a cooking class

The first few days, my hat, gloves, scarf and coat kept me warm enough from the welcome chill and change from sub-Saharan Africa.  Not Wednesday.  The weather shifted and whatever front rolled in brought frigid temperatures and icy winds with it.  Luckily, we were only outside a few minutes before Dana found us and took us into her friend's cafe for cappuccinos.

A few months earlier, I inquired about a cooking class at Casa San Gabriel.  Dana, an American nurse-turned-pastry chef, and her boyfriend, an Italian chef named Melchiorre, were recommended, and we'd arranged to meet at the local market on Wednesday to buy fresh fruits and vegetables for the meal we'd prepare together.  After brief introductions we ventured back into the cold and Dana guided us through the Umbertide weekly market.  Then Dana gave us her phone number and told us when and where to go next.

Within the tiny square of old Umbertide for the market
After a lazy afternoon and a little difficulty finding Melchiorre's apartment (Joey saved the day again by stopping a random guy in a tracksuit in front of the butcher's shop and asked for help - neither man speaking the other's language), we reuinted in their cozy kitchen with a toast of Prosecco next to a huge fireplace.  Then the fun and feast really began.

Joey watching while Mom grates chocolate over the tiramisu
Do you think they're Italian?  Melchiorre and my two favorite guys, rolling out the ravioli.

Dad, mid sentence.  Clearly making the ravioli and talking are not things he can do simultaneously.  That's okay.  This lefty had it down, driving the ravioli cutter, "like a Ferrari," per Melchiorre's instruction.

With Mallory, Mel and Joey giggling in the background.
While Melchiorre helped and Dana translated, we made two different kinds of ravioli, linguine, fresh asparagus with quail eggs and tiramisu.  Add to that the fresh, fire-roasted pecorino with quince marmalade, grilled pork chops, pork ribs, orange and fennel salad that Melchiorre and Dana cooked and I don't think any of us ever needed to eat again.  We drank bottles of wine while we cooked and bottles of wine while we ate.  Then Dana and Melchiorre served after-dinner drinks and the seven of us sat around their rustic wooden table next to the fire and told stories and laughed together more like family than new-found friends.  By the end of the evening when Melchiorre played his accordion, a shared love for food, wine, Italian culture and their mothers had transcended the language barrier, creating memories that would last far longer than the food in our bellies.

Click here for all of my pictures from our cooking class