Italia Per Due Week 2: Adam, Angela, and the Italian Concentration
Electrolux and Lunch in the Square
Today, the chef technician from Electrolux Italy, the company that installed the newest generation of equipment for our use and the use of future students, came to the Castello to show us how to use it. He started by turning one of the combi ovens on to a slow cook setting and grabbed a beautiful bone-in pork loin. He seasoned it with salt, pepper, rosemary, fennel seeds, and sage, and put it in a 160˚ Celsius oven after inserting the oven probe which was programmed to cook the pork to 70˚ Celsius. While that was cooking, he continued to go through all the different modes of using the ovens. One of my favorite was the ability to steam foods for part of the cooking and then have the oven switch itself to a dry cook for the remainder of the time. The pork began to give off an amazing aroma, and as soon as the oven alerted us that the pork had reached the desired temperature, it was pulled out of the oven and sliced very thinly. The result was super juicy and incredibly flavorful slices of pork with crispy brown skin.
After the demos were finished, we walked down the street to a deli where the owner prepared a lunch of his best salamis, prosciuttos, and cheeses accompanied by olives and freshly baked rolls. We stood outside at high tables and watched Italians drive around in their Fiats as we ate the delicious spread and drank some good wine. It was a great way to spend the afternoon with my classmates and just enjoy what I had always pictured a perfect Italian lunch to be.
By Adam Shoemaker
Learning Tastes Great
After the first snow storm in Puglia since 1986, we were delayed a day from starting class in the Castello di Ugento. So our chefs, Chef Odette and Chef Matysik, had to improvise. That meant a field trip! At 7:30 a.m. we loaded onto a bus and drove north for two hours to Mola di Bari. Our first stop was a beautiful Masseria—also known as a farmhouse. We went inside and had a shot of espresso and a piece of cake. They gave us samples of their homemade pomegranate marmalade. From there we were off to the bread baker who explained the different types of bread him and his team produce—including fresh ciabatta, which they have to start a whole day ahead. They use fresh durum flour made locally in Puglia. After tasting the warm ciabatta straight from the oven, we understood the impact of the local ingredients on flavor and why locals love this bread so much.
Next, the bread baker took us to his shop, Pan Bigne. Here, we ate fresh warm focaccia from the oven topped with fresh tomatoes and olives. Without a doubt, the best focaccia I have ever had! The owner explained to us that the focaccia must be baked at the shop so his guests can have it fresh and warm. From there, the group walked to the mozzarella maker, who starts his day at 4 a.m. to produce fresh mozzarella. Then we stopped at the pasta maker whose son owns a fish restaurant along the coast. We walked there and enjoyed fresh seafood and orecchiette pasta that his mother made and demoed for us in the kitchen. I think the experience of traveling to Mola di Bari is something the group will never forget, and the little lessons we learned about the importance of local ingredients and how they make a difference will stay with us forever.
By Angela Piccinich