Thursday, May 31, 2018

Of Asti, Cooking Class and ... Missing Him

We set off for the city of Asti yesterday morning. The name should be familiar to many Americans because of the famous Asti Spumante -- a sweet, sparkling wine that is produced in the area from the Moscato grape. The spumante has a somewhat dubious reputation, but its more respectable sibling is Moscato d'Asti. But we didn't go to Asti to taste wine. We went to stroll around open-air markets and to attend a cooking class taught by Chef Enrico Trova at La Scuola di Cucina di Asti

On the menu were, as antipasto, Tortino di Verdura con Fonduta (mixed vegetable flan with cheese), as primo, Gnocchi al Ragu Piemontese, and for dessert, Bunet (Chocolate and Almond Cookie Flan). I sat patiently as Chef Enrico went through all the steps in making the three courses while others took copious notes. I don't cook, you see, and I wasn't about to start learning with something as complicated as Gnocchi Al Ragu Piemontese. I was content to watch ... and eat the finished product.

Chef Enrico

Gnocchi is made, essentially, from potatoes. Here, Chef Enrico peels the skins
off the potatoes that will be transformed into gnocchi.

A bit of flour and an eggs are added to the cooled potatoes, which will be kneaded into the dough
to make the little gnocchi dumplings.

And the transformation begins ...

Trying on Chef Enrico's onion-chopping glasses.

The finished, oh so good, product.

Meanwhile, it's time to work on the appetizer, one of the yummiest things I've ever tasted.

Preparing the cheese sauce

Yum. Yum. Yum.

And then, of course, dessert.

The graduating class of May 30, 2018

This trip has been amazing. I absolutely loved my bike tour across southern Italy, and this week in Piemonte has been fun and fascinating. It is an extension and a reflection of the life I have constructed for myself during the past two years since Mark's death. Most of the time, though I miss Mark, I am fine. But there are times when a wave of grief sweeps me off my feet and the pain of missing him flares with intensity.

One of those times occurred last night during dinner. I didn't expect it, and it surprised me--as is always the case--with its intensity. I had been talking to someone about something--I can't remember now--and was scrolling through pictures on my camera. I came to several taken during our visit to southern Bavaria in the fall of 2015, and the memory of all the magical moments we shared there came cascading to the forefront of my mind. And, suddenly, though I am happy and grateful for this amazing trip and all that I have, I missed him. I always will. I lost it a bit, but friends were there to help me breathe through it. And life goes on. And I'm grateful for it.


  1. Joseph, what I know about grief, is that it's always there, but most times I'm able to ignore it.
    I sometimes try to reconcile the pain because the love is still there to remind me. Thinking of you.

  2. I have a huge shoulder even though I'm little. Wonderful sharing these experiences with you. Thanks so much for your chronicle of our adventures in Wonderland. xo