Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lesson One: Italian

I have been chomping at the bit all day waiting for this class. And now that the evening has passed I am so happy I went. Ms M. had a houseful, which is about 8 people over to play with some of her favorite recipes. We each brought our listed goodies and immediately set about under her tutelage to cooking 4 dishes. She had dessert already made since it needed time to meld, but she passed on her recipe and I will make this as soon as I get a chance.

I can tell you what we made and share with you some of the main ingredients, but Ms. M. didn’t write them down we had to play it all by ear and nose and mouth and tastebuds and imagination.
There was not time to lose as we dove in immediately to make sure there was enough time to get our first two dishes done before the evening was over. Osso Buco and Pork and Leeks. Both are slow cooked meat dishes that rely on the slow and low methodology to make the tough cuts of meat fall-of-the-bone tender. As each of us were set about our task of chopping or cleaning or in any form prepping, Ms. M. kept our glasses filled with pinot grigio and our minds entranced with brilliant conversation.
Osso Buco

Pork and Leeks

It was like a mini Peyton Place and I was one of the in-crowd. P. and L. are having an affair and are both married to other people who are non-foodies. More than loving each other, they love food while their spouses are “picky boring” as P. stated. Not that I condone infidelity, I could see a bit of a point here. We ranged in age from 40s to 70s and yet were all peers at this glorious experience.

Everyone else shared stories about their children or grandchildren or pets. We discussed trips to Italy and everything Italian as per the instructions of Ms. M. (She runs a pretty tight ship). When the lamb and pork were in the oven, we started assembling a wonderfully tangy and quite filling sauce of tomatoes and eggplant called Pasta a la Magdalene. This sauce could be eaten alone and I think I may try it at home with the tofu noodles I have. “These are family foods and money is tight so one must do what they can. If you can’t afford the best quality just put more love in it and it will be splendid.” She loves the word splendid. And to balance out this carb and meat fest we made sauted broccoli and swiss chard with olives. Sweet, salty and pungent.

After all our work was done and a couple bottles of wine spent, we sat down to dine on little plates of everything. I remembered from my Italian trip, that they don’t eat huge amounts of everything, but little plates of many different things. I love it. A nice Chianti and the conversation toned down to a minimum as we ate and oohed and aahed. Words like “Heaven”, “Delicious” and “Fantastic” were exclaimed as were many prayers to God, Jesus and the Virgin Mary. The dining experience took 2 hours including our Zuppa Inglese desert of an Italian-style trifle which was accompanied by Vin Santo, a very sweet wine.

Home by 11:30, I knew I had gone way off the WW plan, but as in the big plan like being happy and getting closer to heaven, I scored! Now I just have to wait for Ms. M’s next invite which should be in a couple weeks. Until then I have at least two servings of each to satiate me and my friends for another few days, sans the dessert, that was gobbled up immediately (I didn’t even get a picture.)

Side note: It has been a trip around the world today. I got my Pimsleur Spanish CDs for my trip next year and also checked out Mastering the Art of French Cooking from the library. I even took a few minutes during the day to watch the biography of Julia Child and cried at how brilliant her life was and how much living she did. It was beautiful. Plus a friend of hers linked the love of food to other sensualities like sex and I completely agree (but that is another entry).


misschris said...

Sounds like so much fun! I'd love to do that. Is she Italian? I'd love to learn more Italian cooking but unfortunately good ingredients are hard to find here. I think it's a point of arrogant pride or something.

Miss Madras said...

I am so glad you posted about this. I was dying to hear how much fun you had. Sounds like it was quite the evening.