I was nervous about giving the cooking class this week because I was having a hard time deciding what to present to the class in just one morning.
I love outdoor markets; they inspire me so that’s where we began. There are not as many in the Chianti area, as in the south, but the best one in this area is the one in Poggibonsi.
During the war, Poggibonsi housed many munitions factories so, the old part was destroyed and it was hastily rebuilt leaving its cityscape deprived of vivacity and charm, but on Tuesdays it comes to life.
As we entered the main drag of the market I could feel my excite- ment as I hoped to find the seasonal delicacies might inspire my focus for the class.
As we made our way through the clothing and house wares sections I was anxious to see if my Neapolitan guys had made it this week with plenty of juicy, spongy, decadently delicious Mozzarella from Naples. A little known fact here in Italy the name Mozzarella inplies that it is made with buffalo milk anything else is called Fior di Latte. My Mozzarella guys travel for 6 hours late Monday night to be in Tuscany by 6 am. I am relieved when I see them both waving and calling my name as they begin to sing me a Neapolitan song. They we sample all of their Neapolitan specialties: 3 different kinds of olives, various salami and sausages and of course the MOZZ. When my cookers tasted that their heads fell back in ecstasy as they let out an “Oh My God” fit for a wedding night. I preach to everyone in the class to always go with local ingredients but once you have eaten REAL mozzarella, you will never be satisfied with any imitation.
We all knew instantly and in unison when we saw it: Pomodori Fiorentini.
Pappa Al Pomodoro, I thought as we were filling our shopping bag with these ruby red curvaceous tomatoes. These Fiorentini are meaty with very few seeds so they are perfect for this traditional Tuscan dish made. It is made of 2 ingredients: tomatoes and bread…. ok we used a little onion, garlic and basil too.
We picked out a few more ingredients, grabbed some Olive Ascolane (stuffed fried olives) to give us strength for our journey and headed back to The TRC to get into our aprons and on with feast.
Michelino, our invited guest, was thoughtful and set a gorgeous table for us outside on the grand terrace. Here is the menu:
Pappa Al Pomodoro, Malfatti pasta with sweet Sicilian eggplant, pancetta, Tropea onion and frizzled capers
Anatra Al Arancia, duck breast with orange and star anise and to finish Fennel and orange salad.
|Pappa Al Pomodoro|
As we finished our lunch and I saw the happy faces of our little cooking class I realized I should never be worried about finding inspiration in Italy.