Sunday, January 11, 2009

Goodfood in Italy Part 10: Cooking classes in Positano

Apprenticeship in a professional kitchen

I had a fantastic experience doing a two-day apprenticeship with Chef Vincenzo in Ristorante Mediterraneo in Positano, Italy thanks to Cooking Vacations

I enjoyed the bustle and pace of the kitchen, the clanging of pots and pans, the efficiency of the heavy-duty burners and grinders and boilers and ovens, the incredible raw material - fresh seafood, marinated seafood, San Marzano tomatoes, pastas of various shapes, olive oils and herbs - the smell of which stayed with me for days -, the meticulous 'prep', the fast explosive action of cooking, the careful plating, and of course the colours and aroma and tastes of a mediterranean kitchen.

Chef made a classic Ragu Bolognese, starting with minced onions, carrots and celery and bay leaf, adding tomato sauce and red wine and beef and simmering for hours. I observed closely and stirred, and stirred and stirred.

Making Octopus salad with fresh Octopus from the Bay of Naples was a breeze.

Making my own Limoncello with Sorrentine lemons was fun and satisfying.

And pasta, pasta, glorious pasta

Rigatoni, Spaghetti, Vermicelli cooked in huge pasta boilers with the pasta water acting as a sauce starter. Always al dente. Sauces made with clams or squid or porcini, and tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and pepper flakes. Tossed together just before plating and topped with parmigiano, cracked pepper and olive oil. Simple and delicious.

We made Orange Caramel, with oranges steeped in caramelised sugar and Cointreau.

We all ate together: Vincenzo, Lorenzo, Fiorenzo, Emanuel and I
Ate what we cooked, always with lots of wine

Chef Vincenzo and I made a good team

And I gained lots of new friends. Grazie and Ciao to Vincenzo, Lorenzo, Enzo, Fiorenzo, Rodrigo and Emanuel. And thank you Lauren Birmingham of Cooking Vacations for making this happen.

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