Thursday, August 30, 2007
compreso di 4 bicchieri di vino
four wines by the glass included
Millefoglie di pane corccante con zuccine alla menta e mozzarella di bufala
Crispy bread and courgette pie with buffalo mozzarella
Vino Bianca "Cetamura Bianco" I.G.T. 2005 di Coltibuono
Stracci di pasta con cinghiale in umido, uvetta e pinoli
Home made pasta with stewed wild-boar, raisins and pine nuts
Chiant Classico "Cultus Boni" 2003 D.O.C.G. di Badia a Coltibuono
Galletto grigiato con olio al limone e timo, peperonata
Grilled baby rooster with lemon and thyme oil, mixed peppers, tomato and garlic stew
Sangioveto I.G.T. 2000 di Badia a Coltibuono
Dolce daila carta
Dessert from the menu
Bera "Su Reimond" Moscato d'Asti D.O.C.G. 2005
PICCOLO MENU € 26,00
compreso di 2 bicchieri di vino
two wines by glass included
Cotolette di agnello alla griglia con maionese aglio e timo, fagiolini in umido
Grilled lamb cutlets with thyme and garlic mayonnaise, stewed green beans
Chianti Classico "Cultus Boni" 2003 D.O.C.G. di Badia a Coltibuono
Dolce dalla carta
Dessert from the menu
Bera "Su Reimond" Moscato d'Asti D.O.C.G.
MENU 'DI PRANZO
Selezione di salumi della macelleria "Chini" con crostini caldi € 10,50
Selection of local cold cuts and warm croutons
Millefoglie di pane croccante con zuccine alla menta e mozzarella di bufala € 9,00
Crispy bread and courgette pie with buffalo mozzarella
Spiedino di baccalà con fettine di lime e insatlat di borlotti freschi € 9,00
Cod fish kebab with lime and fresh bean salad
Stracci di pasta con cinghiale in umido, uvetta e pinoli € 10,00
Home made pasta with stewed wild-boar, raisens and pine nuts
Lasagna di parmigiana di melanzane € 9,00
Home made lasagne with aubergine, tomato, ricotta and parmesan cheese
Spaghetti all'uovo con polpo grigliato, pesto di olive e profumo di limone € 10,00
Home made spaghetti with grilled octopus, olvie sauce and lemon scent
Costanta di manzo nostrano, insalata mista (min. 2 pers.) per 100g. € 4,00
Local T-bone steak, mixed salad (min. 2 pers.) per 100g.
Galletto grigiato con olio al limone e timo, peperonata € 17,00
Grilled baby rooster with lemon and thyme oil, mixed peppers, tomato and garlic stew
Pesce del giorno con contorno di verdure € 17,00
Fish of the day with vegetables
Cotolette di angnello alla griglia con maionese aglio e timo, fagiolini in umido € 18,00
Grilled lamb cutlets with thyme and garlic mayonnaise, stewed green beans
Rotolo di congiglio alle olive e dragoncello, bietola saltata all'aglio € 17,00
Roasted rabbit suffed with olives and tarragon, sauteed swiss chard
Selezione di caprini di "Santa Margherita" e pecorini di "Corbeddu" € 10,00
Selection of local sheep and goat cheese
Fagiolini e patate all'aglio e olio di Badia - Green beans and potato with oil and garlic € 7,00
Pomodori, cipolla rossa e scaglie di pecorino - Tomato, red onion and matured sheep cheese
Peperonata - € 5,00
Fagilii all'olio - White beans with extra virgin oil € 5,00
Insalata mista - Mixed salad € 5,00
Patate arrosto ali'alloro - Potato baked with bay-leaf €5,00
Pasta e dolci fatti in casa - Pasta and dessert are home made
Servizio incluso - Service included - Pane e copero - Bread and cover charge € 2,50
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As Sunil said, all of Italy is like this in August
Monday, 20 August 2007
This morning I got up just before 9am (I have to be in the kitchen at 9:15) to the sound of (I'm guessing) the bathroom door opening. Genesis knocks on my door and asks if I am up at 9:02. I quickly brush my teeth and wash my face, dress and head out the door. Today Patrick is off and instead of travelling to a neighboring town, he decided to stay in and watch the DVDs I brought.
