I'd been looking forward to this since the minute I opened and thumbed through my kitchen book. I didn't realize we'd be getting to do a thorough tasting so, when Chef Guido mentioned it before we left class Tuesday, I got more excited than I've been in a while. We've been doing this ServSafe lecture in the mornings which is all about proper food handling, cleanliness, what food borne illnesses can happen...just all the things you need to know and be schooled on when it comes to serving food to people. It's been boring but necessary so I was happy as a clam when the rest of the afternoon was spent in the land of cheese.
After we came back from lunch (which I didn't eat because I was focused on cheese), Chef Guido had put out this glorious spread:
13 different Italian cheeses that we studied, had lecture on and tasted. Every tiny thing we learn, such as the true proper way to taste cheese, makes a drastic difference in how you proceed forward with that ingredient. It was fascinating to learn about the different souring agents that are used in cheese making and what animals produce whatever milk, etc. I never even knew this but cheese itself, not just blue cheese, is a mold. Period. It was happenstance that cheese was ever made in the first place! It was a total accident and man, that's the best accident that's ever happened in my opinion.
After we finished the tasting, it was time to make some ourselves. We did ricotta and mozzarella and I had a blast doing it! I've made ricotta several times now on my own but it was great to learn a different technique which is actually easier. Yay for that! Making the mozzarella was so much fun. Pulling and stretching the curd made you feel like you were a little kid playing with silly putty. It was fun tearing off pieces and molding them into balls, just like you see in the market. I speak for each of us in saying we really enjoyed that part.
We were left to decide on our own how we'd plate and present both cheeses so I kept it simple with the ricotta and topped it with olive oil, salt and pepper. Chef Guido had some amazing suggestions though that I want to try next time such as drizzling it with honey and a dash of cinnamon to make it sort of a dessert. I think that sounds wonderful! With the mozzarella, I stayed simple but dug into the fresh herbs. I finely chopped basil, rosemary and parsley then added olive oil, salt and pepper. Voila:
I overworked the curd a little bit so it was a touch rubbery but tasty, nonetheless. This was certainly my favorite day in the kitchen thus far, that's for sure!