day 8 :

tuesday, 22 may

After breakfast, we took a long bus ride to Padova to visit the fresh market at Piazza delle Erbe. You can get practically anything imaginable there, and everything we saw was fresher than most anything you can find in the States. For example, zucchini still had their flowers on top - a sign of freshness since the flowers only stay fresh for a day or so after picking.

We came back to Verona and had an entertaining lunch at Trattoria Tre Marchetti ("3 Marks" restaurant, which heralds back to the day when you could buy a meal for 3 marks.) The owner, Roberto, described the dishes to us, and entertained us with song and laughter. You couldn't help but have a smile on your face!

That afternoon we wandered around the grounds of Villa Giona while most of our classmates stayed in Verona to shop. The resident goose and duck are buddies, and were fun to watch.

Tuesday Dinner
  • Tortelloni di biete al pomodoro (Pasta stuffed with swiss chard, in tomato sauce)
  • Agnello alla cernaia (Lamb shoulder braised with tomatoes)
  • Zucchini alla menta (Zucchini sautéed with fresh mint)
  • Gelato di Ricotata (The famous chocolate ice cream from the Cipriani Hotel in Venice)

Menu preparation tips:

  • Tortelloni di biete al pomodoro
    • Be sure to taste the pasta filling. This filling should have a slight pepper flavor to it.
    • Tips on making homemade pasta dough:
      • It's hard to make pasta with fewer than 2 eggs.
      • Pasta hates cold, so always make pasta on a room-temperature wooden surface.
    • How to make homemade egg pasta dough:
      1. Start making pasta by creating a mountain with your flour. (The bigger your working surface, the better!)
      2. Turn the mountain into a volcano with your finger tips; push down until you have an even-walled ring with plenty of room for the eggs.
      3. Put the eggs in the center and mix them as if you're making an omelet. Use a fork and scoop in a circular motion.
      4. Slowly start incorporating flour from the bottom of your walls into the egg mixture, until you've used it all and created your dough.
      5. When kneading dough, you're really trying to stretch the dough more than compress it. Giuliano's technique for kneading: put your left hand on the part of the dough nearest you. With your right hand, fold the far part of the dough over your left hand, then with the palm of your right hand push the dough away from you across the cutting board to stretch it. Give the dough a 1/4-turn, and repeat the process until the dough is very, very smooth.
    • Tips on using the machine:
      • Don't put the dough back in the machine too quickly! Let it sit briefly - count to 10 after each time you roll.
      • The less the dough goes through the machine, the better.
    • How to roll the dough:
      1. Break up the dough into one piece per egg used.
      2. Roll the dough through the pasta machine at the biggest setting (1st notch).
      3. Fold the dough into thirds, and with the folds on the sides, put through again at the biggest setting.
      4. Move the notch to the next setting, and put the dough through each setting only once from here until the end.
      5. Just before putting the dough through the final, thinnest setting, cut the sheet in half so that it isn't unmanageably long.
  • Agnello alla cernaia
    • When making this dish in the U.S., you should use the shoulder or arm chops from the lamb.
    • It's better to brown the lamb lightly than to cook it too long.
  • Zucchini alla menta
    • Let the zucchini sauté a bit before adding salt, otherwise they won't brown. (Why? Because the salt will draw the water out of the zucchini and make the browning difficult.)
  • Gelato di Ricotata
    • Use 1/2 as much water as sugar for making the caramel.
    • If your ice cream maker doesn't have a built-in freezer (Krups or Cuisinart machines do not), Giuliano suggests putting the whole machine in your freezer while it's running!
Tuesday Snack
  • Gorgonzola - It was literally oozing!
  • Honey - Goes well with the gorgonzola.
  • Speck - Smoked prosciutto.
  • Prosciutto San Daniele
  • Folia di musica - "Sheet music" bread from Sardinia, served with olive oil and fresh rosemary; Pam and Mike brought this back from the market at Padova.
  • Ferrarese bread
General things learned that night:
  • Prevent your cutting board from moving on your countertop by using a rubber mat, waffle-shaped roll paper, or a wet paper towel.
  • Steaks should be cooked with a dry heat method, whereas lamb is cooked with a slow heat method.
  • Specialize your wooden cutting boards, and always use them for the same things so you don't get unwanted flavorings and interactions: one for onions and garlic, one for vegetables and fruits, one for making pasta, and one for meats and fish.
  • If you want to get fancy and learn to toss the ingredients in your fry pan while cooking, start off by using some beans or rice to get the feel for it, and do it over the sink.
  • Giuliano prefers the Imperia pasta makers over the Atlas models, which roll the pasta too thin.
Cool toys:
  • Blunt-edged pastry scraper - Useful for scooping up nearly anything you prepare. This is one of the first things we bought when we got home!
  • OXO large rubber spatula - Has a little rubber foot on the side that keeps the spatula off of the surface when you put it down.
  • Simac ice-cream maker - Giuliano prefers this type of ice cream maker, which has a built-in freezer. You can get the Il Gelatiaio Junior model (1 quart) for $300, or the full-size model (1.3 quart) for $500. We also found a great deal on eBay. You can buy a full-size model for the price of the Jr.; it is a store-returned machine that has been tested for operability. This guy on eBay apparently sells these machines all the time, and has lots of favorable feedback about the machines. We have been enjoying so many yummy flavors of ice cream and sorbet!


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