Orvieto Study Trip
Early on the morning of February 15th, fifteen students boarded a train to Orvieto, accompanied by Professor John Nicholson, Associate Dean of Students Cindy Bomben, and Student Life Assistant Anna Springer. The students knew their weekend in the Umbrian hill town named Orvieto would focus on the food and wine of Italy, but they were not yet able to fully comprehend what a fantastic weekend awaited them. Upon exiting the train, the group was met by the great Chef Lorenzo Polegri. His boisterous personality and big smile already had the students feeling more awake. After checking into the four-star Hotel Piccolomini, located adjacent to the Chef Lorenzo’s Ristorante Zeppelin, the group immediately set out for the market located in a central piazza of Orvieto. With Chef Lorenzo as our guide, the tour of the market began with a tasting of Porchetta (pork cooked in a traditional Italian method). As it was 9:30 in the morning, many students hesitated at the thought of anything but breakfast food at that time of day. However, after the first taste, all doubts disappeared. The group wandered about the market for another hour, sampling cheeses, meats, fruits, vegetables, and sweets, all while Chef Lorenzo selected ingredients for the meal the group would be preparing that afternoon.
Back at Ristorante Zeppelin, the students divided into separate groups, each dedicated to cooking a different part of our lunch. After a couple hours of hard work, the group sat down to a lunch consisting of Pizza with tomatoes and mozzarella, Focaccia with rosemary, Risotto with artichokes, Gnocchi with a butter and sage sauce, Lumachelle (a type of roll made with Pecorino cheese and Guanciale), and finished off with a chocolate mousse with a blood orange cream. Feeling stuffed to the brim, the students headed across town to the Duomo (the main cathedral) of Orvieto. Under the guidance of Art History Professor John Nicholson, the group examined the façade of Santa Maria Assunta, as well as touring the inside of the great church. One of the most remarkable aspects of the church is the Chapel of San Brizio, which features spectacular frescoes painted by the renaissance artist Luca Signorelli. With the rest of the afternoon free, the students wandered about Orvieto, purchasing ceramics, taking photographs of the beautiful scenery, and relaxing. Even though their stomachs were still full from lunch, the group met back at Ristorante Zeppelin for an amazing dinner made up of spinach and ricotta stuffed pasta in a truffle sauce, sausage with lentils, a salad, and Zabaione (a light custard made with Marsala wine). Wiped out from a day of cooking and, more importantly, eating, the students went to bed satisfied. The next morning, the students piled into several cars and headed out into the Umbrian countryside. After driving through beautiful vineyards and orchards, they arrived at Montecchio, an Olive Oil mill and museum. Chef Lorenzo gave a tour of the facilities, explaining some of the history behind the production of olive oil.
The weekend of eating then continued with a tasting of various oils, cured artichokes, olive tapenades, and cured olives. Once again feeling full, the group headed back to Orvieto for a wine tasting at the Ristorante Zeppelin. Under the guidance of a fantastic Sommelier, the students learned how to examine the color, the smell, and the taste of four different wines. The wines were paired with focaccia, meats, cheeses, and deserts. Already feeling sufficiently full, some student were surprised when the first course of lunch suddenly appeared! Pasta all’ Arrabiata was followed by Polenta with a wild boar ragu. The comparatively light lunch was finished by a frozen chocolate mousse topped with melted dark and milk chocolate. With full bellies and smiles on their faces, each student received their certificates which stated they had completed a cooking course and wine tasting during their stay in Orvieto. After a little more time to wander and browse the many shops in town, the students boarded a train back to Rome, reminiscing on the great weekend and vowing never to need to eat again.