310 S. 48th Street
6:10pm: We walk passed Local 44 and realize we’ve never been this far west before. This should be interesting.
6:15pm: We pass Aladdin’s Pizzeria on 47th and Spruce Streets, and my friend Carolyn realizes she’s actually ordered from there before but never knew where it was.
6:16pm: We’re officially late, what else is new?
6:19pm: We find the back entrance to La Cucina at the Market, which is in a much nicer building than the places surrounding it.
6:25pm: We have our bottle of wine open, and Anna, our teacher, starts introducing herself.
6:26pm: Anna is the picture of just–like–your–momma–makes–it Italian cooking. We trust her completely.
6:28pm: We find out that this building, Dorrance H. Hamilton Center for Culinary Enterprises, was partially funded by a Wharton program that patronizes local businesses. Go Wharton!
6:30pm: Anna introduces the menu: a potato gnocchi with gorgonzola cream sauce, a nuddi gnocchi (which means almost no flour is involved) with spinach and ricotta; and a cavatelli with caramelized squash and pork sausage.
6:31pm: My friend Lizzy and I share a knowing look—we’re ready for all that cheese.
6:45pm: Anna starts preparing the potatoes and the dough for the potato gnocchi; she’s putting a lot of muscle into that.
6:55pm: She gives us each a hunk of dough to roll and cut into the gnocchi pillows; it’s harder than it looks.
7:02pm: The pint–sized, clearly Italian woman next to me assumed she would be much better at this. I can tell she’s getting frustrated.
7:10pm: We ask the tall lanky kid on our other side about himself, and he lets us know—very clearly—that he’s studying for his JD/MBA at Penn.
7:11pm: Drinking game—every time lanky guy says “JD/MBA,” we chug.
7:30pm: We move on to the nuddi gnocchi; Anna has already measured out the ingredients—spinach, ricotta, breadcrumbs, eggs—and asks the black–haired woman next to her to fold them together.
7:32pm: Pint–sized Italian woman says, “She said fold. Not stir.” Black–haired woman responds, “I know how to fold. I’m a very good cook.” And the room suddenly gets colder.
7:34pm: Lizzy, Carolyn and I somehow ended up in a much more competitive cooking class than we intended.
7:45pm: Anna asks Lizzy to whisk some eggs, watches her do it for about 30 seconds and exclaims, “Well I’m never coming to your house for scrambled eggs!” Ouch.
7:50pm: Anna is still whisking those eggs.
7:59pm: The squash is cooking in the oven and every time Anna opens the door to check we are wafted with the sweet smell of squash.
8:10pm: We’re getting hungry, but it’s time to make cavatelli. Anna is demonstrating how to roll the pieces of dough down a ridged plaque, which is how the cavatelli get those lines on them.
8:15pm: Trying to hide the number of cavatelli–attempts that have rolled right onto the floor from Anna.
8:20pm: We start taking a few pictures of the gnocchi cooking. Lanky guy (who came with no friends), turns to Anna, “They’ve never known life without Facebook.” Shut up Mr. Lanky, you look like you’re twelve.
8:30pm: Anna has us all sit at the table and starts serving the gnocchi. We learn that the singular of gnocchi is gnocco, who knew?
8:35pm: The potato gnocchi with the gorgonzola cream sauce is divine, but the stinkiness of the cheese is beyond those who aren’t the cheese fanatics that Lizzy and I are.
8:40pm: The nuddi gnocchi is falling apart a little bit; Anna blames it on the fact that she wasn’t watching us closely enough…. Mhmmmm…. But it’s not so bad.
8:45pm: The cavatelli is our favorite. The squash was roasted with some red pepper flakes, so the sweet and spicy interact nicely over the thick cavatelli.
9:04pm: Pint–sized, Italian woman’s husband is explaining that he’s a small–claims insurance lawyer, and Anna starts explaining an issue she’s been having—we take that as our cue to leave. All in all, it was a delicious night. The dynamic of the students could have run a little smoother, but we would put up with a lot for a night full of gnocchi.