The New Vegetarian is not officially out yet, but the “tour” has begun. Thursday’s class, The Italian Vegetarian, was a fabulous start for the book, and the food was a hit!
The class was offered at Sopra Sotto in Rochester MN, a store that specializes in all things Italian. The store is inside the Shops on University and very close to the famous Mayo Clinic. In fact, the Mayo is one of the reasons that the unique store exists. The back story is that the owner, Maureen McNally, was being treated at the Clinic years ago for cancer, and while she was there, promised herself that if she ever got well, she was going to follow her dream. Well, she got well, and the store is a thriving dream-the kind you like to see. Sopra Sotto is unlike most cookware stores, in that it focuses only on Italy, and it sells more than cookware, with a large selection of ceramics, leather, photography, and other Italian products. It also provides a small espresso bar and some food and pastries that bring in all the local Italian expats, as well as lovers of real espressos.
Once the class got going, I made Ligurian Hummus in Endive and Radicchio Leaves, a puree of edamame, parmesan, garlic and olive oil. A lively salad of Mache, Oranges and Pistachios followed, and then a lighter version of a Tuscan Bean Salad with Kale and Gorgonzola Bruschetta. But the big finale was the Goat Cheese Gnocchi with Broccoli Raab Sauce and the Cracker Crust Pizza al Aglio. We were quite safe from vampires that night, with about five bulbs of garlic gracing the meal. (A large part of that were roasted whole cloves on top of the pizza, which were sweet and mild.)
The students were a fun group, many with Mayo connections. A patient, a doctor, and other veg-friendly guests were all very interested in eating the Mediterranean way, with no meat. The cuisine of Italy is ever so loveable, and the meatless cuisine is one of the most popular in the World. And of course- Pizza!
All in All, a great way to introduce the New Vegetarian to the people at Sopra Sotto! Many thinks to Maureen and the helpful assistants at the store.