Buon Giorno friends and family!

Welcome to "Blogging from the Boot", Where you can read all about my adventures spent in Italy. I will be attending the International Culinary Institute for Foreigners in beautiful Costigliole d'Asti. Along the way I will be cooking, eating, learning, and all around submerging myself in the rich and delicious culture of Italy. Mangia Mangia!

International Culinary Institute for Foreigners in Costigliole d'Asti

Friday, April 30, 2010

half day

Hi All

Leaving at lunch for Barcelona, Can't WAITTT to see Gaudi's house and the church he never stopped building. I honestly thought I would never be able to experience/learn as much as I have in these last couple of weeks. I am a lucky person. I miss all of my family and friends very much though. Just know that I am always thinking of you guys! Love you and I will catch up on my blog on Tuesday! Ciao Tutti!!!!!!

Thursday, April 29, 2010


SO excited to be in Barcelona in less than 24 hours. I already have my bag packed and ready to go after lunch on Friday.

Yesterday was great. We went to a risotto factory and saw all aspects of how the rice is grown, produced, packaged, etc...(the factory itself was kinda boring, and REALLLY loud.) We were all cranky and hungry by 2 oclock and could not wait for lunch. Little did we know we were being taken to a little trattoria outside of Milan that had the best risotto on the planet. We were served about 8 courses, starting with a charcuterie platter of different cotto and crudo meats, then a slice of cured beef topped with a mixture of mayo and tuna (very common in this region) and roasted peppers with bagna couda. This was all accompainied by a sparkling off dry white from Asti. Next, we were served the first risotto, a red bean and lardo risotto with beans from the chef's garden, they tasted a lot like kidney beans but where paler in color and a little smaller. After, we were served a fontina and grana podano risotto with fresh zuchinni, zuchinni flowers, and cherry tomatoes. (YUM) This was all accompanied by a rosso frizante that is perfect for lunch, not too dry and not too sweet, with the bubbles getting you ready for the next bite. After both of those I was thinking it was time to sleep, but NOOO, we then had a roulade of veal stuffed with spinich, a slab of roast beef with french fries (really random, maybe they were worried us stupid Americans had no palate? I'm not too sure) But they were hand cut and fried to perfection none the less, after all of this, the freshest tasting vanilla gelato with fruit and a much needed espresso.

I guess the rice factory didn't suck too bad afterall.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Torino, rainy day, first test

Hi everyone!!

I will start by saying this weekend was one of the best ever! Turin was amazing, beautiful and with great nightlife. The food was amazing...four courses of apertivs, 3 different types of fresh pasta, artichokes with parmesean, wine for everyone, espressos (at 11 pm), and after dinner bitters.

I am loving the Italian way of life. It is so much than the US.

Last night there was a huge storm, the thunder rattled Cacsina Solaria and the rain was coming down in sheets, now it is just a wet morning, with a half mile walk to do daily it isn't a good start to the day. Good thing the rain is washing away all the pollen that I am allergic too though, this stuff is white and pillow-y and looks like snow. It falls off the trees like snow too! It is everywhere.

Last night was our first test, we were graded on our dish from 4 different chefs/food enthusiasts from around the country. I was in charge of the apertivs/first course. I created a trio of little bites, starting with a creme de pomodoro with a bufala mozzarella topping, garnished with a tiny basil leaf, next was a coronet of salted cod on a toast point, with fennel sprouts, and last was mozzarella en carrozza, with anchovy breabdrumbs and slivers of blanched asparagus. I was really happy with my plate, and the judges seemed to like it too! Anyway, gotta get to school now. Arriverderci!

Friday, April 23, 2010

sheep, goat and cow---the holy trinity!

Ciao Tutti!

We started out our day at a very small cheese maker right outside Canelli. They had a small herd of sheep and about 10 cows from which they produce their cheese from. They import special goat milk to make a cheese mixed with the three. (It was heaven) They also make a sort of sweeter sheep's milk cheese and a hard cow's milk cheese that reminded me a lot of a gorgonzola I tried last week. This cheese was paired with a very sweet raisin wine that melded the flavors complex and delicious. I have to say that was some of the best cheese I have ever tasted.

