Friday, 16 May 2014

Italian Cookery Course - Day Seven, Friday 16th May 2014

The two words to describe today is bizarre and beautiful! After breakfast, we went with Mateo and Pappa to a farm that makes cheese about forty or so minutes away. It was a beautiful journey, over the hills and valleys to Ca de Monti, an Agriturismo sheeps and goats cheese producer. Marissa had loaded an electric hob and a huge saucepan in the back of the truck before we left. We got to the farm, and there was actually no-one there. It was in the middle of nowhere (or in the middle of nothing, as Mateo described). About twenty minutes after we had wandered around and admired the view, a little van drew up with an urn of goats milk.
We went inside, to where a row of chairs had been placed in front of a long table with a very sixtyish flowered tablecloth underneath the hob. It took two of them to lift the urn and pour the milk into the pan. Pappa was watching very carefully as well – not sure if this was a new “tour” for all of us here! A two foot thermometer came out of a cardboard tube, the hob was switched on, the farmer proceeded to give a full description of what he was doing in Italian. Mateo proceeded to translate about five minutes worth of talking into thirty seconds – somehow think we were only getting part of the story here.

It didn't take long to get to 30ish degrees, when he proceeded to drop a bit of rennet into the milk. Then he had to stir it for about half an hour. Watching paint dry comes to mind! The farmer was quite animated during his stirring, but I am afraid we hadn't a clue what was going on. Eventually he decided it was done – there was a thick layer of yoghurt consistent milk in there now. Quite quick really. He took all of the thick stuff out with a strainer, and got two fairly large bowls of cheese. This apparently now takes a month or two to strain completely, have salt added and mature the flavour. Don't think we will stay for that part. The liquid left in the pan then had to be reheated to eighty odd degrees, and what floats to the top is ricotta cheese. Very clever. This was not so exciting to wait for either – in the end Mateo suggested we started lunch. Good idea!

It was a lovely lunch – four different kinds of cheese on the plate along with everything else. Very tasty. From here some went back to the hotel with Pappa, and some went to Faenza. This was about forty five minutes drive, again all through the hills and valleys. It really is a lush green beautiful area. The first stop in Faenza, which is famous for its ceramics, was to a ceramics workshop. Which was locked up with padlocks when we got there. Seems to be a theme here today. A few minutes later a young lady came and opened up and took us inside. A very diverse and strange lots of pots and bits. Ron poked a wild boar on a shelf and nearly got his finger chopped off – not ready to touch apparently. Then the boss man appeared, put on his apron, and gave us a demonstration on how to throw a pot – explaining in excellent Italian. The theme continues. Not sure if Mateo has a bad memory, or if Italians use ten times as many words as needed, but the translations were very much shorter than the original. The pot was good – but not a lot else in the workshop was. All a bit too bizarre. There was a Japanese chap doing a sculpture of a woman praying that could have sat in any GCSE art exam. He was meant to be a professional! The lady painting looked as if she was painting by numbers rather than using any skill and expertise. Not many purchases here!
We then drove into the centre of Faenza – which turned out to be the most beautiful town. The main square was amazing – and the cathedral quite large for what I thought originally was a small town. We all sat in the square and had a gelato – as one does! Not really in a hurry to move – or go to the next ceramics place Mateo had lined up – so no idea if that one was any better. We had a quick look in the cathedral – Ron took a confessional (none of us were religious, so it was all quite light hearted). I did check and Mateo wasn't either. Glad about that then!
We drove the forty five minutes or so back to the hotel – ready for Mateo to get to work in the kitchen, and for us to shower and change ready for dinner. Our Last Supper, as Marissa called it. She said she had made the pudding today, as there was nobody left. Well, Paul was left as he had to stay behind to sort out computer problems. Marissa even forgot about him – when he asked her where his lunch was she went into hysterics and told him she had slept. She had shown him how to operate the coffee machine – I am sure if we were here for much longer she would have got him making the beds! I am going to miss her hearty cackle.

Our Last Supper seemed to have extra courses in again – Cheese Fondue Zucchini, Ravioli, Asparagus, Roe Deer, and Catalunya Cream. Then she brought out the Lemoncello. Nobody is going home from this holiday hungry or thirsty!

No comments:

Post a Comment