Follow Me Foodie to Messors Culinary Workshop: Harvesting Food Through History in Puglia Italy!
Culinary & Shepherding Workshops in Puglia Italy, Summer 2013!
Well this is exciting! It’s like a culinary press trip, but this time it is open to the public! Messors culinary workshops take place in Puglia Italy twice a year. The first session runs June 1-10 and the second session is July 24-August 2. This unique culinary trip is hosted by Messors’ Program Founder and Director, Tonio Creanza, a born and raised local of Altamura (Puglia Italy). He now splits his time between Italy and Vancouver after marrying a Vancouverite, but has started these culinary workshops to show you his home town through his eyes and people.
Each session is limited to 12 people and it is easily assumed that everyone will be a self-proclaimed “foodie”. Over 7 days in Puglia Italy (optional 3 day add-ons for cheese making or sheep farming), the itinerary includes pasta making, olive oil tasting, butchering, charcuterie and many more culinary classes, field trips and guided tours. See the full itinerary here.
Of course there will also be wine tastings and lots of traditional Italian meals prepared by locals, chefs, and even you. Yes, this is a very hands on experience and it is once in a lifetime… unless you have a pot of gold and are able to do it again. That being said, you won’t even need a pot of gold because the trip is rather affordable at $1500CAD which includes accommodation, meals, transportation to and from Bari Airport workshops fees, admissions and other required tickets. Airfare is not included and there will be “free time” for you to explore on your own.
Unless you have a close connection in Italy I’m not sure how you’ll find this experience anywhere else. Sure there are other food related food tours and the entire Italy is a gastronomical experience, but this is an intense 7-10 days of culinary extravagance. Well I don’t know how “extravagant” farming and butchery can be, but if you want to truly understand “farm to table” from professionals, then this is how to do it. I’ve never been to Puglia myself, but I can just imagine this being an amazing experience.
Eat with the locals, cook with the locals and most importantly learn from them. The itinerary is educational, but if you know Italians, everything gets done with plenty of food, wine, music and fun. If this is your natural interest than none of this will sound boring to you. This trip is for a niche market, but personally I think it’s an incredible opportunity and if you go… I’ll be jealous and have to live vicariously through your photos and blog! That is, if you start one. And you should! Stuff like this deserves to be documented. For more information visit here.
**Updated April 5 – Due to unforeseen and personal circumstances, Chef Owen Lightly will not be participating in this trip.
I’m also very happy to announce that for this trip, Chef Owen Lightly of Butter on the Endive Catering in Vancouver, BC has been invited as Messors’ Chef in the Field. He will be assisting the whole trip overlooking the meals and working alongside Creanza and the other guides.
Owen Lightly is the chef and co-owner of Butter on the Endive. He started at the Top Table Restaurant Group working under Chef David Hawksworth who was once at West Restaurant, and also under Chef James Walt at award winning Araxi in Whistler. Coming from fine dining restaurants, his style and food keeps at high standards. Although I haven’t tried his catering yet, I was able to try his Wild Mushroom Arancini during the Messors Culinary Workshop preview and I had to ask for the recipe.
Wild Mushroom Arancini Recipe
Yields 50 pieces
- 1 pound mixed wild and cultivated mushrooms, trimmed and cleaned
- extra virgin olive oil for sautéing
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ½ medium Spanish onion, peeled and finely diced
- 1 teaspoon garlic, finely minced
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 100 ml dry white wine
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 ½ litre vegetable stock infused with ¼ cup dried porcini mushrooms
50 grams parmesan cheese, grated
kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
150 grams fior di latte cheese (fresh cows milk mozzarella), dice into 3 gram pieces
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 eggs, cracked and whisked
- splash of water
- 2-3 cups panko bread crumbs
vegetable oil for deep frying
In a large heavy-bottomed frying pan or pot, sauté the mixed mushrooms in batches, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper, until they are caramelized and fully cooked. Remove to a hotel pan to cool and then roughly chop the mushrooms into 1/8 inch pieces. Set aside.
Bring the vegetable-porcini stock to a simmer in a pot and lower heat to keep just below the simmer.
In another large heavy-bottomed pot, sweat the onion and garlic over a medium heat in the olive oil and butter until soft and fragrant. Add the rice and continue cooking until all the grains are completely coated in oil. Deglaze with the wine and cook until completely evaporated.
Add a couple of ladles of porcini stock to the rice and stir frequently until the stock has been absorbed. Continue stirring and adding stock a ladle at a time until the rice is ¾ cooked, approximately 15 minutes.
Add the reserved mixed mushrooms and continue adding stock until the rice is completely tender and risotto is quite stiff, approximately 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the parmesan cheese and stir until fully emulsified.
Remove the rice to a large baking sheet and cool to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap and cool in the fridge until completely firm.
Once the rice is cool, portion it into 1 teaspoon sized balls and line up on a baking sheet. Once portioned, place a piece of diced fior di latte cheese in the center of the risotto ball and form the rice around the cheese, compressing and rolling into a perfect circle. Place on a large sheet pan and when finished place in the freezer until quite firm but not completely frozen, approximately 30 minutes.
Set up a breading station: Place the flour in one mixing bowl. Crack the eggs in another mixing bowl and whisk with a splash of water until completely smooth. Place the breadcrumbs in a third mixing bowl. Roll the risotto in flour, then shake off excess flour and transfer to the egg. Remove the balls from the egg with a slotted spoon and roll in the breadcrumbs. Place on another baking sheet and repeat with remaining arancini.
Heat up a deep-fryer or heavy-bottomed pot with at least 3-inches of vegetable oil to 350°F. Fry the arancini in batches until deep golden brown and heated through. Serve on a platter with porcini mustard (recipe below) in a ramekin on the side for dipping.
Yields 1 Cup
- ½ cup red onion, peeled and diced fine
- 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup porcini stock
- 2 tablespoons dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 small sprig rosemary
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ cup Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Over a medium heat, sauté red onion and garlic in the olive oil until soft and fragrant, approximately 5 minutes.
Add the balsamic vinegar, porcini stock, dried porcini mushrooms, rosemary, thyme and bay leaf to the pot and reduce by half. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Remove the rosemary, thyme and bay leaf and discard.
In a blender or food processor, combine the onion and vinegar reduction with the Dijon and extra-virgin olive-oil and blend until completely emulsified. Pass the mixture through a fine-meshed sieve and store in a sealed container in the fridge. Will keep for up to a month.