Ocean Reef in Key Largo, Florida is a special place for Dun.  His family first began visiting Ocean Reef in the early 50s, and most of his family spends all or part of the winter there now.  We’ve put our toes into the warm water more slowly, visiting for a week or two each March. But this year we were lucky enough to be asked by our friend Carole Kotkin, journalist and radio host based in Miami, to teach a class at the Ocean Reef Cooking School.  Carole, also the Director of the Cooking School, directs a truly amazing cooking school program with local, national and international culinary stars like Sara Moulton, Susan Herrmann Loomis, Michelle Bernstein, Jonathan Eismann and Shannon Overmiller. While the weather was on the cool side for Florida while we were there, we did one or two visits to the pool in between preparing and teaching our cooking class, titled “Mediterranean Magic – Recipes from The Oldways Table.”


We diligently prepared for our class, practicing the recipes and preparing the stories to go with each recipe:
  • Ana Sortun’s Mediterranean Tapenade — a breeze in the food processor
  • Bulgur Salad with Oregano, Feta and Cucumbers — unbelievably delicious and “clean” tasting
  • Orecchitte with Broccoli Rabe — little ears matched with broccoli rabe and anchovies
  • Edamamae Beans with Extra Virgin Olive Oil — the easiest, fastest, most delicious dish ever…and without scientific proof, we maintain we always lose weight when we eat it!
  • Cretan Lamb Skewers with Lemon and Artichokes — created by Jesse Cool and Deann Bayless at an Oldways Symposium in Crete
  • And last but definitely not least, Chocolate Sauce Royale — Dun’s favorite chocolate sauce!

At the end, we were relieved…the room was packed (extra seats had to be set up in the back), the recipes worked well, everyone loved the tastes, the questions came thick and fast, and we had a lot of fun. We can’t thank enough Carol and Diane, the assistant director of the school, the Ocean Reef staff, and the fantastic group of volunteers.  Thank you for a wonderful day! We followed the cooking class up with an Italian Dinner the next night in the elegant Golf Club dining room.  Part of a series run by the Clubhouse at Ocean Reef, we designed our Italian menu to feature the regions of Italy:
  • firm and creamy Burrata from Puglia
  • tart Trofie with Pesto from Liguria
  • rich Bistecca alla Fiorentina from Tuscany
  • sweet Baba Limoncello from Campania
Several recipes were from The Oldways Table including Scaffata, a recipe for braised beans, peas and artichokes, developed by Lidia Bastianich and her group of 10 Chefettes at an Oldways Symposium in Puglia in 1995. The wines paired with each course were wonderfully elegant, especially a Nero d’Avola, the black grape from Sicily, a Carginno from Sardinia, and a Moscato d’Asti from Piedmonte. We had a terrific and enthusiastic crowd, only smaller in size due to the sudden appearance at Ocean Reef of Newt Gingrich to make a speech.  We’re sure that that crowd didn’t have half the fun that we had! Viva Ocean Reef!  — Sara and Dun

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