In the kitchen I start to prep without Danielle from the list he left. Genesis helped me to decipher his notes. I boil eggs, boil potatoes, slice zucchini for later grilling and prep tomatoes for drying.
This morning, Rene is asked to make the pasta for family meal. As a master chef, I know her wants to impress but I remind him that pasta for family meal is very simple (food). Rene cooked a combination of fussili and penne pastas with cherry tomatoes and a chiffonade of Swiss chard. Danielle make roasted potatoes and Gianni (actually Johnny) made roasted chicken with rosemary. We also had some grilled zucchini - the same used in the millefoglie...and water and bread (of course!).
Millefoglie are grilled zucchini sliced lengthwise and marinated in BAC's own olive oil and fresh mint leaves. We place the zucchini atop crisp, thinly sliced crostini then top it off with a slice of fresh buffalo mozzarella...it is then placed in a hot oven until the mozzarella begins to melt. We stack two layers and plate it.
I try to use the time normally spent hanging out in the yard drinking coffee and conversing to make my first blog post...or rather to cut and paste to the blog ( it has all been written on Patrick's Macbook at the apartment). After lunch service, I check email, write to my production instructor regarding my grade on my final exam - more on my GPA later- and head back to the flat...it's actually more like a house...with three rooms, a TV room and a bathroom...and no kitchen. It is located on top of the restaurant but with a separate entrance. There is another section to the house past the TV room where here is another bathroom as well as another bedroom where the guys sometimes nap...and past that room is Sunil's side. HE'S got a kitchen.
When I get back, Patrick and Genesis are watching Forrest Gump. I take a load of laundry to wash and come back to shower up. I thought I might take a nap but instead I download photos from my camera to the external drive that John set me up with to use. Good thing too because it takes forever to upload photos from the kitchen office. There was a snag initially with the E.D. ( haha sounds like Erectile Dysfunction) but reformatting it fixed that.
My mobile phone rings, it's Gina calling to let me know she read my first post and to tell me that the next time I see Irene, she will give me some $ from my mother. She also gives some really good advise regarding travelling (fares, etc...), seeing a doctor if I fall ill, what personal products are and aren't available in Italy, contacting ex-pats, and that I can call her mother-in-law if I need to.
I go back to check on my laundry but it is still not done so I bang out on the internet until it is. I come back and hang the clothes up to dry...soon after it is time to head back to the kitchen for family meal and dinner service.
I'm getting the hang of things and believe I'm doing well but I want to ask Danielle if I am working fast enough but I'm afraid he's going to say otherwise.
Amuse tonight is bruschetta. Danielle asks me to concasse 15 tomatoes (that's A LOT!) but after 5, I ask him to confirm if he had said 15..."Yes, 15." I show him the amount of concasse I had in my bowl from 5 - he then says, "Okay, 7."
Dinner service had a slow start. Reservations were for only 8 persons total (we normally also take in a number of walk-ins) so that allowed time to prep for the next day. The only notable things for that evening was that one customer did no like the Polpo. He/she ate all of the fennel salad but left the octopus. Danielle, Johnny & Francesco all tasted the octopus but it was fine. One order of canolo - a cannoli shell stuffed with driced fresh fruits in a whipped cream mixture sitting atop a bed of vanilla pastry cream and dusted with powdered sugar and cocoa powder - came back with all the stuffing missing but the shell largely intact. Rosario (one of the servers) tried to cut into it with a knife but it was hard as stone! Who would have guessed that Uncle Junior would mess up a cannoli?
