Authored by Kendall College student Kim Haines
Ciao! We awoke this morning and made our way down to breakfast. Once we sat down with our plates full of tarts, charcuterie, fruits, and more (because Italian breakfast consists of sweets), we were asked, “Something from the bar?” Absolutely! Our initial American thought would have been beer or vodka, but this does not mean three shots of tequila to the Italians; it means espresso or cappuccino. Nutella was served with biscuits. For those of you who know me well, I am obsessed with Nutella, so it was a nice surprise to see later that half of the hotel’s inventory of Nutella was stashed in my bag. Nutella is produced near Torino, #ilovenutella.
We were off without a hitch, except for a few of us whom forgot to set their alarms, but that’s ok, nothing drill Sergeant Chef Altieri can’t fix. Buongiorno! We regained control of our inventory and off we were past the city of St. Francis and Monte Subasio, going east to forage for expensive mushrooms.
Off we went to discover the organoleptic of the Tartufo or Scorzone triffola, the black and white summer truffle. Did you know that truffle sauce isn’t actually made with real truffles? It is made with mushrooms and 3% truffle. You could make a pretty good living hunting and selling truffles, since a kilo of truffles can go anywhere from 500 euros and up. The price changes daily. Holding a handful of the white/gold truffles was like holding a Louis Vuitton bag. Bellissima!
Until about five years ago, truffles were hunted by pigs. The pigs would eat the truffles and contaminate the soil. I am sure this could also be an issue for a vegan or a vegetarian. Dogs now have become the hunters. They are trained as puppies to play fetch with truffles wrapped in cloths and then to bring them back. I named one of the dogs Nutella. He ate the truffle, though, upon finding it. E la vita, I guess.
Walking up the breathtaking hills of Valo de Nera, we passed sheep farms, hidden cemeteries and said Ciao to somebody’s grandmother. I think she wanted to hook a few of us up with her Italian grandsons. We definitely almost lost Dean Zonka a few times on the slippery slopes, but she proved to be a fearless leader, as always.
After truffle hunting, we were given a lesson on how to make ricotta cheese. Ricotta is not actually a cheese, according to the Italians. It is made from the whey. Maple wood is used to churn the cheese. And, I have to tell you, it tastes dynamite. It is incredibly fresh, satisfying and sexy.
We were then served, what I thought was just going to be cheeses and wines, but turned out to be a house party of carbs. Truffles was infused into everything that we ate. From pasta to breads to frittatas. Personally, I hate mushrooms, but someone very close to me told me that I had to eat mushrooms in Italy. And, so I did. I loved them! Thank you, I miss you.
We then took a break in the old church that resided on the truffle farm. Adrian played the organ while Chef Altieri sang Journey. I was not able to capture this momentous occasion, but I know there is a video lingering somewhere. To be continued…
Our last stop was to the town of Preci, which was an old Monk Abbey. How does this tie into the culinary industry? Here lies the birth of charcuterie. What do you think about that Chef Coatrieux? Pigs were dissected here as a means for surgical and charcuterie purposes.
In addition, I found the place where I am going to get married. It was a group decision that I move here, get married, and have babies. I must find an Italian man first…we still have eight more days.
Although the weather called for rain, the sun eventually overpowered the dark clouds. It was a lovely day. For those of you who are not here with us, we brought you along for every mile and every memory. We love you, we miss you, and we will be together soon.
Wish you were here, Ciao, #Kendallitaliana
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