Thursday, September 29, 2011

Making Fresh Pasta

Making fresh pasta is not hard,
but it does take some time.
After mixing the dough and dividing it into balls
it is left to rest and rise for 10 minutes,
and then it is flattened into sheets.
First it is patted into a flattish square,
and then fed through the rollers of the pasta machine:

It has to go through ten times.
Each time the rollers are re-set from 10 to 9 to 8 and so on down to 1,
making the distance between the rollers smaller,
and the pasta is rolled out in thinner and thinner sheets.

After that, the pasta can be cut--
in rounds with filling in between, for ravioli,
or in long strips for fettucine.
We folded the pasta sheets and then cut them.

Here are the fresh pasta 'heaps' of linguine
ready to go into the boiling salted water.
It cooks for 3 minutes, and then gets taken out and put in the sauce.

Nando, our chef instructor,
says to always put the pasta in the sauce
(not the sauce on the pasta)
because this way the pasta absorbs the sauce flavors better.
Today's pasta was green with pureed parsley,
and the sauce was a clam and sauteed vegetable sauce....

Four Course Lunch #2

What was for lunch today?
We started with bruschetta:

Next we had fresh homemade linguine pasta
with clam sauce
(this was my absolute favorite,
I could have eaten another plate full!)

Then we had fish.
I don't know what the name of the fish is in English;
it was a Mediterranean fish,
white and firm and mild.
The sauce over it was called 'aqua pazza'
(literally, 'crazy water')
because there was some red chili pepper in it.
Apparently it's a Neapolitan dish.

Dessert was lemon cream
topped with berry sauce.

I want to have a dinner party when I get home
and try to make some of these things again--
if I can get a pasta maker!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Street Performers

I like street performers and artists and musicians.
They cheer up my world!

Pork Sandwich

At a roast meat stall,
an entire pig had been stuffed and roasted.
The cute young man there cut me some slices
and put them on a roll,
and I took it home for lunch--
on my cute new tablecloth that I bought at the market.

Market Merchants

Lots of people shop at the markets-
including nuns.
(More stealth photos!)

And I liked this cactus seller--
who also didn't know I was photographing her...

Siena Market Day

Wednesday is market day in Siena.
The market booths are set up
next to the walls of the 16th century
Medici fortress,
and sell numerous items
from clothes to shoes to food--
including some strange items
like these salt/stockfish.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Animals Domestic and Not

There is a nice park
below the Campo and behind the Palazzo Pubblico.
It has animals--
chickens, a donkey, goats--
and also lots of rabbits.
The rabbits are not caged,
but they look glossy and well cared for--
I guess that they are someone's escaped pets.
But they are shy,
and I didn't have my good-zoom camera,
so the above was as close as I could get
for a photo.

It is a lovely place to spend a quiet evening
in early autumn.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dr. Croc and 19 students drive out in a bus to see a View: Italians Drive Us

Volterra from a distance.

San Augustino from the San Gimignano castle

San Gimignano at a distance (far distance)

Monteriggioni in shadow from autostrada.

All of these were taken from the bus window--
the views were actually much finer!

Nuns in Siena

I snapped this 'stealth photo' of nuns
passing through the Piazza Salimbeni
yesterday morning in Siena.
One does see nuns in Siena sometimes,
but they are much more common in Rome.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cheese Shop, Italian Style

Our group went to Gino Caccino's alimentari yesterday.
It wasn't just a cheese shop-
he also sells sausage, and bread, and other stuff-
but we had a lesson on how
Real Italian Cheese is made:
parmeggiano, peccorino
(and other stuff like real balsamic vinegar,
which can age for up to 50 years! -
and then costs a great deal for a small amount.)
Parmeggiano ages in Italy for 10 years.
And the properly aged stuff tastes amazing.
I like the peccorino best fresh, though--
the aged stuff was pretty strong for me.
Signor Gino is in the last photo.
He's very nice and told us lots of fun stories
during the demo and cheese tasting.

Siena's Cathedral: Some Highlights

Siena cathedral has amazing floors,
inlaid marble scenes over every inch of the interior.
From dome to striped piers
to the elaborate floors
(which I was lucky enough to see being repaired-
a fascinating process where the old black lining
is chiseled out and new tar-like substance put in)
to the candles burning in the dimness,
this is a really lovely building.
(The floor detail scene shows Elijah,
ascending to heaven in a fiery chariot.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Completely Charming Town of Sarteano

Sarteano is picture-postcard-perfect,
if dead quiet in the afternoons.
It also has Etruscan tombs nearby,
and a castle at the top of the town--
what more could you want for a day trip?

Amazing Tuscany Views

Tuscany truly is gorgeous.

Four Course Lunch: First Wednesday in Siena

So, every Wednesday I get to participate in the cooking class.
We cook a 4 course meal and then eat it.
This week was a Tuscany theme.
We had foccaccia bread topped with melted cheese
(which I forgot to take a picture of.)
Then we had homemade ravioli,
stuffed with spinach and ricotta,
with two kinds of sauce: tomato and butter/sage.
Making ravioli was time consuming but fun
though I don't recommend it without a pasta machine.

Second course was veal scaloppine,
very thin slices of veal floured and fried
and topped with a luscious tomato sauce,
served on the side with peas and bacon:

and dessert was panna cotta,
a 'cooked milk' with vanilla and citrus zest,
thickened with gelatin and set in the fridge.
Ours didn't set up properly so we couldn't unmold it
on the plate and top it with the orange sauce,
so we just had it in the cups.
It was still good!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Enforced Dress Code

Rome's churches require a dress code-
shoulders covered, shorts or skirts to the knee.
No problem for BYU students,
but the average woman on the street dresses far more revealingly.
Many women carry scarves to put around their shoulders
when entering a church.
Santa Maria Maggiore actually provides 'scarves'
placed in their narthex...

I put neon lights on mine

I find it fascinating that corner shrines
often have neon lights...
reminds me of Cary Grant's comment
in "Arsenic and Old Lace"...

Gorgeous Shoes

These famous designer shoes are gorgeous-
and extremely expensive-
I hate to say how much I spent,
but these were far from the most costly ones in the store...
the shoes are more beautiful than the feet
(especially after weeks of walking,
blisters, calluses, etc...)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Changing of the Guard

As I was walking down the Quirinal about 6 pm today
(on my way to a bus stop to rest my tired feet)
I heard music...
and saw this.
Two groups of soldiers (or different armed forces)
and a band, changing the guard
in front of the palace at the Quirinal.
It was quite a stirring sight!
I wonder if they do the guard change every day?