Sunday, January 23, 2011


It's a miracle, it has now been two days in a row that the sun has been out in Colorno. Every day since we got here it has been miserablely cold, damp, and foggy. The nasty weather has definitely been wearing on us but the sunlight has brought with it a noticable uplifting of spirits around the apartment.

Unfortunately, I have been battling a bad cold I picked up from Chelsea and have very little motivation to go outside or do much more than lounge around. I have to recover as quickly as possible because Monday is our classes first time in what is called "central kitchen". Central kitchen is the big restaurant kitchen where lunch is prepared for the entire school every day, and each class takes a turn feeding the rest of the school and Monday is our day. We will be cooking gourmet Itlaian cuisine for 300 hungry Italian foodies and the pressure is really on. Already us American's can feel a separation from the rest of the school. Not many of the Italian students talk to us, either because they don't speak enough English, or because they simply have no desire to. We also happen to stick out like sore thumbs and catch stares every where we go.

Right now its about 11am and I have yet to do anything besides have a cup of coffee with a couple of the guys. At some point I'm going to go back to my apartment, clean my room, upload pictures, and hopefully find something fun to do today in the gorgeous weather outside.

Friday, January 21, 2011


It's Fridayyyy!!

Eventhough I love every day of school there still is something special about Friday; knowing that at the end of the day you get to taste the sweet satisfaction of freedom. It's only been two weeks since our arrival in Italy but our constant togetherness is already wearing on everyone. Not only are four of us sick, including my roomate Chelsea (and five if you're including the slow decline of my own health), but everyone is starting to get sick of each other. Our vibrant personalities that create our rambunctious spirit as a class unit are starting to get on each others nerves. Patience is running thin and people are snapping left and right, to be honest...I can't wait to see a full blown fight. I'm hoping I have a front row seat to all the drama, however I am also hoping that when the time comes I will be wise enough to keep my usually big mouth shut.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Today was a really great day. Instead of a regular school day we went on a foodies perfect field trip and at nearly midnight, just got home.

Early this morning we all piled onto the bus at 7am to start our trip to Piemonte. Our first stop was a chocolate factory. I literally had some of the most delicious chocolate for breakfast, since our tour of the facility began with a tasting of some of their best products. After a short tour we got back on the bus for a 1hour drive to a winery in Barolo. It was the first time any of us had seen the sun since we arrived in Italy. Colorno has been under a constant frigid fog since day one and we were all put in good moods when we ascended high enough to escape the cloud cover. We tasted four wines, three red and one Moscato. The Moscato was fantastic, crisp, light, sweet, and tasted like fresh peaches and apricots. A perfect dessert wine. Needless to say I bought a bottle, a pretty good deal at ten euros.

After the wine tasting we were all feeling the pleasant warmth of an empty stomach laced with wine and passed out on the bus as we again made our way for an hour through the Piemonte countryside to our next location. The sun was so strong that the warmth on my face put me immediately into a pleasant slumber. After my lovely nap I was awoken to find that we had arrived at the restaurant for lunch. This quaint little spot was gorgeous and we had the whole place to our selves. All the tables had been pushed together and covered with a fine white tablecloth to make a long banquet where we all sat for what turned into a five course meal of epic proportions. The food was delicious, complete with regional specialties like veal carpaccio, bagna couda, and mucca brasata. Wine was once again flowing and it didn't take long for our rowdy bunch to be roaring with chatter and laughter.

Lunch, in good Italian fashion, lasted well over an hour and we all welcomed the coming hour bus ride to our next location...we needed serious nap time after we stuffed ourselves. The final stop was the food emporium known as Eataly. Now when I say food emporium, don't think whole foods, don't think a supermarket. Think every food desire under one roof and done locally, organically, relatively cheaply, and on a grand scale. They had a butcher and a fish market complete with such hard to find ingredients as whole suckling pig, and swordfish head. They had an entire downstairs area devoted entirely to wine and beer, including a station where you could buy an empty glass bottle and get it filled right out of the wine cask for two euro a liter. They had chef tools, books, and guides. They had bars that offered a full menu of delicious snacks made from their fresh produce. They had a selection of cheeses and salumi that would blow your mind! I could've walked out of there with a whole leg of prosciutto san danielle if i wanted!
Oh yea, and they also had regular grocery store items like produce, nuts, dried pasta and sauces, and a truffle counter. Yes, a truffle counted, where one could buy MULTIPLE black truffles of various varieties.

To say the least, this place was food mecca and all should flock accordingly.

Our day was capped by a three hour bus ride home during which we all slept like kids tuckered out from a day at an amusement park. For me, I don't see much difference. But tomorrow is another day and 8am is going to get here all too soon.

a domani!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Is For Family

Sunday. Day of rest, food, and family.

Finally time to recap some of what has been going on here in Colorno since us crazy Americans got here a week ago. Tonight most of the group is getting together upstairs for a potluck family dinner complete with a jug of red wine and what is sure to be too much pasta and attitude.

The past week has been incredible. I'm finally getting on Italian time which was a pretty big struggle earlier in the week. I found myself fighting the urge to doze off in class every morning, even though what we've been doing has been unbelievably interesting. On Thursday we had another chef demo with Michelin starred Chef Flavio Costa. His demo went along with our history lesson for the day that focused on the area and cuisine of Liguria.

