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

Sunday, May 30, 2010

last day of school and night in Turin!

Ciao Tutti!

As you may know Friday was the last day of school and our final exams. We cooked for 5 chefs this time and I had the main course. It went really well and they all seemed to really like it. I got to cook for one of the judges that will be hosting the Girotonno event so that was really cool.

I am starting to pack all of my stuff and it is def. a little bittersweet. I still can't beileve I will be heading out in just a couple of days. The remaining people from cascina and I went out to an outdoor nightclub last night called Cacoa. It was really fun, I have never seen that many people in one place in my entire life! I'm glad I got to spend one more night with everyone until we all head our seperate ways. So far I have gotten an invitation to come stay with friends in Peru and Chile. I hope one day I can take them up on that offer!

As for tonight, we will be grilling a little bit and just hanging out. I'm glad that I have a couple of days to relax before I start working again. Buon Giornato and Ciao!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It's getting down to the wire now...

Wow...only two more days left of school

Tomorrow is our big written exam that covers all facets of class, wine, Italian, culinary terms, names of dishes etc...I am kinda nervous but I always am before big tests.

I am looking forward to my practical exam though. I am preparing filetto di manzo con barbaresco e funghi...which basically translates into filet mignon with a red wine and porcini mushroom reduction. I should do well considering I have frequently made a similar dish for friends. (Although my friends aren't Michelin star chefs...bo)

Tomorrow night 8 of us are going to an Agriturismo for dinner and wine. I am really looking forward to an experience like this. The farm/winery is located on rolling hills and produces Bardera and Barbaresco. The owners basically prepare what is on their farm, with ingredients that are grown from their property. All of the chefs and professors (ironically) will be there tomorrow night as well. I have a feeling we will feel like we are sitting at the little kid's table at Thanksgiving...(but probably having a lot more fun.)

Again, it will be a bittersweet time as I am sad to leave such a beautiful place. But all good things come to an end and I need to keep in mind that I will be learning new and exciting things in about a week. I can't wait to cook at a Catalan Italian restaurant and yet again learn a new dialect. Well ciao for now! More pictures are soon to come!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Our view from the balcony in Riomaggiore

the sea and cliffs

Cinque Terre was amazingly beautiful!!!

We stayed in Riomaggiore which is one of the 5 terres in Cinque (5) Terre. It is located off the Ligurian coast and overlooks the Mediterranean sea. It was perfect weather for walking the trails and hanging out on the beach. It is really beautiful there with the houses perched atop the mountains and the sea underneath. The water was as clear as can be and our little house was just perfect for the 4 of us.

We got into Riomaggiore around 10:30 on Friday night. As soon as we got there we were met by Nonna and Grandpa (I don't remember their names I wish I did!) The two of them walked us to our place while explaining to Rocio in Italian about the town and the area. They were the quintessential Italian grandparents! We found out later that the flat we were staying in was the same house as the grandfather grew up in.

After we put our bags down and changed, we decided to get some food and drink as our journey to the beach took a mere 6 and a half hours. So, we changed and got ready and walked 20 meters outside of the apartment to a charming little restaurant right on the fishing dock. We sat al fresco enjoying the views (of the water as well as the tall, tan "model/actor" who was actually a bus driver, but more on that later..) And started to order.

The cook was outside with a cigarette and a beer, and the waiter seemed preoccupied..."Sorry, the kitchen is about to close...but you can order something fried" Well okay I guess, fried what? Was all that we were wondering, I stopped the cook and asked him if he could whip up something fast as I knew he was anxious to get out. 5 minutes later comes a platter of beautiful whole pan-fried fish of all different sorts..anchovies, calamari, snapper, octopus, cuttlefish and a couple bigger fish that I couldn't identify. They were crunchy salty perfect morsels of the freshest fish that were caught right off the dock we were sitting on. It turned out to be an excellent choice as the regional specialty turned out to be Pesce Mista, which is just a bunch of different types of fried fish. To top it off was a bottle of white that was out of this world and produced only a couple of kilometers away.

So, the four of us were in food heaven, when we were interrupted with shots of some sort of dark rum?? and pear juice from the next table over. It looked like they were celebrating something, and the chef was there hanging out with them who told us that the shot-giver was some sort of model/actor named Christiano who was actually a bus driver by day. (Pretty funny we all thought) So, we oblidged and ordered a second bottle of wine. It was around midnight and the cook came out, we thanked him for the wonderful meal and we all got on the subject about how we too, were cooks. He ended up being very nice and sat down with us to share a glass.

Not too far over we hear some other American accents, a girl and a guy around our age were sitting a couple of tables over and they too eventually joined us for drinks. The guy was from Boston and the girl from Louisiana who had just met that day and were travelling to Corsica the following day. Turns out that she was in the same sorority as Jessie and they did the seceret handshake and everything...funny how things in this world shake out.

Anyway, this weekend was filled with sunshine, good food and even better memories. I gotta say that I have made some pretty damn good friends here in Italy and that it has been an experience that will last a lifetime. Now it's time to move on and start another stage of my life. One more busy week and then it's packing and hauling stuff to another place, one thing I will be sure not to leave behind are the memories I have shared here. A good friend once told me (Rodrigo, about a week ago) "If you want to come back to a place, just leave your shoes" Well, that wont be too hard since I have worn out three pairs.

Sardegna here I come!!!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cinque Terre

I will be in the Cinque Terre this weekend in Liguria with my roomates!

"Unfourtunatly" this means I will not be taking along my computer (nice relaxing weekend)

Anyway, I miss everyone, can't beileve it is the last weekend of school. So excited to see you Dad...and Mom, I wish you were coming but it's ok another time!!! Love you all and Ciao until Sunday!!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

La Ghinghetta

Ciao Everyone!!!

