Famous San Domenico Uovo Ravioli


Of course I was watching Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations Episode where he was whisked away to Emilia Romagna in Italy. There were two sections in this beautiful episode that struck a chord with me in a GOOD WAY! I am awestruck when I see people using old world methods to make something delicious. I love how Europeans, especially the Italians are in love with making things from scratch and love fresh ingredients. I get goosebumps when I see or hear about generations of family members or workers who uphold a tradition for something as simple as making a ravioli, noodles, or some kind of a special dish. Of course I am a sucker for history!

I was especially inspired by the story of Chef Michael White. Chef Michael White decided to travel to Emilia Romagna to study under chef Valentino Marcattilii at Ristorante San Domenico in Imola. He studied and learned how to butcher old world style. He asked every question he could about Italian cooking. He studied the culture, the ingredients and fell in love with daily routines like shopping at the local markets. He got to know the local butchers very well and got to know the local cheese maker in his village. It was through these daily adventures, that he fell in love with the culture and fell in love with old world style food.

The second thing that made me gasp in a good way was the famous San Domenico Uovo Ravioli that he cooked on the show. This ravioli is so famous that it has made its way to Chicago, New York and other major foodie cities. I have yet to try it, but let me try to give you an idea.

Imagine sinking your teeth into a tender “al dente” hand made ravioli that oozes out a creamy orange yolk. Nestled inside this beautiful ravioli frame awaits some ricotta cheese & spinach. Sprinkled on top are decadent thin slices of white truffle, flakes of parmigiano along with dashes of fresh cracked pepper and kosher salt. It sounds heavenly! In fact this dish was originally crafted for an Italian royal, so the phrase “fit for a king” is absolutely true.

I’m sure you can find this dish in a major city like Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Chicago. I was able to find a similar recipe on the web. Copied below is the recipe for Uovo Da Raviolo via Mario Batali on the Food Network. Hope you can be inspired to put on that apron and cook, if so, let me know how it turns out. Buon Appetito!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 small white or black truffle, shaved
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated, plus more for garnishing pasta
  • 1/2 cup fresh sheep’s milk ricotta
  • 1/2 cup spinach, blanched, drained and chopped
  • Scant pinch nutmeg
  • Salt and white pepper to taste
  • 1 recipe basic pasta dough, recipe follows
  • 7 very fresh eggs
  • 12 tablespoons butter, melted and kept warm

Directions

In a non-reactive bowl, combine 1/2 the truffle shavings, the Parmigiano, the ricotta and the spinach, mix well, and season to taste with nutmeg, salt and white pepper. Set aside.

Roll out the pasta dough to the thinnest setting on a pasta rolling machine. From the thin pasta sheet, cut 12 circles with a 6-inch diameter. Set 6 of the circles on a sheet tray dusted with flour, cover withplastic wrap and set aside.

In the center of each of the remaining 6 circles, mound an equal portion of the ricotta mixture. With the back of a small ladle or spoon, hollow out a well in the center of each mound. Carefully break the eggs, 1 at a time, into a small bowl, and transfer 1 yolk and a bit of white into the center of each well. It is imperative that the yolk remain unbroken.

Cover each filled circle of pasta with an unfilled circle, and press the edges together with fingers to seal.

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons salt. Gently, using a wide spatula, lower eachravioli into the water to cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the water and place gently into a 12 to14-inch saute pan with the remaining butter, shave the remaining truffle over, add a generous grating ofParmigiano-Reggiano and carefully put 1 on each plate.

Mound 3 1/2 cups of the flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs and the olive oil. Using a fork, beat together the eggs and oil and begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well.

As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up from the base of the mound to retain the well shape. The dough will come together when half of the flour is incorporated.

Start kneading the dough with both hands, using the palms of your hands. Once you have a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board and scrape up and discard any leftover bits. Lightly reflour the board and continue kneading for 6 more minutes. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. Roll or shape as desired.

Picture of the famous San Domenico Restaurant in Imola, Italy.
Ok, I lied….there was one more thing that inspired me, CULATELLO! A place that you should schedule in your future travels is Antica Corte Pallavicina Anthony Bourdain and Chef Michael White both bought a culatello together that they will share in 2 years.
It takes about 2 years for the ham to set to its deliciousness. The story of the culatello genius’ discussed how every component into making this delicious salt ham takes special care, time and passion. The window placement in the ham cellar for sun and air, the hanging of the ham and even the trussing of the string around the ham are all important in the final product. I appreciate all the little details that each of these ham artists are experts in. We need more people to learn to appreciate the little things. You can see the love, sweat, tears and history in the detail. Unfortunately, we tend to focus on the bigger picture and often forget the time and consideration that goes into something this lovely.
Advertisements

ACIS Tour to Tuscany 2008


So the first thing people say is “WHAT, you are crazy to take adolescent teens to a foreign country!” We did and we had a fantastic time touring different regions of Italy. The kids that we took were well behaved and knew that they could do other trips like Mexico, but they chose to go with us. The selling point for a lot of the kids was the fact that no parents could go. For many of these high school students it was their first taste of freedom and responsibility. We taught them how to use their foreign currency and how to use the ATMS. We also taught them valuable lessons of safety and being aware of your surroundings. I think the most valuable lesson for all of them is what it was like to room with another student. It was their closest encounter to what college dorming might feel like. I told my kids that “there will be days when you love your roommate and then there will be days when you absolutely hate their guts.” Of course this dynamic did happen with some of the students. There were tears some days and then I would step in and be the peacemaker. It all worked out in the end and was a fantastic trip to remember.

