I recently took a cooking class at Eataly. It was taught by Fitz Tallon, the executive chef of Eataly and since it was entitled “Spring at the Greenmarket”, the chef put the menu together based on ingredients that were available in the Union Square greenmarket that day.
First we had a cheese course. Nothing to cook here, this was a little amuse bouche. The plate had a prune jam, and three cheeses: Drunk monk (a cheese washed in brown ale), brebis blanche (a young sheep’s milk cheese) and Shushan snow, a soft camembert style cheese.
The next course was asparagus and some ramps with a zabaglione of parmesan and black pepper. I learned that ramps and wild and never farmed and that the stems and peels of asparagus can be saved and used for a puree. Both ramps and asparagus have a very short season in New York.
The next course was a farrotto with baby Swiss chard and mushrooms. A farrotto is like a risotto, but made with farro instead of rice. I learned that when you want to sauté mushrooms, you shouldn’t add salt to the them–that will make them release liquid. And, don’t add the mushrooms to the pan until the oil is super hot to the point of being smoky. This helps to prevent the mushrooms from just soaking up all the oil. And finally, don’t move them around in the pan right away–let them get golden.
The main course was grilled stuffed calamari over baby turnips and turnip leaves. We were shown how to clean and cut the squid, prepare the stuffing, and how to cook the baby turnips and greens.
Dessert was an apple strudel.
With the meal we were served three wines: They were all wines I was not familiar with but really enjoyed.
A white wine made from the vespaiolo grape
A sparkling wine from the Marche region that is a great alternative to prosecco or cava.
And a light red wine from Northern Italy (Valle d’Aosta) that was paired with the squid.