After dinner service I put up another blog post but was unable to upload photos to accompany it. Genesis stays to make a phone call while I head home. I must say, my surroundings are wholly picturesque. The only "modern" things visible when I walk the back path from the kitchen to the house are the employee cars parked along the dirt road. While gorgeous during the day, it is treacherous at night. I walk back in total darkness...other than the moon, there are no lights to light the way. I have come to memorize exactly where the drainage ditch is and to avoid the area where there is some re-bar sticking out of the ground. The worst part however are the steps down to the house. I carefully make my way forward feeling where each step ends. Once I am a few feet from the front door, the motion sensitive light comes on and I am home-free. I had actually started calling out to Patrick at the top of the steps but he was watching "The Last of the Blonde Bombshells" and didn't/couldn't hear me over the music. I journal on paper - Patrick's using the Macbook to watch movies - and go to bed
Friday, August 24, 2007
Photos on Flickr
Days go by
The I-pod alarm starts playing music at 6am but at that point I had only 3 hours of sleep and needed an additional 3 more. We didn’t have to be at work until 10:30 anyway. I get up at 9 and do my morning thing. We go into the kitchen and set up our stations. An hour later, it’s lunchtime…you guessed it…Pasta & bread and …oh geez I’ve already forgotten. Sunday’s lunch service differed from the week’s in that we have the dinner menu available at lunchtime…minus the amuse. I’m doing (or I think I’m doing well) well at my station. I recognize the antipasto items on the tickets and produce them to kick out at the same time as other first course items from other stations. I’m proficient with the Palpo and Terrine orders.
Palpo is our octopus and fennel salad dish. The fennel salad consists of thin slices of fresh fennel, sectioned orange, kalamata olives, sprouts, salt, pepper and olive oil. This is served on top of a portion of octopus, which was first boiled in a court bouillon then grilled. It is then cut into bite size pieces and marinates in our olive oil. For plating the octopus is heated then plated and the fennel salad set on top and the plate is finished with more olive oil and fresh ground black pepper.
The Terrina is layers of dried tomato slices & fresh buffalo mozzarella. Breadcrumbs are sprinkled on top then the terrine is placed into a hot oven. Breaded and fried rounds of eggplant accompany it. The plate is finished with olive oil. The dried tomatoes are made by slicing roma tomatoes into 3rds lengthwise. The slices are sprinkled with salt, sugar and black pepper then drizzled with olive oil. It is then placed into the oven at 90˚C for 1.5 hours and allowed to dry. This concentrates the flavour, and makes it yummy.
Lunch service goes smoothly and I stay back to get on the Internet while Gen and Patrick head to the apartment to take naps. I read email and find that I am SOOO a PC user. The Mac my boss has is driving me batty, Not only am I unfamiliar with Mac, there is only ONE button on the mouse! And the fact that it is in Italian did not help what so ever. I end up logging into my email 3 times because when the window minimizes, I don’t know where the huff it goes! I also spent a good amount of time waiting for the connection to send out some photos. When I head back to the apartment, Gianni and Danielle are in the TV room on the PlayStation and Gen and Patrick are napping. I take the time to write for the blog and shower. Patrick had put some laundry into the machine in the morning and allowed me to toss a couple items in. After family lunch, we hung them on the drying racks to air dry…no there is no electric dryer here. In fact it is rare to find one in any household in Italy. When Gina lived in Torino she demanded that she had a dryer. I think the neighbors thought she was nuts.
I received a call from my friend Paolo from Torino. We talked about his visiting me at Coltibuono as well as me returning to visit him in Torino after my externship is over in November. Paolo now lives at Corso Monte Cucco - his parent's home which I had stayed at 10 years ago. It is so nice - like a hotel. I was surprised to hear they had lived there as long as they had and the place looked brand spanking new. There is plenty of room and he says Nausica (his girlfriend) and him would love to host me. Nicolae had told me about a Slow Food Festival in Torino in November which he attended the previous year, and Paolo said he would look into the dates for me.
