Posts Tagged 'food'

Orvieto, Italy

After leaving Venice we wanted to visit Rome and Florence, but we didn’t particularly want to stay in either of those places because they are cities and really all cities are kind of the same.  We wanted to be someone a bit more relaxing.  I did some research (and got some great advice from my cousin, Ginny, who lives in Germany) and found that if you stayed in a town with a train station, you could take day trips into Rome and Florence.  I browsed our Rick Steves Italy book and I came upon the town of Orvieto.  We knew nothing about it other than what Rick Steves said, but it sounded like a picturesque ancient town in the Umbria region of Italy.  We booked reservations at a hotel that was recommended in the book and pointed the car in that direction.  The lower part of Orvieto is the new section and the upper part is the ancient section.  We were staying in the ancient section.  To get there you have to drive up a mountain.  The ancient part of the town is basically a fortress- it’s surrounded by a wall.  It is absolutely breathtaking!  As we drove around trying to find our hotel we were speechless.  I have never seen such a cute, rustic town!  The streets were all cobblestone and there were arches and stone buildings.  People still live and work in Orvieto and there are a lot of businesses there.  We checked into our hotel and set out to explore the town.

We found an interesting restaurant that we wanted to try for dinner.  It was called Zeppelin.  We went in and talked to the young man at the bar (he was also the host) and he said they wouldn’t be serving dinner for 1/2 hour because the chef was teaching a cooking class. We said we’d didn’t mind waiting.  The host asked if we wanted to go back to the kitchen and meet Chef Lorenzo.  Of course we did!  He took us back to the kitchen and introduced us to Lorenzo.  There were a bunch of people there with him finishing up their cooking class.  They all looked like they were having a great time (and like maybe the wine had been flowing for a while!)  During the year that we’d been planning this trip, Lori and I  talked often about the possibility of taking a cooking class in Italy. Hearing about Chef Lorenzo’s class and then seeing it with our own eyes got us really excited!  I think we decided right there that we were going to take the class.

We had a fantastic dinner at Zeppelin.  We sat outside in the back yard and enjoyed some of Orvieto’s local white wine.  We asked for more information on the cooking class.  He asked how long we were going to be in Orvieto and we told him we were flexible.  He said that if we could go to the class on Thursday that was the most fun because Thursday is Farmer’s Market day in Orvieto.  We signed up for the Thursday class and he told us to be there at 8:30 a.m.

On Wednesday we took the train into Rome.  It was about an hour and 15 minute ride.  We saw all the major sights in Rome – the Coliseum, the Sistine Chapel,  and St. Peter’s Cathedral.   Rome is a city –  it’s crowded and very touristy.  There are a lot of really fascinating historical sights and it’s exciting being there.  Every direction you look you see the ancient mixed with modern.  But it’s a city and it wears you out!  We got back on the train and went back to Orvieto.  When we got off the train Lori said “Oh, it’s good to be home!” That’s really what it felt like!  Orvieto was so quiet and low key, it was relaxing just being there!

On Thursday morning Lori and I walked over to Zeppelin to meet Chef Lorenzo for our class.  The plan was for the guys to  laundry to  do our laundry at the laundromat in town because we were all out of clean clothes.  They were then going to come to the restaurant to have lunch with us.  We met Lorenzo and he offered us coffee.  He then told us to wait just a minute and left.  He came back a few minutes later with a big plate of pastries. We enjoyed our coffee while he took care of some restaurant business, then it was time to set out for the Farmer’s Market. Most of the vendors at the market know Lorenzo really well.  As we walked from booth to booth they all greeted him and offered us samples of their wares.  As we walked around and picked out different foods Lorenzo started building our menu.  We bought some beautiful arugula, fresh peaches, toasted hazelnuts (they offered ‘toasted 1’- barely toasted,  and ‘toasted 2’ – more toasted, and we chose #2 for our hazelnut gelato) tomatoes, peppers, and a few different kinds of cheese.  We returned to the restaurant, put on our Zeppelin aprons (which we got to keep as a souvenir) and started cooking!

Our menu:  Focaccia



Zucchini Blossoms

Fresh green pasta w/sauce

Pork stew

Hazelnut Gelato

Chef Lorenzo was a lot of fun and a really good teacher.  I think the highlight for me was learning to make pasta.  I have always wanted to make my own pasta, but thought it was too complicated and that I needed a machine to do it.  It was actually really easy!  We started with a basic dough.  You put all the dry ingredients on a board, make a well in the center, then put the wet ingredients (eggs and water) into the well.  You slowly start incorporating the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a fork.  Slowly but surely they combine and form a dough.  You roll it out in a very particular way.  You roll it into a rectangle, then you turn the rectangle 1/4 turn and roll it in that direction.  You keep turning the dough and rolling it until it is very, very thin.  (Mine wasn’t nearly as thin as Lorenzo’s) After letting it rest for seven minutes you fold the dough into fourths, then you cut it into strips. The pasta we saw the most in Italy was Tagliatelle – which is thicker that spaghetti and thinner than linguine.  That is what we made.  We just used a knife and cut the dough into thin strips.  (We made our pasta green by using some sort of leafy green- I can’t remember what it was – we just pulsed it in the food processor with the water and used that to make the pasta) We cooked and drank sparkling wine and coffee and laughed and had a really nice day.  When our husbands arrived we all sat down at a table and the food we had cooked was served to us, presented beautifully.  It was all so delicious!  I have never eaten so much in my entire life!  We ended up with two different desserts and two different kinds of bread because Lorenzo kept getting creative and thinking of more stuff to make.  We definitely had a day that we’ll remember forever!