ACIS provided us with a charter bus on the way to San Gimignano, Tuscany. It was nice to have the bus, because it was RELAX time. Touring around with students is a difficult job. There are constant reminders to kids with things like remembering to get money, to bring their money, to wear appropriate clothes for the churches, wear comfortable shoes, remember their camera etc…You would be surprised. Even though high school students think they know everything, they ask a lot of silly common sense questions on the trips that we have been on. It’s refreshing to still witness this type of behavior because you realize that they do need your help and expertise.

View from the bus as we carved our way through the windy paths of Tuscany

One the great little details of Italy are the random water spickets. You can be assured cold, filtered water! Refreshing when its REALLY HOT!

Walking around San Gimignano is peaceful and inspiring. If you have ever watched the movie Under the Tuscan Sun with Diane Lane, then you know what the scenery is like. As you walk you see cute patio settings for small cafes and trattorias where people are sitting down enjoying conversation. You almost always see a cup of espresso or agua con gas or mineral (water with gas or mineral water). Each setting looks as if it has been painted or is about to be painted. Twisting cobblestone paths joyously lead you to buildings and churches that have been standing for hundreds or even thousands of years.

Walking through ancient alleys you see the beautiful appreciation to regional specialties and crafts. Coming from America where chain stores and outlet malls are so prevalent, its like a breath of fresh air seeing mom and pop shops that have spent hundreds of years preserving a family recipe of cheese, preservatives, wine or even bread. I came across one small store that had a hog head LOOKING AT ME! There were prosciutto legs hanging from the wall as well as salciccia (sausage). There was a distinctive smell about this shop that I cannot describe, you have to be there. I wouldn’t say that I exactly like it. However, you can catch this smell in old town of San Sebastian, Spain and in rural small country towns of France. I really appreciated the small details and history that was showcased in these shops. It was a gorgeous display!

Stores like this capture the true heart of Tuscany’s regional life.

Art lovers will appreciate the golden hues of Tuscan art

My students and I were fixated on this beautiful display of ceramic mugs and olive oil jugs. I took several photos. My kids loved it!

Here is a picture of Sarah sitting on the steps of San Gimignano. Sarah is a great travel buddy! I wish we were going on a trip soon!

Overall, the students really were able to appreciate the up hill walks, the beautiful wood works of cheeseboards and hanging prosciuttos. The kids were really excited when they saw a Museum of Torture. In AP World History we have a section that talks about the Spanish Inquisition and the time period of horrible torture devices. We wanted to go check out the museum but were running short of time and it was quite expensive to go in. We took a snapshot with some fake skulls. I was happy to know that kids were applying what they learned in class to their travels. Might have been a weird and strange topic, but high school kids tend to remember the oddities more.

We had an impressive day in San Gimignano. I wish we could have spent more time here with the kids. I hope that when they are older the come back to Tuscany and see it in a more refined way. I was 29 years old when I visited this place and they were 16 years old! Lucky them! I want to come back and stay in Tuscany for a month! Gorgeous!

If you are interested in taking kids on tours, go with ACIS. They are like the Nordstroms of School tour companies. I recommend them. Do not go with EF TOURS! I have heard bad things from other colleagues.

Climb to the Top of the Duomo in Firenze


July 2008

My first trip to Italy and I felt like a kid on the first trip to Disneyland. I was a teacher traveling with my students and the first thought that came into my head is “make them tired”. So what we decided to do was to have all the kids climb up to the top of the Duomo (The Cathedral of Santa Maria Del Fiore) We climbed 463 steps after a long flight on the airplane! Only one of my students was not able to climb up to the top due to fatigue and asthma, but she trooped it up 200 of the steps!

I will honestly say that you should travel to the top of the Cathedral even if you have to wait in line for an hour. It is totally worth it! You will appreciate the first day and Florence so much more by being able to see the tops of the red roofs, people walking looking like ants. There is also a bit of a breeze at the top, but it was quite refreshing considering that we had been waiting in a long line with beams of hot sun piercing into our skin. I loved hearing some church bells when we were at the top. I was able to really enjoy the view of looking at Santa Maria Novella. In the summer time, this is a popular destination spot, so just waiting to climb up to the very top, you’ll have to wait several minutes. You may have to be a bit pushy to get to the top. 

As you climb up to the top of the Duomo, you will notice that the religious imagery goes from hell to heaven. You will see skeletons and demonic type images midway through and then as you climb up to the opening, you will see images closer to God and heaven. Breathtaking! Check out the frescoes and enjoy them. Also consider what it must have been like to actually paint and even build this!

If you are claustrophobic, the climb up to the stairs can sometimes be daunting, a little worrisome at some points. They made it so that traffic going up, has one path up. I remember going up in circles and having a little panic attack until I got to a part of the staircase that led straight across to another set of steps. You could occasionally see someone taking a breather. It always amazes me to see some old folk making the trek up. It shows me how resilient they are and how I want to be when I get older and travel. 
At the top, it gets a bit busy. As soon as you have made it, you are set, or so you think. You have to wait for people climbing down from the top in order to go up the stairs. I waited for about 8 minutes until traffic slowed down and then I had to be aggressive and just be adamant about climbing up to the stop to stop traffic going down. Sounds confusing, but you’ll see what I mean when you climb it. TRAVEL TIP: I would wear leggings if I were you, otherwise people will be looking up your dress as you climb up the entrance for the very top. There is a line and people are waiting below you to climb up. 

From this view you can appreciate the aerial view of the nearby church. You can see how it is shaped into a cross. Most people do not know this about churches. The view of the terracotta color tiles is an experience unmatched. It was also super “Rad” to hear people from all over the world talking about how breathtaking it was at the top. Definitely a “right of passage” in Florence. I can only imagine how many people have come up here and have been proposed to!

Final Verdict: Experience at the top PRICELESS!