>> Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Well, here we are... one of the biggest highlights of the trip! The cooking class. I'm going to give the recipes in doses - don't want to overwhelm you with pictures and recipes... one at a time! :)
DAY 9 - Cooking Class in Florence, Pisa, Train to Vernazza
I have to say, Day 9 started out with a bang! I got some kind of stomach bug or something the night before, and it was miserable. I was awake ALL night long trying not to be sick and failing miserably! I just kept thinking in my head, "I CAN'T be sick!" Luckily, by morning, the majority of the nausea had passed. I still felt pretty weak, but I was not going to miss out on the opportunity to take a cooking class in Florence, Italy!
We started our class back again at Centrale Market. This time, they gave us a real tour, complete with an hour long balsamic vinegar and olive oil tasting and lesson as well as going around the market and picking up all the fresh ingredients for the class. Need meat? Go see the butcher. Need it ground? No problem, he'll do it right there for you!
This is Chef Giovanni. He was our chef for the day. He also had an assistant, Adrian, but I don't have a picture of him. His assistant was so nice! We got a lot of good information from him. Chef Giovanni was very nice as well, but I think he was a little more focused on the food! :)
We started out by making the tiramisu since it would need to chill for at least 2 hours after making it. The step by step recipe and pictures are at the end of the post! This recipe for the tiramisu was so good! He mentioned that most restaurants will use a recipe that includes a lot more "cake" - particularly the sponge cake - because it's cheaper to do it that way. But he used only two crispy cookies in the middle of the dessert, and there was a lot more cream used in his dessert. It even has the recipe for single serving tiramisu!
Overall, we had a really fun day. We were both glad we did the class. We took it through a company called "Florencetown". It was definitely a company made for American or "English speaking" tourists, but, if we had done a cooking class at some grandma's kitchen or something like that, we probably wouldn't have understood any of it.
Jen and I had to high tail it out of our class, even though it wasn't over. They listed that the class would be over at 3, but at 3:20 we were JUST getting food on the table. We crammed down a few bites of really amazing food and had two bites of our amazing looking tiramisu (which in all honesty was okay with my not so great feeling tummy). We had previously bought train tickets for 3:50 out of Florence and we were meeting the boys to catch the train. We just had to do a little running to find the boys and catch the train. 3 minutes to spare by the time we sat on the train.... that's great! Travel days were always a bit crazy. We then stopped had to do a little pit stop in Pisa. We spent about 30 minutes here. That's REALLY all you need. Then we had to book it (by booking I mean run four blocks with suitcases) back to the train station - only to miss the train because we couldn't read the ticket machine in Italian!). It was beautiful though.
You just HAVE to have a picture holding up the tower!
Behind the tower, there is a whole beautiful area of grass and another church and they call the whole area "Field of Miracles". We're just taking in all the sights. We did, finally, make it on the train and made it into Vernazza - one of the five towns in Cinque Terre.
Day 10 - Vernazza - hiking on Cinque Terre Trail
The next morning we headed over to Manarola, another one of the towns and hiked the Cinque Terre trail. These locks were all over the trail - it's intended to be a point where "lover's meet". But now, they just put locks all over the walk.
They even sell these locks there that you can buy specifically for the walk.
Here are a bunch of amazing pictures of the walk, the city of Manarola, and the Ligurian Sea! It feels so surreal to be here. The pictures only do half the justice of what it really looks like.
Cats are really popular in Italy. They are everywhere - but they are tame, and very friendly, and surprisingly clean. This little guy was curled up in a boat. We even pet him and rubbed his ears, and he didn't move. He had a pacifier by him that someone left there, but when we came back by it was gone. It was so cute.
We also stopped at a little restaurant that served pesto pizza, and grabbed a slice. This pizza was seriously the best pizza I've ever had in my entire life. You didn't care that it was loaded with olive oil because it was so amazing.
We headed back to Vernazza and decided to have a little afternoon picnic. We hiked up a little ways up the other side of the trail and found this really amazing spot that overlooked Vernazza. Remember I said there was a killer picnic spot - this was it! The best spot for our picnics thus far. We sat up there and waited for the sun to go down in order to get the city in the light and at sunset. It made for the most spectacular view.
And here is probably my favorite picture of the entire trip.
I'll put up the rest of the recipes soon, but here is the yummy tiramisu.
TIRAMISU (By: Chef Giovanni in Florence, Italy)
Ingredients: Serves 5
1 lb. mascarpone
4 fresh eggs (let them sit out 10-15 minutes)
5 Tbs. white sugar
5 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa
2 cups coffee or espresso, room temperature
5-10 crispy cookies or ladyfingers
5 Tbsp. Bailey's or Kahlua mixed in coffee OR 5 Tbsp. milk/cream mixed in coffee
1. Separate the egg yolks and whites into separate bowls. Whisk the egg whites, whisking in one direction in a circle. Continue whisking until the whites create soft peaks and you can turn the bowl over and it stays inside! :)
2. In the bowl with the egg yolks, add the sugar to the egg yolks. Stir until light, creamy, and sugar is combined. Add in mascarpone and stir fast to combine until there are no lumps.
3. Combine egg whites with the mascarpone and yolks mix. Fold together from the bottom to the top so you don't lose the air in the whites.
4.To assemble, prepare individual cups by sifting cocoa powder to coat bottom of the cup.
5. Then layer a scoop of cream on top.
6. Next dip the cookies into the cooled coffee (and liquor if desired) enough to soak, but not drench.
8. Finish with another layer of cream and finally more cocoa powder for presentation. You can put cookies on top if you want, but you don't have to. It's pretty with just the cocoa powder.