It was another beautiful day in the cooking class, that is, until Chef Enzo wanted me to kill the innocent clams. If he had brought me a container of clams already out of their shells and fried those suckers dredged in flour, it would have been a whole different story. But once he told me they were alive and sputtering in the bucket there, that was it!
We began the class with some wine. We always start out with the wine! He did some chopping work and instruction on how to properly fillet a carrot. Carrots can be the bane of a chef's fingertips. He showed us how to do it and not lose a finger in the process. The carrots were for the Italian version of a Shepherd's Pie. Oh, yeah, bambinos, you talk about good!
The conchiglioni (conch shell pasta) and flat linguine pasta were set to boiling as part of the prelim work. Oh I can't wait to taste those little shells with the alla Pastora.
Chef Enzo chopped veggies, demonstrating the carrot chopping technique, and assembled the meats in a sauce pan to reduce to a fine demi glace from some rich beef stock. This was set to cooking for the next hour or so. That was my job, stirring the meats.
Then he sliced eggplant thin thin thin to be rolled with this amazing cheese mixture . Topped with the Fresina's Smooth Tomato sauce it was the perfect appetizer.
Roasting onions and tomatoes sent the incredible aromas of a real Italian kitchen into the air! The chicken skewers were seasoned and fried in a heavy cast iron skillet, then plated as one of the main courses. I was thinking the chicken looked like the satay from Chinese buffets but that was way off the mark! It was definitely il pollo!
By now it was time to assemble the conchiglie alla pastora, the Italian version of shepherd pie. Chef Enzo took us down the dusty roads to the beautiful landscapes of the Tuscan villages on the River Arno where you would stop in and get a plate of this marvelous dish from any of the sun drenched villas among the chianti vines. Oh, bambinos, this is looking really good.
And he was doing so well, up to this point. Feeding us beautiful and delicious foods, talking to us in his deep macho Italian voice and romancing the 8 of us with tales of his youth wild in the New Orleans kitchens of his grandfather. He was doing so well......until we had to kill the clams.
Chef Enzo said they were alive! Yes, alive! Oh, no............Jeff said you would hear them scream! I think I did! Can't you???????
Ann and Carrie had no problem eating them....they weren't screaming at that point.
Here they are, the poor little clammies. Drenched in butter sauce laced with lemon squeezed by the fingers of the great Chef and nestled in a soft bed of linguine pasta like they were tucked in for the night. By their mamas. They look so sad. Their shells innocently open to the diner hovering above the plate....with a fork! Poor little innocent clammies.
And that was my day. Food and wine and Enzo. Too bad I can't convince Frank he needs to have a second career as an Italian Chef! Maybe I'd get some tirramisu every night!