It was when I noticed Patrick checking to see if the laundry was dry when I asked him if I could take the laptop into the kitchen office to connect to the Internet and post on the blog. What I should have done was go over how to make the connection. Gianni already had his PC laptop plugged in but I was told that you could have two connections. I didn’t know which wire to yank and ended up pulling the wrong one. When Paolo’s computer said “no signal input” even after I replaced the wire I yanked I panicked . Turns out I didn’t’ notice the time before I headed out and I had to turn around to get dressed for dinner service. I told Patrick about what happened and he went down to the office with me to help me 'fix' it...turns out it only needed a little time to reset. Dinner service goes by smoothly...truth is, I am finishing off this post on Friday at an internet cafe...if you can even call it that. It is actually 3 computers set up at the front end of an Indian shop which also has long distance phone booths and a grocery in the back...i don't even recall any details about Sunday's service. The days seem to run into each other here I rarely recall what day of the week it is let alone the actual date. But I did take note of whomelse I spoke to that day...John. I finally figured out how to text/call the US directly (okay fine, I didn't figure it out myself, I had got it wrong initially and dialed 011+ instead of 001+). I had first texted him but didn't know if it worked so I ran him and we talked for about 20 mintues before he decided it would be less expensive if he called me. It was nice to hear his voice again...it has always had a calming effect for me.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Fear Factor Italia
I awake again at 6am. I spend the quiet morning hours listening to music and doing whatever in my room. I wanted to eat some cereal but I had forgotten to bring a bowl for myself . I last ate at 6:30 pm the previous night and other than the orange before bed, I have nothing else to eat until lunch, which is at 11:30. We go into the kitchen at 9:15 and start prep for lunch service. Today I am to prep the cock’s head. We get (as in we purchase from the butcher or whoever it is we get our poultry from) rooster head and necks – still attached to each other. I first burn off any remaining feathers, that wasn’t removed, with the crème brulee torch. Then I peel the skin back over the neck bones removing the connective tissue and the esophagus. I cut the neck off just under the head leaving the head and skin of the neck ready for stuffing. The neck is stuffed with a mixture of sausage, ground pork tenderloin, chicken meat, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Before stuffing the neck I must cut off the crown and waddle of the rooster. These are used to make the sauce along with rooster testicles. Sounds like a Fear Factor challenge doesn’t it? The stuffing mixture is then piped into the neck or should I say the neck skin and tied off with butcher’s twine. I prep a total of 6 before service begins.
I also deep fry the zuchinni rounds that is plated along with the cock’s neck. We break for family lunch at 11:30. Our lunch consisted of pasta – and I had said I would talk about the pasta we are served at family meal. It is usually dried Barilla pasta prepared very simply. Simply means – at this point Patrick’s been the only person who has made the pasta since I have arrived – he sautés onions and garlic, adds tomatoes, salt, pepper and a little dried peppers then tosses the cooked pasta in. When Patrick and Genesis arrived (6 weeks ago) and when Patrick was first asked to prep the pasta for family meal, Andrea (the chef) made it clear that they like sauce with their pasta and not pasta with their sauce. Pasta, grilled pork filets…and bread - there is always bread.,,and water. We eat, then step outside the kitchen for a little conversation and café (espresso). Lunch service begins at 12:15 and ends at 3:30. After lunch service I have just under 3 hours of downtime. We usually use this time to hangout, Gen and Patrick have napped. The other guys in the kitchen come up to the apartment and play soccer on the playstation during this time. They smoke and listen to music until it is time for family meal at 6:30. There is also a room in which they can nap and a spare bathroom where they can do their business and shower if they want. If I am not hanging out with Patrick and Genisis, I am in my room listening to language “tapes” on the Ipod, journaling, taking a shower and now that Patrick has lent me his macbook, writing stuff for the blog. I have yet to take the tour for Badia A Coltibuono…sounds strange because this is where I am but there is the wine shop, the bed and breakfast and weekly apartments as well as the restaurant. The buidings are separate and there is a daily tour of the Badia (for short), I think we are planning to take the tour along with the visiting chef from Germany on Tuesday. There are plans to go to a neighboring town after work tonight to have drinks. I am told that it is a 10 minute drive. The thing about that is 10 minutes is relative only to WHO is doing he driving. Danielle leads while Gen, Patrick and I ride with Rene (the German chef) who is staying at Badia so the guys don’t have to back track to the Ristorante and can go straight home afterwards. I’ve heard stories of how crazy fast the guys drive but there is no Autobahn in Italy…there is one in Germany. Rene’s driving had me closing my eyes as equilibrium went out the window. I hadn’t thought to take my WalDram (Walgreen’s version of Dramamine) and the curves in the road were affecting me. I had my eyes closed for a good portion of the way and I was trying to find that pressure point on my wrist that supposedly cures motion sickness. By the time we park the car my wrist is nearly ready to fall off due to me pressing it so hard. The place is gorgeous and even better, they carry our wine. They are unable to seat our large party of 10 indoors so we are outside. We are served wine, bread, and cured meats. Language barriers are broken as the group we had were working with English, Italian and German respectively. Rene takes us back after and I am prepared to keep my eyes closed the entire time back as well as hitting that pressure point – neither works 100% but I also did not have enough to drink as to worry about messing up Rene’s rental. Gen, Patrick and I are revved up even though it was past 1 am. We open up the bottle of Moscato Di Asti and chat until the bottle was empty – which was 3 am. We didn’t have to be at work until 10:30 the next morning anyway. Hooray for early prep.
