Saturday, September 4, 2010

Final Day of Cooking

Today was the last full day at Torre del Tartufo and our last cooking lesson. I can’t believe the week has gone by this fast. I tired to sleep in a little, but then again I didn’t want to miss one bit of this day. I really enjoy the European style breakfast. I am going to be eating a lot more prosciutto when I get home! I was very excited to be able to upload the photos from the past couple of days – and what a great place, just by the pool. It’s a bit funny to me, I was trying to figure out what I would do with my time until 3:00 each day when we had cooking class, so I very “wisely” brought a couple of books and a new cross-stitch to start on (not to mention the many movies I have on my computer). I realized to day that I have not watched television in well over a week, but I just today opened my book and only managed to get to page 48. I have enjoyed everyone’s company so much that the time just flies by and like tonight it’s already almost 2:00 AM and I am just getting to my room. Most of us spent the morning sunning by the pool and only managed to move when we heard lunch was served.

Today we had the lasagna made with a pesto béchamel sauce that included potatoes and green beans. This was a first for me and I was quite skeptical, but wow, what a great flavor! We also had the beef stew that Nicole, Dinah and I had made on Thursday. It has such wonderful herbs and spices. It takes like something you would find in an exotic locale. Our dessert was a fig tart which we all decided was just so-so and yet we managed to eat it! After lunch it was back to the pool until class at 3:00. With it being the last day one might think we would get a break, but we had lots of cooking ahead of us. One of the really neat things is that we prepared some of the dishes for the incoming guests who arrive tomorrow after we are gone. Today it was Florence (and the machine), Scott and myself who has the pasta course and we were all excited that we were making gnocchi! The gnocchi itself was not that bad to make. It all came together surprisingly well.

We also made a duck ragout (for which we also had to debone 2 ducks). We all also pitched in on other elements that were going on all around the kitchen. Dinah did a fabulous job of pouring up our very own Limon cello to take home.

I can’t remember when I’ve been this excited to cook. We had our “wine break” with a spinach tart. We had this under the pergola with the gorgeous view behind. I did find that I was a bit melancholy today since this was our last day together. I have met such wonderful people and I can only hope that our paths cross sometime in the near future. We wrapped up the cooking around 7:15 so that we would have time to change for dinner (but I had to run down and take a few more pictures of the sun setting).

Per a request we were having mojitos before dinner, so we met back at 8:30. I will say Paola makes the best mojitos I have ever had. I don’t know if it’s the atmosphere, the people, or maybe just the wine, but the food and drinks are just wonderful. It was off to have our final “gala” or maybe we should say graduation dinner. Our starter was a vegetable napoleon of sorts. I admit that I wasn’t exactly excited about this one, but as soon as I tasted it I was sold. It was layered with marinated and grilled vegetables with puff pastry and of course Franco’s wonderful balsamic reduction (that I might say had us all in tears on Thursday!). The next course was the one that we had worked on, the gnocchi with duck in a white sauce. I have to admit I gasped when I tasted this dish. The flavors and the gnocchi just melted in the mouth. I could have made an entire meal out of this, but I’m glad I didn’t. Our entrée was rack of lamb served with sautéed spinach and caramelized onions with pine nuts. The flavors were so fresh and amazing. I am glad that I know how to “French” a rack of lamb. Dessert was the piece de resistance, chocolate lava cakes. From the presentation to the taste – it couldn’t be beat. That will be a must for my next dinner party (let’s hope my chairs arrive soon). I don’t think I’ve mentioned it most of the week, but we had beautiful red and white Tuscan wines with our meals. I had the best of intentions of writing them down, but alas, that didn’t happen. It was our typical after dinner with the liquors that came out and our very own batch of Limon cello. There was a lot of reminiscing that went on tonight as well as our certificates of completion being handed out.

Kari was supposed to be on a 10 am flight tomorrow from Florence, but she managed to get it pushed back until Monday. We all stayed up talking and laughing until well after midnight. At least we will all get to spend our breakfast together in the morning – now if I can only get everything packed! Tomorrow I am on to Roma.

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