Foodie Weekend in Florence!
Ciao once again!
Time is really flying by here – I CANNOT believe that the semester is almost halfway over! Though I have settled into my routine and really feel like Florence is my home, it still feels like I stepped off the plane only a few weeks ago.
This past week has been super busy for me, but I have done so much since my last post. First off, Thursday night I attended a pasta workshop hosted by the FUA’s cooking school, Apicius, where we made gnocchi and pasta from scratch! Never having done either of these, I was super excited to learn a new skill to take home. It turned out to be much easier than I thought, and I’m definitely considering investing in a pasta maker when I get back home now Our final outcome was delicious – gnocchi with traditional tomato sauce and cheese and lasagna layered with basil pesto and white béchamel sauce – can you say YUM?!
Friday morning, I woke up bright and early to visit a small chocolate shop in Florence and learn about the Italian way to make chocolate! There, we were treated to a nice healthy breakfast of Italian hot chocolate and, you guessed it, a chocolate tasting! The hot chocolate was delicious – not that Swiss Miss powder you get at home, but a nice thick, warm dark chocolate, it’s like you’re drinking melted chocolate! After reaching my sugar quota for the day, I decided to take the rest of the day to wander through the market and explore a little bit on my own in Florence, and I may or may not have splurged and bought myself a late birthday present or two
Saturday, I had to get up bright and early (yeah, my alarm went off at 3:50!) for my long anticipated school trip to Parma and Modena! We arrived in Parma at around 8:30 so that we could take a tour of a cheese farm where they produce true Parmaggiano Reggiano cheese! We suited up like we were ready to perform surgery, and went inside to watch the process of the making of the cheese. Inside, we watched the workers mix special vats filled with 1000 liters of milk to produce the cheese, we saw the cheese wheels in their salt bath and learned about how to identify true Parmaggiano Reggiano, and took a peek into the room where the cheese is left to age. By the time we were done, the workers were just pulling the soon-to-be cheese wheel from the vats of milk, and learned that they only produce one cheese wheel from that entire 1000 liters! After a yummy tasting, we were off to our next stop: a prosciutto factory!
Now I never really thought of what a prosciutto factory would be like, which would explain my surprise and slight unease when we were suddenly faced with rows upon rows of prosciutto hung from floor to ceiling. After getting over the initial shock, I turned my attention toward the owner who explained the aging and curing process, and learned that Proscuitto di Parma cannot be imitated because the location of Parma provides just the right cross breeze to cure the prosciutto a certain way – who knew? After the lecture, we proceeded to have lunch at the factory, which consisted of lots of prosciutto (duh!) and a delicious local pasta dish.
Bellies now full, we headed to our last stop, a balsamic vinegar producer in Modena. There, we learned about the production and aging process and got to see the barrels of aging vinegar themselves. We learned that the barrels must never be washed, or else they loose their ‘seasoning’ of special bacteria, and that every year, 10% of the vinegar evaporates and it must be transferred into a smaller barrel. This process can go on for anywhere from 6-100 years! Later, we had a delicious tasting – they even let us taste the 25 and 50 year old balsamic! After a long day, it was time to return home and face reality: midterms week was finally upon us.
Though this week has been quite stressful compared to the nice and easygoing semester I’ve had so far, there is a light at the end of the tunnel; fall break is here! Tomorrow night, I will be leaving for London (AHHHHH!!), which will be followed by Prague and Amsterdam over the next 10 days. Let’s just say that I definitely won’t be short of anything to write about when I come back
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