Under the Tuscan Sun
I will certainly attempt to chronicle my days while I’m out here…truth is, there really is nothing else to do. Badia A Coltibuono is very isolated. If I wanted to go to a grocery store such as the Ipercoop in Montevarchi, I would have to catch the one and only bus to Montevarchi at 7:40 am, a 30 minute ride, walk roughly 15-20 minutes to the Ipercoop then made sure I caught the only bus back at 1:40 pm.
The ticket for the bus one way is 2 Euros. At the current exchange rate that comes out to $2.78 USD…as it happened on the ride back from Montevarchi yesterday, the bus driver “ran out” of 2 Euro tickets and I had to purchase a 3 Euro ($4.17 USD) ticket…yes for the same damn trip that cost me 2 Euros that morning.
The exchange rate is horrific…but it’s looking up. I had exchanged some money at the SF airport at .65 Euro to the dollar…as of yesterday the bank in Montevarchi had the rate at .72 Euro to the dollar…not that this makes a world of difference…I don’t have a whole lot of money to be exchanging anyway. I have yet to have a day off – I should be getting 1.5 days off a week…with possibly 2 days off (as per Chef Andrea’s decree yesterday). It would be ideal to travel to the surrounding areas such as Florence, Sienna and Pisa…but at what I’m averaging – 3 train tickets per trip I’ll be begging for train fare before long.
After my first night in Italy, Irene (Gina’s sister in law) drove me to the Florence train station to catch a 9:00 am train to Montevarchi, I studied how she purchased the ticket and she told me which platform I need to be at to board the train…I did as instructed and was on my way…I was observant each time the train slowed and stopped so as I would not miss my stop. When Montevarchi came up, I started to bring my luggage towards the door (please see photo of said luggage)…unfortunately I did not make it out the door before they closed up again and the train started to move. It was just at that moment the conductor who checked off my ticket appeared but he could do nothing to help. I rode the train to the next stop in Arezzo…and yes; my bags were by the door. I got out, found a ticket machine, and bought a 2,80 Euro ticket to Montevarchi. It would be another hour before that train arrived (and departed). I had already broken one rule when I exited the first train – do not cross the train tracks…I did not know that there was an underground passage – heck I followed that conductor! Carrying my bags first down the stairs (no escalator – there was an elevator but it was marked for the handicapped and I wasn’t about to use it) then back up again left me huffing and puffing…I was happy to relax for a while. About 15 minutes to departure, they started announcing platform changes. I didn’t hear anything for my train but when I looked towards platform 4 (I was on platform 2), I noticed my destination & departure time…panic ensued…it was 11:05 and my train was for 11:07. I practically threw my bags down the stairs, dragged them towards the stairwell for platform 4 then struggled with them back up the stairs. When I got to the top, the signs posted on platform 4 & 5 were for two trains headed in the direction I needed to go. One departing at 11:10, the other 11:07. The 11:10 train sat at the platform and the 11:07 was nowhere in site. Deep down I knew where I had to go but due to the earlier fiasco, I needed some sort of reassurance. I decided to ask someone and the only person there was one of the military guards…I asked if the 11:10 train stopped at Montevarchi but he didn’t speak English and said so. As I was contemplating whether or not to board that same guy comes back with “Ah Florence? Ok.” and urged me to board. I felt relief, but not for long. It had been difficult for me to use the restroom with all my bags so what a surprise to see a W.C. (that’s Water Closet aka restroom for you state siders) right where I parked my bags. It was a quick in and out as I didn’t want to leave my bags unattended for too long. When I emerged, I noticed the 11:07 train at the platform…a sinking feeling started to set in. When the 11:07 train pulled away I knew I was screwed. As the 11:10 train started to move. All I could do was chant to myself…”Please stop at Montevarchi, please stop at Montevarchi, please stop at Montevarchi.” The