After a long day in the studio we caught a bus and went directly to Giglio Cooking School (http://gigliocooking.com), where we spent the rest of the evening learning how to cook an Italian meal.
We made pasta al uovo (fresh egg pasta) from scratch. Did you hear that, Anna and Meg (my daughters who think I can't cook)? Each one of us whisked an egg in semolina until it was the right texture, kneaded the dough until it was elastic, then let it rest in plastic wrap. Making pasta was surprisingly easy.
We made gamberi & zucchini (zucchini and shrimp sauce). We sliced zucchini and shallots, chopped parsley and garlic. I conveniently made my way to the vegetables when the shrimp came out. They are ugly and I don't like to mess with critters with antennae.
We made orata o spigola con melanzane e pomodorini (sea bass with eggplant and cherry tomatoes). The preparation of the eggplants was the most time-consuming and laborious part of the whole meal. I now know how to cook eggplant. Did you hear that, Anna and Meg? "You do war weeth zee eggplant," Chef Marcella Ansaldo warned us. We sliced them, salted them to draw the water out of them, placed them in layers in a colender, let them sit for 40 minutes, rinsed them, dried them, squeezed them to get the water out, cut them in quarters, squeezed them again to get more water out, wrapped them in towels and squeezed them, one person twisting the towel one way while another twists another way, again to get more water out. It took a crew of people just to do the eggplant. We cooked the eggplant in olive oil and garlic, added sliced cherry tomatoes. I was busy stirring the eggplant concoction while Marcella demonstrated how to fillet a fish. I figured I'd most likely never need to know how to do that. Did you hear that, Anna and Meg?
I was still either stirring the eggplant or helping dust the pasta as it came out of the pasta machine while the fish was cooking so I can't tell you about that.
We made crostata di frutta fresca (fresh fruit tart). We made a shortbread crust. Did you hear that, Anna and Meg? I was busy taking photos as everybody else sliced fruit and made the custard.
We sat down to dine at the set table and toasted white wine. I was too busy eating to remember to take pictures of the whole finished meal.
I have never had eggplant taste like that. It was heavenly. Now I know what texture cooked pasta is supposed to be. I know how to make shortbread. It was a lot of fun.