It’s now Thursday, September 29; Bob and Connie arrived last Saturday and we have been having such a good time that I haven’t posted a blog since. Guess I’d better do some catching up.
On Sunday, Sept. 25th, the four of us made an early start in order to get to Orvieto for our cooking class with Chef Lorenzo Polegri at his restaurant, Zeppelin. We allowed for plenty of time since we had no real idea how long it would take us to get there, find a place to park and then find the restaurant. As it turned out, we allowed for a bit too much time as there was almost no traffic and Bob and Connie knew exactly where we should park and exactly where the restaurant was. We had a couple of anxious moments as our 9 a.m. starting time approached and there was no sign of life at the restaurant. We shouldn’t have worried; the doors opened and the chef appeared right on time.
Introductions with Lorenzo and his partner Kim followed and we were quickly on our way planning the day’s menu, donning aprons, and beginning to work. The restaurant is not usually open on Sundays but they had booked a big tour group (33 people from Liguria) for lunch so our cooking class added an extra element of craziness to an already busy kitchen. In 2012, Claire and I had taken a class from Lorenzo and had thoroughly enjoyed it; this class proved to be equally delightful, educational, and delicious.
Our menu contained three breads: Pizzette, grissini, and lumachelle fritte. Therefore, making a basic bread dough was the first thing needing to be done to give it time to proof. Bob and Connie got straight onto that project.
Our pasta was going to be gnocchi. That meant that potatoes had to be boiled in anticipation of making the gnocchi dough.
Biscotti were to be part of our dessert; so, a dough for that had to be prepared. As I was in the midst of pulling that dough together, Lorenzo decided to add some Alkemes to the dough. Alkemes is a local liqueur flavored with various spices and colored a bright red. Once the liqueur was added to the dough, it looked like I was kneading some large organ . . . And I don’t mean the kind that makes music.
Balsamic gelato was also on the menu and Michael got to whisk that together.
We were busy: Shaping little snail (lumachelle) shapes for our fried breads, rolling out pizzette, grissini and biscotti, slicing peppers, cheese, eggplant and once-baked biscotti, dicing chanterelles, red hot peppers and cheese, sieving potatoes, making bechamel and yellow pepper sauces, forming gnocchi, frying lumachelle and eggplant slices, cooking sausage, topping pizzette, layering eggplant parmesan, and periodically tasting bits and pieces of ingredients, drinking cappuccini, and sipping wine. And, of course, trying to stay out of the way of the four chefs/cooks who were using the same kitchen to prepare the 1:30 lunch for the tour group. Lorenzo and Kim are delightful and we had a fabulous, hands-on cooking experience.
Shortly before 1 p.m., we were released from our cooking duties and went to our table in the restaurant where we were served the fruits of our morning’s labor. Our little fried snail breads with their pieces of pecorino cheese and hot peppers had been topped with a swirl of a creamy ricotta/mascarpone blend and a gently candied orange rind, which addition was a perfect foil to the heat from the peppers. The beautiful, tender gnocchi had been boiled and mixed with our vibrant yellow pepper sauce and topped with crumbled sausage and cheese. The eggplant parmesan was so velvety due to the “twist” in the recipe that it fairly dissolved on one’s tongue. And the balsamic gelato was almost unrecognizable in its presentation of whipped cream, Alkemes drizzle and bright pink biscotti garnish . . . Although, if truth be told after the three bottles of wine we* drank with our lunch, I was having trouble recognizing Michael.
*”We” did not include Michael, our designated driver.