train started to pick up speed and it seemed to be further left on the tracks. After passing more tunnels then I remembered, I conceded that I was headed back to Florence on the express train. After arriving back in Florence’s Santa Maria Novena station, I quickly bought another ticket, total thus far, 10,8 Euros ($16.62 USD at the exchange rate from the SFO airport). The ticket machine said the next departure time was 12:09, but I did not see “Roma Termini” on the departure board. What I did see was the departure time posted on the platform. I headed straight for the conductor and asked if that train stopped at Montevarchi. He assured me that it did and I boarded making sure I
was just steps away from the train door. While onboard I elicited the assistance of a girl to help me load minutes onto the mobile phone Gina lent me. When Montevarchi came up, I tried to exit but the doors would not immediately open. The other woman getting off at Montevarchi took her one rolling bag thru the car and out the other door. This was not possible for me - a repeat of my first train ride to Montevarchi flashed before my eyes. I started to claw at the handles for the door when it finally opened on it’s own…apparently there was a delay. I shoved the first bag out making sure I had one limb in the door’s path. The second large bag (which was heavier than the first) I dragged out falling over the first bag but I got back up in a split second to collect my last bag. As it turns out, the train wasn’t going anywhere anyway; the conductor was outside watching me with a scowl. I don’t know exactly what he said but it was along the lines of “What the hell? Slow the fuck down!” But I didn’t care! I was in Montevarchi. Sure I started a 30-minute trip at 9 am, sure it was 1:00 but I was in Montevarchi! All I needed to do now was to catch a taxi to Badia A Coltibuono. Forty-five minutes later, the taxi shows up and I am on my way! 30 minutes and 36 Euros ($55.38 USD) later I arrived on the steps of Badia A Coltibuono, Genesis waiting to greet me.
Back to update…on the morning of day two I had still yet to don the uniform (but I would for dinner service). Genesis, who spent the previous day waiting for my arrival, also had the morning off and we decide to go to Montevarchi (I saw so little the day before) to run some errands and visit the Ipercoop. When we arrived by bus, most shops had yet to open. There is a mini Ipercoop close to the train station, which I totally missed the day before. We browsed a little without buying anything, settling to wait to make purchases at the big Ipercoop. I’m hungry and we pass by a bakery. We each buy pizza. Mine is sun-dried tomatoes on foccacia and Gen’s is hand formed dough with a lot of cheese and sauce. As we are walking, we stop to photograph a church. As I framed the photo, there is a man who is smiling in our direction and seemed to want to be in the photo. Gen then tells me to shout “Kumar!” I refuse thinking ala “Harold and Kumar”…you must realize I have only met her the day before and don’t really know her well. So Gen shouts out “Kumar!” and the man turns around! Turns out, he is Kumar…one of our stewards (dishwashers). They exchange greetings and she introduces me. Kumar is with his amico (male friend) Roger (?) and they invite us to have coffee with them. Roger speaks a little English but there is only conversation between Kumar and Genesis. I admire her ability to communicate and listen carefully to pick up bits and pieces.
Kumar lives in Montevarchi and roger lives in the flat below him. Kumar is headed to Arezzo by train (been there!) at 9:45 to go to the police station to have documents drawn up for his wife. After coffee, Kumar invites us to visit his home which he assures us is only 5 minutes away. On the walk over we see shops with “saldi” (sale) signs. We stop by a couple to browse. Turns out Kumar lives in the building where the bus dropped us off. In Kumar’s home we meet his wife, daughter, sister in law and nephew. After about 30-40 minutes we must leave if we are to complete the tasks we had planned. We heard to the bank, 3 banks actually, to exchange Gen’s traveler’s checks into Euros. The first two said they didn’t do it even though the second bank did it for Gen previously. Now it is off the Ipercoop.