Saturday’s Menu:

Breakfast – Granola (they make it here – I will post the recipe, it’s really good!), almond milk, fresh fruit – 291 calories

Lunch – Tortilla soup, chicken salad on sandwich thin, mixed salad w/berries – 509 calories

Dinner – Enchiladas, mixed fresh vegetables – 358 calories

Total calories – 1198

Total steps for Saturday – 22,403

Miles walked on Saturday – 9.67

Calories burned – 2422

I know I skipped days posting this week.  I had no idea it was going to be so hard to keep up!  The first problem has been the internet connection. The wireless doesn’t work here so I have to use an Ethernet cable to get onto the internet.  That requires sitting at the desk in my room on a straight chair.  By the time I am finished with activities for the day I don’t really feel like sitting up in a chair. And literally the only free time I’ve had every day is after dinner.  Needless to say, there is a lot I want to share about this week and I intend to do that – when I get home!

For now, though, let me recap my final day at BLFR.  Saturday is a half day.  There is a hike, as usual, but you get to choose from three choices.  If you don’t want to hike on Saturday that is fine, but you have to go to the gym and do two hour long workouts with trainers.  I decided the hike would be preferable to the gym workout and I chose the Pointe Dume Beach hike.  (if you don’t want it to sound so scary you can pronounce it Point Dumay, like it’s French.  That’s what we do here – it makes it surprisingly more tolerable.)

Once again it was chilly and foggy.  I love to hike in weather like that so it was a great morning.  It’s a tough hike – you start out walking on the beach, then you walk up a lot of stairs and along a pathway that overlooks the ocean.  You wind up back down on the beach and walk to a huge rock outcropping, then turn around and do the whole thing in reverse.  It was about 5.6 miles long and it was surprisingly easy – but I think that’s because I knew it was our last hike and I was really happy about that!

The very last activity of the week is the last chance workout.  For anyone that watches the Biggest Loser television show, this is how they end each week.  Before the contestants weigh in they have a really long workout with the trainers to get in their final calorie burn before weighing in.  The last chance workout was going to be with Sione.  He’s tough.  (nice, but tough!)  We had to meet in a big field on the property.  When I got there Sione had set up seven different stations around the field.  He explained that we were going divide into groups of four and go around the field and do the seven different exercises for 1 minute each.  After each two exercises Sione would yell “Lap!” and we had to run or walk fast out of the field and down a dirt road, then turn around and go back to the field and go right to our next station. Some of the exercise stations were – running up and down a hill, holding a plank for one minute, playing catch with a ten pound medicine ball …..a whole variety of exercises.  It was hard!  I was so exhausted my legs would hardly even move.  But I’m so glad I did it because afterwards my heart rate monitor watch said I burned 550 calories.

Once the last chance workout was over we were DONE!!! What a great feeling!  There were so many times during the week that I wanted to quit.  Every muscle in my body hurts.  I’m sunburned and bruised.  My hair might never be the same.  But I did it!

Check – In Day

Here I am, writing from Malibu, California at the Biggest Loser Resort.  This is actually the second time I wrote this post so I’m feeling a little frustrated. Somehow I erased my post…. I think.  Maybe it’s already posted somewhere.  Who knows.   Me and blogs just don’t seem to get along.

By the time I left for the airport this morning all I felt was relief.  Planning for a trip like this is a pretty big ordeal.  On top of that, I’m probably the worst packer in the entire world.  My packing philosophy is “Just keep sticking stuff in the suitcase until you can’t fit any more.”  So that’s what I did.  If I forgot anything this week it isn’t for lack of trying on my part!

I got here at about 2:00 this afternoon.  They showed me to cabin #60, my cozy home away from home for the week.  I unpacked and then went for my fitness evaluation – a depressing event where I was weighed, measured and they told me my body fat percentage.  I will not be disclosing those numbers, but suffice it to say I was mortified  and it gave me a whole new enthusiasm for working really hard this week!

Dinner tonight was a tamale with black beans and dessert was chocolate pie (made with tofu and a Grape Nut crust)  Everything was really good, but honestly I’m feeling a bit nervous and don’t feel very hungry.  It’s funny, last year I was extremely nervous because I didn’t know what to expect.  This time I’m extremely nervous because I DO know what to expect.  I distinctly remember at the end of the week last year saying I would never, ever do this again.  (I remember saying that after each of my babies was born, too!)  It was really, really hard!  My body felt really beaten and bruised and there were points during the week that I honestly didn’t think I was going to make it.  Miraculously, I did make it! One of the biggest lessons I learned during the week was that I could do a lot more than I thought I could do. I guess that’s why I’m back this year! I want to have that same sense of accomplishment again.

I’m going to sign off for tonight and take it easy for the rest of the evening – tomorrow the real fun begins!  Bring it!!!

I’ll be posting a daily update, so be sure to check back to hear about what I’ve done!

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