Published: June 15th 2011June 15th 2011
JC and flour
JC mixing some flour in the Tuscan Cooking Class
Day 7 - Lucca Day 4:
We got up in plenty of time for our taxi to the cooking class and were downstairs in front at 9:20. Unfortunately, the taxi driver the hostel called didn't arrive until 9:45, but swore he could get us there in time. After a very harrowing ride, we go there, at about 10am on the dot. Also unforunately, even though the hostel told us it would be 10 Euros, he asked for 20 Euros, and since we hadn't asked him beforehand, we didn't have much choice. Taking bus back! We found the room in the hotel where the class was being held, but they had already sort of started. To make things worse, the chef had apparently forgotten about us and I had to show him my receipt. Oh well, we were there and he realized his oversight and gave us each an apron to wear. There were 6 other people in the class, a couple from South Africa; a father, mother and daughter from the U.S. (California I think) and a single older lady from Canada. Chef Paoli Monti was Italian, but spoke pretty good English, having worked and traveled in both the U.K.
Chef Monti showing Alexis how to roll the biscotti mix
and the U.s. He started showing us how to make the various dishes (14 altogether I think). We have the recipes and will make them available to friends and family when we get back. We might even fix them one night for special people (like Tanya! lol). I wish I could remember all the different things we made and/or watched him make, but I'll list the ones I remember. We made two kinds of toppings for bruschetta, one was a liver pate that was quite good, and the other was one heavy in garlic and eggplant, which was also quite good. we made a old bread salad, with day old bread the we soaked in water, then squeezed all the water out, then soaked in red wine vinegar and squeezed that out. To that, he added onions, celery, basil, tomatoes, and parmesan cheese, if I remember correctly. That was also pretty good, but Alexis didn't care for it. We made a desert biscotti typical of Lucca and Tuscany, with almonds. That was excellent. I never would have imagined what we put in the over would come out looking and tasting like that. We then made fresh pasta with, squeezing it
Alexis rolling biscotti
Alexis rolling her piece of biscotti dough/mix
out thing with a pasta rolling machine he had (we found out later that machine cost over 2,000 dollars locally!), then put scoops of swiss chard, parsley, and some other stuff I forget, for a stuffing and folded the dough over and crimped it to make ravioli. We made a meat sauce to go with the ravioli, and he made a rack of pork to go with the roasted potatoes we cut up and seasoned. While the meat and potatoes were cooking, we sat down to eat the other dishes. It was a very nice lunch, with a nice atmosphere since we got to talk a lot to each other and compare notes on places, trips, and food. The chef ate with us while his assistant (originally from Spain) served and watched over the pork. We drank water and wine with the meal, then when he brought out the biscotti for dessert, we each got a cup of vinsanto, a very sweet wine that we dipped our biscotti in. Delicious! He gave out bags of extra biscotti (which I doubt will last past tomorrow the way Manoli is snacking on it!) and we said our goodbyes. After our fiasco with
Alexis buttering things up
Alexis brusing on butter/oil on a tray of biscotti while JC waits his turn
the taxi, we decided to wait the hour or so for the next bus to Lucca. It was almost 3pm when we left the restaurant/hotel (which the chef also owns) and the bus came a little after 4pm. Since we were all stuffed from lunch, we strolled around Lucca, where Manoli found her pin to buy for Lucca, had some gelato and after a complete one hour loop of the wall, we turned in. Well, I wasn't all that stuffed, so I went out to find some more gelato and a Coke, then I returned. Tomorrow, we take the train to Viareggio, then La Spetsia (sp), then finally to Corniglia in Cinque Terre for our next stop. Alexis is really looking for to the little beach and jumping off rocks into the ocean. Lucca is a great place I would recommend to anyone, along with Da Guigno restaurant, and our cooking class with Chef Paolo Monti. Ooops, also, Ostello San Frediano (our hostel in LUcca) was awesome! I should say that the Tuscan Cooking Class with Chef Paolo Monti costs 85 Euros each.
There are more photos below