Gen had been saying the Ipercoop was akin to a Costco. They had not only meats and produce but also clothes and other items, which made the term “supermarket” incorrect. When I think of Costco, I think of buying in bulk. When I actually saw what the Ipercoop contained I would say it was akin to a Wal-Mart but again, not exactly. In addition to the isles of products, they had a large produce section, butcher’s counter, fish counter, bakery counter, hardware items, DVD’s, etc. I really didn’t browse through the entire store as we had not planned on the visit to Kumar’s home and was a little pressed for time…also we seemed to come at a peak hour. We initially browsed the shops in the entranceway, purchasing phone cards and having a key made then we entered the Ipercoop. The items on our list include: a flashlight, lemons, tortilla chips, liquid hand soap, hair conditioner, cereal, UHT milk and cat food. While waiting in the queue we noticed a display of Uncle Ben’s products. I didn’t know Uncle Ben’s made flour tortillas, tortilla chips and salsa…did you? After checking out, we get something to eat and are out the door. We head to our last destination, and Indian store where Gen was told she could find some corriandolo (cilantro). Turned out, while they did normally carry it, they didn’t have any that day due to the heat…but I did find many familiar Asian spices and products…including fennel in a colourful candy shell which my classmate and friend Chingy (a nickname…his real name is Gupteshwar) introduced me to. As I was explaining what they were to Gen, one of the shopkeepers speaks to us in English and convinces me to buy some mangoes but I refuse his suggestion to buy ready-made gulab jamun. While exiting, Gen notices a man eating a burrito. He tells her he got it at a shop in front of the bus station…she is exited. After six weeks in Italy, she’s craving Mexican food – ergo the lemons and tortilla chips and the intended purchase of corriandolo, she was going to make salsa. Walking back I noticed a small shop named “Sara”. It was closed – the shop owner was most likely on holiday…but I noticed a large display of Anchor embroidery floss…CHA CHING! Now I know where to go to get thread for my stitching. We arrive at the bus station and while we do not go to the burrito shop, we do purchase some ice cream confections at another shop in the same building. Our bus back to Gaiole/Chianti arrives and we are off.
Genesis strikes up a conversation with the bus driver as I listen in. While she does not speak Italian fluently, she does speak Spanish and her conversations are peppered with Spanish filling in for words she does not know in Italian. There is some difficulty speaking with the driver but the basics are communicated: where are we from, what are we doing in Italy, etc. Unlike the morning ride, we actually pick up an additional passenger but she did not pay and did not seem to present a pass of any kind…what’s up with that? Thirty minutes later, we are let off and walk towards the road back to BAC. We make a stop at the l’osteria (our wine shop) at the bottom of the drive where we talk to some tourists from Florida and purchase una bottilia Moscato di Asti. On the way back we search for the bull in the pasture that Gen assures me is there although I have yet to see it. After dropping off our purchases we go to the kitchen to get some cold water – this is all that we are given to drink (anything else we much purchase ourselves) and we sit and relax in the area just outside. We chat with Corrado who accepts his new moniker, “Uncle Junior”. Patrick finishes up and we head back to the apartment. More relaxing as Gen makes salsa. I jump in the shower and at about 6pm, we prepare to go to the kitchen. This is my first working shift and I watch carefully. I observe Patrick making pasta for family meal while Gen prepares fennel for service. Dinner consisted of a very simple pasta (more on this later) and boneless chicken (I don’t know exactly what part – somehow doubt it is just the breast) stuffed and tied with rosemary on roasted potatoes. After dinner I am to work alongside Danielle at the antipasto station. He shows me how to prep the amuse (they call it the pre-appetizer here) and from then on, I prep an amuse for each guest. The wait staff announces how many new guests are seated and I prep one order of amuse for each of them. He also has me prepping zucchini, the mis en place for a veloute we will make tomorrow, sliced eggplant, which is floured, dipped in egg then breaded. I am shown how to plate the octopus dish called Palpo as well as the tomato & mozzarella terrine. Towards the end of service, I help Patrick prep the dried tomatoes and watch how the kitchen is cleaned at closing. After service I get a chance to get online then head home. We watch one of the DVDs I brought and I eat an orange sprinkled with salt – Genesis taught me this – it is good. I start to fade and head off to bed