I have GREAT news to all of my readers.

After the Girotonno event I will now be calling Sardegna my home for the next four months.

The restaurant is called La Ghinghetta. It is a 1 star Michelin restaurant and hotel consisting of 8 bedrooms and a 25 seat restaurant. It is family-owned and operated. I am very excited to be starting and have only heard and read excellent things about it. Not to mention it was my first choice place! I hope everything runs smoothly.

I need to start thinking about packing my room up, after all it is only about 2 weeks until I will be leaving Costigliole for good. (I wonder if I will ever be back here?) My friend Ori drove me into Asti today, I picked up two jackets for the competition and later we all had a burger (who knew?) at this little bar right by ICIF. I am really going to miss this place, but before all of the emotional stuff, the girls and I are going to Cinque Terre this weekend for a relaxing time. Can't wait to drink some wine, eat some great food and just all around relax with my 3 favorite people from school. Anyway, that's it for now. Goodnight!!!

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Ciao Tutti!

Internet has been on and off for the last week so I apologize for not getting back to my friends and family!!!

So, this past week has been so BUSY. I feel like I haven't had time to come up for air. It was Rocio's 25th birthday bash last night at club Cascina (aka the breakfast room) we had tons of food and set up the grill with all kinds of meat and sausage. The two huge cheesecakes that Jesse and I stayed after class to make for the last couple of days tasted great and where a huge hit.

As most or all of you know, (because I only have about 4 readers) I got invited to participate in a culinary competition in Sardinia. It is held in a very small port called San Pietro and it is where they catch a lot of the Red Fin Tuna that is found within southern Italy. I am very nervous/excitied and am happy that I was recognized as a competitor for the event. Me and the other chef, Dominick (from NYC) will be flown down to Sardinia to compete and have our dish tasted and critiqued by chefs from all over Italy. I am still a little unsure of how we will comprise our dish, but I have no doubt in my mind that the final product will be great.

As for my restaurant stage, I don't know what region or even what restaurant I want to go to. There is a place in Bergamo that is a two star Michilen called Da Vittorio. That is a possibility, or I may just go to Eliza (who coordinates the internships) and tell her that it doesn't matter where I go as long as I have a chef that is willing to teach me (it also wouldn't hurt if they knew a little bit of English, as I haven't been "practicing" very much with all the English speaking people around.) Anyway, that is about it, I have another dessert for the test on Monday morning, a Chocolate Torte with poached pears and hazelnut crust. Ciaoo e Bouna Notte!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Night is Asti

Hi All!!!

Today it is beautiful in Costigliole, I started my day at the market to get some fresh bread, cheese and vegtables for dinner later tonight.

Last night Jesse and I went to Asti to have a relaxing night in town. We walked around a bit and then decided to get some food and a bottle of wine at a little restaurant called Francese. It was SO good. We had a little mixed antipasti plate of the house specials. Then we had a pizza with olives, proscuitto and mushrooms on it. Then we did the most random thing ever and came across this huge fair going on. It was packed with the most Euro teenagers I have ever seen and the rides were huge and janky looking but were so much fun. We went on the ferris wheel and then on this huge sombrero looking ride that spun you in circles. After that one we were thinking that splitting a bottle of wine at dinner might not have been the best idea. But oh well, we went on like 3 or 4 more rides with the last being a huge swinging monster that spins you over and over again and I swear it lasted 10 minutes. It was one of the best nights I have had in Italy so far! Anyway, Happy Mother's day Mom! Miss you and everyone!!!!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Michelin Chefs!

Ciao Tutti!

Today I cooked for two Michelin star chefs! It was for the second test out of five. I made a layered monkfish starter with anchovies and green olive in between the layers. I also made a cipollini salad with sunflower sprout and balsamic with an orange scented balsamic reduction. I was really happy with me plate! It looked exactly the way I had imagined it and everything tasted good to boot. The only things I understood from the judges were "bellisimo" and "bravo" and they ate every bite, so I am assuming they thought it was edible. Anyway, we will see what the scores are tomorrow. Everyone is such a great cook at school, It is making me feel energized and creative when I get into the kitchen. I can't wait to start working again, I just need to find a place where I think I can grow as a chef the most. Anyway, I must get back to enjoying my glass of Barbera d'Asti. Ciao!!!!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

back in Italy...and happy that I am "home"

Hi everyone!

We all got in from the Bergamo airport late last night....picked up the rental car and spent another three hours travelling home to Costigliole. It was quite a trip. We had some of the worst and best food I have ever eaten. I gotta say, being a tourist can be worth it but then there are other times where you either feel robbed of time and/or money. The dinner we had on Saturday night was one of these experiences....I can easily say it was the worst food. ever. But while the 6 of us were all sitting around the table, Americans, Russians, Peruvians, all walks of life was one of the best times I have had.

We started off our trip at a Paella place on the water. The food was really good and the paella pan could fit a small car inside of it, not to mention the copius amounts of tapas and sangria we ingested before hand. Dinner started at 11:30 pm and didn't end until 1 am, just when people were starting to go out for the evening. We attempted to go to some bars but in the end all decided to turn in for the night and rest for all of the museums/walking we would be doing the next day. We visited the Sagrada Familia, which is the behemouth curch Gaudi started building in 1882, and which is supposed to be finished by 2025. It was one of the most spectacular sites I have ever seen. We then walked up to the three crosses, which is a park Gaudi designed at the top of a large hill over looking all of Barcelona and the sea, his house is also located here.

By Sunday we were all pretty exhausted, and nerves were running high. I think I will spend this week catching up on my sleep and studying, we have another exam tomorrow morning so wish me luck! Ciao everyone!