Wednesday, March 4, 2009

This is dedicated to Erica & Bruce.....after winning a Cooking Contest with TASTE ITALIA

Monday 20 October 2008
My partner Bruce and I arrived in Orvieto. Velia and her partner Gianluca met us at the train station and immediately made us feel welcome. They drove us to our B&B. It is a lovely place situated just around the corner from the Piazza del Popolo and run by Velia's friend Valentina who is kind, helpful and friendly. Velia arranged tickets for us for guided tour of Orvieto underground and also for a glass of wine both to be gotten at the Cantina Foresi which is practically on the steps of the Duomo. Having not had any lunch yet Bruce and I ordered Paninis. They were the most delicious paninis and after that I think that whenever we are hungry for a snack or want to have drink we will go back to Cantina Foresi!The Orvieto Underground experience was amazing and I would recommend it to everyone! After a lovely supper at local pizzeria we were early to bed as we knew we had a big day of cooking ahead.

Tuesday 21 October
This morning, Velia and Gianluca picked us up and drove us to their house in Monterubiaglio. There we met another couple and we started to cook! We cooked Drunken Sausages, Chicken Thighs stuffed with sausage and herbs, Fried Zucchini blossoms (something I'd always wanted to try) along with fried spinach and onions. We made bread - paninis stuffed with spinach and sausage, a loaf stuffed with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, and a focaccia. We made fresh pasta with a very simple but amazing tomato sauce, torta di mele (apple pie), and biscotti. Throughout the day we drank prosecco and then with our meal we drank beautiful, local red and white wines. Velia's teaching style is fun and informal and we all had plenty of laughs as the day progressed. Although we all had fun this style of teaching puts you at ease and gives you the confidence to try something that may seem challenging, such as preparing fresh tagliatelli! Velia 's method is to choose one ingredient or recipe and then to do different variations of it. All the recipes were straightforward and we'll all be able to reproduce them at home for friends and family with little trouble.
Wednesday 22 October
Once again we were picked up at our B&B by Velia and Gianluca were driven to the country house of their friend Domenico at Borgofontanile.
Domenico had a big fire blazing in the outdoor oven. This is where all the food was going to be cooked! We started by preparing onions for an onion marmelade/chutney. After that we began preparing the fresh porcini mushrooms that Gianluca had bought the night before. They were amazing! They were grilled in the oven outside. Then Velia and Bruce prepared one of Domenico's own chickens and some potatoes which were also cooked in the oven while we got on with making bread and pasta. We made different types of focaccia and we had pasta with the porcini mushrooms. We finished it all off with a chocolate and apricot cake that was delicious.Another fabulous day of cooking and eating.
Thursday 23 October
Today Velia and Gianluca took us to Civita Bagnoregio or 'the dying town'. It was a beautiful place. Not too many people live here anymore so it's very quiet and peaceful. We had lunch at a small bar/restaurant and walked around. It really is a beautiful place.After that we went for a wine tasting at the Custodi Winery. The winery is owned and run by Gianfranco a warm, friendly, man whose purple, calloused hands are a testament to the hard work and love he puts into his vineyard. His daughter Chiara gave us a tour of the place which was really interesting. We hadn't realized how Hi-tech wine making had become, everything controlled with the help of a computer.After that we tasted white, red, and dessert wines. All were delicious and we placed an order for 12 bottles to be shipped home!
Friday 24 October
Today is the day we leave. We are both very sad as we have enjoyed our stay so much! We will miss Orvieto and we will especially miss Velia and Gianluca who made us feel so welcome and showed us so much! This whole week was a never to be forgotten experience and we can't wait to come back!