Cavallo or Cavolo?

Cavallo Point "Mark Leslie" "Beyond the Pasta"

Where am I? Day 3 and 4

Today has been a busy day. I feel like I am in Italy and living with the family all over again … only because I spend my days busy, my nights at dinner and then I get back to my hotel room (late), only to then have to type a post before I go to bed. When I was with the Stefanis, I would always write my emails home very late in the evening (those emails became the framework for the book).

My day started with showing up two hours early for a TV interview. It was in the Cooking School at Cavallo Point in Sausalito. A beautiful spot which used to be Fort Baker, and Army base. Today it is an incredibly serene place which overlooks the water, boats and the Golden Gate Bridge. Not too shabby of a view!

Fort Baker "Mark Leslie" "Beyond the Pasta"

For being 2 hours early, it certainly didn’t taken me long to fill the time with hiking the trails and climbing down algae covered rocks (in dress shoes) in order to get some photos. How I did not break my neck is a wonder!

Golden Gate "Mark Leslie" "Beyond the Pasta"

Once inside the cooking school the segment seemed to go well. KTVU’s feature director was all set to shoot me making the Crostata di Marmellata (Jam Tart). The interview was to plug my upcoming cooking class at Cavallo Point on this Saturday and to give a little taste of the class by preparing something. I think the Jam Tart (page 174 in the book) is going to be my San Fran tour signature food. I will probably be making around 10 by the time I return home to Alabama. I really don’t mind, since I enjoy the dish and I think it really showcases how simple authentic Italian cooking can be. (Footage of my interview will go on the blog once the story airs, sometime on Tuesday, 4/12/2011. I’ll drop it in so everyone can view it.)

It was only a quick nap, much like my afternoon siestas with the Stefanis in Italy, in the afternoon before heading out through rush hour traffic to the home of Myrna and John Bachiochi. I am going to be cooking for Myrna’s “San Ramon Newcomers Club” this coming Friday and tonight was Myrna’s turn to cook some “good Jewish food.

We started off with appetizers – cucumber canapes with smoked fish and chives (yum), then moved to the table for the first course – Matzo ball soup. Myrna’s were handmade and very good. Matzo Ball Soup "Mark Leslie" "Beyond the Pasta"

With wine being poured, out came the next course – Kasha Varnishkes. It was a baked pasta (shells) dish that had Kasha (a grain, similar to Bulgar wheat) in it. I knew I was in for more than I could  eat when Myrna keep prodding me along to eat more. Mamma mia! (Hmmm, I wonder what the Yiddish equivalent is of that Italian expression?)

"Kasha Varnishkes" "Mark Leslie" "Beyond the Pasta"

From here, much like an Italian menu, we were on to the meat course – Beef Brisket cooked with a cranberry relish sauce. I am always a big fan of fruit flavors being combined with meat, and this one did not disappoint!

Beef Brisket in cranberry relish sauce "Mark Leslie" "Beyond the Pasta"

Myrna and John had invited two sets of couples over for dinner and, to my surprise, one of the wives happened to me a mother of an actor I worked with at Alabama Shakespeare Festival. It is a small world after all!

Tonight’s dinner was robust and full of shared stories about food and family. Something that I truly enjoy doing. Hmm, I wonder why I had so much fun?! LOVED IT!

Wednesday will hold a whole new San Fran as I go explore the markets with Viola Buitoni. I think a good walk around the city is much needed, especially since I overfilled my plate tonight at dinner. When the food is good, I tend to think moderation is only for others. Again, something else that happened while I was sitting around the Stefanis table – me eating my weight in great family food, prepared with care by a gifted cook!

Buon Appetito – bring your family to the table and change a life one meal at a time!


**There are two Italian words that I still get mixed up when speaking – CAVOLO (cabbage) and CAVALLO (horse). When pronounced, they have a similar sound. Today during the TV shoot, I found myself saying “cavolo” when I meant to say “cavallo.” It certainly doesn’t help to say that “I’ll be teaching a cooking class at Cabbage Point.” Today I was a bit of a cavolo head!