For this installment of my grand research adventure in Connecticut, I donned a green apron for a cooking class at the famed Silo Cooking School in New Milford. I was a volunteer during a corporate team building class of seven executives from an IT company in Manhattan. Our leader was chef Bill Cosgrove whose Upper Crust Cucina Italiana restaurant is practically a local landmark. (In the photo above, Bill is teaching me how to make balsamic syrup.)
The menu for the corporate group’s feast was an ambitious one, but Chef Bill made it all look easy and by the end of the day I not only believed I could cook the various courses at home but sampled dishes I’d never tried before.
Like for instance, our appetizer…
It was called a sformato, a savory custard made with pureed asparagus, eggs, Parmesan cheese and a bechamel sauce, poured into ramekins and baked, then unmolded and served on top of arugula with a bit of crispy bacon on top with a drizzle of my balsamic syrup. It was beyond delicious – light and fluffy and out of this world.
The pasta course – in Italian cooking there’s always a pasta course – the group made tortellini in beef brodo (brodo is Italian for a rich beef broth).
But it was the main course that was truly the show stopper: butterflied pork tenderloin stuffed with a pesto of basil, pistachios and Parmesan cheese, reconstituted figs and layers of proscuitto and arugula. Behold.
Bill showed everybody how to make it happen – from stuffing the pork…
to searing it on the stove…
to slicing it once it’s out of the oven.
It was past my usual lunch time at this point and I was dying to pop the entire tenderloin in my mouth, but I restrained myself. Actually, while the corporate group ate each course in the Silo’s dining area…
Michael and I, along with the Silo’s executive director Liba Fuhrman and assistant director Nancy Stuart, sampled everything back in the kitchen. Yummmmmm.
But a meal like we were lucky enough to enjoy had to be finished off with a superb sweet treat, and ours was a cherry and almond clafoutis, a rustic tart-like dessert made by baking cherries in a custard-type batter.
It was topped with homemade vanilla gelato.
Want to see how homemade that gelato was? I watched Chef Bill pouring the ingredients into the machine.
I’m full just thinking about all of this, but I had a good time and learned a lot. Best of all, I took lots of notes and got great material for my novel.