Monday, November 26, 2007

More Thanksgiving

So Richard and I had a Sicilian-American Thanksgiving themed Sunday dinner for which we invited over the Professor and his wife. For the first course, I made pasta alla zucca. (Zucca is pumpkin, basically. Although the species grown here for eating looks a little different from the species we grow in the US for making jack-o-lanterns. See above photo.) For a second course, I made involtini di tacchino, again. This time I remembered the broth and toned down the rosemary a bit and they came out even better than the dry run on Thursday. (Involtini are some sort of meat or fish rolled up with some sort of filling, usually cheese and herbs, sometimes bread crumbs. They are very sicilian--I don't believe they're common outside of Sicily. Sword fish and veal are both very common types of involtini. The sword fish seems to always be covered and filled with breadcrumbs.) These particular ones I made were turkey, speck (sort of a smoky prosciutto), and a mixture of a couple of dry, grated cheeses with rosemary, salt, and pepper. Richard made some very tasty mashed potatoes, despite a lack of milk or cream in the house, improvising a mixture of salt, parsely, roasted garlic, rosemary, and probably one or two other things I didn't see him put in there. The professor and his wife were suitably impressed that a couple of young American man actually knew how to cook and could do it well.

The professor brought some red wine from Taormina that was one of the nicest wines I've had so far. I think it was probably a new wine. The professor, himself, is quite the dessert chef. He made us cuore calde (warm hearts)--a kind of small chocolate cake kind of thing with warm liquid chocolate inside. (Hence the name.) He also brought us quite an assortment of small cannoli of various flavors. The colpo di grazia were some that he made especially for Richard, showing off his flair for creativity and willingness to take risks, with chocolate on the ends and a surprise of cayenne pepper inside the ricotta filling. They turned out to be delicious with the pepper really complimenting the chocolate.

The professor was taking pictures of the whole thing, and when he sends me copies, I might even post them in this here blog. In the end, were all full, a little drunk, and happy. After a short walk and a short nap, Richard and I met the professor for a wine tasting at the fanciest hotel in town, which also happens to be about two blocks away from our house. We were very under dressed but no one seemed to mind. The professor had been invited in a professional capacity as someone involved in the tourism industry and we got to tag along as his guests. Some company had bought vineyards all over Italy and was producing a number of different wines from a number of different regions. The wine tasting was a publicity effort on their part, to get hotels and B&Bs, etc, to buy their wines. They were ok, but none of them were knocking my socks off. When I mentioned that to the professor, he explained to me that they were pasteurized--the heat had a tendency to kill whatever made a wine taste unique and special. I had never really thought about it before and wondered how many wines I drink are pasteurized. No idea.

Richard and I capped off the night at a smoky club downtown drinking beer and watching some local jazz musicians tear up their instruments until pretty late. The band was very good, for what it was, and it was all very warm and pleasant.

Wow, that sounds like a pretty good day once I write it all out!