Monday, July 25, 2016

My Favorite Part of My Visit to Sicily

My favorite event of my holiday in Sicily was a cooking class at a farm (Fattoria Mose')/B&B/cooking school in the Villaggio Mose' in Sicily.

Our tour group arrived about 5PM at the most charming sight. A working farm with chickens, a rooster, many cats, many dogs, many plants, olive trees, almond trees. verandas, long oil clothed tables for dining al fresco underneath shade trees on the veranda.

chickens in the garden

bougainvilla on the veranda

Inside the farmhouse, a "classroom" with long tables set out with dangerous looking knives for many budding gourmands. And a busy kitchen, of course.

We were tutored by the head chef and her advanced pupils. note: it looked, to me, like the pupils lived at the farm and the ones we met were quite advanced. They run  B&B on site as well, therefore, there is much opportunity for the pupils to have food prep experience. I later discovered that a stay at the  B&B costs $50 per night!!! That almost floored me. I would give a guess that a stay at a B&B of that caliber in the U.S. would be at least $100 per night.

When we arrived, the executive chef had already started chicken Marsala and was working on eggplant Parmigiana. On the kitchen counters, we saw a pile of ground almonds (produced on that farm) waiting for their next step in becoming truffles for dessert. On the same counter, we watched as the crust of a crostata de marmellata was created by a pupil of the school. She had previously preserved the marmellata (a mélange of several fruits).

In the kitchen - chicken Marsala on the stove - ground almonds - genesis of a crostata

Meanwhile, in the big room with the long tables, were the dangerous looking knives and wooden cutting boards, we played sous chef to the executive chef as we all prepared and put together a potato, artichoke, cheese (caciocavallo), onions, capers, and bread crumbs drizzled with extra virgin olive oil (produced right there) casserole bake.

the makings of the potato-artichoke bake

Next came those ground up almonds tossed into a pan with a simple syrup, then (when cooled a bit) kneaded together into a dough. Brought into the "classroom" for the sous chefs to roll into tiny balls, then rolling the tiny balls, some in cinnamon sugar and some in cocoa. That was part of our dessert (truffles).

pinch off a bit of dough-roll into a tiny ball-dust with cinnamon sugar or cocoa

Part II of dessert were orange roses (arancia de canella). We, the sous chefs, pared oranges, removing all the peel (down to the orange segments). Then the oranges were sliced in a spiral and wound into the form of a rose. These were arranged on a large plate, cinnamon sprinkled on them and a few mint leaves for garnish.

truffles and arancia roses with dusting of canella garnished with mint
the crostate de marmellata - lattice created by a tourista - hence the primitive lattice - still tastes good

finally - mangia - mangia
Surprisingly, there was much more to dinner than our neophyte sous chefs prepared. Our hostess had some food prepared off site and added to the glorious dinner that our little group helped to prepare. All in all, this experience was the star of the show.

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