Wonderful Saturday at CIA Copia

A couple of Saturdays ago, I had the opportunity to go to Napa to visit the newly opened Culinary Institute of America, CIA at Copia. CIA at Copia was previously a culinary museum before closing in 2008, but has now reopened as a center for food, wine, and art offering cooking demonstrations and wine tastings. During the reopening, I got to taste several wines from a variety of places, witnessed the 21 bottle salute for the re-grand opening of Copia, and tried some delicious cheeses. What I was most excited about was taking a cheese class! You better brie-lieve I had a gouda time! Excuse my cheesiness.

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The newly opened CIA at Copia offers a number of classes everyday, whether it be a demonstration or a hands-on class. Some demonstrations offered are how to make chocolate eclairs, fresh pasta, and mac n cheese (seriously? Someone sign me up!). Like I mentioned earlier, I took a cheese demonstration class, and let me just say… I’ll never buy my own ricotta or mozzarella again! Classes are really affordable and informative. My friends told me they had taken a cheese class where they also had learned how to make ricotta and mozzarella. They paid $125. The class that day Copia was $30, but you can double check prices on Copia’s website here. THIRTY DOLLARS to never buy those cheeses again from a store and make my own fresh batch at home? Um. Hell yes.

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Aside from classes, the venue is a beautiful place. A grass area in the back looks like a perfect place for a wedding and private rooms are also available to have a gathering. Tables are setup beautifully for any event.

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Before the day ended, I was able to pair some cheeses with some wines. Here’s another picture of the cheese plate. Ain’t it pretty? The cheeses included were pecorino toscano, cypress grove midnight moon (made with goat’s milk), fiscalini bandage wrapped cheddar, and Cowgirl Creamery red hawk (this was my fave). The almonds were delicious too!

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I’d definitely plan a day trip or maybe even a weekend in Napa and schedule a visit to the new CIA at Copia. Napa is a beautiful place to plan a special weekend with your significant other and I’d be elated if my boyfriend booked a hands-on class to attend together. AHEM!

Oh, on top of all that, CIA at Copia also has a restaurant. I didn’t get a chance to try anything on their menu, but I did get a glance of a really delicious looking burger as it was passing by under my nose…

White Truffle Mac n Cheese

Wyatt and I had another day of cooking a few weeks ago.  What did we end up making?  White Truffle Mac n’ Cheese. Drooooooool.

I’ve always wanted to make homemade mac n cheese and Wyatt wasn’t very ambitious about making a cream sauce since he wasn’t quite successful the first couple of times.  This was the perfect challenge to face together and we’re both glad we took the challenge!  I’ve been following Curvy Carrot for a while now and when I saw her recipe for White Truffle Mac n Cheese, I literally gasped with excitement.  So far, everything I’ve tried from her blog has come out delicious and this specific recipe has become the base to all of my mac and cheeses.  Wyatt too!

Instead of using a tablespoon of truffle oil, we used only a 1/2 tsp. of white truffle infused oil.  I thought it was the perfect amount where you can taste just a touch of truffle without overpowering the entire dish.  We also baked our mac n cheese in seperate ramekins so that everyone could have their own individual serving.  The crispy panko on top was wonderful with the creamy pasta underneath.  Also, make sure to top the mac off with some green onions or chives.  They add another layer of flavors that will make your face look like this…. O_O

 

I’m warning you now… this sucker is rich but oh so good when eaten right out of the oven.

Here’s our version!

White Truffle Macaroni and Cheese
Got the recipe from Curvy Carrot

serves: 6

1 cup panko

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1/2 tsp. white truffle  infused oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 heaping tablespoons flour

2 1/2 cups half and half

8 ounces white cheddar cheese, grated

8 ounces Fontina cheese, grated

Salt and pepper, to taste

16 ounces elbow macaroni (or your personal favorite type of pasta)

green onions, about 5 for mixing into the sauce and garnish

 

 

Preheat your oven to broil or bake at 450

Get your sous chef to grate all of the cheeses… then set aside.  Keep the parmesan seperate from the other cheeses.

 

In a small bowl, combine the panko, parmesan and white truffle oil.  This is also a good time to start a pot of boiling water.

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. When the butter melts, add the flour and whisk.  When the mixture turns into a paste, slowly whisk in the half and half and continue whisking until smooth.  Cook for a couple of minutes until the sauce starts to slightly thicken. When the sauce starts to thicken, add the cheeses and stir until completely melted.  This is a good time to add a bunch of freshly cracked pepper, salt, and green onions.  The sauce should end up looking something like this.

Don’t forget about that pot of water!  When the water starts to boil, dump that pasta in.  Once cooked, drain the pasta and immediately add it to the cheese sauce (don’t rinse the pasta).  Put the pasta into a 9×13″ dish or individual oven-safe bowls.  Look at how smooth the sauce is!

 

You can sprinkle some cheese on top to make it even MORE cheesy.  Add the panko mixture over the top and bake in the oven until the panko topping is lightly golden. If you’re broiling, it’ll only take a couple of minutes.  If you’re just baking, it’ll take a good 10-15 minutes for a nice golden brown.  Take this time to take weird pictures.

(I had to take this picture because even though Wyatt is the youngest in the group, he has the taste of an old man. Not talking about prunes or anything like that.  More like wine and fancy stuff)

 

TIME TO EAT!!