The evening, to which various bloggers and social media mavens were invited, began with an appetizer of sweet grape focaccia paired with an Umbrian brut. Culinaria's Chef Stephen is currently on his way to achieving his Level 1 Sommelier license and brilliantly paired each of Amy's courses with an Italian vino. The antipasti featured Abbruzese-style stuffed olives and Roman risotto croquettes (commonly known by their Sicilian counterpart, arancini). During these courses, we sipped a white wine with notes of citrus and grapefruit, chosen by Stephen for its minerality to cleanse the palate between plates.
Following the delectable croquettes, the chefs schooled us on traditional Moroccan and Greek cuisine as we dined on chicken with couscous and date tajine. While indulging in these sweet-and-savory combinations, Amy shared stories of her travels through Morocco and Saudi Arabia, where she learned about the cultural traditions in villages that boast "zero food feet." The fresh ingredients are a tenet of the Mediterranean diet and are at the heart of culinary traditions from Spain to Israel.
A Tuscan barolo served as the perfect complement to our Greek, Moroccan, and Egyptian dishes, including spice-dusted lamb chops with jalapeño-mint sauce, Greek-style green beans, and carrot, date, and orange salad. The various courses that Amy curated for us featured a range of flavors, but all clearly shared common roots in their Mediterranean heritage. Our evening concluded with rich baklava and coffee, and anthropologist Amy taught us the evolution of the dessert that eventually grew into the baklava we enjoy today.
Amy shares her wealth of knowledge in history and gastronomy of the Mediterranean in her many cookbooks and on her youtube channel. Learn more about her work at amyriolo.com. To enroll in a class at Culinary Cooking School and learn from Chefs Stephen and Pete, visit culinariacookingschool.com.
Published by Maria Regina, Contributing Editor