Monday, October 28, 2013

Adventures in Weekending - Chapter 1: Venus' Navel

This post is so good (read: long) I had to split it into two separate "articles."  Today's article is about my Saturday morning cooking demo I attended.  The cooking demo was held at the Stapleton visitor's center, conveniently located two blocks from my house.  There were only about 16 of us there too, which made the whole thing very intimate and one-on-one with the chef.  The demo, put on for free by the visitor's center, featured the head chef of Panzano, a high end Italian restaurant downtown.  The chef has been the executive chef of the restaurant for ten years, and lives in Stapleton as well, which is the only reason she'd agree to do this free demo I'd imagine. 

I've never been to her restaurant, but if the rest of the food is anything like what she made at this demo, I need to get over there immediately.  For the demo, she made a butternut squash, date and mascarpone stuffed ravioli in a rosemary brown butter sauce.  Everything was made from scratch, and everything was ungodly amazing.  My favorite part of the demo were all the tips and tricks she gave to making pasta, making brown butter, cooking rosemary, how to cut a squash.  It's amazing how much stuff you don't know until somebody teaches you the right way to do something.  For example, did you know that the best pasta dough uses half semolina / half flour?  the semolina gives is the strength so that your raviolis don't break apart when you stuff/cook them.  And did you know that using oil in your boiling water helps keep it from over flowing?  the oil bursts air bubbles that boil to the surface, so the pot doesn't boil over.  And did you know you can make your own almond (or any nut) paste, just by grinding the nut with a little bit of sugar?  Simple!

During the two hour demo, there was only one part that got a little weird, and also cemented some suspicions I've voiced to you before about the rampant swinger population.  It happened during her discussion of making tortellinis.  Which was odd too, since she didn't actually make them for the recipe.  She told us a story that the tortellini is called Venus' Navel.  Here's how the story goes:

So back in the day, Roman people ate big meals outside on some big table.  Then, when they were done eating and drinking, they went to sleep.  Didn't bother cleaning the table or anything, which is probably why the Roman empire failed.  Dirty dishes.  Anyways, so the most elitist of the gods who hated eating in the Mount Olympus cafeteria would come down and eat whatever food and drink whatever wine was left.  So these "cool club" gods were Mars, the god of looking hot and mysterious but is probably closet gay, Bacchus, the god of partying to cover up his alcoholism and self hatred, and Venus, the goddess of gauging her self worth on how many guys she could screw because she was touched by her uncle as a kid. So as you can imagine, after eating and drinking they'd find a cozy corner, get naked, and have a threesome.  Seriously...Romans believed this over the fact that servants were probably taking all that food and wine home for their families.  That's civilization for you!  Anyways, the story continues that after once such party, the two dude gods thought it would be funny if they left Venus out in the field by herself, naked as the day she was conceived.  Most likely, Mars wanted to continue the party with just Bacchus in the Mount Olympus locker room.  So Venus is out there by herself, asleep and naked, and this farmer comes along and sees her.  Venus is supposed to be the hottest piece alive, so you can only imagine what happens next right?  The only logical thing!  He creates a pasta that resembles her navel, so that he can always remember for the rest of eternity.  Thus, the tortellini, which is Italian for "blind farmer."

Seems perfectly normal so far right?  So after telling us this story, the chef tells us that during valentine's day, she has this romantic dish which features two tortellini's in some kind of broth, which reference's the love of two people.  So one year when her sous chef is plating up this meal, he starts putting three tortellinis on the plate, and when she questions him and says it's only supposed to be two, he says, "yeah...but three is better...."  *wink wink*  What was interesting, is that while the other Stapletonians giggled at the joke, nobody seemed shocked by it at all....which is proof to me that there were definitely some swingers in the group!  Or at least swinger-adjacent.  It's clearly the only explanation.  And if that's true, it's only a matter of time before I run into some weird naked pagan neighborhood orgy of people screwing, and sauteing!  (Did you know saute is french, and means to jump or leap?)

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