Yesterday I and two friends had the pleasure of attending a Sicilian Cooking Class at the Getty Villa in Malibu, CA. The class was held in connection with a special exhibition ‘Art and Invention between Greece and Rome’ which is currently on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa in Malibu. The Exhibition will remain on display through August 19, 2013. The class was taught by Maite Gomez-Rejon who has not only Art Degrees but also a Diploma from the French Cooking School in New York City. Maite combines Art History with the food from the specific eras.
The day started with a talk about Sicilian Food and some of its origins and the ancient works from which the information was culled. After the talk there was a tour and discussion of the exhibit and then a walk through the Herb Garden where we picked herbs for the meal we were to prepare.
The menu for the Day consisted of Sicilian Salad, Olive and Date Tapenade, Eggplant with Anchovies and Capers, Poached Shrimp with Olive Oil and Lemon and Pasta with Sardines and Fennel. Dessert was Cannoli with Almonds and Honey.
According to the information gleaned from the ancient books food must be fresh, locally grown and be prepared simply, so as not to cover up the natural tastes.
The Salad was quite delightful. It consisted of Greens, Pomegranate Seeds, Blood Oranges and a Dressing made from Blackberries, Balsamic and Red Wine Vinegars and Olive Oil.
The Tapenade was unusual in that it contained Dates which made a nice contrast to the Olives.
The Anchovies gave a nice bite to the Eggplant which was prepared with Parsley, Garlic and Olive Oil.
The Poached Shrimp was a very simple, yet delicious dish.
I and my friends had the pleasure of making the actual pasta dough, rolling it and cutting it. As we made it someone else picked it up and cooked it. (Fresh Pasta only needs a minute or two of cooking). Another group made the sauce that the pasta was added to.
Dessert again was the Cannoli which was made with Ricotta Cheese, Mascarpone, Honey, Almonds and Cinnamon. Even though the attendees were give the recipe for the shells, we did not make them. We used ready-made shells which can be purchased at Italian Delis. If you have ever made Cannoli Shells you will know what a pain in the neck they are to make, although it is kind of fun. To make Cannoli Shells, you need to have the forms which are metal tubes that the dough is wrapped around and then fried. The purchased ones taste almost as good and certainly do save lots of time and frustration.
All in all the day was fun and educational and the people that attended were very nice and easy to work with. I would definitely recommend any future cooking classes that are held at the Getty to anyone who may be interested. These classes are held on a quarterly basis in connection with a current exhibit.