48 crazy hours ago (that would be Monday night), was our first dinner at one of the 3 CIA restaurants we'll be visiting this week - Caterina de'Medici. I originally wrote up a nice description of our entrance through the wines we drank, but with all I have to get through, I've decided to condense it:
Glass 1: Nebbiolo d'Alba "Sontuoso" Valdinera. It was a tasty, classic Nebbiolo - dry and structured, with a nice bit of black cherry and some earth.
From there, we moved on to the wines they had pre-selected for our dinner - Feudi di San Gregoria Falanghina from Campania and Tenuta le Querce Aglianico del Vulture "Il Viola" from Basilicata.
Glass 2: Falanghina is a lovely Italian white varietal that you see more and more in good Italian places. This Falanghina had notes of green apple and citrus and was enjoyed by all.
Glass 3: Aglianico - yum. Though it was more fruit forward than the Nebbiolo, it complemented it nicely as it had similar dark cherry notes. Paired very well with the mushroom sauce that seemed to be used in both the pasta dish our table shared and the trout dish I ordered. Odd they used the same sauce in two completely different dishes, but it worked. Shoulder shrug.
Glass 4: Moscato D'Asti - OF COURSE! At the end of the meal, I had to introduce our table to one of my personal favorites and a consistent crowd pleaser - Moscato D'Asti. By this time we'd began calling ourselves "Table Debacle" as we were the most raucous group amongst our classmates, as well as in the restaurant so everyone was up for something fizzy and tasty.
Suffice it to say I slept very well on Monday night.
Day 2: We split into the teams we'll be working with for the rest of the week. I'm on a team with my friend, Wendy, Laura K. (a.k.a. LK, Laura #1, LauRock, Lola, Lo) and John. The focus of day 2 was frying and sauteeing and after some time discussing the assigned menu, we went about preparing our various components. We also convinced the instructor to let us deep fry our main entree - fried chicken (as opposed to pan frying as the assignment called for).
I also worked on a bacon topped salad and learned an important lesson about cooking in a convection oven. The air moves fast and the suction is great and once the fat gets cooked down, bacon becomes really light and can easily get sucked up in the fan of a convection oven. Despite this very funny looking lesson, I salvaged the bacon which turned out to be perfectly crispy. Of course the dressing was way too liquid-y which brings me to another lesson of the day - when making a dressing that includes a solid, start with the solid (in this case mayonnaise) and THEN add the liquid (in this case buttermilk). It helps control for soupiness.
Oh, and today was wine class. Was a good refresher, but nothing new. Then again, when the wine was delivered late and the instructor got behind opening the wine, I jumped up and started corking bottles with own wine key. It was a truly proud moment for me.