After our day trip we went back to school and had a chef from Turin come in and do a demo. He made a whole roasted goat (go figure) as well as a roasted guinea fowl that was accompanied with a sort of caramelized honey/caper sauce. After that we made a pan fried young veal chop and slow cooked polenta with local cheese.

I am so happy to be leanring in class but my mind keeps on wandering back to pastry. I think that whole side of cuisine gets side-tracked when savory is in the picture. After my research I have decided I would love to persue this and learn as much as I can about it. I found a restaurant in Portofino that has two Michelin stars (one from the pastry chef alone) as well as a 3 forks and knife award. It is located off the Amalfi Coast in the Campania region. It is called Torre del Saracino. Check it out if you would like and wish me luck that they can find accomodations for me!!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Just booked my flights to Barcelona!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pastry or not....

Hi everyone!
Well, today was great...we has Italian classes in the morning, then went straight into preparation for lunch service. It was the first "exciting" day that we had at school. At Johnson and Whales we prepped lunch service everyday...then upwards to 75 people would stand in line at the steam tables and select what they wanted. Here is totally different, we have a la carte service everyday, (although the school cook, Yuki, almost always prepares it) and the students who are on dining room duty serve the other students and staff, about 50 people in all.

So, I was in charge of the creme brulee and creme anglaise ice cream. I feel as if I got pegged into doing pastry because I have the most experience, so naturally I was a little peeved...but at least I know how to make those things. Although, It would have been nice to learn a new technique or make something I have never made before but all in all it was a great day. I made 50 (well maybe 40) perfect creme brulees and my partner, Ido made a delicious ice cream to go with it, I garnished this all with some sliced kiwi (I would have liked to make a sugar cage to perch on top of each one, but I asked and was told I wouldn't have time, even though I was standing around doing dishes for 45 minutes) but even so, It was a great dish that I was happy to serve to my fellow students and teachers. I liked being in the heat of the moment of an a la carte setting....it has been awhile since I have done that! Arriverderci Tutti!

Monday, April 19, 2010


Ciao Tutti!

Florence was great, we went to this little Osteria near the Duomo. The entire menu was in Italian and we were all a little lost in translation, but that made the meal memorable. We were going to drive down the coast to Pisa the next day but then decided against it because we wanted to go to Il Gigante in time for grilling dinner.

I don't know where I want to do my internship yet. Before I came here I was thinking about doing it in Naples. The fresh seafood and pizza is enough to make my mouth water. Although now there is a huge mafia war near Calabria and most of southern Italy is not very safe. It's a sad thing when organized crime has such an impact on a place. Anyway, I must get going...wine class starts in 20 mins. Arriverderci!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pasta Pasta!

Today was tiring just because of all the food we ate!! We made 5 fresh pasta dishes, and had a pastry class all morning. Today was delicious. Tomorrow we are going to have class in the wine cellars and have a wine tasting in the afternoon.

I am so glad that I am finally settled in. It has been a couple of years since dorm life and I forgot how fun it was. I'm happy that I have roomates that are all respectful, easy to get along with and all around really cool. School is kicking our butts, 10 hours a day of demos, eating, cooking, tasting...etc. Anyway, gonna go hang out with the Brazillians, trying to upload some pictures on facebook. Check up on my fb page for pictures. Ciao!

Monday, April 12, 2010

olive oil tasting/day in Asti

Ciao Famiglia e Amicò! I have to cut it short because my computer is running out of juice but here is a break down of today.

Spent the first part of the day learning about different apertifs, we made tiny mozzarella en carrozza and fried anchovies stuffed with bagna verde. We also learned the traditional way to prepare Bagna Coda. After lunch (cured sirlion we made the previous day with some oil and balsamic) we resumed our day in the wine cellar to listen to a lady talk about producing olive oil. Her company is in Liguria which produces some of the finest olive oil in the world. We learned how to properly taste olive oil and what you should know about it before buying. It was very informative. Tomorrow we will be in the bake shop learning about traditional pastries!! I am also excited for Friday with the Grana Podano tour and the special wine tour. Arrivederci everyone!!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Olive Oil!