Chef Costa brought with him some of his favorite recipes and also a Ligurian favorite, pesto genovese. Liguria, being on the Mediterranean coast, has a food culture centered around seafood however, the color green was also a theme throughout Chef Costa's dishes. We were told that Ligurian people love to eat foods that remind them of the richness of the land (in the form of the color and use of herbs and vegitables) because they spend so much time on the sea making their livings as fishermen.

Chef Costa also made for us two styles of the beloved pesto genovese, a Ligurian favorite and personally one of mine as well. One pesto was made the traditional way with a mortar and pestle that Chef Costa had brought with him. This thing was enormous! it was made of marble and looked as if he had stolen it from the Vatican museum it was so old and weathered. Traditionally, pesto is made this way, each ingredient being added one and a time to infuse the final product with the most flavor possible.

The second version was made the modern and easy way, in about 30 seconds with a VitaPrep mixer. Chef Costa plated them both side by side and let us, the budding chefs, decide which one we preferred. The difference in taste was outstanding; the pesto made by hand had the most incredibly rich flavor, you could really taste each ingredient shining through. The blended pesto was good, but next to the other was a mild imposter.

Along with his beautiful dishes, including his sea bream dish above, Chef Costa brought along some beautiful products from his native Liguria. A few of the most notable were the artichokes, the high quality extra virgin olive oil, and the black truffles. This picture is of a cross section made of one of the truffles and words cannot express how gorgeous it is! Who doesn't love truffles, right?

So now I must retire to bed, it is far past my bed time and I need to wake up in a few short hours for 8am Italian class.

Ciao Tutti!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Giorno Due!

Today was our second day at ALMA and I already feel like we've been here a month. Our days are so much longer than they were at the French Culinary Institute that two-and-a-half months here is going to feel like two years.

This morning our class finally split into our two groups, the Italian speakers and the non-Italian speakers. Those in the non-Italian speaking class had to get to school early at 8am for their first language course. Those of us lucky enough to have some proficiency in the language were rewarded by and extra hour of sleep. At 9:30am we reconviened for our first history class. We knew all along that part of the program at ALMA was a full education in Italian regional culinary history; however, we also anticipated meeting our history teacher who was a character of epic proportions. The people we had met who had returned from ALMA from the last rotation described this guy as a passionate Australian eccentric and he was exactly that. From the first minute of class this guy was off like a rocket, he had more information in his brain than I could ever fit into my head and more natural energy than I can muster after chugging two Red Bulls. His lesson on the North-Eastern region of Fruili-Venezia Gulia lasted for two hours and captured everyone's attention despite the fact that we are all still jet-lagged, and his vivid descriptions of the regions best dishes had everyone's mouths watering well before lunch time. Needless to say we were the first ones in line for family meal at 1pm.

After we had sated our appetites it was time for our first chef demo. Interestingly enough it was a young female chef named Antonia Klugmann and she seriously kicked ass. She made a total of nine dishes off of her restaurants menu and each of them were exquisitely prepared and progressively modern. At only thirty-years-old she owns and solely operates her own restaurant that honors her joint love for fresh local produce and dishes from her native Friulia, she also recently won a young Italian chef competition called "La prova dell cuoco".

Today was simply one of the best days ever. We sat and watched this woman literally dominate the kitchen and tasted some of the most inventive dishes I've seen in Italy yet.

But now, alas, it is time to do an ab and booty work out with my roommate Chelsea because all this pasta and glutony is no good for staying skinny while abroad.

A Domani!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Buon Giorno Italia!!

Ciao Italia!

We finally made it to Italy. My whole class and I settled in to our new apartment builing in Colorno, Italy and it is fabulous! Our class makes up the entire residency of the building so we pretty much have free reign to be as loud, American, and obnoxious as we want during non-school hours.

We all met up in Milan earlier today and were greeted by Francesca, our ALMA school coordinator. We then all climbed onto a coach bus for the two-hour ride to our little town outside of Parma...Colorno. The weather is damp and cold, but it sure beats the blistering cold and piles of snow we left back home in New York. Our apartment building is modern, painted in all white with color blocks of lime greens and blues, furnished with modern but sparse furniture. I'm sharing a room with my friend Chelsea and we are sharing our apartment with another girl Lara. Lara has a single room and Chelsea and I are roomies. Even cooler is that behind our apartment building is a huge soccer field. When we all first pulled up in our coach bus there was a soccer game going on, aparantly the soccer field behind our building is where the Colorno Junior League soccer team practices and plays...Score!

Right now its almost time to meet Francesca and go out as a group for our first official dinner in Italy. I can't wait! I'm absolutely starving and all I seem to be craving are big bowls of pasta and goblets upon goblets of rich red wine. Dear lord I'm in trouble here. I am most definitely going to come back to the States resembling some strange crossbreed between hippo and whale. I warned all my male friends from back home that they have to still find me attractive when come home as a giant meatball. As far as I am concerned, all food eaten in the next five months is being written off as career research.

It is my duty as a future chef to eat everything that crosses my path, right?