, and saffron
Asher - oysters with sea grass and tomato salsa; fried shrimp with a pumpkin puree, tomatoes, pancetta crisp and sweet and sour leeks
Carey - mac n’ cheese with american-brought cheddar
Natalie and Yui - curry and rice with green peas
Shauna - courgette-gorgonzola soup
Catherine - strawberry tiramisu
Shannon - bread pudding
Emily and Lindsay - stolen-sour cherry tart and one with sour cherries and peaches
Samara - balsamic marinated strawberries with shortbread cookies
Cooking in ALMA culinary school's kitchen.

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