Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Morning In the Kitchen at the Academy

Mornings in the Academy kitchen begin at 6:30 with the arrival of the pastry chef.  This morning when my alarm went off at 5:30 I wasn't sure I was ready for it, but I hopped across the street to the Academy, and met with Clementine, one of the interns serving a 4 month term here at the Academy.  At the present time there are 5 interns, all living together in an apartment on the grounds.  They are a diverse and fun group of workers, all with a bit of different experience, and all loving the experience here.  They actually told me that they didn't want word to get out about how great this place is, and I can understand why.
Clementine making the dough for the cornetti

next they go in to proof

Although all the pastries and desserts are made here in the kitchen they go through so much bread that they get it delivered from the best bread makers in Rome, Roscioli.  They get a whole grain bread, and pizza bianca which they make into panini to sell in the bar area.

This is McLane making the panini: slicing the pizza in half horizontally, choices today are mortadella and cheese or soft cheese and chard

It's a bit quiet right now, but by 8 a.m. the chef arrives, and then there is a "huddle" to decide what to prepare for lunch.  There are 2 lunch services, one for the workers at the Academy at 12:30 and one for the Fellows, visitors, and scholars at 1:00.  The workers' lunch must be prepared first, then the fellows lunch is prepared.

Domenico is the Sous Chef here, the heart and soul of the kitchen.  He has worked here for over 8 years, and you can tell that he takes great pride in feeding this community.  Here he is looking at what is available today for lunch, and he will meet with Clementine, McLane and I to discuss how the meal will be prepared.
Chef discusses how the dishes will be prepared, and assigns the dishes to each person.  When I came last week I thought that there was no way that I would be allowed to work in the kitchen but today I got my wish, put on my chef's coat, and away I went.  I got the artichoke dish which was so much fun to prepare.  Domenico is the type chef that wants the true flavors of the vegetables and fruits to shine through, so no fussy sauces, and no strange pairings. 
These were mine this morning! 
In the middle of this, there was a vegetable delivery from a local organic farm.  People ask me why I chose April, and one reason was because of the seasonal vegetables: artichokes, fava beans, asparagus, strawberries, are some of my favorites. 


fava beans


green beans




so here are my artichokes, quartered, and cooking with garlic, parsley, mint, olive oil and lemon water

We put them into casserole dishes with boiled potatoes on the bottom, then poured the artichoke pan juices over them

After baking in the oven, they are garnished with a olive oil, parsley, mint and lemon juice drizzle

Tons of greens (here beet greens) are sauteed with garlic and olive oil
Domenico with McLane tasting the pasta--Italians are VERY particular about their al dente

meatballs and sauce for the workers lunch

toss with the pasta, add a little cheese

and serve---Brava McLane!

Tom and Sara watching McLane plate the cacio pepe with asparagus

mixed salad with carrot and fennel and frisee

apple, fennel and mint salad with pickled red onion

The end of the romanesco and cauliflower--tossed with salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice
Final check before opening the doors at 1

These people are starving! 
Once the cooking is done, the entire kitchen is cleaned, first with soapy water, then microfiber cloths and finally to disinfect with apple cider vinegar.  
Grazie to the entire staff of the RSFP for their patience with me, it's not easy to have someone photographing your every move, and asking you questions as they put a fork into the dish you are making.  So grateful to be here.  Ciao for now.

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