Monday, May 3, 2010

May Day, May Day -- Cooking Class Reunion

It had been over a year since the last pot luck reunion of our class from our 2006 Museo ItaloAmericano Italian cuisine terminology/Cucina Italiana class – one of the oddest and most rewarding educational experiences of my life. Although it had taken some time to find a date when our surviving class members and respective companions could all meet, we had finally settled on this past Saturday, May 1.

This time we were to gather at our place in Sausalito, and while the weather earlier in the week had been a bit on the cold and overcast side, happily Saturday was one of those Spring days that reminds one of why one chose to live in the Bay Area - the view from our deck was pretty nice.

As always, preparation for these reunions takes a bit of thought. Apart from the food and wine, what about appropriate music? Given the contrasting May Day implications (think Lei Day in Hawai’i where I grew up vs. L'Internationale) and Italian cuisine theme of the event, it is possible that no previous iPod playlist has featured the same combination of Italian, Hawaiian and international labor movement selections that we enjoyed. The seamless juxtaposition of Paolo Conte, Gabby Pahinui and the Red Army Chorus was something to behold.

One thing you can be sure of at these events is that we will all eat and drink well, and most importantly will all have a great time with some wonderful friends.

As far as I can remember, this was our menu for the evening:

Gli Antipasti

~ Ricotta with mint served with bruschetta
~ Abbaye de Belloc
~ Tomino in oil with herbs and chile

~ Fra’Mani Salume Gentile
~ Tuscan bean spread
~ Castelvetrano olives

La Cena

~ Fennel, arugula and orange salad
~ Chicken Pappardelle
~ Peperonata
~ Asparagus
~ Tartine country bread, with olio di olive
~ Lemon & chocolate hazelnut tarts

I Vini

~ Val’d’Oca Prosecco
~ Cantine Mederfil “Le Grotte” Reggiano Lambrusco
~ Vietti – 2008 Roero Arneis
~ Seghesio – 2004 Marian’s Reserve
~ La Braccesca – 2004 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
~ Cascina del Santuario (Soria Bruno) – 2006 Moscato d’Asti
~ Hauner – 2005 Malvasia delle Lipari – Passito

Twelve persons was the most we had ever had at a sit-down dinner at our place, although with a bit of creative geometry (don’t ask me what the shape of our table was) we managed to fit everyone in.

Just a few random comments on our dishes.

Thanks to Karlena and John for reading my blog and bringing one of my favorite cheeses, Abbaye de Belloc (we will forget for the moment it is French), not to mention my favorite local salume from the folks at Fra’Mani, and the Prosecco that tided us all over until the rest of the gang managed to fight through the Saturday traffic on the Golden Gate.

Alba and Michael came through with the Lambrusco that everyone knows is the perfect pairing for salume, as well as with the asparagus.

Melva and Jim deserve recognition for bringing the loaves of country bread from Tartine Bakery (is that not the best bread in the world - flavor + crust + texture ??), not to mention the vivid green olive oil all the way from their estate in Cortona.

Reidun and Angela get singled out for the handmade ricotta cheese that they learned to make a few weeks ago at their cooking class with Rosetta Costantino (note to self: buy Rosetta's new "My Calabria" cookbook!)

Barbara gets our thanks for the insalata as well as for sharing with us all the bottle of Seghesio Marian’s Reserve that she had received from our departed classmate John Demergasso, whom we toasted during the meal. John, we could not have had a more appropriate forum during which to enjoy your gift!

Veronica scored with the spectacular and contrasting lemon and chocolate/hazelnut tarts, notwithstanding a bit of ingredient sloshing on the ride out from the city.

Mega-thanks to Nancy for all of the pre and post-dinner planning, cleaning and other efforts and many dishes, not the least of which were the Chicken Pappardelle main course and the both beautiful and tasty Peperonata Tuscan onion and bell pepper stew taken from Judy Witts Francini’s recent cookbook I picked up during our recent class with Judy at Cavallo Point.

And finally kudos to Kip and Quigley who, after a bit of exuberant barking to welcome our guests, calmed down and throughout the evening performed their customary roles of patrolling the floor for dropped tidbits.

Where do we go next?

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