Today in class we are having an olive oil tasting! Check beack to hear about the details! Ciao.

As close to home cooking as it's gonna get.

School this past week has been mainly lecture and a couple chef demos. A lot of us have been really craving a good meal. The dorms don't have anything but a tiny fridge and this janky grill but let me tell you it was So Good! On the way back from Milan we stopped at Il Gigante which is pretty much just a farmer's market in Asti. There we picked up some spicy sausage, chicken, pork chops, garlic and onions for roasting and a bunch of veggies. Everything here is so fresh and produce is very inexpensive.


Let me begin with one thing. Learning to drive a stick shift Fiat is not an easy task. Thankfully the Brazillians were here to navigate. Milan was amazing. Seeing the Duomo as soon we got there was amazing. We went to a night club that was insane. Everyone was dancing and not caring. I think I burned off every single calorie I have ingested in the past week (which was not an easy task considering I have never eaten so many carbs in my life). The hostel we stayed in was clean and packed with German girls. I haven't slept on the top bunk since I was 5 but at least I layed my head down that night because I needed it.

Yesterday we toured the Duomo and got all of our stuff stolen from us. Thankfully for me it was only one nights outfit and my cute leather pumps :( Oh well, at least it wasn't my passport and money like Thyrso. I also find it funny to have someone rent a car, then when you are trying to return it, the office is closed. I called and called and then realized I might as well take advantage of the situation and go to Lake Como with my roomates. Ciao for now.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Brazilians were hanging out on the balcony again last night so you know what that means....Wine will be flowing!! Another amazing night at Cascina Solaria. This morning was a little rough, but nothing an espresso and a croissant can't fix. Class went well today, We have a Master Sommolier as our dining room teacher so we went over the correct Italian way of dinner service. It is very precise and oriented much on the details of serving vino. I am ready to be back in the kitchen though. Tomorrow we are making all different sorts of pizza and various types of breads. We have a fully functional wood burning oven that dates back to the former tennants of the castle. We also have a stack oven with pizza stones built in. Fun equipment to work with for sure!

This weekend is the second largest wine festival in the world held in Verona. I would love the chance to go although accomadations are limited and driving is kindof an issue considering it is 3 hours away. Instead my roomate and I were thinking of spending the night in Milan on Friday, then heading to Torino on Saturday to meet up with my friend Danny I met in Rome two years ago for a birthday party. Not at all a bad way to spend a weekend! (PS: best quote of the night coming from "The Russian" about the craziest drinking game I have ever heard of---"You must fill a fishbowl full of wodka, Pass around circle and fill more wodka. Then, whoever finishes this wodka wins!" Wow, I wouldn't last two minutes.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Translation Please??

My whole course is in English with virtually no translations on the recipes and Coursebook. And did I mention how the buses pass pedestrians within 2 inches?

So far Italy Has Been quite an adventure. Got lost on the plane straight into Turin. Thankfully a very helpful tourist shared a cab with me. After no sleep and lots of jetlag, I managed to eat a small dinner and have a glass of wine with a bunch of crazy Brazilians. I met my roomates, and two others a Peruvian girl from the west coast. It is a wonderful mix of cultures and cuisines. So far the school Seems perfect. (Except of the Flame No rule unfortunatly Which Means No gas burners) A small Imperfection. I am in a group of 4 girls, and one guy. I Can not wait to blog more about my Experiences and will be sure to upload pictures of my town and the food I will be making! Ciao Everyone!! (FYI: If this paragraph is phrased weird I apologize. My computer decided to get all Italian on me.)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

1 more day!

It's down to the day before I leave for the rolling hills and beautiful backdrop of the Alps. My plane will arrive in Milan on Monday morning and from there I will (somehow) manage to get to the airport in Turin so I can board the bus to Costigliole d'Asti! I start classes on Tuesday at the International Culinary Institute for Foreigners. I am anxious to meet my fellow classmates and get back into my whites. But for now, I must continue to pack, and find a way to pack 6 months worth of clothes into a couple suitcases! Arrivederci!