My Reflections on Siena, Part II

Do you speak English?

Part II of IV

Famous arched street I lived on right across from the VAT studio.

Now, I know what you are thinking. Why go across the pond to learn? Well – I investigated several studios here in the states and they either didn’t want to, or have the time for an apprentice. The only studio that came close was the Brooklyn Stained Glass Conservation Center. The only problem was that they had no openings until 2010. So the only other listing was in Italy. Now, I had to decide. Do I go to another country or just give up my dream? DUH – no brainer – I went! So I began the task of learning some survival Italian. I had six weeks until I left the country. UGH!

Studio front.

Contacting the studio was a bit of a challenge, since they knew a limited amount of English, but I secured an opportunity to study with VAT for three weeks. I was over the moon. I can’t say the same for my family though. They thought I was nuts. So with accommodations reserved, bags packed, and survival Italian gained, New Year’s Day 2008 I arrived in Leonardo da Vinci (Fiumicino) Airport, Rome. My flight and arrival was good, it’s after I arrived at the train station that things began to get interesting.


View from my apartment window. Remember, it’s January.

Be sure to check the blog next week for part 3 of this adventure. For now, enjoy more recipes below. All recipes are from the owners and artists that work in the stained glass studio where I studied for three weeks.

If you missed any of my adventures or recipes, see the links below:
intro click here>>>
part I click here>>>
part III click here>>>

Bucatini ai 4 formaggi (4 cheeses)
4 people

Difficulty: MEDIUM
  Author: Italian Classic
  • 400gr bucatini (hollow spaghetti)
  • 100 gr butter
  • 1 tbs flour
  • 1 glass milk
  • 70 gr Gruyère
  • 70 gr Edam
  • 70 gr Provolone
  • 70 gr Fontina
  • 100 gr grated parmesan
  • freshly grated pepper


Young white wine
  Melt half the butter in a pan and add flour. Mix well and cook for 2 minutes. Add COLD milk at once and whisk until it boils. (This is a foolproof way of making bechmel sauce without lumps).
Lower the flame and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Dice the cheeses (except for parmesan) and add them to the pan. Stir until the cheeses melt and pour over the cooked bucatini.
Add the parmesan and pepper and serve at once.
Save some cooking water in case the mix becomes too dense.
Involtini (meat rolls)
4 people

Difficulty: EASY
  Author: Gianni
  • 8 slices of beef (or veal)
  • 8 leaves of sage
  • Bologna mortadella
  • 6 spoons of E. V. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup red wine
  • flour


young red
  On a cutting board beat the meat to make it thin. Add a slice of Bologna (or other salami/ham), two leaves of sage, pepper, and roll, securing with a tooth-pick .
Repeate the operation for each slice.
In a saucepan sautee the garlic thinly sliced in oil at low temperature. After 5 minutes pass the rolls in flour and place on the pan. Turn on the heat and seal the meat turning continuously.
When the meat is colored add wine, half stock cube and pepper. Turn the heat down and let simmer for 5 minutes adding water if tend to dry.
Polpi alla Marinara (Octopus marinara style)
4 people

Difficulty: MEDIUM
  Author: Italo Bracciali
  • 800 gr octopus
  • 3 cloves garlic (crushed with the side of a large knife),
  • one small sprig rosemary and sage
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 8 slices country style bread


young red wine
  Clean and chop the octopus. Sautee oil and 2 cloves garlic, add octopus, rosemary and sage.
After 5 minutes add white whine and a little water, cover the pot with a tight lid and let it simmer until cooked. Adjust with salt.
Toast bread, rub with the last garlic clove and place in 4 plates. Pour the octopus and liquid on top.
Green Beans with Tomato and Garlic
4 people

Difficulty: EASY
  Author: Anna
  • Enough green beans for four people
  • 4 cloves of garlic, slithered
  • Half a can of crushed tomatoes
  • Salt or stock cube
  • Pepper
  • 200 ml water

  Put all ingredients into a saucepan.
Cover, bring to the boil and then take off cover and simmer for 15 minutes, taking care that there is enough liquid in the pan.This is a great dish to cook in a pressure cooker.
If you use a pc, leave out water.               

Chocolate Block
6 people

Difficulty: EASY
  Author: Italo
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 8 spoons sugar
  • 200 gr butter
  • 150 gr sweet cocoa powder
  • 2spoons of rhum
  • 200 gr “Marie” bisquits


Egg Marsala
  Beat well yolks and sugar, melt butter and add it to the mixture, together with the other ingredients.
Mix it thoroughly, shape it in a cilinder and wrap it in aluminum foil.
Place it in the fridge for few hours.
Rimove it from the fridge few minutes before serving it in slices.


3 thoughts on “My Reflections on Siena, Part II

  1. Pingback: My Reflections on Siena, IV part series « Keeping the Feast

  2. Pingback: My Reflections of Siena, part III « Keeping the Feast

  3. Pingback: Reflections of Siena, part IV « Keeping the Feast

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